Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Rare Weekend Post

Argh malarg, people.

So went to the Heat game and, Domebeer-aholics, got to say, we are a little disappointed. We were in section 110 and for the life of us, we were the only ones booing Kotaleech. We are just going to assume it was because we were by the opposition bench, and that in other parts of the rink the booing of Kotaleech was indeed occurring.

Because that guy is a dog. There was a play where the opposition sent a Heat player head first into the boards, and the first guy in for the Heat should have been Kotaleech because he was the closest Heat player to the ruckus, and instead of going in and hitting or fighting the player who hit the Heat player with a dirty hit, he loops by him. What the fuck, Kotaleech?

Anyways, yeah, the Heat, at least from what we saw last night (limited sample size alert) aren't the cats meow by any imagination. These guys can barely get a pass off, let alone accept one, and they put muffin shot after muffin shot on goal. TJ Brodie looks like he can skate, but Breen doesn't, not better than Pardy at least. And none of the players played with any particular hustle. We have seen Hitmen games that were faster.

So yeah, colour us unimpressed. At least the music was better, largely because there wasn't much of it.
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Probably the best part of the outdoor game: When the Flames score, we don't have to hear the stupid techno song they when they score at the 'Dome.

And score they will. We bet they win the outdoor game in a blowout. 7 - 2, Flames. Why? Because Montreal should have rocked the barber pole jersey. They didn't, and now they will lose. That's how it works; if we are going to rock the ugliest, most ridiculous jersey in the city's history, then Montreal should have been a good sport and rocked their insane sweaters. As they were more concerned in looking fly on TV, the hockey gods will punish them with the 'L'.

Foolproof logic.
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Going to the Alumni and the Heritage. Shitty seats at the Heritage, but all seats are being advertised as shitty, so we can grin and bear it. Because we will be going to the festivities, and because we like to get our beer on when we go to these festivities, we wouldn't be looking for much out of this corner of the internet on the weekend.

What we will leave you with is this: Beer can freeze!

Uh oh! Yeah, it freezes at about -2.5 C. And as the temp at the game is going to be well below that, you are going to have to drink your beers quickly if you want to enjoy their full flavour. Which means we want to see a lot of people in the concourse at McMahon Stadium shotgunning their beers. And we expect the cops to leave them alone when they do it. Be good to your fellow citizens, officers.

Beer experiments. Thought it was worth a chuckle.
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Gio is talking about wearing eyeblack. Better be like this kids.



Better be.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thoughts On Pre/Post Darryl

George Johnson wrote an article today, here is the link, which we thought was a little...poor.

What are we talking about? George's column deals with the sentiment out there, which we are sure you have run into, that this team is winning because Darryl got fired. George, in our view, seems to come out on the side of the argument that goes "I actually don't really believe in unicorns". You have to read between the lines with George, because he likes to act objective (we don't mean that derisively by the way, all journos 'act' objective, you know?), but we, at least, get from his tone that he is thinks that 'Darryl is gone' is too convenient an explanation.

Fine, all well and good. But here is the thing, this isn't abstract philosophy. You can actually go look at what happened on the ice to see why a team is winning or losing. Crazy, we know, but it is possible.

And we aren't even going stat-guy here. We would have been happy with some surface stats, some 'what happened' stats. We would be thrilled if you put some 'why' stats up there, but we will take what we can get at this point. Because if those stats are in there, it kills one sides argument. Well, sorta.

It is our contention that the Flames went on a win streak not because Darryl was fired, but because they are playing better. We think we can all agree on that.

Why are they playing better? It is our contention that they are playing better as a team for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which happens to be they have gelled as a unit as a result of the Brent Sutter being able to cultivate an 'us against the world' type of swag on the team. Equally as retarded as the Darryl being fired theory, we know. So let's test the Darryl theory, ok?

Darryl got fired on December 28th. Therefore, we have two groups of data we can look at. Pre and Post Darryl Sutter. Only looking at data of this season, and far as we can tell some of the 'why' stats on behindthenet aren't broken down game by game, which is a shame. As we are writing this, we haven't looked at any of the data available either. We have no idea if the data is going to prove the theory one way or the other. Oh the tension in the air.

The Raw:


So what does this tell us, if anything?

