Ed. note: I posed three questions to the writers on M&G and they were gracious enough to come up with some honest and unfiltered answers.
My first question was, what are the Calgary Flames weaknesses this season?
Secondly, what are some of their strengths?
Lastly, will the team will make playoffs?
Among the varied answers are some interesting opinions and perspectives. Here we hear from saltysyd. Let us know what you think in our comments section.
1. What are the Flames weaknesses?
I'm beating a dead horse, but the obvious weakness is the goaltending. What was a league-average 91.0 OSv% last year has dropped to a league-worst 88.0 OSv% (based on War-on-Ice). That is below what the Edmonton Oilers had last season (88.8%), which is not a flattering comparison.
Instead of blaming the skaters, as I've been hearing around town, I would critique some of the systems being deployed and specific player usage. The easiest problem areas to spot are the league-worst powerplay and penalty kill. The coaching staff is not allowing the players themselves to shine, as they are not being used to the best of their abilities. There are others who have analyzed this much more than I have and would be able to speak more to these issues more eloquently than I - such as our friend MikeFAIL.
2. What are the Flames strengths?
Johnny Gaudreau. Sam Bennett. T.J. Brodie. Need I say more?
There are those clear standouts, and then there's the supporting cast of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Sean Monahan, David Jones, and many more. The team has been great offensively in recent games.
It also seems that the usage of the more bottom-tier players has been adjusted, and they are succeeding in those roles - there hasn't been near as much bashing of Brandon Bollig or Deryk Engelland this season for a reason.
And the AHL team has been successful in the development of players. In much the same way as last season, this season has already seen a few call-ups who have succeeded in the NHL: Brett Kulak, Derek Grant (who still leads the team in FO%), and Markus Granlund.
3. Will the Flames make the playoffs this season?
Realistically, no, not with the team as is. But as a fan with unwavering faith in this team, I would like to say yes. The playoffs, and time leading up to them, were so magical last season. The City felt alive. Happy. There was something to cheer for in the uncertain economic times. There is the little part of me that hopes the Flames could recapture the "magic" of last season, but at some point it'll be too little, too late. For now, I'm holding out a small, minuscule sliver of hope.
Watch for our next article in the series, coming soon.