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Flames Defense

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Or is it the offense?  Many people have been crapping on the Flames D recently, fairly or unfairly.  We’re only 9 games in, BUT 9 games is a significant chunk (11%) of the season and to the surprise of many, we have only lost 3 games thus far.  We're getting tremendous goaltending, but Hartley has this team playing entertaining, exciting and winning hockey.  So let’s talk about the D.  What do you like?  What do you dislike?  Below is a snap shot of the top point producers thus far for the Flames.

 

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What I like is that when Wideman has confidence and plays like he is right now...

We have a good 3-4 combo in Wideman - Russell

That makes for a decent top 4 D.

 

No one would have thought that about the Flames D during preseason.

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  I like the fact that the Flames have 4 really good skating and puck moving defensemen. One can't really complain all that much with Smid and England as a pair as well. With the D we have right now ,they should be the qurterbacks on the break out with their feet and passing. The benefets of last season and the team, for the most part remaining intact are showing early......hopefully the TEAM does not peeter out here after a good start. I seem to recall they started out quick last year and stumbled....

 

GO FLAMES GO!!

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There were questions all around for the Flames beginning in the summer. Who would step up on D? Who would score with Camalleri gone? Well the simple fact is that the team is scoring by committee. The Flames are currently scoring at an average of over 2.5 goals per game with being held to only 1 goal twice so far. As for the Flames defence, there are a couple of players really showing their worth. It is interesting that Russell is not getting much focus, even though he is currently a +6. Brodie is definitely stepping up and Wideman is playing well. Gio is Gio.

The Flames started fast last year, the same as this year, but then they ran into the injury wall to key players for extended periods with less depth than they have this year. Gio, Wideman, Cammy, Jones, Russell all went down with injuries along with others early on. Calgary has a solid 7th D in Diaz now who could fill in for injuries and a couple of prospects could hold their own now on call ups. Calgary didnt have anyone to really cover for the loss of Cammi. Huds carried the team virtually by himself. This year Colbourne has really gotten going, Johnny Hockey is showing Flashes, Jooris is on the score sheet, May Ray and the list goes on. Even with the once again injured Jones, his play seems to not be missed. There is now far more depth on the team to carry the load, even if some of that depth is simply another year of experience for some players.

If the Flames can continue this work ethic and chemistry while avoiding the key player injury bug, they could turn out to be a dark horse towards a playoff push. I don't consider them a cup contender, but they could actually compete for the playoffs. Whether people think that is good or not is a separate question.

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I like the fact that the Flames have 4 really good skating and puck moving defensemen. One can't really complain all that much with Smid and England as a pair as well. With the D we have right now ,they should be the qurterbacks on the break out with their feet and passing. The benefets of last season and the team, for the most part remaining intact are showing early......hopefully the TEAM does not peeter out here after a good start. I seem to recall they started out quick last year and stumbled....

 

GO FLAMES GO!!

 

One thing I have noticed that has changed this year is the reduction of the dump and chase. There is more of the D carrying it into the O-zone. They also use the trailing forward to break the trap. It is so much better than the old Butter methods.

I have been critical of Wideman in the past, but he is living up to his reputation as a offensive D-man.

What I still agree with is selling while his value is high.  

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If the Flames can continue this work ethic and chemistry while avoiding the key player injury bug, they could turn out to be a dark horse towards a playoff push. I don't consider them a cup contender, but they could actually compete for the playoffs. Whether people think that is good or not is a separate question.

Playoffs good - McDavid/Eichel/Hanifan bad.

Even if there was 10 McDavids & we picked 11th due to our hard work on the 82nd game of the season I would be proud of the Flames with no regrets...

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I really like Wideman in the second pair and never thought he's good enough to be top pair anyways.  The fact he's building chemistry with Russell is great.  He was playing this good prior to getting injured last season so hope he can stay healthy the rest of the year.  Another thing is, Brodie playing on the right side is looking like a good transition and if so, that negates the Flames need to get a top pair RH shot to play with Giordano.  The top 4 is rounding out very well.  We lack size and intimidation in the top 4 but the X's and O's are solid.  Plus, we can play overplay Smid and Engellend when size is required.