Goals for per game has gone up dramatically in the 22 games played since Darryl has been fired. It went from roughly 2.6 to 3.4. That's a +0.80 point gain. That's a lot. That's damn near a goal a game difference. It's such a drastic improvement that it can in no way be caused by Darryl Sutters departure. It is probably caused by puck luck.


Well, wouldn't you know it. We are scoring more goals because more of the pucks we put to the net are going in. You know what that is called? Luck. The team is shooting 11.08% over it's last 22 games, a full 2.58% higher than they were shooting the previous 37, and 1.62% higher than it's season average. We know one and two percent sound small, but that's a big jump, and probably not a sustainable one.

Last year, the teams shooting percentage (all players included) was around 8.80%. Have we added talent that can lift an average of 23+ people a full 2 percentage points higher? No. The hockey gods are smiling on the Flames right now.

The goals against rate is pretty similar Pre/Post Darryl, although we are letting in marginally more goals now than before Darryl got fired (on a per game basis). The PP is marginally worse post-Darryl, both in terms of drawing opportunities and capitalizing on them. The PK has improved dramatically post-Darryl, which is nice, but again, the goals against rate has remained roughly the same (it has actually gotten worse post-Darryl) which would seem to indicate what we are taking away on the PK we are giving up on ES.

But yeah, the reason the team has gone on a win streak is because it is scoring more goals now. Our shots per game has remained largely consistent throughout the season. More are simply going in. Because the team has not added more skill, and because we refuse to attribute such a giant swing in shooting percentage to the voodoo caused by Darryls removal from power, we have to call it what it is, and that's puck luck.

Well timed puck luck for people who like to construct narratives, but puck luck nonetheless.

 So to answer the question: Why are the Flames playing better, the answer seems to be an inflated shooting percentage. As the Flames did not add any talent to the team to explain this inflation, we are going to chalk it up to luck.

Right? Boom-boxes, good vibes, and unicorns don't score goals. It's a coincidence, an accident of timing. Or you can believe that it is Darryls departure that got the team playing to whatever you consider their 'potential' to be. Which means you think the team was sulking, or something. Which, if you do, means you think the team is incredibly mentally fragile. Which probably means they can't withstands the rigors of a playoff run. Which means you are in the 'end-the-charade-blow-it-up' camp at the end of the day.

We don't think you are in that camp if you subscribe to the 'they are playing better because Darryl got fired' theory. We think you are just looking for explanations to events that are unexplainable. Why the puck is bouncing in our favour now is a mystical question. Chalk it up to whatever you want, it isn't provable. Which means all this speculation amounts to ghost hunting.

For the record, the team would have had to improve in all measurable categories to get us to buy into 'It's because they fired Darryl'. Because only one category improved, it looks like fluke to us, obviously.

George posits it is the players buying into the coaches system, or the confidence that comes from winning, the happiness in the locker room, to blame for the win streak. This is as nonsensical as the Darryl got fired theory. Sure, maybe on the very margins of the equation it has some effects. We don't even dismiss that, because in a league with the best athletes in the world and salary cap created parity, what is on the margins does matter. But come on with this noise. The coach has wanted them to score a goal a game more the whole season and the team was fighting him? Really? Because that is what you are saying when you say 'they bought into the coach'. Confidence is something you have until you don't have it. Same with the happiness in the locker room. And the team currently has both of those things because they are winning.

And they are winning because of luck. If you don't like the term luck because you think it diminishes the efforts the players have put out on the ice, then use the word streak. Team is on a hot streak right now, like a hot shooter in a basketball game. But it isn't the true team, it's an aberration.

Darryl spent a lot of money on a flawed team. He got fired for it. Specifically, he got fired for trading for Kotalik. Now, that same team is catching some breaks, and it's ok to keep it together? Weird logic, dude. But ok, we do get it. We are fans, too. We don't trust the teams ability to draft, either. But if we are all in for a run to the playoffs, just know that you are betting on a hot streak that has gone on for 22 games continuing for another 23. And if we make the playoffs, an even more extended streak after that.

Zombie Flames or not, it's going to be difficult to maintain. Unless Curtis Glencross has really turned into a point per game player.
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We never want to hear about how Darryl was mean to the media ever again. The only people who care about that work in the media. When it gets brought up, it makes whomever is bringing it up, in this case it was George, look bitter. That's a bad look. Avoid that look.
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With all that said, you know we are going to win tonight. Saw Pete Maher at the Saddledome while purchasing some Alumni/Heat game tickets, and asked him if he thought we were going to win. He was a little worried the Stars were saving their effort for us. That's what 30 years of following this team will do to you, eh?

