Monday, 7 May 2012

The Bigger Picture

In the hockey world, people like to judge players based on what they visually see. Examples such as having a good stride, or seeing the ice well along with tough or solid are ways people describe players when they are asked what they think of them. In this article i'm going to go over a few reasons why I think people are asking the wrong questions when it comes to a player, and what are the right questions to be asking.

Some of the worlds best hockey players such as Sidney Crosby or Pavel Datsyuk are always looked at as being amazing skaters, having greater vision, and being snipers. Although all of these are definitely true judgements of these players, people don't notice other important things that make these players the all stars they are.

Let's take a look at Sidney Crosby for example. Crosby starts almost 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and has an on-ice corsi of around 21.68. This means that in a 60 minute game, Crosby is out chancing his lines opposition and driving the possesion north when he is on the ice. When on the ice, he is creating more scoring oppurunities and has more offensive zone time then his competition.

Now when we take a look at Datsyuk, we see that he starts 55.5% of his shifts on the offensive zone, and has an on ice corsi of 19.08. This, just like Crosby's corsi shows that when he is on the ice he is driving the possesion into the opponents end, and also just like #87, out chance his opposition.

Why Should Flames Fans Care?

Unless you aren't an advanced stats junkie, you may not. But I'm going to go over a few of the Flames on ice corsi just to show where the Flames are at.

1) Jarome Iginla- Jarome has been looked at as Calgary's "go to guy" for years now, and still today people expect him to carry the team on his back, and take us to the promise land. Jaromes on ice corsi is -11.53. He starts 49.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone, yet his opposition is driving the puck possession into the Flames zone more then Iginla is driving theirs. Although Iginla has never been known to be a defensive minded player, and his -10 on the season speaks to that, this proves that his age is catching up to him, and he can no longer be continuesly matched up against the other teams top lines. Whoever the bench boss is for Calgary will hopefully understand this, and only play Iginla in the offensive zone.

2) Mikael Backlund- Backlund had a tough go this year due to injuries, and was inable to have the season most were expecting from him due to those injuries. Although playing on the 3rd line for the better part of his 41 games played, Backlund was one of the best players on the Flames club at driving the puck north when he was on the ice. With an on ice corsi of 1.91, the puck is usually spending more time in Mikaels opposition's end, when he is on the ice. Mikael also had a PDO this year of 948. This is exceptionally unlucky. With the average PDO in the NHL at or around 1000, Mikael had it rough, and should expect a good upcoming season (if healthy). For a guy who is only starting 44.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone, Backlund is finding ways to drive the play, create scoring oppurtunities, and spend time in the right side of the rink.


The reason i'm comparing the two players is to prove a simple point. Although one would believe that the more valuable player on the ice would be Iginla, due to his 32 goal season and allstar title. It is clear that Mikael Backlund is actually a more of a reliable player, and creates more chances then Iginla does when 5v5. The Flames organization at some point needs to realize that Iginla is not the player he once was, and we need to use him and others differently if they are going to with them for years to come. Iginla needs to be starting in my eyes, around 80% of his shifts in the offesnive zone. Possibly more. He is no longer able to drive the puck forward out of his zone, and when on the ice, is now a liability. If Iginla is given the oppurtunity to succeed, and only takes draws in the offensive zone, he will still be able to put up a easy 30 goal season again.

To prove my point, you can take a look at the Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The twins start 79.6% and 78.6% respectively of their shifts in the offensive zone, which explains why they are #1 and #2 on their club for on ice corsi, with 21.09, and 18.17. Becuase they are given the oppurtunity to succeed, and are put into a position where they are comfortable, they are able to out chance their opponents.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Flames Ink Roman Cervenka

The Calgary Flames announced Wednesday morning that they inked 25 year old free agent Roman Cervenka to a one year 3.775 million dollar contract.

Thanks to for Stat Sheet

-Roman Cervenka is a highly skilled player that is known to have great hands, score goals at a high level, and has played along side some of the worlds elite including Jaromir Jagr. Calgary Flames European scouts believe Cervenka can slot into a top 6 forward on the Flames, and fill the number 2 center role for the club. Roman was recently a member of the KHL's Avangard Omsk, where he receieved the top goal scorers award in the 2010-2011 season. He participated in the KHL all star game, where he recieved the top number of fan votes. Cervenka has played in a few different international events, including his most siginifcant international event with the Czech Republic in the 2005 World Junior Championship, where he won a bronze medal.


-Although it seems like a good signing today, there are a couple of things that concern me. One of the first things that concern me are that when Cervenka put up his most points in a season and won the scoring award in the KHL, he played on the same line as Jaromir Jagr. Since Jagr has left (this season), Cervenka's PPG (points per game) average has dropped significant 0.47, without the hall of fame winger on his side. Although I'm sure the Flames staff looked into this before offering Roman the deal, it does raise a few eye brows and is something that keeps me a tad worried.

