Gearing up for tonight's Canucks-Flames matchup, Mr. Kraszkowski wanted to ask me 5 Canucks in regards to the Canucks. I obliged. That interview is now up at Matchsticks And Gasoline.
I presented Kevin a loaded question in return:
What are 5 areas that need to be addressed by Brian Burke and / or the coach and players in order for the Flames to become a successful team again?
1) There's nothing on the table - but the cupboard has some tasty surprises.
I want to be honest with myself and with you here. Let's face it, about half of Calgary's players wouldn't crack the starting lineup on another team. Brian McGrattan, Lance Bouma, Joe Colborne, Shane O'Brien, Lee Stempniak, and Matt Stajan all have less than one "point share" at this time, each with at least 40 games played. Looking to replace them, if they get a chance, we have Ben Street (33P in 31G with Abbotsford) already with the big club. In addition to him, we can also look forward to seeing Sven Baertschi, Chad Billins, Corban Knight, Markus Granlund, and Peter Sivan (38P in 30G with ECHL Alaska) in the near future. Joni Ortio is 16-4 with a 2.30 GAA and a .922 save percentage at the AHL level, so there are options between the pipes.
2) Not two of a kind.
Reto Berra and Karri Ramo are being sold as a single duo, interchangeable and ready for action. Recently, however, it's become glaringly apparent that only one of the two would be considered NHL calibre on most teams. Reto's save percentage has dropped below .900 - and it's no fluke. He's got a terrible case of big-fat rebound-itis. The sooner the Flames come to grips with that and make a move for a more solid presence between the pipes, the sooner that the word "playoffs" ceases to be a joke.
3) Sean Monahan's a good start.
Have a little patience with Sean Monahan. He's only 19, but he's averaging about a half a point per game. It'll only get better from here as he finishes growing. I know it's a full rebuild, but I think it would be a mistake to trade him away at this point. He's one of the guys the team should be building around.
4) Rediscover scoring.
The Flames power play is one of the worst in the NHL, at 13.5%. It goes a long way towards explaining how the Flames forgot how to score - and what they could do to address the issue. Calgary recently went through a stretch where they got shut out in five of eight games - totaling six goals over the span. The team is too far out of contention to make a bunch of trades before the deadline and hope for a late playoff push, but it's the perfect time to think about next season.
5) Shake it up and let it gel.
I guess all of my answers have something in common here - be patient. Fans of Calgary may feel as if they've suffered for a long time - that they're due somehow. Rome wasn't built in a day - and the Flames wont be either.
Power play woes. Goal-scoring woes. We know all about that don't we? If you want to feel a little bit better about being a Canucks fan and enduring the team's current slump, just remember: it could always be worse. I can't even imagine the Canucks not being a team that is out of a playoff picture and in need of a restart. We have had it good for a long time now.
A big thanks to Kevin Kraszkowski for taking time to answer my question.