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The Flames started fast last year, the same as this year, but then they ran into the injury wall to key players for extended periods with less depth than they have this year. Gio, Wideman, Cammy, Jones, Russell all went down with injuries along with others early on. Calgary has a solid 7th D in Diaz now who could fill in for injuries and a couple of prospects could hold their own now on call ups. Calgary didnt have anyone to really cover for the loss of Cammi. Huds carried the team virtually by himself. This year Colbourne has really gotten going, Johnny Hockey is showing Flashes, Jooris is on the score sheet, May Ray and the list goes on. Even with the once again injured Jones, his play seems to not be missed. There is now far more depth on the team to carry the load, even if some of that depth is simply another year of experience for some players.

If the Flames can continue this work ethic and chemistry while avoiding the key player injury bug, they could turn out to be a dark horse towards a playoff push. I don't consider them a cup contender, but they could actually compete for the playoffs. Whether people think that is good or not is a separate question.

 

The Flames are young and young teams generally don't pace themselves very well.  Thus, the Flames faded down the stretch last season.  Maybe the young guys learned to condition themselves better for this season but i feel the depth is still thin, especially on D.  Last year on depth, we had Obrien, Derek Smith, Cundari, Breen, Billins, etc.  This year we have Diaz, Wotherspoon, Potter, Cundari, etc.  Really not much improved.

 

They are playing well right now but the true test will be come in late November and into December.  I feel the Flames are a bottom 5 team still.  Not bad enough to get McDavid or Eichel.  Should be in the 4th to 6th overall pick position.

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The Flames are young and young teams generally don't pace themselves very well.  Thus, the Flames faded down the stretch last season.  Maybe the young guys learned to condition themselves better for this season but i feel the depth is still thin, especially on D.  Last year on depth, we had Obrien, Derek Smith, Cundari, Breen, Billins, etc.  This year we have Diaz, Wotherspoon, Potter, Cundari, etc.  Really not much improved.

 

They are playing well right now but the true test will be come in late November and into December.  I feel the Flames are a bottom 5 team still.  Not bad enough to get McDavid or Eichel.  Should be in the 4th to 6th overall pick position.

The Flames are a few keys injuries away from bottom 5. Especially on D. Yes, we have options. Wotherspoon and Kulak are two guys that could step into the lineup. That would mean limiting their minutes, though. That would mean overplaying Smid, Engelland, Diaz or Potter (assuming he ever plays an NHL game).

If we are in the bottom 3 come March, I think trading Wideman for the highest bid is essential. It's a signal that we aren't as close to rebounding as we had hoped, so having Wideman on the team has solved nothing.

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If we are in the bottom 3 come March, I think trading Wideman for the highest bid is essential. It's a signal that we aren't as close to rebounding as we had hoped, so having Wideman on the team has solved nothing.

 

Firstly, i doubt we will be bottom 3 come March.  A few reasons,

 

1. Buffalo

2. Carolina

3. The Flames are just too well coached.

 

Secondly, i think Wideman's RH shot is too valuable to trade away (unless we get back a young RH shot).  Wideman will factor into the Flames future in 2 years.  We should keep him.

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Defense starts in net.  Pretty solid duo.  Hiller has been an upgrade from Berra.  Ramo carrying on from where he left off last year, maybe better.

Gio and Brodie, pretty solid 1st pairing, starting to get the league wide respect they deserve.

Wideman and Russell, pretty solid 2nd pairing.  Are the whispers starting?  Are they becoming one of the best second pairing D in the league?  It would be awesome if we started hearing that in the mainstream soon. 
Don’t look now but today these 4 Dmen are in the top 12 point producing Dmen in the NHL.  There combined plus/minus is a respectable +15 as well.  As Hartley would say “SSHHHhhh, this will be our little secret”.

Smid and Englland, 3rd pairing, tough, crashing, banging, fighting, shot blocking type Dmen that have a purpose.

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The Flames are young and young teams generally don't pace themselves very well.  Thus, the Flames faded down the stretch last season.  Maybe the young guys learned to condition themselves better for this season but i feel the depth is still thin, especially on D.  Last year on depth, we had Obrien, Derek Smith, Cundari, Breen, Billins, etc.  This year we have Diaz, Wotherspoon, Potter, Cundari, etc.  Really not much improved.

 

They are playing well right now but the true test will be come in late November and into December.  I feel the Flames are a bottom 5 team still.  Not bad enough to get McDavid or Eichel.  Should be in the 4th to 6th overall pick position.

 

 

+1

 

However, if we do not finish in the bottom six, I would like to see the Flames attempt to trade up to draft Hanifin or Kylington.

 

We definitely lack potential top 2 defense-men prospects.

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Playoffs good - McDavid/Eichel/Hanifan bad.