-The second concern I have with the deal, is the fact that Roman Cervenka has not played a single game in North America. A few people may feel that the Flames could have used this money elsewhere, with an already NHL proven player. Cervenka has been considered one of the best players outside of the NHL for a couple years now by many. It's a wait and see game now.

Overall I really like the signing. I see a guy who can potentially put up 60 points+ in the NHL. Worst case scenario, he doesn't prove to be what the scouting staff thought he could be and they don't re-up with him after next season. I also wanted to see the Flames walk from Olli Jokinen this off season, and I believe that this signing pretty much has that written in stone now. I think this is a great decison by the organization and is a great example of how to remain competitive while injecting youth and skill. I think it's definitley the right move, and isn't all that risky. With a 1 year term, you can't go wrong.  

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cleaning House: Addition by Subtraction

I'm going to go over a few of this years upcoming UFA's and RFA's and give my thoughts on them. In addition, I'll comment on whether or not I would like to see those players offered new contracts. The Flames have 10 NHL contracts expiring this year, and this will be GM Jay Feaster's opportunity to put his mark on the on the team.


After a MVP type of season, Olli Jokinen will be one of the more interesting players to watch this off season. The 33 year old (turning 34 in December) managed to put together a 61 pt season (23G-38A) this year and really seemed to find his game, and change his game for the betterment of the team. Although finishing a -12 on the season, Jokinen was a very good two-way player this year for Calgary.

Re-sign or Walk:

The issue I had with Olli Jokinen this year, is when the chips were down, and the Flames needed a big game from him, he failed. Jokinen was a -11 in the last 10 games and only managed to score 3 points. Given the position the Flames were in down the stretch, needing 2 points every game to have a shot at making the playoffs, they needed big games from their big players, and Jokinen couldn't pull through. At this stage of his career, Jokinen will want 2 years or more at around $4 million per at least. Unless he would be willing to accept a one year deal, I don't resign him.


The Calgary Flames claimed Blake Comeau off waivers on November 25th, from the New York Islanders. Comeau managed to put together a 24 goal season last year for the Islanders, but did almost nothing this year for the Flames. When the Flames picked up Comeau, I wasn't too sure what they were looking at. Grabbing a player that was a -17 in 2010-2011, and had 0 pts with a -11 in 16 games this year with the Islanders and trying to fit him into Brent Sutter's defencive style game plan wasn't going to work in my eyes, and it didn't. Comeau managed to only put together 5-10-15 in 58 games with Calgary.

Resign or Walk: 

I don't really care what Comeau asks for in a new contract, I don't want to see him back next year. At $2.5 million, I found Comeau to be a weak and ineffective player throughout most of his stint with the Flames, and despite being only 26 years of age, I don't see much in the way of improvement with this guy. This video pretty much sums up Blake Comeau's season:

Go to 4:30
Thanks to for the video


Due to injury, David Moss was only able to step on the ice for 32 games this season. During that time, Moss rounded up 9 points. When healthy, Moss is a 15-20 goal guy, and a decent depth player. Being a part of the Flames organization for 8 years, Moss has been an inconsistent player, and tough to read. Having only played one full regular season with the Flames, I'm not sure if David Moss is a guy the Flames should continue with.

Resign or Walk:

Having a cap hit at $1.3 million a year for a guy like Moss isn't a bad contract. The problem is the fact that Moss has a history of being injury prone. Turning 31 this season, he's probably not the type of player the Flames should have under contract again. Understanding that you need to fill out a roster, I think the flames would be better off bringing in a younger player by trade, or making a guy like Greg Nemisz a regular. Although I think Moss can still be an effective NHLer, his inconsistency and injuries leave me a little concerned, and I wouldn't resign him.


Mikael Backlund is another one of those injury prone guys, and inconsistent when in the line up. Many Flames fans were hopeful this season would be a break-through year for Backlund. Many expected him to center Iginla and Tanguay. Injuries early and late in the year, crushed those hopes. At age 23, Backlund still has time to improve.

Resign or Walk:

I'd like to see the Flames resign Mikael Backlund to another 2 or 3 year deal, at the same dollar. I don't think it would hurt the team in any way, because it won't get much for him through trade due to the fact he hasn't proven much at the NHL level. If the Flames plan on going through any sort of youth movement in the next year, it won't hurt having Backlund and his experience in the lineup.   


Cory Sarich had a tough start to the NHL season.He was a healthy scratch for an extended period of time in the early going. Sarich returned to the line up and never looked back. He turns 34 this off season and is coming off a contract that had a $3.6 million cap hit. When in the line up, Sarich adds a lot of toughness and leadership. Although being fairly slow on his feet, Sarich was a good depth defenseman for Calgary this season and I think the Flames coaching staff and management were pleased with his game.

