Gameday Preview: Wild Action?

Robert Cleave
December 03 2010 07:37AM

 

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 29: David Moss  of the Calgary Flames and Cam Barker  of the Minnesota Wild collide at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 29, 2010 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)

 

 

Although most clubs would usually prefer the comforts of home, I suspect that the Flames are happy to hit the road for a few days. Wednesday’s third period collapse appears to have a few more members of the fanbase crying “Havoc”, so this evening’s affair in front of the stoic Svens of the North Star State might seem like a blessedly peaceful alternative.

 

 

Minnesota lost in their last outing as well, falling 4-2 to the Coyotes in an affair that was most notable for the return of Pierre-Marc Bouchard to the team’s lineup. He was a pretty decent player before his concussion, and after he knocks off about 18 months of rust, he might be a useful addition to a team that’s starved for skill. The game on Monday was one where the Wild struggled quite badly when Martin Havlat was off the ice, so any worthwhile skater appears welcome for Minnesota at the moment.

 

 

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 08:  Pierre-Marc Bouchard #96 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 8, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated Wild 3-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

 

With only a few days separating the games there’s no compelling reason to reiterate too much of my preview from Monday, except to add that if the Flames can play about 50 minutes at EV again, they should have a sniff at this one. The line juggling by Todd Richards that preceded the last encounter didn’t get much traction after the first 20 minutes, which might lead one to think that we might see a different strategy when the Wild have last change.

 

That noted, I can’t help but think he’d take his chances with Koivu having another go at the Backlund line. The Wild’s best player never really got anything happening on Monday, which seems to be his pattern this season when he’s not on the PP, but he has enough quality history on his side to hint at better things.

 

 

At any rate, the task again seems pretty clear for the men in Red. Stay out of the box, and maybe, just maybe, remember that tonight’s match is scheduled to commence at approximately 7:10 CST, 6:10 MST. The club has plenty of other holes, obviously, but the ongoing routine of arriving to the fray about an hour after the opening faceoff is a flaw that needs to end, tout de suite.  

 

 

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Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 Gange
December 03 2010, 08:00AM
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I just don't know how to cheer anymore.

Do I hope for the high draft pick and a bit of light at the end of the tunnel?

Or

Do I cheer for the win and a bit of redemption in this season?

The good news is that it's not really an emotional subject anymore this season. I suffered through 7 seasons not making the playoffs cheering for them while in Edmonton. Nothing worse than that listening to Oiler fans chirp about success that is now only 20 years past.

All in all life's not bad. :)

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#2 propositionWes
December 03 2010, 08:44AM
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Gange wrote:

I just don't know how to cheer anymore.

Do I hope for the high draft pick and a bit of light at the end of the tunnel?

Or

Do I cheer for the win and a bit of redemption in this season?

The good news is that it's not really an emotional subject anymore this season. I suffered through 7 seasons not making the playoffs cheering for them while in Edmonton. Nothing worse than that listening to Oiler fans chirp about success that is now only 20 years past.

All in all life's not bad. :)

I sympathize with your dilemma. With the playoffs out of the picture it’s difficult to get pumped about watching this team. It’s actually more depressing watching the occasional lights out game ( 7-2 against Chicago) knowing that it will be followed by 2-3 inconsistent efforts.

At least now we get to watch the Jolly Rancher death rattle….while hoping that ownership doesn’t let him bring the walls down on top of him.

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#3 mikeH
December 03 2010, 09:17AM
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So how's last place in the west grab everyone? In most of professional sports, that would result in some firings.

Any "rebuild" has to start at the top. (I can't really call it a rebuild when the whole team is signed into next year with NTC/NMC clauses)

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#4 Bruins
December 03 2010, 09:26AM
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the flames are an old slow boring team. They need changes from the top down. I do not like the oilers but I watched their last 2 games. It is fast and really exciting hockey. The flames fans are getting ripped off.

