Ask Us Anything
Throughout the season we have lulls in the schedule and from time to time we like to hear from you, the reader. Ask Us Anything is a great way for you to get some questions out to us and we can answer them away from Twitter or Facebook. We always say you can, literally, ask us anything, but we always come back to the Flames. So here’s some of the questions you asked, hopefully our answers were what you were looking for.
“With the way the team is rolling right now, who goes down when Steeger/Frolik are back, and how does the lineup change from there?”
MarkParkinson14: I think the odd man out is Andrew Mangiapane. Mangi has looked good in his brief stint, but a little more seasoning at the AHL level would help. He hasn’t come up and dominated like Mark Jankowski or played as well as Garnet Hathaway, so I’d say he’s out.
MGMacGillivray: I’d agree that Mangiapane and likely Marek Hrivik will be sent down to make room for the returns of Versteeg and Frolik.
Raminashlah: First of all Mark, nobody calls Mangiapane “Mangi”. Also, I agree. Mangiapane and Hrivik were only called up because of injuries and they’d have to waive Garnet Hathaway at this point if the players were to return from injuries. Mangiapane will probably stay the rest of the season since Versteeg will most likely be out for the whole season, but when Frolik returns, Hrivik will most likely be the one sent down.
“Where do you see our goalie situation once Smith’s contract is up?”
MarkParkinson14: A lot depends on what happens NEXT season. Smith has been lights out this season, but what will 60+ games do to his body? David Rittich has shown he’s capable as a back up, but we have no track record of him over an extended period of time. Jon Gillies is the wild card in my opinion. Smith is around for next season and Rittich has the lead on the backup role. Gillies has been hot and cold in Stockton, but has looked decent the few times he’s started in Calgary. Will Gillies do enough to warrant serious consideration as Smith’s backup next season with the Flames or will it be a Rittich/Gillies combo when Smith’s contract is up? Tyler Parsons is intriguing, but he’s realistically 3 years away. He doesn’t have enough experience. In the end, it’s not a bad problem to have, but I’d say, IF Gillies doesn’t garner some trade talk, you might be looking at a Rittich/Gillies, 1A/1B scenario, pending neither of them being traded and getting re-signed.
Milhouse Firehouse: Smitty was supposed to be a two-year stop-gap to some eventual combination of Gillies-Parsons-Rittich. Does that depend more on Mike Smith’s performance in his contract year, or how everybody else in that combination looks at that point when it comes? Worst case scenario, another rental? A Smith extension? Let the young guys play, ready or not? This is a storyline to keep a very close eye on down the line.
“Will this mandatory 5 day break serve good or bad?”
MarkParkinson14: I think a little of both. It’s good for the Flames to get a breather. That last week for them was tough and they blew through it and came out smelling like roses. I think it’s always good for these guys to get away from the rink and get some well earned family time or even a quick vacation (have you seen those Calgary temps lately?). Where it may hurt is in the momentum area. The Flames had won 7 in a row before the break, jumped back into the playoff race and looked like a confident team. Will they look like that after 5 days off of relaxation and being free of hockey? We’ll find out as they get the Winnipeg Jets in their first game back, but I think a little reprieve is always good for the ole batteries.
Raminashlah: It’s hard to tell, but I agree with Mark, with a little bit of both. Last year after they lost four in a row then they had those beers on the bus, they won four of five games before the five-day break. Then they came back and lost 5-0 to the Coyotes. But then a week later is when they started their ten-game win streak. So, while it’s frustrating that they’d have this break now as they’re on a seven-game win streak, it’ll be great for a reset. Even if they don’t win on Saturday when they return, I think this break is good for them and is at a good time.
“Who do you think earns a contract out of the rookies once its time to talk?”
Milhouse Firehouse: There has been no shortage of impactful Stockton talent called up this year, and they’ve all made solid cases. I was initially leaning Jankowski, due to the commodity that centremen are in this league, and the impact he’s had in reviving Sam Bennett, alongside his own solid production (8G 7A, 37GP). All that said, everybody is playing second fiddle in that category to David Rittich. His .932 Save Percentage pads a 4-1 record, and more importantly has given the Flames complete confidence in their second string goaltender. (Flashback to names like Curtis McElhinney, Henrik Karlsson, and last-leg Curtis Joseph, and we’ll remember that’s been the rarest commodity for this team over the years.) Knock on wood that he stays both healthy and rock-solid consistent, and there’s not much room to believe he won’t see a contract.
(I’d be remiss to talk call-ups if I didn’t also mention Garnet Hathaway and the intangibles he brings to the rink. I’m curious to see down the road, does Hathaway’s pestering take some of the heat from Tkachuk as “that guy” and allow ‘Chuky to reach higher production numbers while Hath turns into the full time antagonist?)