Even if there was 10 McDavids & we picked 11th due to our hard work on the 82nd game of the season I would be proud of the Flames with no regrets...

Lots of thumbs up if possible.

 

I read an article on the CBC site about the best bang for the buck om every Canadian based team. On the Flames it was Gio (I expected Ladd for the Jets but they went EL Trouba).

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The flames defence is a tale of two cities IMO. Offensively and puck carrying wise they've been excellent and they are doig a great job leading the offence. In their own zone I still think they are below average however and there is no question that goaltending is really the primary reason the flames are where they are. Wideman and Russell are an ok 2nd pairing but one that is below avg in their own end and while I like the grit that smid and Englelland bring, you'd like a bit more mobility on that 3rd pairing.

The issue with Wideman is in 2-3 years when the flames are hopefully contending is Widenan going to be an asset? I'm not do sure so IMO finding a dman in the 21-24 range who can do a bit of everything is the number one need in this organization right now.

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The flames defence is a tale of two cities IMO. Offensively and puck carrying wise they've been excellent and they are doig a great job leading the offence. In their own zone I still think they are below average however and there is no question that goaltending is really the primary reason the flames are where they are. Wideman and Russell are an ok 2nd pairing but one that is below avg in their own end and while I like the grit that smid and Englelland bring, you'd like a bit more mobility on that 3rd pairing.

The issue with Wideman is in 2-3 years when the flames are hopefully contending is Widenan going to be an asset? I'm not do sure so IMO finding a dman in the 21-24 range who can do a bit of everything is the number one need in this organization right now.

 

You are not being fair to Wideman Cross.. He only has 3 years left on his contract so why are you worrying about him 2-3 years down the road, fitting in the future plans when he could easily be gone by then. He is playing well right now and we don't have the depth at D  to replace him even with any of our prospects.

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You are not being fair to Wideman Cross.. He only has 3 years left on his contract so why are you worrying about him 2-3 years down the road, fitting in the future plans when he could easily be gone by then. He is playing well right now and we don't have the depth at D  to replace him even with any of our prospects.

All I'm saying is for th right return I would absolutley deal Wideman because if the flames can get a piece that can help then more in 2-3 years I would do it. I would not give him away like some want to because IMO he is a still solid top 4 dman but if you out can make a smart future move I would do it.

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All I'm saying is for th right return I would absolutley deal Wideman because if the flames can get a piece that can help then more in 2-3 years I would do it. I would not give him away like some want to because IMO he is a still solid top 4 dman but if you out can make a smart future move I would do it.

Agreed, on point here Cross. Wideman isn't part of the future (always hate saying it about anyone but have to be realistic). He's great on offense and has been better defensively but if you can get future assets for him when his stock is high. His D-game is only going to last so long I think so take the "money" and run if you get the opportunity.

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I don't think a Russell and Wideman pairing is the way to go at all nor should they have Smid and Engelland together. I would rather have Smid with Wideman and Engelland with Russell for some stability in front of our net. I hope Wideman plays well enough to trade by the deadline.

I also agree its been our fantastic goaltending making the difference so far.

The flames defence is a tale of two cities IMO. Offensively and puck carrying wise they've been excellent and they are doig a great job leading the offence. In their own zone I still think they are below average however and there is no question that goaltending is really the primary reason the flames are where they are. Wideman and Russell are an ok 2nd pairing but one that is below avg in their own end and while I like the grit that smid and Englelland bring, you'd like a bit more mobility on that 3rd pairing.

The issue with Wideman is in 2-3 years when the flames are hopefully contending is Widenan going to be an asset? I'm not do sure so IMO finding a dman in the 21-24 range who can do a bit of everything is the number one need in this organization right now.

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+1

 

However, if we do not finish in the bottom six, I would like to see the Flames attempt to trade up to draft Hanifin or Kylington.

 

We definitely lack potential top 2 defense-men prospects.

 

I don't see any chance of any team trading up this draft.  It's too deep. going by the experts who've been touting it for the last 2 years.  If the Flames manage to snag Hanifin by pure compete, I won't be too sad.

 

Wideman as it sits wouldn't be worth anything at the draft table.  He's a serviceable D-man, but any trade involving him would require Calgary getting beans back with his massive contract, or it would require taking on some of his payroll.

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I don't think a Russell and Wideman pairing is the way to go at all nor should they have Smid and Engelland together. I would rather have Smid with Wideman and Engelland with Russell for some stability in front of our net. I hope Wideman plays well enough to trade by the deadline.

