As I sat watching the Calgary Flames home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, I kept asking myself what the hell Jay Feaster was talking about. Context: Earlier this summer Feaster was quoted saying his Flames will make the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Several. Times.
“We’ll make the playoffs this year”
Jay Feaster, Calgary Flames General Manager | Source
Yeah, for realz.
Look, no one’s putting a gun to the man’s head. Maybe Feaster is trying to light a fire under the asses of the entire Flames roster. Or maybe he truly believes what he’s saying. Frankly it doesn’t matter. He’s wrong.
I know, I know. He’s a proven winner and professional in the NHL. I am not. But he’s still wrong.
[Background transparency: I just don't like the current Flames team. I fully believe if you aren't one of the league's top 10 teams, you need to completely rebuild or at least partially re-tool the roster. Clearly the Flames aren't even close to being one of the NHL's top 10 teams. They haven't won with this roster - or even come close to it - so why continue with the same players, year after year? With a lack of quality up and coming prospects, a painful rebuild is likely coming. Why not get it over with sooner than later?]
I don’t think there’s a single hockey fan who doesn’t believe the Penguins won’t make the playoffs this season. In fact the Penguins are considered by virtually everyone as an early Stanley Cup favourite, with or without Sidney Crosby. Watching the Flames struggle against the Penguins, basically a playoff shoe-in, for most of the game was pretty eye opening. The Flames got close towards the end of the game, but that’s mostly because the Penguins lost interest. The game was won in the second period. Sure it’s early in the season, but it’s how the Flames lost that concerns me.
The Flames looked slow against Pittsburgh. They were out-skilled and out-worked for the most part. Calgary’s role players don’t match up well with Pittsburgh’s role players. I think the same could be said about seven or eight other Western Conference teams too. Pittsburgh even seemed grittier than Calgary.
If the Flames can barely compete against the Penguins – a Crosby-less Penguins no less – how do they think they are a legitimate playoff team? While Pittsburgh is a very strong NHL team, I’d put them in a class of five or so other teams like Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Vancouver. That’s all Western Conference teams. That means, in all likeliness, Calgary will duke it out with nine other teams for the three remaining Western playoff spots. Yikes…
Stay classy, Jay Feaster. And good luck.