“Are the numbers that Ferland is putting up sustainable, or is he riding some crazy shot % numbers?”
MarkParkinson14: I say 100% yes. I think you are seeing a confident Micheal Ferland who’s figured out what his role is on this team. He’s not a “complimentary” player who fills a role on a line. He’s a legit part of the Flames top line and he’s creating his own offence to boot. I’ve always seen him as a really good skater who’s shot just needed a chance and he’s gotten that. I don’t see him moving off that top line and I don’t see why you’d move him. I’d bet good money that what you’re seeing now is the REAL Micheal Ferland, not the 4th line fighter that came up with the Flames.
Milhouse Firehouse: I sincerely hope it’s sustainable, but jeez. Full disclosure I think I’m the only guy in the province to not be 100% sold on FerDaddy. His 6 games and 9 points and dominance in the 2015 Vancouver series are the stuff legends are made of, but until this year his inconsistency had plagued him. Coming into the 2017-2018 campaign it seems Ferland had maybe played a collective 6-8 weeks of consistent hockey at the pro-level in his career. Another fear is that Lance Bouma rode one season of a preposterous shooting percentage to $2.2M contract that fell flat on it’s face, and that’s just not another trap you want to fall into. However, with all the shuffling that Gaudreau and Monahan have seen on the right side, Ferland has seemed to be the guy who settled in the most, and the most often, with them. If he’s found his nieche there, the odds of playing better and doing it longer are easier to bank on with the team’s top talent on his line for the long term.
Raminashlah: It’s absolutely sustainable. Ever since being put on that top line last season, he’s been great. So far this season, he has 14 even-strength goals which is higher than some of the best goal-scorers in the NHL right now, like Tyler Seguin and Connor McDavid. It’s hard to do that on a fluke. He was put on the third and fourth lines to have a different role, but when he’s actually put into a goal-scoring role, he can score. Even his teammates and coaches have said that he has a sneakily good shot and he’s extremely underrated for his goal-scoring abilities since he was never known as that type of player. When being utilized properly, he can excel, and I think he can sustain it if he’s with the right linemates.
“With the way the Flames have been playing as of late, do we see the makings of a legit cup run?”
MarkParkinson14: As much as I want to say yes, the answer is probably no. Look, the Flames are playing out of their minds lately and they have 2 solid goaltenders, but they haven’t even had a crack at the top team in the West in Vegas. I need to see more out of the Flames, including consistently beating the top teams in the West. They look good, but are they “go to LA or Nashville or Winnipeg and win in the playoffs” good? Not sure yet. But I’d like to think I’m wrong.
MGMacGillivray: Most of what the Flames have been doing the last few weeks can be sustainable. The Flames are able to roll all four lines and three defensive pairings without issues and have two stellar goalies. As for being able to stand up with the best teams in the West, I’d point to the Flames stellar 13-5-4 road record. If the Flames can steal a road game or two, I’d like their chances at the Saddledome in the playoffs.
Raminashlah: It’s hard to tell right now. The Flames generally play better the second half of the season, and if how they’ve been playing is somewhat of a foreshadow for what’s to come, then absolutely. But there are other factors and playoffs is a whole different atmosphere. I think if the Flames can get a healthy Kris Versteeg back by the playoffs, if Glen Gulutzan throws a few more sticks, and if maybe they don’t play Anaheim in any rounds, they may be able to. But there are still little things that need fixing: their powerplay, keeping leads, can Mike Smith play this much since he’s not used to playing past April (sorry Coyote fans). Brian Elliott had a great second half last year then somewhat flopped in the playoffs. It’s a whole different ball-game in the playoffs and it’s hard to say if this seven-game win streak will be a tell-all tale of what’s to come in the playoffs.
“Who replaces Jagr for the rest of the season?”
Milhouse Firehouse: It’s a tricky question, considering the Great 68 spent his minimal playing time this year on a few different lines and hadn’t exactly locked down a spot on the the chart that can be marked as empty once he’s officially made his exit. Let’s also remember that Versteeg and Frolik are currently off that same chart, so once they’re back it more or less turns into a question of whether Lazar or Brouwer are the guys not holding down a roster spot. (And we’ve all seen the extremely frustrating dedication, read: money tied up, managerial pride to not admit their mistake, to keeping Troy Brouwer eating minutes and PowerPlay time) My guess is Curtis Lazar will be the guy seeing press box popcorn minutes and Jags won’t so much be replaced as Frolik and Versteeg will eventually return to round out the depth chart.