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#5 CitizenFlame
December 03 2010, 09:36AM
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@Bruins

I didn't feel ripped off when I was at the Chicago game. I felt pretty ripped at about 5 minutes of the 3rd period of the Vancouver game. That is what is frustrating with Calgary this year especially, you don't know what team is going to show up. Is it the team that blows out Chicago (a young, fast team), or the one that gets dominated by the Canucks?

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#6 Kent Wilson
December 03 2010, 09:36AM
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mikeH wrote:

So how's last place in the west grab everyone? In most of professional sports, that would result in some firings.

Any "rebuild" has to start at the top. (I can't really call it a rebuild when the whole team is signed into next year with NTC/NMC clauses)

The fish rots from the head down, as they say.

Sutter should have been fired this summer at the latest. As I wrote yesterday, this season is locked in and probably a lost cause. I hope ownership doesn't lose their heads and start vindictively axing people without a reasoned course of action ahead.

Probably the worst thing that could happen is the Kevin Lowe ascension program where Sutter is promoted in the face of his failure and the the reigns are handed to a guy who is a shoe-in not to step too far out of line (ie Jay Feaster). I can't imagine the vitriol I'll spew should the org decide to go that direction.

As for the game tonight...go Flames!

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#7 calgary 6 edmonton 0
December 03 2010, 09:44AM
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A little off topic, but does anyone think the Pens would trade J. Staal for Bourque?? And is Langkow calling it a career or is he planning a comeback?... boy am i starting to miss him.

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#9 Domebeers.com
December 03 2010, 09:50AM
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@Kent Wilson

"Probably the worst thing that could happen is the Kevin Lowe ascension program where Sutter is promoted in the face of his failure and the the reigns are handed to a guy who is a shoe-in not to step too far out of line (ie Jay Feaster). I can't imagine the vitriol I'll spew should the org decide to go that direction."

Bingo. Although they have already handed Sutter the title of executive vice president.

As for this game, the biggest challenge is going to be to stay awake for 60 minutes. Ice rinks get less busy when the Flames play, I'm thinking that is the play.

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#10 mikeH
December 03 2010, 09:59AM
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@Kent

Its just so sad, but I fully believe the Darryl is going to be "President of Hockey Operations" or some garbage as you suggest. When it happens, I say we hang a banner on the front of the Saddledome:

"Welcome to Sucksville, Enjoy your stay!"

And then take it down in 5 or 6 years when things start to trend upwards again.

As an aside... Thankfully we're not the Leafs. A colleague of mine was at the game last night and said the booing was so loud he needed ear plugs.

Oh, and 'cause I'm still a fan... GO FLAMES!

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#11 wattree
December 03 2010, 10:14AM
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So high draft picks are great, but is there anything good this year? Last year there was tonnes of talk leading up, but I haven't heard much for this class. Just our luck to get a lottery pick in a meh year.

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#12 CitizenFlame
December 03 2010, 10:45AM
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"Defenseman Matt Hunwick was dealt to Colorado earlier in the week to clear cap space for Savard’s return, but the move left the Bruins lacking depth in puckhandling blueliners.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe reported Chiarelli might try to get creative by adding a speedy, two-way defenseman whilst shedding sufficient cap space to absorb Sturm’s salary.

Dupont suggested the Bruins GM might target someone like Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars, offering right winger Blake Wheeler or physical rearguard Mark Stuart in a “dollar-for-dollar” swap."

Just saw this over on thn.com, wonder if Calgary could've maybe swung White Boston's way if Sutter would've just waited another week or so. Probably will see stories like this all year long.

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#13 B
December 03 2010, 10:46AM
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@Kent Wilson

"The fish rots from the head down, as they say."

...100% agreed.

"Sutter should have been fired this summer at the latest."

...let's see what happens this season first. We're not that far out of the hunt.

"Probably the worst thing that could happen is the Kevin Lowe ascension program where Sutter is promoted in the face of his failure and the the reigns are handed to a guy who is a shoe-in not to step too far out of line (ie Jay Feaster). I can't imagine the vitriol I'll spew should the org decide to go that direction."