I also agree its been our fantastic goaltending making the difference so far.

 

Russell and Wideman work together.  They were good last season before injuries struck the team.  They have been good this season.  They complement each other really well.  I agree that it is in issue that it leaves Smid and Engelland together.  But that is more an issue with those two players.  The second pairing was dreadful when either of those guys was on it.  

 

The Engelland contract is proving to be a huge mistake.  They gave a career marginal third pairing D a 3X3 contract that they can't move.  They might be able to move Smid and bring a guy like Wotherspoon up.  I think Smid is a horrible partner for Engelland.  I think they need to move one of those guys and pair him with a better match.  Either that or bite the bullet and put Engelland into the AHL.    

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Russell and Wideman work together.  They were good last season before injuries struck the team.  They have been good this season.  They complement each other really well.  I agree that it is in issue that it leaves Smid and Engelland together.  But that is more an issue with those two players.  The second pairing was dreadful when either of those guys was on it.  

 

The Engelland contract is proving to be a huge mistake.  They gave a career marginal third pairing D a 3X3 contract that they can't move.  They might be able to move Smid and bring a guy like Wotherspoon up.  I think Smid is a horrible partner for Engelland.  I think they need to move one of those guys and pair him with a better match.  Either that or bite the bullet and put Engelland into the AHL.    

 

I would have to agree.  In fact from what I've seen, Smid has had to cover a few times for Engelland's mistakes.  I'm also not smitten with Engelland's fighting ability as it seems to have been non-existent.

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It's been a great start to the season and fun to watch, but I think it needs to be said that, from a rebuild perspective, we have major holes at defense.

 

#1 reason:   Gio and Wideman really won't be in their prime (if they're even in the NHL) for the best years of the rebuild.  My guess is Wideman will have retired, and Gio might be a heart-and-soul 2nd or 3rd string defenseman by that time.

 

#2 reason:  We're over-achieving, which is common for a young team a the beginning of the year.   IMHO, Gio is our only true first-string defenseman.  Wideman, Russell, and Brodie are all currently over-achieving.  And that's great.  But we should temper our expectations a bit.  If Brodie and/or Russell can continue their excellent play, they may solidify themselves as true second-line defencemen.

 

     Playing the odds, I think we can expect that one of Brodie or Russell will emerge as a strong second-string defenseman and still be in their prime for the peak years of our rebuild.    Which means, that in our top four positions, we can say we have One of the four covered.   Maybe two, if we're really, really lucky.   But IMHO, we are still missing two first-string defensive prospects and this is probably the organization's greatest pressing need to solidify the success of the rebuild.

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I think everyone is too harsh on Englelland. It's not a good contract, no question and even the flames admitted that but does it really matter? They've got a boatload of cap space even with that deal and for the next 3 years I cannot see that deal preventing them from doing anything they want to do.

Considering he is in a new place with a new team and carrying a free agent deal I think Englelland played ok. I agree that he and smid are not the greatest match but that's more circumstance then anything IMO but I also think they can and will get better. It's still very early for two guys that have never played together and are likely use to playing the same role.

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Most of the grumblings here have been about 3 Dmen, Wideman, Smid and Engelland.  Let’s not forget how they all got here.
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Wideman was acquired for cash, no players exchanged. 
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Smid was acquired via trade for Horak, a small forward who had his look here but was never going to make this team.  Horak couldn’t make the team to the north either and is presently playing in the KHL. 
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Engelland was acquired for cash, no players exchanged.
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That’s 3 NHL caliber Dmen who were acquired without giving up significant players or prospects, only cash.  The amount of cash should not matter because we presently have oodles of cap space and will have for the foreseeable future. 
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For those of you who look at this as failure because we were forced to bring in hired help rather than build from within, don’t forget about our home grown Gio and Brodie.
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All the while, the Flames were drafting 9 Dmen over the last 3 years.  This would seem like a reasonable effort in an attempt to keep our cupboards full with potential Dmen. 
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We could have used our last two 1st picks and drafted Dmen with higher upside but that would have been at the expense of Monahan and Bennett.
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Tim Erikson, our 1st pick in 09 refused to sign with the Flames which never helped either.
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People say “Trade Wideman”.  I’ll ask “For What”?  Do you think you’re going to get a young grade A prospect dman back?  If we could, I’d be all for it, but I’m thinking we would end up with something less. 
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So, there you have it.  We are where we are with the defense and IMO it’s not that bad.

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