Pete couldn't have been nicer, by the way. Class act. Even got an autograph. He signs 'Peter Maher, HHOF'. Yeah, like we would forget that, Flames-Pope Maher.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Quick Hits

Random Goodness

- When good teams meet bad teams, they beat them up. Colorado is a bad team. The Flames? Who knows, it's a little early to make a determination. But they showed signs of being a good team by beating up a bad one like they did.

- Excellent third period. We rag on the coach, but he got the guys to come out and play for that third period, one in which they didn't have to, and one where the 'same-old-Flames' wouldn't have. Again, a good sign.

- No nuclear deterrent on the Flames bench could have potentially cost us the season. Olli is nobodies favourite, but he has been producing, and with the all-hands-on-deck situation the Flames find themselves in, the team probably cannot afford to lose him for an extended period of time. Would Olli have been knee-on-knee'ed so flagrantly if the Flames had a real enforcer on the bench?

- Colorado has an enforcer on their bench, which is why the Flames didn't do anything about Olli getting injured with such a dirty hit.

- Get the hint? Trade for some muscle to protect these guys, Feaster. Especially if Jackman, Esq. is going to miss time. Also, if Jackman, Esq. is going to miss time, how is the team going to replace the budding 20 goal scoring winger? (Yeah, you read that right)

- The schedule maker should be shot. How can a team make a determination about it's future when it's competitors have as many as four games in hand on them? We are hoping things even out by the 20th, because that would be what any schedule maker with a brain would have done, but it is the NHL we are talking about here, so we aren't too hopeful.

- Curtis Glencross may be performing at a peak level. In a contract year, coincidentally. Believe us, we definitely see the reasons behind wanting to trade him. That said, this team isn't rebuilding. That has been made clear, we think. So the question is 1) Do you want to sign him; 2) Can you sign him; 3) Is he going to be better than the return you get from him in a trade.

- Glencross is an NHLer. He is 28. If you trade him, it's probably to a team with a 20th or higher draft pick. He is going to be better for the next 3 years than any draft pick taken 20 or higher by the Calgary Flames scouting staff. It's the cap that is the issue. Our feelings are you can probably fit the contract under the cap, so long as Glencross doesn't go crazy and seek a 3 million dollar plus contract.

- Tangs is the bigger deal. People who think that guy is signing for around what he made this year are nuts.

- The Flames need to keep winning to keep us believing. It's a wonder to think that the team went on a giant winning streak and the city is still hesitant to embrace them. That speaks to the amount of goodwill this team has burned through over the last two years.

- Beating Dallas is a must if you want us to believe the team is legitimate, but the bigger test is San Jose. The San Jose game is on the 25th. Does that leave Feaster enough time to make deals after that date? 72 hours is a long time.

- They beat Dallas and San Jose, they will prove to us they are serious. Playing well and losing those games won't be looked on as a moral victory, because they dug themselves too big of a hole. They need to win those games, otherwise we would look to trading the one year contracts on this team for some assets. Management needs to make it clear to the team that there are benchmarks they are looking to to see whether they buy or sell, and then we can watch how the team responds.

- From what we heard of the game last night, Loubardias was terrible as usual. But we want to be serious for a second. There was a series before the third Flame goal of the night when Loubardias was just calling the play. He wasn't going on and on about some stupid tangent he got in his head, he wasn't trying to drown the silence out with his annoying voice, he was just calling the natural flow of the pay. If you got a DVR, go back and listen. It wasn't terrible. It was the best 30 seconds we have heard out of Loubardias. If he gets pissed that the city thinks he is terrible at his job, then he needs to go back over that tape and see what worked. And what worked is all he was doing was explaining the 'what'. Whenever Loubardias goes on to the 'how' or the 'why' or the 'when' it gets annoying as hell. Charlie Simmer is there for that shit. Less Loubardias is more, Loubardias.

- We keep hearing Loubardias is the most knowledgeable guy eva! Well, then he should be a producer, or a director, or the guy who gathers stats. Right? If you are soft and are like 'We can't fire Peter and put him out on the street' then don't fire him, just promote him to the corner office in the corner where he can't bother the listening audience at home.

