This has got to be one of the most dumb-founded sentences I've ever typed:
On the season, 'Baby Jagr' as he's known back in his hometown in the Czech Republic, has played a grand total of just 4:48 on the power play. Not one second has come as an actual fixture on either the first or second power play unit.
A breakdown of that ice time:
- 2:28 - Came as a spare versus the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers last week. He was one of the players that saw ice time on the second unit, filling in for rookie Matthew Tkachuk while he was out of the line-up with his injured hand.
- 0:56 - Came against Chicago on Oct. 24 when he was part of a make-shift third unit with Matt Stajan and Alex Chiasson, who got out during the final minute of a squandered double-minor to Tyler Motte.
- 1:14 - The rest that is left over is just random scraps along the way as Calgary prepared to return to five-on-five after a blown man advantage -- 8 seconds in game 1, 9 seconds in game 2, 19 seconds in game 6, 3 seconds in game 10, 18 seconds in game 13, etc.
Now I'm not suggesting putting Frolik on the power play means he has to remain on it until he becomes a free agent on July 1, 2020, but my goodness, it's time to give the 28-year-old a shot because this element of Calgary's game is absolutely killing them.
Give Frolik a Chance
Frolik leads the Flames in scoring with 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists), all of them coming at either even-strength (10) or shorthanded (2).
I get the concept of managing ice time and that Frolik along with Mikael Backlund -- also having an excellent season -- is the forward pairing always over the boards first when the Flames go on the penalty kill. But the guy he pairs with while shorthanded is doing the special teams double-dip, why not try them together on the man advantage and see if that same chemistry you see at 5-on-5 and 4-on-5, can shine through at 5-on-4. What do you have to lose?
It was back on November 9, after two straight practices that featured a high concentration of work on the power play, in which Gulutzan vowed to keep his two power play units together for seven games so they could develop some consistency.
At the time, these were the units:
- Unit 1 - Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Chiasson, Giordano
- Unit 2 - Tkachuk, Backlund, Brouwer, Brodie, Hamilton
It's been five games so far and they've gone 2-for-19. One for the top unit -- a goal by Johnny Gaudreau in Minnesota. One for the second unit -- albeit from Micheal Ferland, filling in for Matthew Tkachuk against the New York Rangers while the rookie was out of the line-up with stitches in his hand.
Yes, a PP clip of 10.5 percent is an improvement over the 8.3 percent up until that point. But that's like saying Nerds are a tiny bit healthier for your teeth than Candy Corn.
I respect Gulutzan's desire to keep his word because in his first year behind the bench, you need to establish that your word does not only apply when it's convenient. He needs to be good for it.
But an escape clause landed in his lap when Gaudreau got injured. It was a perfect chance to slide in Frolik, or even Ferland for that matter. Left shot for left shot in either instance. Instead, he opted for the right-shot of Linden Vey, who spent all season in the AHL up until just a few days prior.
Further, I guess that by consistency, he was referring to the forward units only because he tweaked and flip-flopped the D pairings at that same time. He moved TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton to the first unit, bumping Alex Chiasson off what originally was a power play comprised of four forwards. Subsequently that meant dropping Mark Giordano to the second unit alongside Dennis Wideman.
So Vey's stay boils down to him being the lone right-hand shot up front on that first unit. I know having a right shot is viewed by the organization as real important in terms of the options it provides on the man advantage but in this instance, is it so important that you're willing to play a minor leaguer ahead of your leading scorer? That seems like a stretch.
This is a power play that has gone 1-for-37 on home ice. Wrap your head around that. Plus, the only goal was that throwaway Ferland tally halfway through the third period against the Rangers last Saturday. Down 4-0 at the time, all it accomplished was broke Henrik Lundqvist's shutout.
That's playing 68:06 with an extra man on the ice -- the equivalent of nearly three-and-a-half periods -- and scoring one measly goal.
Mix in a dreadful penalty kill that has surrendered 12 goals at home and it's no surprise their record at the Saddledome is 3-7-0. But what has to be most frustrating, if not infuriating for the club and its fans is five of those seven losses were one-goal losses if you exclude empty net goals. In fact, you can essentially make that six one-goal losses as the 4-2 defeat to Carolina was also a one-goal game into the final minute when Carolina scored on a 5-on-3.
That's virtually six one-goal losses in front of the home fans. In those six defeats, Calgary has gone 0-for-23 on the power play while the opposition has gone 9-for-22 with the extra man.
A middle-of-the-pack NHL power play should have produced four goals during that span. A middle-of-the-pack penalty kill should have only yielded four.
Just imagine the impact a nine-goal swing on special teams could have had in those tight games. Instead of 3-7-0 wearing red jerseys, this club could easily be 7-3-0, or maybe even better than that.
You know where Calgary would be in the standings with an additional eight points? First place in the Pacific Division.
- Unit 1 - Bennett, Monahan, Brouwer, Brodie, Hamilton
- Unit 2 - Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik, Giordano, Wideman
Recent Flames Reading:
- Wild Honour Gaudreau with 21-Slash Salute - With albeit a wider scope of severity than Brad Treliving (who had 11 slashes), a look at Minnesota's 21-slash salute to Johnny Gaudreau and the flaws in how the NHL applies its rule book. (November 16, 2016)
- Engelland: Lighthouse on Defence, Standing out Amongst a Dark and Stormy Sea - While the Flames high-profile defencemen have all collectively struggled this season, Deryk Engelland has played the best hockey of his career. Here's why. (Nov. 14, 2016)
- FF80F Podcast: Episode 8 - Wes Gilbertson Stops in to Discuss the Flames Woes - PostMedia beat reporter Wes Gilbertson joined me for the latest podcast where we get into all the topics that have Flames fans frustrated and angry. (Nov. 12, 2016)
- Too Early for Final Judgment: 5 Reasons for Fans to not Give Up Hope Yet - While things may look hopeless and maybe the Flames are who they are, there are compelling reasons in which it's too early to wave the white flag. (Nov. 8, 2016)