Welcome back to The Sunday Census. Throughout the week, The Win Column will be posing topical and intriguing polls on Twitter (@wincolumnblog) to gauge the fan-base’s stance on pressing issues. Want to make sure your opinion is taken into effect? Vote in the polls, start a debate, and propose alternative suggestions on the polls!
Mark Giordano is more than the Flames’ captain. He’s their leader, their father, and most importantly their rock on the back end. It’s not coincidental that when he went down with injury in the Flames’ match against the San Jose Sharks this past week, the team was remarkably worse and ended up losing the game.
The Flames’ defense corps is not what it once was. It’s much like a poorly oiled machine: it’s leaky, there always seems to be rust everywhere, it stalls all the time, and it’s just not reliable.
Giordano is on the injured reserve and is listed as week-to-week. Not great news for a Flames team that can’t seem to win a game anymore and desperately needs a spark plug to ignite what was once a prolific offense. The injury begs the question: what should the Flames do at the deadline? Does Giordano’s injury change the team’s plans?
The Flames are in the middle of a jam packed race in the Pacific Division. Day to day, game to game, it seems like they could either win the whole thing, or finish in last place. Okay not last place, but third last ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. They’re in the midst of a stretch of games against what should be vastly inferior teams, and still they have not won a game in regulation in their last eight games. That is absolutely not okay for a team that is supposed to be in a window to contend.
Now that Giordano is out, should the Flames trade for a defenseman to temporarily fill his place, should they stand pat and go for it with their current roster, or should they concede the season and try and accumulate assets for their expiring players?
It’s a tough question, and choosing wrong can lead the team down a spiral that only one team in Alberta should have to face every 30 years.
Most respondents felt that the Flames should sell. Times are tough in Flamesland right now, and it’s not unexpected to see so many fans’ frustrations spill into the polls. The hard part of selling off pending UFAs and not filling the holes on the roster is that it’s an easy decision to make. There’s no spine in that decision, it usually only sets the team up for future success rather than immediate success, and it’s not a decision that a team in a contending window should make. However, is this a team truly in a contending window?
The second most number of respondents seem to think so. They would rather the team trade for a defenseman to fill the hole left by Giordano, and go for it. It’s a very reasonable stance to have with such a wide open Pacific, and with just a couple tweaks there’s no reason to believe the Flames can’t repeat as division champs.
The problem is, there’s no guarantee. Anything could happen and with that in mind, is it a better option to go for it or to sell and wait another season? Time will tell what the Flames end up doing, but whatever decision they make will be a huge indicator of what direction the team will go the next five years.
On a more immediate topic related to Giordano’s injury, the Flames have to figure out how to fill that gap in the time leading up to the deadline. Assuming they don’t make a move right away, which defenseman should take over the most of Giordano’s minutes?
An overwhelming majority of respondents chose Rasmus Andersson as the most deserving to take over Giordano’s minutes. Andersson is clearly the Flames’ defenseman of the future. He’ll be the one to carry the torch for the next six seasons at the very least, and he’ll be relied upon to anchor the blueline. It seems natural that he should be the one to take on the added responsibility.
The only knock on Andersson right now is that he’s so young. It’s easy to say he should take the extra minutes, but can he shoulder that load in such a critical junction of the season? 23% of respondents believe that a more veteran defenseman like Travis Hamonic or TJ Brodie are better options to take over those minutes.
It makes sense, and it seems to be the direction the Flames are going in. It’s only been a couple games so maybe this changes, but so far the Flames have opted to ice a first pairing of exactly those two players, Brodie and Hamonic.
Noah Hanifin wasn’t shut out of this poll with 4% of respondents choosing him to take over Giordano’s minutes. Judging from Hanifin’s play lately, he’s probably the least deserving of extra minutes.
When you get absolutely walked by Matt Benning and cause your team to give up a lead to your arch rival, it’s hard to go to bat for you to get more minutes. Perhaps these people think Hanifin just needs a few more minutes to become effective. One can only speculate.
Want to be a part of the conversation next time around? Follow us on Twitter @wincolumnblog and be sure to keep a look out for our polls throughout the week.