In hockey, goaltending can make or crack a team’s prospects for victory. Good goaltending can cover up a good deal of deficiencies, but nearly almost nothing can cover up for bad goaltending. Because the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff following the 2012-13 year, the Calgary Flames have been perpetually browsing for a top rated goaltender. Their research has witnessed them use 10 distinct goaltenders heading into the 2017-18 year and nevertheless not settle on a top rated netminder.
The summer season of 2017 represented the second total changeover of the team’s goaltending in as quite a few off-seasons, and the 3rd completely distinct tandem in three seasons. The Flames appear to be mastering from their past problems, which conspired in opposition to them to the level where the group was lifeless-last in the overall Countrywide Hockey League by mid-November last year.
The Flames relied upon Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller in 2015-16, with Ramo’s health and general performance earning him the standing of their top rated goaltender (if only begrudgingly). Next a year that observed the Flames end around the base of the standings, group administration jettisoned each goaltenders as cost-free brokers and fired head coach Bob Hartley. Consequently, the 2016-17 year began with a few concurrent problems:
- The new goaltenders, starter Brian Elliott and backup Chad Johnson, had to alter to their new teammates.
- The Flames defensemen had to alter to Glen Gulutzan’s new actively playing model, which associated staying considerably more proactive in demanding puck-carriers as they entered the defensive zone and initiating a lot quicker breakouts with the puck.
- Gulutzan also had to figure out which defensive pairings he was heading to use and a few races for work opportunities at the base of the roster went down to the remaining preseason recreation.
In between new devices, unclear pairings and a good deal of goaltenders in camp, the preseason appeared primed for problems. The 1st month of the year observed quite a few of the proverbial cracks in the Flames’ dam distribute, with the 1st month of the year complete of struggles, miscommunications and in general defensive confusion.
In a spring version of 30 Thoughts, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared some of Elliott’s feelings about his struggles early in Calgary:
Anywhere I go subsequent, I’m heading to emphasis a good deal suitable absent on communication so I can strike the ground functioning. Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, irrespective of whether they would slide on a two-on-just one, take absent the back doorway or emphasis on the slot, I’d been with them so prolonged I understood what they’d do. I understood when I could cheat a tiny more, or need to do it a lot less. It took a good deal of video do the job with (Calgary goalie coach) Jordan Sigalet, but lastly I felt improved and could be more aggressive. It was a reminder that players aren’t heading to change their tendencies in front of you, so you have to discover how to read a distinct group.
Elliott performed three preseason game titles at the rear of a group mastering new devices. Also, the only normal defenders he performed with in just about every recreation ended up Mark Giordano and Deryk Engelland. He performed 2 times every single with Jyrki Jokipakka, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton, and the pairings ended up all over the area. The result was goalies attempting to figure out defensemen, who ended up in change mastering a new system though actively playing with inconsistent partners and attempting to also discover their tendencies and nuances. In shorter: it was messy.
While the Flames managed to salvage their year and make the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, the starting of the 2016-17 year delivered a excellent template for how not to alter to a new goaltending tandem.
Mastering from Errors
The 2017 preseason was a huge departure from 2016’s. Five of the six blueline work opportunities ended up already spoken for and recognized pairings ended up utilised through the game titles – apart from a compact group of players vying for the sixth and seventh defensive places. The team’s veteran players did not have to alter to any new devices, to the level where Gulutzan often joked that it felt at practices like he had a further 15 coaches on the ice supporting the newcomers discover.
Smith performed four exhibition game titles. All four ended up performed with the Flames’ top rated four defensemen deployed in their acceptable pairings: Giordano with Hamilton, Brodie with newcomer Travis Hamonic. He only performed two game titles with the 3rd pairing of Michael Stone and Matt Bartkowski, although it need to be mentioned that he performed for numerous seasons with Stone and was without doubt common with his tendencies. Speaking following a victory in the Flames’ house-opener, Smith described some of his acclimation approach.
“We ended up more aggressive, we ended up brief, we created the plays that ended up there to be created, and acquired heading.” – Mike Smith pic.twitter.com/dYfSmWGflr
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) Oct 8, 2017
“I acquired listed here early,” mentioned Smith. “I acquired listed here a good deal earlier than I would generally get listed here, but I had children in university, too, so that was a huge rationale. But I required to get acclimated suitable absent with the players on this group. I had performed a good deal of game titles in opposition to them, so I kind of understood what they introduced to the table, there is been a good deal of dialogue in between me, the coaching personnel and the D about model of play, devices and communication as significantly as actively playing the puck.”
He mentioned that the acclimation approach involved some video do the job and on-ice periods with coaches, as very well as dialogue with the personnel and his new teammates. Supplied that Smith performed in the Western Meeting for the last numerous seasons, arguably the only participant he was not common with was Hamonic (who came to the Flames from the Japanese Conference’s New York Islanders). Next the house-opener victory, Brodie shared some feelings on adjusting to Smith’s considerably-talked-about puck-dealing with model.
“You just consider to get open up for him,” mentioned Brodie. “If he can get his eyes up the ice, he’s heading to consider to make a tape-to-tape move and he’s very good at it. It’s just a subject of men acquiring open up for him and give him the out.”
Based on the 1st few game titles of the Flames’ year (which have witnessed only Smith in web), the adjustment period for the club’s new goalie tandem has already gone a good deal smoother than it did a calendar year back. The early returns have witnessed a more coordinated, a lot less scattered Flames defensive group in their personal zone and that stage of ease and comfort has seemingly permitted Smith to start off his stint with the Flames with some robust performances. It’s not essentially an indicator of achievements over 82 game titles, but it’s always preferable to get out to a very good start off instead than dig by yourself a hole in the NHL’s standings.