Monday, November 30, 2015

My Month-Long Flame-cation

The Calgary Flames are atrocious. That's not good.

Why do I bring up this painfully obvious statement? Why not? It's gotten to the point where this club is so horrendous that calling them 'atrocious' isn't even remotely newsworthy. That's what happens when you're dead-last in the entire NHL. Congratulations, Flames!

Even in the lowest points of the sad exercise in futility that was the Freddy Modin/Jay Feaster era, I have never stopped watching this team. Never. I may have missed some games, but never on purpose.

That has changed.

This past Friday, the Flames were in Glendale, taking on the surprising Arizona Coyotes. I knew that Calgary would lose, like they have all year. So, I decided to go see the new Bryan Cranston movie,  Trumbo, instead. I actually ended up enjoying myself, and I simply shook my head when I learned that the Flames had lost again.

See, like everyone else, I had to deal with the fact that the Flames lost, but that didn't matter, simply because I had actually enjoyed those two hours watching a good movie (go see Trumbo, it's excellent).

I'm not going to begin to try to attempt to figure out the cause of the Flames' repeated failure - it's not worth the inevitable 5,000 word essay, which I could instead write on a different, more interesting topic, like curling, or fly fishing. Instead, I'm just not going to watch this team. What's the point?

I mean, sure - we aren't paying for GameCentre and all those sports channels for nothing. I'll still watch football (Brees is killing it this year!) and I'll tune into the highlights. I'll still shake my head when the Flames lose, and that hopeless shoot of excitement and the thought of "maybe this is their TSN Turning Point" when they win will still exist.

However, I don't need to watch two-and-a-half hours of sloppy hockey. I could be watching a movie, or playing the drums, or eating a casserole. And I'll be back on January 1st, watching all the Flames games I can. Mind, I'll still try to write as much as I can, here, all throughout December.

No watching Flames games, though. It's just not worth it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An Embarrassment of Embarrassment: Ranking the Flames’ Goaltenders Since 2010

Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports

Hoo boy.

So, I recently asked the kind folks over at HFBoards.com to give me their rankings of the Flames’ netminders of the past five years.

The results varied. I agreed with some, and disagreed with some. The Flames haven’t had great goaltending over the past few seasons, but I’ll try to keep mostly positive in this article.

Here are my rankings. At the end of each one, I’ll say who got the most votes for that position out of the eleven serious ballots cast on the website (sorry II).

Here goes nothing!

1. Miikka Kiprusoff


Does this even need explanation? I mean, come on - he’s the best goaltender in franchise history, and while he had subpar numbers in the lockout year, the Flames were trash that season, and otherwise, he was fantastic. Kipper was legendary. 

Now, does he want his number beside Lanny’s or Vernon’s?

How you voted: 11 of 11 ballots had Kipper at #1. No surprise there.

2. Karri Ramo


Fun fact about Karri Ramo: we got him from Montreal for Rene Bourque and prospect Zach Fucale, and normally I’d say that we made out like bandits with that deal alone, except that for some reason the Habs were being charitable and decided to throw in Mike Cammalleri. Montreal wasn’t done there, however - they decided that they had to throw in a draft pick, too, just in case the deal wasn’t sweet enough. That draft pick turned out to be Ryan Culkin, who isn’t the greatest prospect ever but hey, why not?

Cammalleri went on to score 50 goals for the Flames in three more seasons here. Ramo has won 37 games for the club in three seasons of limited playing time. 

Bourque has scored 27 goals since the trade. Fucale is a pretty decent goalie prospect, but he’s in Montreal, so he’ll never play.

That trade alone is worth putting Ramo at #2 on this list, not to mention his solid, consistent play since his arrival here.

How you voted: Exactly two people placed Ramo at #2. The rest put him at #3, with the exception of one #5 vote.

3. Jonas Hiller


He won 26 games for the Flames last year.

He’s moderately streaky, but good when he’s on.

He’s massively overpaid.

He’s a right-handed catcher which you don’t see every day.

He’s better than anyone below him on this list, but not better than anyone above him.

How you voted: Only one person voted for Hiller at #3 - everyone else put him at #2.

4. Joey MacDonald


When Joey MacDonald is your fourth-best goaltender from any period of time, than your goaltending situation has a problem. Nothing against Joey (he was serviceable when he was here, and he managed to actually have a save percentage over .900 on an atrocious 2012 Flames team) but when a guy that was chased out of Toronto (and in 2010, no less) finds himself on the top half of a historical goaltending depth chart… man.

I do remember being legitimately sad when he left, however. Bonus points!

How you voted: Again, one person had Joey Mac at #4. The rest had him lower, with the exception of one #3 vote.

5. Joni Ortio 


“Oh oh Oreo!” - Leah Hextall

Joni Hockey has had an up-and-down career in the NHL. Last year, he was nearly unbeatable. This year… he’s 2012 Playoffs Marc-Andre Fleury.

