FGD: Wild Changes

Pat Steinberg
December 20 2010 12:41PM

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 21: Craig Conroy #24 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on November 21, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames will welcome both Craig Conroy and Curtis Glencross back to the lineup tonight as they get set for their fifth meeting with the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul (6 pm, Sportsnet West and The FAN 960).  The return of the two Calgary forwards means two have to sit out: Ales Kotalik and Mikael Backlund.

How's this for some math: after tonight, Calgary will have completed 41.5% of their schedule.  They'll also have completed 83.3% of their schedule against the Minnesota Wild.  Yeah, we've seen a lot of the thrilling bunch from Minny as of late, and by thrilling, I mean the exact opposite.  The way the Wild play hockey combined with how the Flames play hockey can make for some of the dryest hockey possible...and it started off with such an exciting tilt on Saturday, a game Minnesota won 3-1.

The Lineup

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 29: Mikael Backlund  of the Calgary Flames concentrates on the puck against the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 29, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Flames beat the Wild 3-0. (Photo by Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)
 

After seeing a combined 33 seconds of ice time in the third period on Saturday, Backlund and Kotalik take a firm seat in the cozy Xcel press box.  No arguments on Kotalik; he's been straight awful since returning to the lineup and has done nothing to lead anyone to believe he's going to all of a sudden turn things around.  As for Backlund, I don't like it...no, he was not very good on Saturday, but what good does it do to sit him at this point?  He's one of a select group (one) on this roster right now who is young and showing promise for the future.  His improvement from game one to game 33 this year has been noticeable and impressive; sitting him again serves no purpose in my eyes.  He's going to have off games, he's still a rookie!

That being said, no arguments in seeing Conroy return to the lineup, and we knew Glencross was going to be back.  Conroy will centre the fourth line and will give the team another reliable faceoff man.  My belief is Conroy still brings you more than just faceoffs, however.  He's a reliable player inside his own blueline, and never skirts his responsibilities at both ends of the ice.  Here are lines and pairings for tonight:

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

Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Adam Pardy-Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 27: Chris Conner  of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck while being held by Anton Babchuk  of the Calgary Flames at Consol Energy Center on November 27, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
 

Pardy and Babchuk were victimized twice by Todd Richards and the Wild on Saturday night, and that was using on the fly tactics and icings without the benefit of the last change.  At home, expect Mikko Koivu to see a lot of those guys when the opportunity presents itself.  That pair is an absolute liability right now.

The Opponent

It's a Wild team that will ice a bit of a different look in this game, as Nick Schultz will sit thanks to what's believed to be a concussion.  Minny is not happy with an un-called elbow on Calgary's Tom Kostopoulos on Saturday, which is what has put Schultz on the shelf.  Apparently, the Wild thought it was dirty, and to be honest...I didn't see it myself.  Kostopoulos seems to be a marked man though...an elbow to to Marek Zidlicky and a slash to Cal Clutterbuck also seem to be sticking in the Wild craw from Saturday.

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 21:  55th overall pick, Marco Scandella of the Minnesota Wild is interviewed during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place on June 21, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
 

Marco Scandella has been recalled from Houston of the American Hockey League and he will play tonight; in fact, three rookies will skate on the Minnesota blueline, as Richards has decided to sit Cam Barker on this night as a healthy scratch.  He was out for personal reasons on Saturday.  The Wild will go with an undetermined formation of the following six guys on the blueline: Scandella, Clayton Stoner, Jared Spurgeon, Brent Burns, Marek Zidlicky, and Greg Zanon.  Here are lines:

Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Chuck Kobasew
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Martin Havlat
Patrick O'Sullivan-Matt Cullen-Antti Miettenen
Eric Nystrom-John Madden-Cal Clutterbuck

Niklas Backstrom gets the start in net once again for the Wild after making a few big stops on Saturday, but going largely untested for the most part.

The Story

Calgary clearly isn't happy with their effort from Saturday night, hence the changes made to their forward ranks.  And it's a damn good thing...Calgary was no good against the Wild, only slightly improving on a dismal first period in the final 40 minutes.  The Flames had decent possession numbers, but did a sub par job of turning possession into real chances.  Waiting until the third period isn't going to cut it.

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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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#1 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 12:50PM
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makes one wonder just how backlund is going to improve and develop when butter n dutter have him on such a short lease. a couple of mistakes and its to the pressbox and popcorn. yet the flattires mind you dutter's flattires are victimized on a nightly basis.

