Game No. 34: It's not called "The Wheel"

Ryan Lambert
December 20 2010 05:24PM



They told me next game *I* get to center the fourth line.

When things go wrong for a hockey team, they say, no matter how much you want to, you can't fire the players.

Brent Sutter is well aware of this fact, but things have gone so, so wrong for the Flames lately that he's doing the next best thing: benching 'em. The problem, he's found, is that you can't play with too short a bench. They tried that a couple years ago for different Darryl-Sutter-is-an-idiot-related and it killed them, if memory serves.

So instead Brent has opted to send a constantly rotating conga line into and out of the team suite over the last few games. Backlund out, Backlund in. Conroy out, Conroy in. Glencross in, Glencross out. Kotalik out, Kotalik in. All to little effect, and for various reasons.

In Conroy and Kotalik's case, it's because what you see with them is what you're going to get for the rest of their playing days. The latter is 39 years old, and despite time with Iginla out of some sort of nostalgic necessity last season, he hasn't been anything besides a fourth-line pivot in a few years. The former 32 years old and was well past his use-by date when the Flames traded for him. He'd been a healthy scratch with the New York Rangers (only notable because they were about as bad as the Flames last year in a far worse conference) for about half the season and his contract is nothing but a boondoggle then as now. So when they sit, it can't be because the move is going to be seen as a wakeup call, inspiring play reminiscent of their glory days if ever such a thing existed, but rather simply because you can't dress 23 guys (not that the Flames even have 18 you'd want playing for you on a night-in, night-out basis).

In Backlund's case, making him a healthy scratch won't do anything because you can't expect him to play much better than he has. He's young, he's a skillsy center being asked to play a third-line role. I understand the inherent value in instilling your only decent young prospect with the ideals of defensive responsibility and sound positioning, but to then bench him for not living up to whatever seemingly random expectations have been imposed on him after such-and-such a game doesn't, to me (and I'm assuming most sane observers) at least, make the slightest bit of sense from a developmental standpoint.

So the Flames have the Wild tonight. At this point you have to hesitate to call games must-win, but if this team wants to be back at .500 by New Years, it better start picking up two points from mediocre opponents right this second. Backlund and Kotalik sit. You try coming up with the reason.

 

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:01PM
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Im guessing Mikkelson is wishing the blueline carousel would start up again. Or that he was never claimed by the Flames in the first place.

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#2 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:03PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Im guessing Mikkelson is wishing the blueline carousel would start up again. Or that he was never claimed by the Flames in the first place.

mikkelson is enjoying the nhl pay rate, much better than echl.

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#3 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:06PM
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@hal a pena

haha, no doubt.

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#4 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:08PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

haha, no doubt.

second best defense person in his family.

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#5 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:09PM
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Gio and Bouw start out together. That's interesting.

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#6 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:15PM
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Bourque has looked better the last couple of games.

Stajan needs to do more with that 3on1 chance though.

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#7 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:16PM
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stajan, no shot confidence.

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#8 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:18PM
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butter juggling d men, but still has pardy and babchuck together.

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#9 marty
December 20 2010, 06:21PM
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i was on the keep brent bandwagon but with joker with iggy again! im fine with fire all sutters. they have done good things for the organization but lately not so much. the only reason to put that big headed fin with iggy could be to get big bro fired but brent will tie his own noose with that move. fml!

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#10 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:24PM
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Bouwmeester lost his man big time on that Brodziak goal.

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#11 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:25PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Bouwmeester lost his man big time on that Brodziak goal.

gio was chasing and stajan was watching.

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#12 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:25PM
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Im liking Moss+Glencross again. Two of their three shifts have been spent in the offensive zone.

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#13 schevvy
December 20 2010, 06:26PM
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Well that's not a good way to start

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#14 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:26PM
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hal a pena wrote:

gio was chasing and stajan was watching.

And Bouwmeester was covering...no one in the corner. Im pretty sure that's his responsibility on that play.

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#15 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:31PM
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Flames are lucky the other guy on that 2on1 break was Madden. Someone with hands puts that puck in.

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#16 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:32PM
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@Kent Wilson

all started with a weal stick check by jbo, no assertiveness. gave away the line.

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#17 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 06:35PM
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@Kent Wilson

al michaels or pat sommerall

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#18 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 06:43PM
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Not a lot to complain about in the first aside from the PP and that sequence that led to the goal against.

Bourque has looked a lot better recently and again tonight. Moss+Glencross were quality and even the Jokinen line got some chances (although three of them were off one series of events during a single shift). The only real issue is Calgary failed to make Backstrom stop the puck during their best quality chances. Tanguy's break-away went over the net, Stajan screwed up the 3on1, a couple of other slot shots went wide.

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#19 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:01PM
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Nice play by Jarome on the Jokinen goal.

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#20 B
December 20 2010, 07:02PM
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...go Jokinen! Nice goal.

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#21 B
December 20 2010, 07:03PM
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...Kipper is ON again tonight. Nice save.

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#22 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:04PM
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B wrote:

...Kipper is ON again tonight. Nice save.

Yeah. Glad the Bouchard didn't raise the puck, but still a nice save.

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#23 B
December 20 2010, 07:10PM
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...Backstrom is also ON tonight, big time.

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#24 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:16PM
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The second period has slowed to a crawl. Not a surprise I guess.

