FGD: Make It a Streak

Pat Steinberg
November 21 2010 11:32AM

Calgary Flames Robyn Regehr (R) and Detroit Red Wings Tomas Holmstrom battle in front of the net during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta, November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

After a 7-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, the Calgary Flames look to get on some sort of a streak as they start off an extremely tough looking five game road trip this afternoon in Detroit (3 pm, Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960).  Calgary still sits two games below the .500 mark as they prepare for their third game against the Red Wings this season.

It's F'in Game Day, afternoon edition, as the Flames look for their first win against Detroit this season.  Calgary has played some all right hockey over the last four games, winning one and losing three, while falling to 14th in the Western Conference.  Friday's win over Chicago was big, but it becomes a whole lot less important if they nullify it with another loss here.

The Lineup

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Mark Giordano  of the Calgary Flames takes a shot against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Flames defeated the Avalanche 4-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
 

It'll be the second of a three game suspension for Flames forward Olli Jokinen, who sat out Friday against the Hawks.  The lines were juggled for that game, responding to the absence of Jokinen and the addition of Tom Kostopoulos, who played his first game Friday night as well.

Defensive pairings were switched up a little bit, as newcomer Anton Babchuk played his first game on the blueline.  He wasn't great, and was victimized two seperate times in the first period.  He seemed to settle in as the game went along, and I think a strong game from Mark Giordano helped his cause.  Here are probable lines and pairings for this afternoon:

Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Tom Kostopoulos
Brendan Morrison-Craig Conroy-Tim Jackman

Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Anton Babchuk
Cory Sarich-Brendan Mikkelson

Miikka Kiprusoff

Kiprusoff has let in a few softies over the last little while, and the Flames probably can't afford that against one of the NHL's true elite teams in Detroit.  If Mikkelson plays, I think it's the right move...Friday was the first game watching him where I thought he looked comfortable and I thought it was his best game in a Flames uniform.

The Opponent

The Red Wings are the top team in the Western Conference, sitting 12-3-2 on the season and riding a five game point streak.  They had their four game win streak snapped Friday night when they fell 4-3 in overtime to Minnesota.  It's a team that gets scoring from everywhere, lead by one of the best even strength lines in the NHL.  Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are the top two scorers on the team, but they're getting sizeable offensive contributions from guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Dan Cleary and Valtteri Filppula.

The return of Brian Rafalski to the blueline has been a huge boost, and they have a very strong top three on the blueline.  Here are the lines and pairings the Wings have been rolling with over the last few games:

Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Jiri Hudler
Todd Bertuzzi-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary
Patrick Eaves-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader

Nicklas Lidstrom-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Brian Rafalski
Ruslan Salei-Niklas Kronwall

Jimmy Howard

Those forward lines are deep and the Wings make it extremely difficult to exploit favorable matchups, especially on the road.  And to be honest, that blueline doesn't really have any weak spots to exploit...Ericsson can sometimes be a rodeo in his own end, but Rafalski is very good at positioning, so reports suggest they've been a pretty good pair.

The Story

Calgary has lost both their previous games this season to the Wings, one in Detroit by a 4-2 score before falling 2-1 at home.  The first game saw Detroit's top players carry the day, with names like Franzen, Bertuzzi and Lidstrom potting goals and Datsyuk being the best player on the ice, bar none (not surprising).  The second game was a little different...while the top end guys were largely neutralized, it was Detroit's depth that did the job, with goals coming from Modano and Abdelkader.  It really is tough to match up against them.

The Flames need to get on roll, because they have to dig themselves out of this whole now before things slip too far away.  At 8-10, the season is far from lost, but a largely unsuccessful road trip will set them back much further.  At the very least, they have a good feeling heading into this game, thanks to a seven goal outburst against Chicago...how that translates to this game, if at all, is anybodys guess.

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Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
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#51 RossCreekNation
November 21 2010, 05:36PM
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@Kent Wilson

WOW!

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#52 Eugene
November 21 2010, 05:39PM
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Awful

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#53 Eugene
November 21 2010, 05:41PM
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And that's why the Wings are the Wings and the Flames are the Flames.

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#54 Kent Wilson
November 21 2010, 05:43PM
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Gut punch loss. Yikes.

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#55 SarahM
November 21 2010, 05:44PM
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Would have liked to see that game played with a bit more even reffing, and see how it all shaked out. Flames mad a few mistakes, absolutely, but they also got the short stick as far as calls go.

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#56 Robert Cleave
November 21 2010, 05:45PM
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Corsi.

DET +17. Calgary got the shaft from the refs, but losing Reggie might be the worst thing that comes out of this. EV Shots 33-23 Detroit.

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#57 john R
November 21 2010, 05:46PM
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And once again the officiating finds a way to benefit the wings and screw the flames.. Same old story in Detroit. Better give Detroit every call. And was that not a slash by Holmstrom on Sariches stick before the tieing goal? Jesus Christ

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#58 Resolute
November 21 2010, 05:46PM
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Eugene wrote:

And that's why the Wings are the Wings and the Flames are the Flames.

Because Illitch spends way more money bribing the officials than Hotchkiss does?

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#59 Kent Wilson
November 21 2010, 05:48PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

Corsi.

DET +17. Calgary got the shaft from the refs, but losing Reggie might be the worst thing that comes out of this. EV Shots 33-23 Detroit.

After the mind-point of the 3rd, DET went on a 12-0 run in terms of chances.

Now, the reffing didn't help things and that's going to happen against a team like DET when they're chasing but...

Eff. I don't know. It was literally 50 minutes of very good hockey.

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#60 Parallex
November 21 2010, 05:50PM
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Resolute wrote:

Because Illitch spends way more money bribing the officials than Hotchkiss does?

Sounds about right. Did the coaches order the change in the dying seconds? If so that seems like a poor order.

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#61 Eugene
November 21 2010, 05:59PM
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No... Detroit turns it up and when they do, the Flames crumble. That's what I meant by the Wings are the Wings and the Flames are the Flames. See +17.

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#62 yo
November 21 2010, 06:02PM
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Hotchkiss spends more time on weekend getaways with Bettman than Illitch. Not sure if he even knows which team he owns any more.

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#63 RossCreekNation
November 21 2010, 06:03PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

After the mind-point of the 3rd, DET went on a 12-0 run in terms of chances.

Now, the reffing didn't help things and that's going to happen against a team like DET when they're chasing but...

Eff. I don't know. It was literally 50 minutes of very good hockey.

Ok... I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin - I only saw the last 10 minutes of hockey. Two questions: 1) why did I have to watch those 10 minutes? and 2) am I now the curse; should I stop watching? FFS

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#64 patsfan
November 21 2010, 06:21PM
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A caller in the post game show brought up an interesting point of how the owners of the Flames have managed to avoid any blame in this current situation. I agree fully that the lockout was basically all about financial certainty for teams like Cal and thats really all that owners like geezers like Hotchkiss and his cadre of decripet co owners have have ever cared about. Im not saying they are underspending but they would never overspend to make the team better. I also think that a commtiment to being the best is more a reflection of the ownership and then staff than coaching and GMs. Owners like Illitch is all about putting a winning team out there and seems to be a fan himself. I have NEVER felt that the flames owners feel the same way and I have been a fan for 30 years (season tickets 1993-2003). I really do think these people are way to close to Bettman and I am not interested in putting more money in their pockets. Maybe once ownership changes I will change my mind. (Altho D. Sutter aka George Costanza is clearly as disaster as GM and needs to go). Any thoughts?

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