Yes, it’s early, like 5 games into the season early. HOWEVER, you can’t deny that things on the Flames bench are different. Whether you liked the Bill Peters signing or not, he’s running his ship completely different than Glen Gulutzan did and in the end, it might be the thing that helps get the Flames back into the playoffs.
No, Peters doesn’t score goals. No, he doesn’t make saves. What he has to do is set the tone and change the culture and he seems to be perfectly fine with rocking the boat. Just ask Mark Jankowski and Michael Frolik. Neither player has been horrid so far this season, yet they haven’t been great either. The solution? Bill Peters scratches both of them. Jankowski sat for two games over the past week in favour of Anthony Peluso who had 4:23 TOI against the Blues and 5:16 TOI against the Predators. Not even 10 minutes in two games. Jankowski had been averaging a little over 8 minutes of ice time in the two games before he was benched. The message was clear: cheap calgary flames jerseys step up your game or have a seat. And yes, Peluso was brought in to add some muscle after the Canucks roughed the Flames up a bit, but make no mistake if Janko was playing well, someone else would have gotten the pine. As for Frolik, Peters was culling his minutes as well and he finally got scratched for Garnet Hathaway Saturday night in Colorado. It’s been a rough ride for Frolik since being injured last season and he hasn’t been great on the penalty kill either this year. Frolik started the season playing over 13 minutes against the Canucks and then saw his minutes dip under 8 in the next 2 games and just under 9 against St. Louis before he got the news he was getting the night off. Jankowski is still a kid, but Frolik is a 10 year NHL vet which should tell you all you need to know about what Peters expects out of this team.
Another pleasant surprise is Peters’ willingness to toss the lineups out the window (in game) when things aren’t going well. When Elias Lindholm isn’t clicking with the top line he’s out and James Neal is moved up. When Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson were getting torched out there together, he broke them and the Flames took down the Av’s with different defence pairings. He’s switched up the PP to a #1 unit that should dominate. Peters has the smarts about him to place his best players on the ice when the Flames have the man advantage. Amazing isn’t it?
I’m not saying Bill Peters will deliver the Flames to the promised land or even the playoffs, but his style is refreshing after the Glen Gulutzan Era of “I don’t care if it isn’t working, I’m sticking with it until it gets me fired.” I for one enjoy his no nonsense attitude and the fact that he holds his players accountable and if they aren’t playing well…..they aren’t playing.