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Ask the Brit: Pilot edition

As part of a new feature, Liam answers your questions about the Flames, the NHL, and hockey in general. He watches a lot.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, I decided it was a good idea to let you lovely people on the internet ask me some questions, and see what kind of answers I could come up with. I'm hoping to make it a regular feature, so if you have a burning question you want answering, find out how at the end of the article.

I can only assume it's because Mikael Backlund is very much a pivot center. Sam Bennett reminds me a lot of Tyler Seguin, who didn't do too badly starting out on the wing. In fact, the Flames website even listed Bennett as a winger the other day. Maybe that's where they see his future?

Well, I think we'd all like to know that. The fact Jiri Hudler is playing with a struggling Sean Monahan? The fact he's dying out there himself? It's strange. He has a relative corsi for percentage of 7.93. He's had 33 individual scoring chances. He's had over 65% offensive zone starts all year. He's being given every opportunity to succeed, he just can't put the puck in the net.

The weird thing is, if he was on the second line, you'd probably say his 4+9 is a pretty decent return, and to be honest that's all he ever was for the Red Wings. He's a big fish in a smaller pond in Calgary, and the hot streak the boys found themselves on last year helped Hudler out as much as it did the entire team. He's now on the top line and expected to deliver as such - something that's never been asked of him before. Maybe, just maybe, last year was a fluke? Hudler's year wasn't the only anomaly on last year's Flames. He's certainly not worth the $6-7million he'll be asking for in the summer.

Boy, thanks for easing me in gently, bud.

There's four potential reasons.

1) What made the Flames successful last year has been worked out by other coaches, and there's no plan B.
2) Many players had anomaly career years last year that they're just unable to replicate.
3) Bob Hartley's coaching is bewildering at best and godawful at worst.
4) Some players aren't performing to the best of their abilities, and the others just plain suck.

Take your pick.

The L.A. Kings, then your guess is as good as mine. As bad as Anaheim's start has been, they're still only four points back from Vancouver in third. Hell, the Flames are only five, but that's a different kettle of fish.

The Coyotes remind me a lot of last year's Flames. They're winning despite all probability. Will they make the playoffs? One would expect not, but then the Pacific is so damn poor this year that it's not out of all realms of possibility. It's definitely a step in the right direction, and their future looks very bright.

The Ducks aren't a bad team. They started poorly and are still struggling to get out of neutral. They're stacked though, and you don't become a bad team overnight.

Because Burkie needed some truculence, and Hartley refuses to give up on his pets. That, or Brandon Bollig is amazing at Photoshop.

Short, potentially flammable answer: yes.

Long answer: Each coach has a magic number of games they can lose in a season before their time is up. Has Hartley reached that number yet? Clearly not in the eyes of Brad Treliving, but you have to think he can't be getting too far away from it. The only worry is who'd replace him. Do you go interim coach until the end of the season (potentially Martin Gelinas) or do you go for somebody out of work ?

The second option is in itself a worry, because the two obvious out of work coaches right now are Todd Richards (sacked by the Blue Jackets for John fricking Tortorella) and Randy Carlyle (sacked by the Maple Leafs for being awful). Per Sportsnet:

Before the Columbus Blue Jackets could replace Todd Richards with Tortorella, they first had to assume an undisclosed portion of his remaining salary while also agreeing to send a second-round pick Vancouver’s way, as per the NHL’s compensation rule.

Would you want to give up a second round pick for Randy Carlyle? Off-season, the compensation becomes a third rounder, which is a softer blow, but still not a blow you'd love to give up for Carlyle. Should somebody else who is much better at the coaching thing become available, maybe it's worth the risk.

Oh, and because I know I'm going to get some "HOW DARE YOU SAY WE SHOULD FIRE HARTLEY" comments, I'm going to say this. Some folk said earlier this month that patience, as was shown in Anaheim with Bruce Boudreau, is a virtue. The Ducks waited out the rough start and they're doing okay. That's all well and good, but Boudreau is a decent coach with a lot of gifted players. We have a lot of rough diamonds, and Hartley isn't doing particularly well at polishing them.

Thanks for the questions. If you want to ask a question, we'll stick a post on Facebook and Twitter up on Monday where you can put your questions to me, or you can leave a comment on here. Whichever works for you.