David VS Goliath: Are the Flames a bunch of Davids?
The old tale of “David versus Goliath” has David winning, but I can see Zdneo Chara rolling his eyes and scoffing at that story.
Chara is an integral piece to the evolving tapestry of size in the NHL. Conversely, so is five-foot-seven Nathan Gerbe, but there are far fewer Gerbes than Charas being sought. The ongoing trend suggests that every team have an imposing, intimidating, physical Goliath.
Tyler Myers and John Scott represent the Sabres, Viktor Hedman the Lightning, Dustin Byfuglien the Jets, and more.
However, this trend doesn’t only apply to established veterans. Youngsters are being woven into the fabric as well. Boston called up six-foot-fiver Dougie Hamilton and the Dallas Stars recently added their six-foot-seven behemoth Jaime Oleksiak to the roster. With the Stars’ upcoming matchup with the Flames, maybe it’s time we look at the fabric of the Flames’ defense. Couldn’t hurt, right?
Let us look at the stats first. The Flames are currently tied with Phoenix for third-worst in the Western Conference for Goals-Against having played 10 games. The two teams ahead of them, St. Louis and Columbus, have played 12 and 13 games respectively, while the Coyotes have played 13 games.
That’s a long way of saying the Flames have the worst Goals Against in the West. It’s safe to say their defense has sucked.
Now, for argument's sake, let’s call defensive leader Jay Bouwmeester a big guy. But at the same time, let’s eliminate him from this group because he hits about as often as he scores. That leaves you with… nobody.
Now, I’m not saying that a big guy will remedy the Flames’ poor play as of late, but it could add a new dynamic to a small, underachieving blueline. I enjoy watching crafty, quick players like Wideman, Brodie, and prospect Tyler Wotherspoon, but I don’t like watching them get dominated in the corners. And moreover, I don’t like watching them lose.
The fact is that while Calgary is a gritty team, they’re also a small team. Giordano, Butler, and Smith aren’t bad players by any means, but they don’t have the size to clear players from in front of the net or deliver big bodychecks continuously throughout the season.
On the plus side, if the Flames continue to showcase such lusterless performances, maybe they’ll earn a shot at a top 5 pick, which includes highly-touted Seth Jones. Jones is a big physical presence who makes a living in the dirty areas – sounds like a Flame already.
I understand that it’s far too early to speculate the Flames’ true merit for this season, but rumblings for change have echoed off of Twitter, facebook, and various blogs – so I’m just playing perpetuater for argument’s sake.
Maybe the Flames should look to the arch-nemesis Oilers and try to scoop disgruntled defenseman Ryan Whitney. He’s a big, physical player, he’s a UFA next season, and he has been a healthy scratch recently for reasons unknown. And for naysayers who say it can’t be done, look up Steve Staios’s trade history.
Maybe a bigger blueline isn’t the answer. Maybe I’m wrong. All I know is that as lovely as the David vs. Goli ath story is, your odds are always better fighting someone in the same weight class.