...100% agreed. If the Flames were to go that route after another playoff miss, it would be embarrassing.

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#14 Kent Wilson
December 03 2010, 10:49AM
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wattree wrote:

So high draft picks are great, but is there anything good this year? Last year there was tonnes of talk leading up, but I haven't heard much for this class. Just our luck to get a lottery pick in a meh year.

Supposed to have some high-end talent at the top, but mostly barren otherwise.

Speaking of high-end talent, Millions says that Bouwmeester practiced with Staios this morning and Regehr with Sarich.

Yuck and yuck.

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#15 Kent Wilson
December 03 2010, 10:58AM
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@B

We're not that far out of the hunt.

Depends on what your definition of "not that far" is. The Flames are currently last in the WC. While they are only 6 points back of the SJS for 8th, they would also have to climb over an additional six other teams to eventually claim that spot.

A 6 point deficit versus one other club with the much time left in the season isn't a big deal. But outplaying nearly the half the conference to the tune of 6+ points the rest of the way is probably going to be a tall order. If just one other team currently ahead of the Flames goes on a similar run, the Flames are cooked. And that's if they start hitting it out of the park right now and start playing .600 the rest of the way.

It's not impossible, but it's rather improbable.

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#16 Gange
December 03 2010, 11:04AM
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@B

HIGHLY unlikely but not impossible.

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#17 B
December 03 2010, 11:19AM
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@Kent Wilson

...I understand what you are saying. IMO however, the Flames only play the Canuks two more times in Dec & Jan. They only play the Red Wings once in those months. Pretty favorable schedule all things considered. It's not impossible that the Flames can win 2 out of every 3 in these couple of months.

...Los Angeles and St. Louis are both fizzling. Before the blowout vs the Canuks, the Flames only had a -2 goal differential (67 GF vs 69 GA). It's not like the Flames have maxed out and there is no potential for improvement. I disagree oh mythbuster! Consider this myth probable!

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#18 PrairieStew
December 03 2010, 11:30AM
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@wattree

As of today, there are 5 eastern teams with poorer records, and the Oilers, though tied in points have fewer wins. Top 5 far from assured.

Usually the talk begins now, just before world juniors. There's a Swiss guy lighting it up in the WHL - first year over here Sven Bartschi. Also Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Red Deer a good fwd prospect.

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#19 hal a pena
December 03 2010, 12:04PM
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well folks the next week or two are the biggest in recent flames history. if they continue on the scnide, it may be the final nail in the sutters collective coffin. huge divisional matchups, and enormous public outcry are coming to a head. the owners surely must be hearing the angry mob outside the gate.murray and the other barons must be weighing the financial rammifications of the anti sutterite movement.

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#20 Kent Wilson
December 03 2010, 12:10PM
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@B

I actually fully expect the Flames to improve to some degree. They aren't last in the conference bad. The hole they've dug looks to steep to me, however.

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#21 dotfras
December 03 2010, 12:16PM
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If we don't make the playoffs, what's the difference between finishing 9th or 15th?

If a playoff spot becomes impossible to reach I think the first step is deal Kipper & play Karlsson a heck of a lot.

This guarantees we will lose alot, but at the same time give Karlsson a ton of a experience.

And we'll have a great draft pick.

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#22 hal a pena
December 03 2010, 12:21PM
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you cant win the kentucky derby ridin a clydesdale.

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#23 hal a pena
December 03 2010, 12:50PM
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the sutter siblings are guiding the flames into becoming the detroit lions of the nhl. reverend sutter please drink the koolaid first.

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#24 JF
December 03 2010, 12:59PM
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B wrote:

...I understand what you are saying. IMO however, the Flames only play the Canuks two more times in Dec & Jan. They only play the Red Wings once in those months. Pretty favorable schedule all things considered. It's not impossible that the Flames can win 2 out of every 3 in these couple of months.