Resign or Walk:

I think Jay Feaster will have to make a decision. He'll have to keep either Sarich or Scott Hannan. Both are 33 years old. Although Hannan's a little faster, I like Sarich due to the physical presence he brings to the line up. The Flames have a few good mobile defensemen in Bouwmeester, Giordano, and Brody. I would like to see the Flames sign Sarich to a 1 year, $1 million dollar contract, and walk away from Scott Hannan.


I think the Flames locker room is in drastic need of a culture change. Although you don't change culture overnight, or through minor trades/signings, this year will be a good opportunity for the team to start pushing in that direction. With 10 NHL contracts expiring, including those I've listed above, Feaster will finally be out of cap jail and have a solid chance at putting this team back on track. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Time to Deal #12?

As the Flames finished their 3rd consecutive season outside of the playoffs, many questions begin to arise as expected. The hottest topic of those being the face of the franchise, and city for 12 years, Jarome Iginla. The once so dominant, two-time 50+ goal scoring power forward will turn 35 this season, and this may be the last opportunity the Flames have to get anything worth while for him.

It was believed by some that either Captain Jarome Iginla would go before the beginning of next season or Brent Sutter, but both would not remain in Calgary.  As of last week, it was made official that Sutter would not be returning next season as the bench boss of the Flames, which in turn could be telling us the story of next season for this organization. It was clear that Sutter wanted to coach a rebuild or a contender, and that anything in between doesn't matter. Obviously the Flames ownership and management couldn't promise him that, so both sides decided to part ways.

For most Calgary Flames fans, including myself, it would be nice to watch Iginla retire as a Flame, and continue being this teams leader. It's obvious you don't make your team better ever by trading a guy like Iggy, and looking at past franchise players that have been dealt such as Boston trading Joe Thornton to San Jose, the trade doesn't always work out for the team dealing the star.  But with the last year of his contract coming up, including the age he is and the small amount of options available in the free agent market, it is obvious that he will have to move on if he wants to win the Stanley Cup.  Iginla himself said he wasn't sure if he would want to be a part of a team that would be in a full rebuild, and who can blame him?

I believe Iginla holds most of the cards, if not all of them in this decision and unless he wants out of Calgary, he will remain a Flame. The only other people that can influence this decision is  Flames ownership, which have said several times throughout the past few years that they have no intention of dealing #12, and want nothing else but for him to retire a Calgary Flame. Whether this would be the best decision for the organization or not, we will have to wait and see.

It's obvious that the Flames chances of becoming a contender by next season is close to nil, so here's to hoping ownership finally calls Iginla and his agent Don Meehan for a coffee.

Monday, 16 April 2012

On To The Next One

With a record of 118-90-38 and 0 playoff appearances in his 3 year tenure as head coach, the Calgary Flames and Brent Sutter have decided to go in opposite directions. Although I think we all saw this coming, was it really the best for both parties?

Brent Sutter is a good coach, and I think his resume speaks to that. People can criticise him all they want, and call him a terrible coach all they want. But in the end it doesn't matter what they think, because Sutter is still a very highly sought after coach. With a record of 215-146-49 in his NHL coaching career and 19-0-1 in international events, you can't argue the guy doesn't know his X's and O's.  Just over 24 hours after parting ways with the Calgary Flames April 12th, the 50 year old native of Viking, Alberta was handed the reigns of Team Canada for the IIHF World Championships, which was a no brainer for GM Kevin Lowe. "I really like the fact that Sutter has history with some of the players we've chosen." "In fact, some of the players have already phoned him and were excited about the fact that he was coming."

When Sutter was asked in  a media scrum on "Garbage Bag Day" if he would be willing to coach a rebuild, he answered, "Absolutely." With his new project now at the Worlds with Team Canada, and the young players on the roster, you have to wonder if this is a "try-out" that Kevin Lowe, President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers is using, to see how he works with this young team. With 3 Edmonton Oilers on staff and Sutter's resume with young players, you can't help but to think he could be a target by the Oilers this off season.

When it comes to Calgary, fans have to be wondering what is going to happen over this off season. Letting go of a coach that said he would love to coach in a rebuild, and hearing General Manager Jay Feaster say he "Doesn't want to be in this position next year," can be fairly scary. Reading between the lines we are led to believe that we are headed into another off season of acquiring average or below average hockey players and finish out of the playoffs for the 4th season in a row (Hoping Kipper can continue at the level he did this year). And if that is the case, when will management and owners finally come to their senses? Maybe, they won't. But if they believe they are going to be able to make a big splash in the free agent market this off season, or try to attract guys like Parise or Suter, they're dreaming.

Just hope i'm wrong.