Guest Post: Flames 2013-14 season preview, by Ryan Lambert

There have been some big changes for the Canucks this offseason, but the one that could have the most impact is realignment, which brought an unfortunate end to the crack den that was the Northwest Division and threw the Canucks into the far more functional and together Pacific Division. Bummer.

But let’s not dwell on what’s lost. Let’s look to the future and meet some of our new divisional buddies! We’ve invited a stable of Pacific Division bloggers to preview the Canucks season, the new division, or their own teams for us here at Pass it to Bulis, and over the next week, we’ll be sharing the results with you. (Warning: most of them chose to roast us, which is probably what we would have done.) Next up: Flames Nation and Puck Daddy’s Ryan Lambert. He will be breaking from the tradition this morning to preview his own team.

by Ryan Lambert

Harrison asked me to write this Flames season preview on the basis that, as a person who writes about the Flames every single week and unfortunately has to watch their games with some amount of regularity, I might be able to give you some insight into how good they’re going to be. I really don’t think I have to bother.

I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know. The entire hockey world is aware exactly how good the Flames are going to be. Which is to say, “very much not.” You know it and I know it and other fans know it and they know it and other teams know it. They’re a dumpster fire, and one large enough to be visible from space.

But given that I agreed to do this before really thinking about what I would say, here’s a dutiful preview anyway.

Forwards:

Matt Stajan is the No. 1 center on this team and my prohibitive pick for top scorer this year, and that tells you everything you need to know about Calgary up front. The sad thing is, too, that they’re probably deepest down the middle. After Stajan there’s Mikael Backlund and after that there’s Corban Knight and then Roman Horak and maybe even Sean Monahan, who I’ll get to in a minute.

The wings are a mishmash of who-cares guys you probably forgot were in the league. Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross are probably the two best on the right and left, respectively, and are followed by Sven Baertschi and Lee Stempniak and Jiri Hudler and maybe David Jones and those are guys who will get power play minutes on a real NHL team and everything. Just writing that again made me feel really sad for them. What a disaster. If any of these guys top 50 points (and I think maybe only like two of them have ever) it will be an actual miracle.

The Flames made an investment in Size this summer because checking makes you hard to play against or whatever and that’s their priority while they rebuild which who cares.

Defense:

I actually pretty much like the Flames’ top three defensemen, but they are not, like, great or anything. Dennis Wideman and new captain Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie will all get 22-plus minutes. If the team is smart though — and obviously they definitely are not — they’ll all push 30 because the bottom three is, I swear to God, Kris Russell, Chris Butler and not-a-Chris-and-also-not-an-NHLer Shane O’Brien. Again, size.

This is a team that will bleed corsi chances, and simultaneously be absolutely atrocious and boring to watch. I can’t wait.

Goalies:

Karri Ramo is BACK in the NHL!!! Is he any good now? I don’t know! And neither do the Flames. So if he’s not, that’s probably good for them with respect to tanking as hard as possible, but again, it’s going to make them tough to watch. If he is good, meanwhile, he’s still going to give up three goals a game because look who’s playing in front of him.

He’s backed up by Joey MacDonald, which is, as far as goaltending analogies go, like being backed up by Joey MacDonald.

Coaching and management:

Bob Hartley is not a coach I think is particularly good at this point but even Scotty Bowman in his prime couldn’t get this team to .500. I feel bad for the guy because he’s saddled with Jay Feaster, and now Brian Burke, screaming at him to put garbage fighters like Tim Jackman and Brian McGrattan in the lineup every night.

As if to illustrate how dumb Feaster is when it comes to running this team, there is the case of the aforementioned junior-eligible Sean Monahan. He was the No. 6 pick at this year’s draft and everyone thinks he’s going to be a very good No. 2 and maybe even serviceable No. 1 some day. That’s good for Calgary. Their apparently-pending decision to keep him with the big club all season as an 18-year-old after an admittedly impressive camp is very much not good for Calgary.

In keeping an 18-year-old with the team all year, they will torch the first year of his ELC on a season they’ve already chosen to abort. And this after Feaster talked all summer about kids not being brought up in a losing environment or whatever hokum he was peddling that day.