...Los Angeles and St. Louis are both fizzling. Before the blowout vs the Canuks, the Flames only had a -2 goal differential (67 GF vs 69 GA). It's not like the Flames have maxed out and there is no potential for improvement. I disagree oh mythbuster! Consider this myth probable!

Of course it's not impossible that the Flames can win 2 out of every 3 the rest of the way starting right now... the problem is that in order for that to happen the Flames need to perform significantly better then they've displayed an ability to thus far and ALL those teams between us and the last playoff spot have to do worse. If even one of them plays only as good as the Flames do (Barring some epic fail from one of the other current playoff teams) then the playoffs don't happen for us. Were this one or two teams I'd be more optimistic but what are the odds that all of Los Angeles, Colorado, San Jose, St. Louis, Nashville, Minnesota, and Edmonton will ALL play worse then Calgary?

I'd love it if it were to happen but I sure as hell wouldn't put any money on it.

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#25 B
December 03 2010, 01:01PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I actually fully expect the Flames to improve to some degree. They aren't last in the conference bad. The hole they've dug looks to steep to me, however.

...agreed.

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#26 B
December 03 2010, 01:17PM
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@JF

December 2010

Wed, 1 Dec 2010 Canucks Flames Fri, 3 Dec 2010 Flames Wild Sun, 5 Dec 2010 Flames Blackhawks Tue, 7 Dec 2010 Lightning Flames Thu, 9 Dec 2010 Flames Kings Fri, 10 Dec 2010 Flames Ducks Mon, 13 Dec 2010 Blue Jackets Flames Thu, 16 Dec 2010 Maple Leafs Flames Sat, 18 Dec 2010 Wild Flames Mon, 20 Dec 2010 Flames Wild Tue, 21 Dec 2010 Flames Blue Jackets Thu, 23 Dec 2010 Flames Stars Mon, 27 Dec 2010 Sabres Flames Fri, 31 Dec 2010 Avalanche Flames January 2011

Sat, 1 Jan 2011 Flames Oilers Mon, 3 Jan 2011 Islanders Flames Wed, 5 Jan 2011 Flames Canucks Fri, 7 Jan 2011 Red Wings Flames Tue, 11 Jan 2011 Flames Hurricanes Fri, 14 Jan 2011 Flames Senators Sat, 15 Jan 2011 Flames Maple Leafs Mon, 17 Jan 2011 Flames Canadiens Wed, 19 Jan 2011 Wild Flames Fri, 21 Jan 2011 Stars Flames Sat, 22 Jan 2011 Flames Canucks Mon, 24 Jan 2011 Predators Flames Wed, 26 Jan 2011 Blues Flames

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#27 B
December 03 2010, 01:19PM
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...I apologize. I F$#@&ED up the schedule. Just wanted to post it for conversation. Lots of beatable teams (especially from out east).

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#28 PrairieStew
December 03 2010, 02:05PM
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B wrote:

...I apologize. I F$#@&ED up the schedule. Just wanted to post it for conversation. Lots of beatable teams (especially from out east).

I did a strength of schedule analysis at 10 and at 20 games over at M & G. Flames are almost where they need to be against elite teams, again almost good enough against the weak sisters ( losses to Edmonton, Florida), but certainly not good enough against the middle pack with 2 losses in 3 games against the middle pack (both to Phoenix).

By my metric 15 of 36 tough games are out of the way, whereas only 6 of 26 v the bottom bunch and just 3 of 20 against the middle complete. Just not enough info to be certain as yet. If they match up well with Dallas, St Louis and Anaheim there is a shot.

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#29 B
December 03 2010, 04:24PM
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@PrairieStew

...Columbus and Minny are up a few times as well. I like the opposition analysis!

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#30 hal a pena
December 03 2010, 05:43PM
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conference head to head tilts will be crucial to any teams success. the flames need to approach every game as a playoff type game from here out. gruelling mentally.curious to see the response tonight to brents public bitch slap to the pp unit.

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