FGD: Capitol City

Pat Steinberg
January 14 2011 12:09PM

The Calgary Flames continue a four game road trip tonight as they take on the Ottawa Senators for the first time this season (5:30 pm, Sportsnet West and The FAN 960).  The Flames look to snap a four game skid even with a couple of pretty good outings in shootout losses over their last two games.  The matchup tonight pits the Flames against a team with fewer points, which isn't a regular occurence these days.

The Senators sit in very much the same position as the Flames do, on the outside looking in for the playoffs, and needing wins to stay relevant.  Calgary continues to scream the "win two of three" rallying cry, and if you do the math, a win over Ottawa would keep that trend going.  The confidence level that will continue doesn't seem too high, but it's fair to say the Flames need to believe that, or else the season really is lost.

The Lineup

The Flames will be without Robyn Regehr tonight, who will miss the game with a sore knee.  He took pregame skate this morning for a few minutes, but opted to sit out and the coaching staff made the decision to keep him out.  Regehr has missed one game prior this season, a game the Flames ended up losing.  I know there have been a lot of "he's old, he's slow, he's a relic of the old NHL" but that's all bunk to me.  Regehr has been one of Calgary's three best players this season, and they will miss him tonight.

Brendan Mikkelson returns to the lineup in his place, as he was recalled from the American Hockey League prior to the road trip.  Mikkelson hasn't seen game action with the Flames since Calgary's 7-2 throttling at the hands of Vancouver on December 1st.  Overall, Mikkelson has appeared in 20 games with the Flames this season with two assists and a -6 rating.

With plenty of debate as to who should start in net for the Flames, the team has opted to go with Henrik Karlsson between the pipes as opposed to the struggling Miikka Kiprusoff.  I think it's the wrong move personally, as Kiprusoff needs to work his way out of this little funk, and the best way for him to do it is to play.  And as much as we talk about him being exempt from head games, it doesn't send an overwhelming vote of confidence his way.  As for Karlsson, he's played well, particularly on the road, but he's not going to give you a better chance to win overall than 34.  However, I can understand the argument that says "the Flames need wins now, and at this very moment, Karlsson seems to be playing better than Kiprusoff."  So, we'll see how it plays out...it's not like the Sens boast a ton of firepower.

Here are projected lines and pairings tonight:

Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Rene Bourque-Brendan Morrison-David Moss
Niklas Hagman-Matt Stajan-Curtis Glencross
Ales Kotalik-Mikael Backlund-Tim Jackman

Mark Giordano-Jay Bouwmeester
Cory Sarich-Anton Babchuk
Adam Pardy-Brendan Mikkelson

Calgary's third line is coming off an effective game, and one of the more effective units we've seen from the three individual players in a while.  They'll need that to continue in a big way tonight, and against a Sens team lacking depth, they have the opportunity to do some good things.

The Opponent

It's a Senators team that really is the sum of it's parts at this point.  They're not a great hockey team and they're in a similar situation to the Flames.  Ottawa has stuck with the "we're just a few pieces of getting back to the Cup finals" line of thinking for a bit too long, and it looks like it'll be two straight years out of the playoffs for them.  Why is that?  Well, would it be too simplistic to say "because they don't have very many good hockey players"?  Cause that's kind of what it is.

The problems kind of start in net, as the Sens are one of the few teams in the league who seem totally lost at the goaltending position.  Pascal Leclaire can't stay healthy, and when he's playing, he's okay and is probably Ottawa's best option.  However, he's missed ten games with a lower body injury and remains out of the lineup indefinetely.  Brian Elliott has yet to show he can carry the load on a regular basis in the NHL, with a save percentage hovering around .900 and a goals against north of three.  It's obviously not all on him, thanks to the mediocre team in front of him, but he hasn't been great.  Swedish World Junior goalie Robin Lehner got the start last night in Ottawa's 6-4 win over the Islanders.

The blueline has some all right pieces, with second year defenceman Erik Karlsson doing some all right work, but is yet to show he can play real quality NHL minutes.  Sergei Gonchar is getting a lot of minutes in tough situations, and while he hasn't been perhaps as awful as some would lead you to believe, he probably also hasn't been worth the fat contract he signed over the summer.  Chris Phillips gives you decent minutes in a defensive role as well, and rounds out the top three on the Sens blueline.