Why keep him, especially if the center depth chart is plenty packed with guys who have NHL experience already? Because, it’s been explained to me by the idiots who think this is a good idea, it sells hope. Flames fans and management alike want to see Their Future In Action, even if that means Their Future gets fourth-line minutes between two turds who have a combined 200 career points or whatever. Even if he puts up 40 points this season, and he won’t, to what end did he do so? You’d rather have him play in the OHL for another year and get 27 minutes a night with plenty of power play time than 12 with very little in the NHL, but only if you want to run your team wisely.

That’s the Calgary Flames in a nutshell: In a hurry to get where they think they’re gonna be but there’s no point to getting there and also they’re holding the map upside down.

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12 comments

  1. Kit
    October 1, 2013

    There’s something endearing about Lamberts palpable sadness and dismay. Or maybe I just enjoy his suffering.

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  2. Cathylu
    October 1, 2013

    Whew! That post definitely made me feel better about our team.

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    Rating: +10 (from 10 votes)
  3. peanutflower
    October 1, 2013

    Cathylu, why would you be feeling bad about the Canucks anyway? They are still a good team. This year should be pretty interesting and exciting.

    I feel sorry for the Flames players and their fans, and for Ryan. What an outpouring of frustration and grief. Does “our” Shane O’Brien play for the Flames? I must have missed that.

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    • Cathylu
      October 1, 2013

      I don’t want to feel bad about our team. I want us to have an amazing year. Yet I live in “King-ville” and I’ve been tired of everyone here saying the Kings are an absolute shoe-in to win the “new” Pacific division. My local paper even predicted the Coyotes to place above us…blech! We need to prove them wrong!

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  4. Aaron
    October 1, 2013

    Wow, thats a dismal outlook. I like our teams chances. This makes me like it more.Though I have alot of confusion (um maybe frustration) over last weekends deals. This article just makes me feel bad for Flames fans for sure.

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  5. Nee
    October 1, 2013

    Shane O’Brien is with the Flames now?! How did I miss that.

    Sorry Lambert. This picture you have painted is bleak. Sounds like it will be a tough season to watch.

    I also appreciate that your usually tone of disgusted outrage (NHL is a bunch of idiots! Fans are sheep!) is dialed down close to zero here. You have interesting thoughts on a lot of subjects, but I find your usual aggressive style on Puck Daddy to be really grating.

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  6. Hoser25
    October 1, 2013

    Can’t tell you how happy this post makes me, as a lifelong Canucks fan. Gold.

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    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
  7. Chris the Curmudgeon
    October 1, 2013

    My deep-seeded/deep-rooted loathing of the Calgary Flames was probably first planted by Joel Otto’s foot, was carefully nurtured through the 90′s and heavily fertilized by Kiprusoff and Iginla et al in 2004. However, what was once a giant old growth Douglas Fir of hatred has withered into a Charlie Brown Christmas tree more worthy of pity than anything else. Seriously, as much as it delighted me at first to see the depths of ineptitude and mismanagement exhibited by the Flames organization, especially as it’s made the Canucks’ occasional blunders seem innocuous in comparison, now I just kind of feel sorry for a once-proud franchise seemingly destined to wallow in an Alberta beef farm-sized lake of manure for the foreseeable future. Adding to this is the fact that their timing of when to tank is a little poor, as the 2014 NHL draft class is not as strong as recent years.

    Best of luck Flames, maybe you can send the goon squad out to tune up some of our California rivals’ better players every now and again.

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  8. Heyitsp
    October 1, 2013

    Prediction the flames make the playoffs before Edmonton.

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  9. dunegig
    October 2, 2013

    Sir, please, step back from the ledge.

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  10. Sorry Calgary,
    October 2, 2013

    But.. but… Ekblad and Reinhart! If only Connor MacDavid was a year older.

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  11. Ian
    October 2, 2013

    I think Jay Feaster is on notice & Brian Burke will be Flames GM in a few months from now. I’ll put up with a 2 season tank & see a Cup contender built by 2017-18.

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