Two weeks ago the Calgary Flames were reprising the role of last year's Colorado Avalanche. They'd come flying out of the gates in a tough division, and were even toying with the idea of leading that division. Fast forward to today, and the Flames have lost six straight games and now sit on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Thank goodness, because I'd been starting to be embarrassed by my pre-season projections.
But what's the real story with the Flames? Were they as good as their early season record suggested? Are they as bad as this six-game win streak suggests? I personally don't have a clue. I only know Calgary as the setting for Cool Runnings and a place the Stars have to stop in between beating the Canucks and Oilers.
Luckily, blogging backup is available. Mike Fail of Calgary Flames blog Matchsticks & Gasoline was kind enough to humor Obscene Alex and I with answers to questions that we may or may not have asked in all seriousness. And as a bonus feature this time, my answers to his questions can be found over at his blog. Be warned though. He tries to make fun of Mike Modano. It's not very nice.
Our questions, his answers:
Defending Big D: So... how 'bout that 6 game losing streak?
The masochist in me has been waiting for this all season long. I've been been rubbing my nipples suggestively at each passing loss to keep it fun. I mean what do you expect at this point? The fan base (visible majority I should say) don't believe in a round Earth, or that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and math. They hate math.
I guess you could say I'm in the thick of the "team analytics" side. I don't think it's the end all, be all but everyone saw this coming. How the media and other fans portray this as "they're not working hard enough, they're soft, they're whatever" is their choice. It's your experience and your opinion at the end of the day, but more and more are finally getting "it".
I mean we were projected unanimously as the worst team in the west. I've been so happy with the team this year that I can't complain that much beyond a few small pains. I lived through the "Young Guns" era so I'm pretty resilient to this stuff. I'm in counselling still over the 2004 no goal against Tampa, so this is nothing. In the last six games they've been a decent possession team although they typically turn on the burners after letting in a bunch of goals.
/goes back to reading spreadsheets
DBD: Apparently, in order to celebrate his accomplishments during the aforementioned 6-game skid, the Flames have extended coach Bob Hartley to a multi-year deal. Are we cool with this? Does he have the Flames on the right track?
When a team is winning, everyone has their own narrative as to why they're succeeding. When they're losing, it's the same thing. They said they were going to wait [on the extension] and I guess it changed. I like what he has done. To speak like Hartley for a moment:
"You know eh we have to an-steel a eh woryk ethic ear in da dressing rooom. With that you know eh all de odder things will calm."
A lot of the MSM (particularly TSN guys) shit on him prior to this season, clamouring that there may be a shake up if Calgary tanks miserably. It's adorable to see them flip-flop on things well later than the blogger/twitter/non-MSM crowd.
That said he's been a good quote, interview, and capable. He's made some missteps like everyone else but he's rebounded lately. The only hits against him really are:
1. Misusing Mikael Backlund last year for 20 games or so
2. Sven Baertschi's mismanagement at times (limited TOI, benching, glueing him to the 4th line, etc)
3. Usage of Deryk Engelland/Ladislav Smid
He gets a B+ from me. We're not Edmonton so I'm happy (despite living in Edmonton).
DBD and Obscene Alex: What are the Flames truculence levels like this season? Is Brian Burke pleased? And further to that, who are the most truculent Flames? You know, the ones whose truculence could really prove to be the tipping point in tonight's game.
Low. Very low and it's unfortunate. The #GRITCHART gods are unhappy.10 fights this year and none from Brian "Trucusaurus Flex" McGrattan. Brandon Bollig has had 3, Engelland has had 4, Giordano 1, Bouma 1, and Smid 1. It's low and not good enough. WHAT KIND OF "ALBERTA HOCKEY" IS THIS!? WHERE IS THE PUGNACITY?! THE TRUCULENCE?! THE TESTOSTERONE!? HUH!?