Up front has been a bit of a gong show.  Jason Spezza is out indefinetely with a shoulder injury and he'll miss his eighth straight game tonight against the Flames.  Losing him is a blow offensively, and when you're not getting the regular quality even strength minutes you're used to from the likes of Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher, you're going to suffer.  Captain Alfredsson leads the team in scoring with 27 points in 44 games, which shows you the struggles this team has had scoring.  Their depth is being further tested with the loss of Alex Kovalev for the next little bit with a knee injury.  Here are projected lines and pairings tonight:

Milan Michalek-Mike Fisher-Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno-Peter Regin-Jim O'Brien
Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil
Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester-Ryan Shannon

Chris Phillips-Erik Karlsson
Filip Kuba-Sergei Gonchar
Brian Lee-Matt Carkner

It looks like Chris Campoli will miss the game tonight, so Brian Lee will slot in instead.

That third line seems to be the most effective one on an overall basis, at least looking at the underlying numbers.  All three players are under 50% on their offensive zone starts, and their Corsi rates are all in the plus.  Granted, they won't always be out against top end competition, but when the numbers are as dreadful as they are from the top end guys, you'll need some help elsewhere.

It looks like Brian Elliott gets the start in net tonight.

The Story

It isn't often the Flames have an opportunity to take on a team in a spot worse than theirs.  The problem is, the last time they had the opportunity, they did almost nothing with it, falling 5-2 in a poor showing against the New York Islanders.  Calgary has played two pretty strong hockey games, even without earning two points in either contest, so a continuation of that hockey could serve them well tonight.  Calgary fell in Ottawa last season.

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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 Fatass Jawwad Zaidi, Manboobs
January 14 2011, 06:34PM
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Abu means father

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#52 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 06:37PM
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I dont like Jokinen between Tanguay and Iginla, but I dont like Stajan there any better. Put Backlund there, what the hell.

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#53 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:41PM
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God the Flames PP is awful.

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#54 coptin_
January 14 2011, 06:43PM
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who is our special teams coach? he should not have his contract renewed for next year

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#55 coptin_
January 14 2011, 06:43PM
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who is our special teams coach? he should not have his contract renewed for next year

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#56 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:44PM
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Nice little redirect by Mosser.

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#57 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:44PM
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coptin_ wrote:

who is our special teams coach? he should not have his contract renewed for next year

I don't know. Doesn't seem to matter who is in charge of it though...it's almost always poor.

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#58 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 06:46PM
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Can only do so much PP coaching with guys who dont want to hold on to the puck and make something happen. It's like a hot potato with these guys.

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#59 Robert Cleave
January 14 2011, 06:47PM
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That's a simple goal created by Jackman going to the net. A few other folks on the roster should pay careful attention.

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#60 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:48PM
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Moss has really come back in full force the last couple months.

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#61 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 06:49PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

That's a simple goal created by Jackman going to the net. A few other folks on the roster should pay careful attention.

A.M.E.N

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#62 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:50PM
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Flames first line is mostly swimming against the tide again tonight.

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#63 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:52PM
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Flames get more odd-man rushes on their PK than any other time.

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#64 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 06:53PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Flames first line is mostly swimming against the tide again tonight.

Luckily D. Malkin and T. Crosby are around to bail them out.

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#65 TheGirlOutWest
January 14 2011, 06:53PM
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PARDY more TOI than J-BO?

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#66 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:57PM
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TheGirlOutWest wrote:

PARDY more TOI than J-BO?

Actually, it looks like he's somehow leading the whole team in ES ice time. Either the stats are off or...I don't know what the alternative is.

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#67 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 06:58PM
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Calgary should be allowed to decline the man advantage.

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#68 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 06:58PM
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Jokinen has been a disaster tonight.

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#69 schevvy
January 14 2011, 07:00PM
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The NHL should allow the Flames to decline a power-play, save us from watching it

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#70 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:05PM
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Flames shouldnt have lines so much as partners. Jackman/Moss, Iginla/Tanguay, Glencross/Morrison(PK), Jokinen/Towel rack in the dressing room, Stajan/a pink teddy bear

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#71 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 07:10PM
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Chris Neil is kind of a big suck.

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#72 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 07:13PM
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Well, CGY turned things around in that one, mostly on the back of Moss, Jackman, Glencross. Chances were 7-2 for the Flames.

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#73 TheGirlOutWest
January 14 2011, 07:14PM
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LAST GAME >> over at the side

FINAL SO CALGARY 5-6 CALGARY

Is that like beating youself up?

Sounded like a pretty good effort middle frame

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#74 BCFLAME
January 14 2011, 07:16PM
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Sigh....Looks like the Flames are gonna win tonight. Damn you, Ottawa, why do you gotta suck more than we do? Or are you just smarter? i.e. going for the higher draft pick while the flames comically try to jump over 6-7 teams into the last playoff spot.

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#75 Robert Cleave
January 14 2011, 07:16PM
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Corsi.

CGY +4, +7 in the second, EV shots 17-15 CGY, 9-4 in the period. Good 20 minutes and excellent PK work, but that's a lousy team on the other side.