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#25 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 07:20PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

The second period has slowed to a crawl. Not a surprise I guess.

a crawl, that impplies movement. the only guys skating are the 2 linsemen.

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#26 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:20PM
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Flames are all over the Wild in this period. Koivu and Havlat have been invisible so far.

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#27 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 07:28PM
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moronic penalty, well after the play.

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#28 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:29PM
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Glencross is excellent at getting break-aways on the PK.

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#29 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:32PM
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Things got slow in the middle part of the period, but CGY was by far the better team anyways. The Wild look like a team trying to protect a lead even though the game is tied.

Chances were 8-2 for the Flames. 17-8 through 2 now.

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#30 Robert Cleave
December 20 2010, 07:35PM
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Corsi. Just got in, looks like the boys are playing OK.

CGY +15, EV shots 22-12. The shift chart shows Koivu is getting a mix of Iggy's line and Bourque's, and he's not doing a thing against either of them by the looks of it.

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#31 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:43PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

Corsi. Just got in, looks like the boys are playing OK.

CGY +15, EV shots 22-12. The shift chart shows Koivu is getting a mix of Iggy's line and Bourque's, and he's not doing a thing against either of them by the looks of it.

Nope, all the Wild's big guns (both of them) are MIA this evening. Flames should be up by two at least.

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#32 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:57PM
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It should go without saying, but the Flames aim should be finishing this one in regulation. They can't really afford to hand over an extra point to the Wild. I mean, winning is priority one, but right behind it is not giving out the Bettman bonus.

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#33 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 07:58PM
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And as I finish typing that, Havlat puts the Wild up on just their 9th scoring chance of the game.

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#34 Robert Cleave
December 20 2010, 07:59PM
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@Kent Wilson

That would require winning the game in the first place.

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#35 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 08:00PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

That would require winning the game in the first place.

Sigh. Yeah.

To be fair, they should be winning this one.

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#36 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 08:04PM
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And that's the ball game. Talk about one of those nights.

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#37 Brett Martin
December 20 2010, 08:08PM
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I think the camel's back is now broken - those were two rough goals to give up. Getting swept in home-and-home games vs the Wild should be the last straw for the Sutter gang. Well, 8 minutes to go, maybe Kotsopolous has a natural hat-trick in him.

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#38 Langdon Aulger
December 20 2010, 08:12PM
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Can't wait for more of the "we deserved a better fate" stuff coming from the Flames tonight.

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#39 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 08:13PM
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is iggie's cherry picking a set play, or is he freelancing?

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#40 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 08:13PM
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Brett Martin wrote:

I think the camel's back is now broken - those were two rough goals to give up. Getting swept in home-and-home games vs the Wild should be the last straw for the Sutter gang. Well, 8 minutes to go, maybe Kotsopolous has a natural hat-trick in him.

Yeah, the playoff chances dip to low single digits if they lose tonight I imagine.

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#41 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 08:14PM
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Langdon Aulger wrote:

Can't wait for more of the "we deserved a better fate" stuff coming from the Flames tonight.

It's cold comfort at this point, but I'm sympathetic to that mindset tonight. There's been lots of nights where the team has said that but the game really could have gone either way. Tonight, the Flames were certainly the better team.

Bah well.

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#42 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 08:16PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

It's cold comfort at this point, but I'm sympathetic to that mindset tonight. There's been lots of nights where the team has said that but the game really could have gone either way. Tonight, the Flames were certainly the better team.

Bah well.

the wild were better when they had to be.

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#43 Kent Wilson
December 20 2010, 08:19PM
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hal a pena wrote:

the wild were better when they had to be.

Not really. Backstrom stood on his head for two periods and the Flames fired good chances wide. On a lot of other nights, this game is over before the third starts.

Im not one who ever makes excuses for this team frankly, but they should have won this game.

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#44 SmellOfVictory
December 20 2010, 08:21PM
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That was some godawful decision making with the net empty.

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#45 Brett Martin
December 20 2010, 08:23PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Not really. Backstrom stood on his head for two periods and the Flames fired good chances wide. On a lot of other nights, this game is over before the third starts.

Im not one who ever makes excuses for this team frankly, but they should have won this game.

I thought they played well enough to win, too. But they always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I've been pulling for them, and hoping that they could avoid having to fire Sutter, Sutter and co, but it's simply not working, they're just not winning. Quiet seriously, I'll be checking twitter for Flames firing news tonight.

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#46 Robert Cleave
December 20 2010, 08:24PM
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Corsi.

CGY +18, EV shots finished 30-18.

The Flames had lots of possession, but no finish and bad special teams strike again.

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#47 hal a pena
December 20 2010, 08:26PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Not really. Backstrom stood on his head for two periods and the Flames fired good chances wide. On a lot of other nights, this game is over before the third starts.

Im not one who ever makes excuses for this team frankly, but they should have won this game.

alot of muffed chances and sloppy goalmouth sticks, not a ton of huge saves by backstrom. the wild capatialized on the few quality chances they had. the few that they had. nobody is stepping up for the flames and carrying this team.

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#48 coptin_
December 20 2010, 08:41PM
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they are who we thought they were...a last place team lets hope ownership wakes up and gets rid of dutter before he trades our lottery pick for a used bus if anyone thinks this team can make the play offs you must work at 960 the company radio station where they are afraid to speak their mind or king will attack them like he did to peca when he spoke the truth about j bo

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