I'd assume that he isn't. I mean the team is performing and up until a few games ago (6 long ones) they were winning and scoring. I'm happy as a fan to not see them punch faces every night and try to use skill. I'm unhappy we still have a pugilist in the line-up at times.
Most truculent? Brian McGrattan. The guy pisses truculence every morning and he has to buy a new toilet. His pee punches holes in urinals and toilets. If there is a fight tonight, it's probably Engelland, Bouma, or Bollig. They all seem likely to get punched in the face or try to punch faces.
OA: Would you describe these as "flammies"?
10/10 yes. Would describre them as flammies and would wear them. That way I can stay warm and toasty.
That joke sucked, I'm sorry. [Ed. note: You're forgiven.]
DBD: Karri Ramo has single-handedly destroyed the goaltender ratings on my fantasy team...
Image courtesy of the amazing @bookofloob - Ramo is Rambo. He kills. [Ed. note: Thanks Mike, for a visual that perfectly encapsulates my feelings.]
...Why I have Karri Ramo on my fantasy team is a long story. I blame Obscene Alex. But! I didn't mean to talk about Karri Ramo. Woops. I meant to ask about that other goaltender in Calgary. The one brought in over the summer. Talk to me about Jonas Hiller.
Jonas Hiller is a man of weird hair, the inability to stand up quickly, and most importantly an enigma wrapped in a jersey. The story of Jonas Hiller is a touching one, born in the mountains of Switzerland to Jonas Sr and Marta Hiller.
His upbringing was a kind one, on days before hockey young Jonas would sing to the many creatures in the woods. His song writing abilities got him a job ghostwriting for Cher, Billy Idol, and even David Bowie. Though his true passion is music, he has taken up the mantle of a NHL goalie in his adult life. "Turn Back Time" by Cher, written by Jonas. "Dancing with Myself", by Jonas too. "Heroes", that amazing Bowie song used in NHL '99? Jonas wrote it too.
Weezer's song "My Name is Jonas" is a tongue and cheek tribute to Hiller too.
Goaltending was a strong position for the first part of the season. He and Ramo's quality of goaltending has been questionable lately. He's also let in a few weird goals, fallen down once while going for the puck, and regressed a bit. I like him and I hope he keeps playing well.
DBD: Losing streak aside, the Flames did flirt with the Pacific Division lead for a while last month. So they can't be that bad. What kind of game should we expect out of them tonight, and can they keep Tyler Seguin off the scoresheet?
They were riding those crazy math numbers the nerds in the basement were talkin' about so that's why we almost had the lead. They're not "bad" but "not as good" -- maybe "established" is a better word. They aren't as established as other great teams in the conference and division. How do you stop Seguin? I have no idea. He seems like an unstoppable killing machine from the Killbot factory. Maybe launch Dustin Brown at him with his knee out? [Ed. note: If this happens, I will track you down and destroy you.] Or have Corey Perry lick him and he will get sick?
But she caught me at the doctors (It wasn't mumps) Saw me swollen on the sofa (It wasn't mumps) I even threw up in the shower (It wasn't mum— SJ (@stace_ofbase) December 14, 2014
OA: Lastly, got any favorite Boring Sean Monahan quotes? How about real Sean Monahan quotes?
Personally, I think the Twitter feed has gotten a little old. There was a period of time last season when someone created a @MonahanBillets account that I really liked. It was adorable and funny -- just the stereotypical motherly/fatherly tweets about Sean and his performance as a rookie.
But my favourite one is this one:
I had a gripping conversation with Mike Cammalleri this morning. pic.twitter.com/G8dDr1UR5o— Boring Sean Monahan (@boringmonahan) March 29, 2014
From a comedic standpoint, I love conversations with one person left hanging. It's pretty much a perfect tweet.
[Ed. note: Great ending to this article, Mike. Thanks for working with us on it.]
[Ed. note: We should definitely collaborate again sometime.]
[Ed. note: Hello? Mike?]