He’s still just a kid, though. Loads of potential.

How you voted: For the third time in a row, only one person agrees with me.

6. Reto Berra


Remember that great bicycle kick save by Berra during Rob Kerr’s television prime?




That’s all I remember of him. I vaguely recall him losing more games than he won and being beat out by Joey Mac for the #1 spot. Now he’s ripping it up in Colorado.

Also, it’s a shame that “Arret-o Berra” never caught on. I was so proud of that nickname. Get it, because “Arret” is French for “stop”? And Berra stopped pucks? Hahahahaha!

How you voted: 2 votes were cast for Reto at #6. At least that’s more than one.

7. Vesa Toskala



I remember absolutely nothing about Vesa Toskala’s time in Calgary, aside from the fact that he was moderately successful. He apparently lost zero games. Neat.

How you voted: One person voted for Vesa at #7.

8. Leland Irving


We’re getting into the really obscure section of this page now. Irving was fine (I guess) during his time in Calgary, but come on. First round picks (even late ones) should do better than a .902 career save percentage. His last year in Calgary, that number was .883.

Yeesh. 

How you voted: Three! Three! Three people agreed with me, the most since Miikka.

9. Henrik Karlsson


“The Calgary Tower” played like “The Calgary Condominium” during his time here. He let in two out of three shots he faced [citation needed] and almost never played.

Five wins in 26 games.

How you voted: Again, three people concurred with my ranking.

10. Curtis McElhinney


Speaking of someone who never won… I remember being really excited when Curtis McElhinney won his first game in regulation time as a Flame. It was in, like, his tenth game, and I think that it was against Edmonton. I also recall him  once making “some kind of save” against Carolina, because Peter Loubardias was calling that game (just kidding, Peter, you are my absolute favourite).

They lost 6-1.

How you voted: Exactly zero people voted for McElhinney at 10.

11. Danny Taylor


I vaguely remember seeing this guy, maybe once or twice. Otherwise, nope. I believe he lost both of his games. 

How you voted: Seven people voted for Taylor at the bottom spot.

So, that’s that. Do you agree with my rankings? Sound off in the comments.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why isn’t Eric Lindros in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Credit: Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports
All right now, hear me out.

For most of the 1990’s - especially during the heyday of the Legion of Doom during the Dead Puck Era - Lindros was, if not the best, but one of the premier players in the world. His booming physical prowess complimented his great scoring touch fantastically, and he formed the deadliest line in the league with John LeClair and Mikael Renberg in the mid-90s. This was all happening during the stingiest defensive era in NHL history, by the way - one where goalies like Dwayne Roloson and Marty Turco were posting upwards of .920 in their respective save percentage columns every year.

With great success in such an extended low-scoring era, it really was a no-brainer for the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee to name Lindros to the prestigious Hall in his first year of eligibility. I mean, come on. This is a guy who put up numbers over a point-per-game pace from 1993 to 2003! He scored 115 points during the height of the DPE in 1996… in 73 games! Lindros fought through injuries late in his career, and still managed to finish it with more than 100 more points than games played! Finally, he played only four years of his thirteen-year career outside of the Dead Puck Era!

Wait, you’re telling me that he’s not in?

And Phil Housley is?

Why?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hey, Everyone: The Flames Are Awful!

Credit: Candice Ward - USA Today Sports
Hey, remember that YouTube video from a couple years ago? You know, the one that made Flames fans practically squeal in delight while watching the Oilers completely fail at playing hockey?




Fun video, huh? But has there ever been any time where you wanted to be in on that action? See it happen live? Be part of the event, as it happens? Follow the awfulness on Twitter?

Worry not! Simply tune in to any Calgary Flames game this season, and you can experience all of the above in sparkling 1080p! Your next chance comes this Thursday when the Flames take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sportsnet 360!

It's not really debatable that the Calgary Flames are one of the three worst teams in the NHL at this present moment; heck, they aren't even the best team in their own province! Even if Connor McDavid is out with his shoulder injury for any length of time, our neighbours to the north still actually seem to have something called a work ethic.

It really is painful to watch such an apathetic team after all of the hard work and guts they displayed last year. At least you could write off a loss as "just a couple of bad bounces - they'll work harder next time". Not this year; instead, it seems that the Flames are barely working, regardless of whether the score is 7-0 in their favour or against. Of course, not that the goaltending will ever let in fewer than five goals...

Get it together, Flames. Two years ago, when you finished 27th and Jarome Iginla's tenure had ended the year before, at least you were trying hard, so we liked you. Last year, the bounces started going your way, and you still tried hard, so you made the playoffs.

The Calgary Flames are currently 27th in the NHL. Hey, remember when I talked about the Flames team from two years ago, and how they were a likable team, because they tried hard?

This team is all that, minus the try.