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#76 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:18PM
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BCFLAME wrote:

Sigh....Looks like the Flames are gonna win tonight. Damn you, Ottawa, why do you gotta suck more than we do? Or are you just smarter? i.e. going for the higher draft pick while the flames comically try to jump over 6-7 teams into the last playoff spot.

I hear ya! I thought of that earlier today, and made my peace with it - it's only 2 points, not the end of the world.

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#77 GermanFlame
January 14 2011, 07:28PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

Flames shouldnt have lines so much as partners. Jackman/Moss, Iginla/Tanguay, Glencross/Morrison(PK), Jokinen/Towel rack in the dressing room, Stajan/a pink teddy bear

hahaha Props. That just made me laugh out loud.

So funny, because its just so fitting.

Even I have noticed how soft Stajan is today

Its really to bad comment of the week is gone, would have been my pick.

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#78 BCFLAME
January 14 2011, 07:36PM
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Haha. Nice post regarding the pairings, ice-dawg.

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#79 coptin_
January 14 2011, 07:36PM
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memo from FEASTER; kenny with our domination on the current road trip we will go with plan b a deep playoff run.if we continue at this torrid pace i believe we will easily overtake the canucks for top spot in the division. i recomend that we make no trades this year,however if i trade backlund and all of our picks this year for that one player that will get us to the stanly cup finals. reply from kenny; jay thank you for your vision and hard work,ownership and i are offering you a 5 year deal to continue on with the plan

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#80 harry
January 14 2011, 07:39PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

I hear ya! I thought of that earlier today, and made my peace with it - it's only 2 points, not the end of the world.

Wins over Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal are mandatory, regardless of where it puts you in the draft position.

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#81 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:40PM
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Thanks guys. Did the Flames muster a single shot on that PP??

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#82 Rain Dogs
January 14 2011, 07:43PM
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Holy man, this game is BORING. At least they're winning.... I guess.

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#83 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 07:45PM
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@GermanFlame

We'll likely bring COTW back at some point. Have an issue with the GC's right now.

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#84 TheGirlOutWest
January 14 2011, 07:46PM
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Where's Moss? Haven't heard that name for some time....

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#85 coptin_
January 14 2011, 07:46PM
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did that seem to be too easy

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#86 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:49PM
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Looks like the first line showed up for a shift.

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#87 BCFLAME
January 14 2011, 07:50PM
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harry wrote:

Wins over Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal are mandatory, regardless of where it puts you in the draft position.

Harry, I used to think like that, too. Until I had to live seven years of my teenage life without any play-off hockey from my favorite team. Big reason for those dark years was the Flames agonizing knack of finishing 9-10 in standings. The fact we had terrible scouts (and still do, outside of Goulet) didn't help matters.

We need to get in the lottery so that we can get a high draft pick. That way even our pathetic scouts should have no trouble identifying the high-end talent, rather than settling for a shutdown defenceman in the first round (watch-out, here comes the next mythical Scott Stevens clone).

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#88 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 07:51PM
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What a pass by Gio on the Tanguay chance.

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#89 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 07:52PM
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@TheGirlOutWest

He's still out there.

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#90 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:53PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

What a pass by Gio on the Tanguay chance.

Very! Did Tanguay whif on it, or just not get Elliot to bite.

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#91 BCFLAME
January 14 2011, 07:55PM
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Lol, Gio just illegally saved a goal there.

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#92 BCFLAME
January 14 2011, 07:55PM
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Lol, Gio just illegally saved a goal there.

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#93 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:55PM
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The Flames are really collapsing to protect Karlsson....his rebound control is still a bit shaky, not a bad showing so far though.

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#94 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:56PM
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OOOHHHH IGGY..If that pass had gotten through!

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#95 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 08:07PM
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Ahh Flames...never boring.

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#96 TheGirlOutWest
January 14 2011, 08:08PM
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Let me entertain you....isn't that what it's all about?

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#97 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 08:09PM
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Hahaha...never boring, except on the powerplay.

Karlsson gets the win - still some room for development in his game, but deserved the W

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#98 coptin_
January 14 2011, 08:09PM
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go sens go nnnoooo , points in 3 straight

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#99 Robert Cleave
January 14 2011, 08:12PM
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Corsi.

CGY -4, EV shots with both goalies in the net ended 26-22 OTT.

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#100 TheGirlOutWest
January 14 2011, 08:32PM
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TheGirlOutWest wrote:

Dear HANK

You're gonna have to be perfect tonite..... SOG would help you out, but I guess we don't have that in us after sitting on our butts for 3 days

Well, perfect for the better part of it.....

Too bad your team slept through 2/3 of the game, but good on you, Karl

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