- The FAN960 Morning show. Listen, we actually like Walker and Boomer. We know a lot of you Domebeer-aholics don't, and we get that. But, notwithstanding missing the hilarious and sophomoric Richards bits, they do an ok job, we think. Walker is a good sidekick, and he knows gambling. Boomer can keep the show flowing. But the show sucks. And it sucks because the guests suck. Mike Brophy? Who the hell thinks Mike Brophy is interesting? They had Arash Madani on today. Arash Madani? Who the fuck cares what Arash Madani thinks, about anything besides 'How's today's special'? Cuz he is fat, get it? Arash Madani didn't have an opinion on Versteeg getting traded, and he covers the Leafs. If you can't bring an opinion to the table, why are you getting air time?

- Squeaky Brad, are you the booker? Step your game up, bro. If you are forced to put these nobs like Brophy and Madani on by Rogers, do it at 6 in the morning so the majority of the city misses their sleep inducing interviews. And here, this one is free: Book locals. Get Peplinski on once a week, or some other Flame alumni. Get the Flames TV host on. Larry Day, is that his name? Whatever, but these Toronta guests suck, and they are ruining the show.

- Walker and Boomer, again this is some nitpicking, only talk about one thing: Hockey. Jim Rome hasn't talked sports in quite some time. The afternoon guys then talk hockey, except when P Sizzle is talking about the sport where men dry hump each other until one taps. It's too much. If you call yourselves a sport station, then it implies you talk about sports. Does anyone working their even watch baseball? Or basketball, for that matter? We understand that hockey sells, but mix in some sports once in a while. Otherwise it's too much. Boomer and Walker talk hockey, and then Kerr comes in and rehashes what Boomer and Walker talked about. Some variety would be nice, no? Just because you all have monolithic sports palettes doesn't mean the rest of us do.

- Follow us on the twitter. It will make women want you. And girls, you follow us on twitter, it will make men want to listen to you. Promise.

- This post has ran longer than we wanted it too.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Salmagundi

Happy Valentines Day


So, V-Day. Ya'll know we like the French around here. Some Hugo:

Maîtresse, embrasse-moi, baise-moi, serre-moi,
Haleine contre haleine, ├ęchauffe-moi la vie,
Mille et mille baisers donne-moi je te prie,
Amour veut tout sans nombre, amour n'a point de loi.


It basically means "let's do the dirty like the animals do", only, you know, more eloquently. And in French, so if you can speak it nicely, she will dig it. Change 'Maitresse' to the girls name, obviously.

And chocolates by Papa Chocolate, for Whalens sake. That's Bernard Callebaut's real company. He can't even sell chocolates under his own name anymore, so don't get confused. 
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Right On Schedule

We ran a post at the end of January where we laid out a schedule of wins the Zombie Flames would have to go on if they wanted to find themselves very much alive and in the playoffs at the end of the season. With permission (always wanted to write that) we reproduce it here:


Who would have thunk it, but we are right on schedule.

Now, we have certain teams X'ed because they were division leaders, ie: good teams, and we don't think the Flames have proven they can beat good teams. Others are X'ed simply because they come against division opponents, and we assumed they would be split. Whatever. The point is that if you are in the 'We Believe' crowd, Saturday's game against the Canucks should have done nothing to discourage you.
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Wet Blanket

That's us. We went on the twitter the other day and talked about whether the Flames should be trading the one year contracts on the roster. God bless your hearts, Domebeer-aholics, but you pushed back. Kisses, that's why you guys are wonderful.

The team is on a streak, why would we shit on them? Easy, we don't believe they are a good team. They were not a good team at the beginning of the year, haven't done anything to improve the talent on the team, and started off this current win streak by catching a lot of backup goalies.

It comes down to how you perceive this team. Do you look at all 58 games they have played, or just the last 15?

At the same time, we should give the team their due. They have gone on an amazing streak of point collecting
madness.

There are 24 games left in the season for the Flames, and they have put themselves into a position to push for the playoff spot, at the very least. As the team set out this year to make the playoffs as their only goal, this is all we can ask for as fans, right?