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#2 FireOnIce
December 20 2010, 01:03PM
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Looks like Langkow will probably never be coming back....

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/12/17/16596811.html

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#3 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 01:35PM
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flames must play six fitty hockey the rest of the way. tall order. when does all the must win games take its toll mentally?

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#4 B
December 20 2010, 02:04PM
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@hal a pena

...they need what is equal to 31.5 wins in the next 49 games to get 94 points (average since the lockout needed in the West to get in the playoffs). So yes, you are correct, just thought I'd elaborate.

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#5 Domebeers.com
December 20 2010, 03:06PM
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Dear Tim Jackman,

Fight somebody in the first 5 minutes. Please. The viewers need some relief.

Thanks,

Domebeers.com

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#6 Bob
December 20 2010, 03:09PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

Looks like Langkow will probably never be coming back....

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/12/17/16596811.html

I had the pleasure to briefly talk to some of Daymond's relatives last Thursday. They were a little surprised to see that the FanAttic did not have any of Langkow's jerseys on display and wondered if that meant people believed he would not return!

As it stands now it seems only Flames Brass and Langkow's immediate family have the full story and at this time they're keeping it to themselves. To others the tale they are giving is that he's not giving up hope of returning at some point!

Until that time comes the best we, as fans and people, can do is wish him and his family the best of health and hopes for a speedy return!

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#7 icedawg_42
December 20 2010, 03:12PM
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At least they have set the oh-so LOFTY goal of getting to .500 by Christmas...with the current string of Toronto, Minny and Minny that "shouldn't" have been a problem. *sigh*

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#8 icedawg_42
December 20 2010, 03:14PM
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As for the Langkow situation, that will be our lasting legacy of Ian White's tenure here.

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#9 schevvy
December 20 2010, 03:39PM
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Calgary needs to go on average 2 wins, 1 loss for rest of season, that will be tough but not impossible, a big win streak can sure help the cause, hopefully the winning streak can start tonight

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#10 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 03:52PM
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At the very least, Im looking forward to seeing Glencross and Conroy back in the line-up. Especially Glencross. He fell off the map in November for whatever reason, but he's a quality player when he's going.

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#11 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 04:15PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

At the very least, Im looking forward to seeing Glencross and Conroy back in the line-up. Especially Glencross. He fell off the map in November for whatever reason, but he's a quality player when he's going.

glennx is a huge upgrade from the dismal kotalik. glennie will bring some much needed desire to the lineup.

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#12 JF
December 20 2010, 04:15PM
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While I'm happy to see GlenX & Conroy draw back in I'm once again puzzled by the choice of scratches. Frankly, I think Kotalik should have been sent to Abbotsford on a conditioning stint but so long as he's here I'm willing to wager that he could do more then Kostopoulos to contribute to a win. With regards to Backs, he'd definitely do more to contribute to a win. To say nothing of several others now drawing in that I'd scratch before Backlund.

Really... what's so wrong with just playing your most skilled guys? I grow increasingly tired of seeing the PTB deliberately icing an inferior roster.

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#13 everton fc
December 20 2010, 04:17PM
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Glencross/Conroy/Morrison would be an interesting line. Why break up Kostopolous/Moss/Jackman - they were the only line that looked competitive every shift, Saturday evening. Seems like they have chemistry.

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#14 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 04:19PM
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everton fc wrote:

Glencross/Conroy/Morrison would be an interesting line. Why break up Kostopolous/Moss/Jackman - they were the only line that looked competitive every shift, Saturday evening. Seems like they have chemistry.

Im guessing that's what will happen.

I'm sucker for the Glencorss-Conroy-Moss trio though. They ripped things up under Keenan.

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#15 Teddy Mancusso
December 20 2010, 04:55PM
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I think it's great for Backlund to sit tonight, not because he doesn't deserve to be in but because a birds eye view will help see things he couldn't see by being in the game. Genius move on Sutters behalf.

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#16 JF
December 20 2010, 06:07PM
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Teddy Mancusso wrote:

I think it's great for Backlund to sit tonight, not because he doesn't deserve to be in but because a birds eye view will help see things he couldn't see by being in the game. Genius move on Sutters behalf.

Sutter Kool-Aid or subdued Sutter mocking... it's hard to tell the difference.

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#17 Nate Baldwin
December 20 2010, 06:16PM
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@JF

When uncertain assume the latter.

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