|Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports|
At the time of this writing, the Calgary Flames currently sit 1-4-0, good for last in the Western Conference. They are currently in a game against the Washington Capitals, but they may as well be sitting on their couches at home: coming into the second period against the Caps, the score was tied at one. Now, the Flames' defence has allowed three goals, has taken a penalty, and is a collective -6 on the night. That penalty came from Dougie Hamilton, and it's his fifth of the season already. Dennis Wideman just turned a 2-on-1 for Calgary into a fluttering blocked pass, and another missed opportunity for the club to make up for their (many) mistakes.
The forwards haven't done much, either: while Johnny Gaudreau, David Jones, and Sean Monahan have all had varying degrees of success to start this season, much of the rest of the forward lineup has been either invisible, terrible, or both. Meanwhile, the team's goaltending situation is a mess. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have carried the load for the club thus far, to mixed results: they'll collectively lose their fifth game of the season tonight, barring a miracle comeback.
So, what can we do?
Find Hope in T.J. Brodie
Remember last year, when T.J. Brodie had a banner year, and almost everyone in the hockey world was attributing his success to the great play of Mark Giordano?
Uh... well, Giordano is playing with supposedly-better Dougie Hamilton (more on him later) now, and that pairing has been a total trainwreck. Gio finished top-5 in Norris voting last season. Now, he looks atrocious! He's been brutal!
Doug MacLean is absolutely ripping the Flames, and Giordano, on Sportsnet right now, and I agree with him. It's wasting our time to watch veteran defenceman cause three goals, on "three big mistakes".
So, how does Brodie figure into this? Well, maybe, upon his return, he can regain the chemistry he had with Giordano last year. That pairing was excellent, and it'd sure help the Flames this year.
Imagine that you're Bob Hartley. Life's good, right? You have a Stanley Cup ring, a Jack Adams, and the deplorable situation of carrying three goalies. Oh no! This toxic environment is killing our team!
Well, if you're Hartley, you can't do anything about getting rid of a goalie. That's Brad Treliving's job. Anyhow, you have three goalies. Your two veterans have been, to put it lightly, not good to start the season. You have a guy in Joni Ortio who went 4-1 in every important game that he played in last year.
Come on, Bob! Y'kno, like, you gotta go wid' who's givin' you the best chance to, y'kno, win! It's clear that Hiller and Ramo aren't those guys! #Orts is!
Bench the Underachievers
Dougie Hamilton should be a happy guy right now. He just signed a huge contract in the offseason, he is playing on the top pairing of a deep Calgary defence, and...
Well. He doesn't seem so happy right now. He's taken five penalties already! We're six games in!
Hamilton hasn't been contributing, at all. He's looked soft defensively (Doug MacLean's words, not mine), incredibly undisciplined, and very lost at times.
Remember how Dennis Wideman sat at the beginning of 2014-15 because of his sub-par play? Well, he went on to score 15 goals.
Dougie needs to be revitalized. So do the Flames' other underachievers, like Mikael Backlund, Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman (again).
So, here's my advice: sit all of them. Make them healthy scratches. Maybe they just need to reconnect to the game.
I'm sure that the Flames will get it together at some point. They're simply too good not to, and they've gotten some horribly unlucky bounces this year.
But honestly. 1-5-0?