Sure, but they are not in a strong position to make the playoffs. They have played the most games out of any team in the Western Conference, which means every other team they are trying to catch up to or pull away from has potentially more points than they do. For the sake of discussion, we are counting out Edmonton, Colorado, St. Louis, and Columbus. They are done. We are also not talking about the Red Wings, the Canucks, or the Stars, because they are the division leaders, and we aignt catching them. So that leaves us with:


(Standings are from Sunday, Feb 13th)

Now there is a lot of faults with the chart. We haven't looked at the schedules of those teams, so we don't no if some of the games in hand they have come against each other. We assumed every team would win all their games in hand, probably not realistic. We haven't factored in three point games or anything like that. Therefore, this chart is almost worthless. We simply use it to show the worst case scenario, to provide an illustration on how important games in hand are, and how tenuous our playoff hopes really are.

Let's not sugar code anything here. If you read this blog we are assuming you aren't a mouth breather go-Flames-go fan. We are assuming you can see reality. The Flames fucked themselves very badly by taking weeks off at the start of the season. Honestly, had they got two more wins during the first half of the season, our potential to make the playoffs would be much, much higher.

That's the rub. The Flames chance to make the playoffs is probably lower than their chance to miss. But not by much. The NHL is a watered down league. It has too many teams, and the cap is eroding the talent base of the great teams.

The $64 million dollar question is if the the Flames are real or not.
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Another Look

With 24 games left, that means there are 48 points in the air. Usually it takes 95 points in the West to make the playoffs, but teams have made 8th place with 91.

For the Flames to get 95 points, they need 31 points in there last 24 games. 31/2 is 15.5 games, so they are going to have to win 16 games and make 32 points in there last 24. That's 16-8 in their last games.

If you go by their full 58, not likely. If you go by their last 15, it's possible, even likely. Again, depends on your point of view.

Our point of view happens to include the fact that Red Wings rock Datsyuk, the Stars rock Richards, The Canucks rock one of the sisters, and we rock...Brendan Morrison.
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What Is To Be Done

So the Flames find themselves in this situation. They have three choices:

1) Realize they are in a soft position to make the playoffs, and trade assets to try to bolster the club in an attempt to make the playoffs.

2) Realize they are in a soft position to make the playoffs, and do nothing to bolster the club. Play it out and come what may.

3) Realize they are in a soft position to make the playoffs. White flag the season and trade assets so as to improve the clubs chances next year.

Door number three is going to suck. The team, whether we believe in them or not, has played themselves back into the conversation, at the very least. The organization has money. In a worst case scenario, you could probably live with Badsuck, Glencross, Tangs, and Pardy leaving the organization for nothing. But at the same time, at a certain price maybe you gotta do it. If you could weasel out a first round pick for Tangs, or if the hockey gods are smiling and Glen Sather is dialing, Glencross...?

Short of that high price, however, the team has earned being kept together to see what they can do.

So options one and two then. Should Feaster trade assets to make the team better? Sure, if those assets are named Hagman or Staios, right? And you know what, are draft record is shit anyways. We see why some people are like screw the first rounder, trade it to get better. But we don't have a second or third rounder. We aren't ones who are in love with the question marks that are draft picks, but it probably wouldn't be too healthy to go the first three rounds of the draft without a pick. If they trade the first rounder, it better be for a steal of a deal.
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Clear The Buffet Line

Here is a question that probably deserves more attention that it is going to get, but is Feaster, what's the term, general-managing(?) for his job, or for what's good for the team. Like, does he have to make the playoffs to keep his job?

Usually when teams fire their general managers, they rebuild. That's why they fire their GM's. The new guy doesn't usually tend to keep the players that got the old guy fired. Yet Feaster hasn't dismantled anything. He has kept everyone. He hasn't even fired a warning shot across the bow. Why not? Because it looks like he thinks, for some reason or another, maybe implied by ownership, that if he makes the playoffs he keeps his job.

Which would be insane, because it would mean he was managing for the short term, which means he is the same as Darryl, who just got fired for managing for the short term.
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Nenshi

We forget, did Nenshi run on increasing the cities taxes? No, he didn't? Oh. That means he probably should have a referendum on it, don't you think?

Nenshi's outside the box thinking is to raise taxes. Called it people, and you thought we were crazy. Look, we know the last mayor and the city council spent a shitload of our money on frivolous stuff. Sucks Nenshi, but that means you have to be responsible and not spend a shitload of money on what you think is probably good stuff, but what will amount to be at the end of the day, a bunch of  frivolous stuff.

Be an adult.
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Who would have thought that the Calgary City Council, which is full of communists, would agree on anything with the legendary General Jack D. Ripper?



Go on, General.



That's not crazy at all, Calgary City Council. Not at all. Not in the slightest.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.