Game Takes: Flames 5 Canadiens 0

March 9th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

I’ve seen it in my traveled circles.

Oiler fans I know consider this their season. When you talk to them you can see it, one team goes up the other goes down and with that you have a change in power in the province. You sit out ten years and take it on the chin, then you get to enjoy how the other half lives when things fall apart in Southern Alberta.

Not so fast.

The Flames may have played an extra game, but the point gap is now zero as the team wins their 8th straight game catching the Oilers in points at 78 with a 5-0 win over the startled and Carey Price-less Montreal Canadiens.

The win came did come with a “Price” after all however as the Flames lost both Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone to injury in the last half of the game creating a pall over a team that should be giddy over a 9-0-1 record in their last ten. Hopefully not that serious, but details likely won’t roll out until tomorrow.
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Game Takes: Flames 5 Islanders 2

March 5th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Afternoon games are always difficult to predict.

Rarely do you see both teams bring their “A” game and give you a hard fought, tight, end to end battle filled with energy and action. Far too often one of the two teams completely pulls up lame, and if the fans are really unlucky neither team shows up and you have a complete snooze fest, where you spend more time looking at your watch than the ice surface.

Luckily for Calgary fans the discombobulated club was the Islanders as the Flames came out and posted four first period goals on their way to a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Sunday afternoon.
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Games Takes: Flames 3 Wings 2 (OT)

March 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

This isn’t your father’s Detroit Red Wings, a play on the classic Detroit based Oldsmobile commercial of 20 some years ago. It used to be that the Detroit Red Wings were the dominant team in the circuit, they’d come in to Calgary and run the club through the wringer before easily escaping with two points.

Today’s club is struggling however, looking to miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season, a run that just seems unbelievable by today’s standards.

Tonight however that all should be put aside, as the plucky Wings were anything but defeatist in a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, the Flames 6th straight win in their push to a Western Conference playoff spot.

The Wings may be out, but they clearly aren’t going down without a fight.
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Built for a Run?: Flames Roster Post Deadline

March 2nd, 2017 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Going into any trade deadline it’s inevitable that a bubble team would have three different courses of action, all with their own perils and tribulations.

You buy. You sell. You do nothing.

It’s Canada, the city has a keen interest so doing nothing is just plain mean, so let’s face it the choices are down to two.

Brad Treliving was quite bold a couple of years ago with a team just on the outside, he didn’t add other than a waiver wire pick up, and he sold in jettisoning both Curtis Glencross and Sven Baertschi; the Flames of course made the playoffs anyway.

I think this year the assumption was the add, with the Flames in a playoff spot somewhat firmly, but then the trepidation became the cost and the timing. Do you want to go all in as a wildcard seed? Seems a little rushed. How can you be in a rebuild and move picks and prospects?

In the end, Treliving did pretty much what I would have expected him to do;

1) Fix the most glaring hole on the team with a creative and less expensive option
2) Alter his protection list for next season by taking on a forward that another team would have trouble protecting

Did I have the defenseman solution nailed? Nope. Stone was a name out there, but he wasn’t the one I was guessing (Kyle Quincey). Was the protection list forward the guy I saw coming? Once again no, I was imagining a more established player from a non-playoff team.

So how did he do?

When the Curtiz Lazar news came down I did what every hockey fan in the city did. You google Kostka and realize it was a throw in, you ignore Jyrki Jokipakka as he was waiver fodder the day before, you nod your head on the Lazar project idea and then you cringe that they gave up a second round pick.

What’s interesting is chasing down some Ottawa views before the trade; I like others noticed the Lazar on the market comments on Twitter and the asking price of a first round pick, something that seemed way to high from my standpoint.

Exhibit A:

When I saw this I thought they should jump on it. Lazar has value no doubt about it, but he’s sputtering so a second seemed fair to me.

Exhibit B:

Really? I get that it’s a weak draft and that you’re dealing a young player, but a first for a player that is listing? If that’s his firm price he wasn’t going to get it.

Exhibit C:

Turn a first round pick down?

From a Calgary perspective I like this now that Lazar is Flame’s property, but Ottawa media has known to be some of the most kool-aid’d group in hockey so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

I am glad history like this exists though, as I’m sure many in that nation’s capital will change their tune now that Lazar is gone.

Either way I think the Ottawa view before the trade helps frame the value somewhat when assessing the move made by Brad Treliving.

My personal view before and after the trade? Meh. I wasn’t a big Lazar fan. When he was added to that World Junior team and made captain I thought they bolstered the club with an NHL ready forward and I didn’t see it. He didn’t stand out all that much to me.

So my gut is a 2nd is a little too much to acquire a project player, not a lot too much, I would have been really happy with a third, but the 2nd seems steep.

What adds some uptick for me however is Treliving. This is very much a player he wanted. The group has said they worked on this for weeks. Additionally, comments from Lazar suggest the player was a Treliving target in the 2013 draft when he was leading the show for the Coyotes.

He knows him, he likes him, and he clearly has spot for him as he’s already hinted he will be protecting him in the expansion draft. To Treliving he’s adding a piece, not a project, but from his comments he seems alert enough to know there is some work to do.

If he’s right, even to the 70th percentile and the player becomes a solid top nine forward in Calgary, then this is a very good move for the Flames.

If he’s wrong, then you go back to his comments on the draft and that they just don’t value the picks in the 2017 showcase as high as they have in previous years.

No GM is right 100% of the time, but compared to other GMs in Calgary history, I at least trust the guy’s process and work ethic to make sure he’s doing what he can to get it right.

All in all the Flames are better than they were a few weeks ago. They looked to have landed a real bargain in Michael Stone given all they gave up was a third round pick. Heck I don’t think I’d trade him straight up for Brendan Smith who cost the Rangers a 2nd and a 3rd.

The Matt Bartkowski move looks to be pretty shrewd as well as it cost them nothing.

The team has rebuilt their defense core, eliminating the biggest weakness on the team. They didn’t add up front in a significant way, but then heading into the deadline I suggested they shouldn’t as the chemistry lost could be just as important as the addition.

It’s stretch drive time, and the Flames are in a better position to not only make the playoffs, but possibly make some noise when they get there.

Pretty much all I could have asked for this season.


Game Takes: Flames 2 Kings 1 (OT)

March 1st, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that felt like a playoff game didn’t it?

A predictably slow start by the Flames and a bail out by the guy the Flames envisioned doing just that when they made the draft day trade with St. Louis to solidify their goaltending led the way as the Flames erased a 1-0 first period Kings lead on the way to a come from behind 2-1 overtime victory over the L.A. Kings.

Yes it felt like playoffs, but it could very well have a lot to do with making said playoffs, as the Flames move back out in front of the Kings by 6 points, but this time the guys from Hollywood only have one game in hand. And wait there’s more, their buddies from Edmonton beat the Blues in regulation giving the Flames a five point lead over the 2nd wildcard spot holder.

Still 18 games to go, but the Flames have gone a long way to make the playoffs somewhat likely over the last ten days.
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