FGD: Don't Screw It Up

Pat Steinberg
January 03 2011 01:21PM

The Calgary Flames are riding their longest win streak of the season, and it sure as hell better continue tonight when they play host to the New York Islanders (7 pm, Sportsnet West and The FAN 960).  Much like Saturday's game against Edmonton, the Flames are going to have to go out of their way to lose this game...which we've seen the team do before.

The Flames look for a fifth straight win tonight at the 'Dome, and on this current four game streak, they've deserved all eight points.  Their last game was a 2-1 win over the Oilers, and even though the Flames didn't completely dominate things, they were far and away better than Edmonton and did more than enough to win the hockey game.  Well, if they play their game, they'll probably come away with a fifth straight win.

The Lineup

Henrik Karlsson gets the start in net for the Calgary Flames, coming off a pretty strong outing his last game out.  Karlsson made a ton of big saves against the Blue Jackets on December 21st, and he's looked good in outings against New Jersey, Anaheim and Minnesota.  I know a lot of people thought he might play on the New Years back to back, but the feeling is Karlsson needs a chance to play at home...his prior four outings have all been away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.  His last home game was the 6-5 loss to Colorado, a game Karlsson really struggled in, so it's an opportunity to impress in front of the home crowd.

No other lineup changes for the Flames, who sent Mikael Backlund and Brendan Mikkelson to the American Hockey League on Sunday morning.  The team is winning, so they will stick with the same 18 skaters in their same combinations...and they'll look like this:

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

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

The Iginla line is coming off one of their more mediocre performances in recent memory, as they were matched up against an AHL caliber blueline, yet didn't generate a ton of things in the offensive end.  They won't get a ton of great resistance tonight either, so it's a chance to return to the very strong form as of late.  The line centered by Matt Stajan really needs to start pulling it's weight though...when you've got $9.5 million invested in the trio, the play as of late is unacceptable.  Hagman has been a non factor for far too long while Matt Stajan continues to frustrate to go along with his lack of production (two goals).  And well, Ales Kotalik is...alive.

The Opponent

Well...here come the (red hot?) Islanders, who have won two straight games and six of their last ten.  That's fairly significant for a team with as many injury issues as they have, and as bad a team as they have.  After a start where a lot of people took notice, the Isles went on an EXTENDED losing streak, and are seemingly on one of the upswings of a season.  They're last two wins have come over elite hockey teams, so give them credit...they're playing scrappy, and extra time wins over Detroit and Pittsburgh have energized the locker room.

Hearing from a lot of the players this morning, the team feels like they're playing a little closer to what they're capable of.  Rick DiPietro will get the start in net after Dwayne Roloson was traded to Tampa on Saturday night; DiPietro was in for New York's win over Pittsburgh.  Here are lines and pairings for tonight:

Matt Moulson-John Tavares-P.A. Parenteau
Michael Grabner-Frans Nielsen-Josh Bailey
Blake Comeau-Rob Schremp-Jon Sim
Matt Martin-Zenon Konopka-Jesse Joensuu

Andrew MacDonald-Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton-Milan Jurcina
Dylan Reese-Bruno Gervais

Eeek.  Depth issues seem to be the word of the day for the Isles.  They're without their top defenceman (Mark Streit) and they're without a top six forward in Kyle Okposo.  They win by playing it close to the vest and playing scrappy hockey.

The Story

The Flames have won their last two games against "teams they should win" and that's important.  These are the games Calgary needs to win, because they're not going to win every game against the teams ahead of them...but if you can bank these games against bottom feeding teams, you can pile up points.  That's what the Flames need to do at this point...so win this game, and then roll the dice in Vancouver.

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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 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 01:37PM
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The Flames contest versus NYI last year near the end of the season was perhaps one of the worst I've seen the club play in a long, long time considering the opponent. They were chasing a playoff spot at the time and were held to less than 10 scoring chances in that one.

Here's hoping we don't see a repeat tonight.

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#2 jr_christ
January 03 2011, 02:14PM
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another push for 8th...

should be a very exciting first round for Vancouver or Detroit

at least you have youth... oh wait... you don't

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#3 dotfras
January 03 2011, 02:34PM
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Hoping to see more out of lines 2 & 3 tonight. We better keep our heads on straight, can't be taking a lot of dumb penalties in this one.

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#4 wattree
January 03 2011, 03:08PM
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The Islanders are a pretty good example of why we shouldn't beg for this team to be stripped down and rebuilt. You imagine trying to stay interested in the play of that team for 82 games? I'm not saying we're a good team, but please don't let us end up like that.

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#5 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 04:02PM
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wattree wrote:

The Islanders are a pretty good example of why we shouldn't beg for this team to be stripped down and rebuilt. You imagine trying to stay interested in the play of that team for 82 games? I'm not saying we're a good team, but please don't let us end up like that.

Fair comment, although one would imagine the Flames budget/ownership will be much more...fulsome than the Islanders meaning they won't have to try to compete with a rebuilt roster that is also at the salary cap floor.

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#6 negrilcowboy
January 03 2011, 04:23PM
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@wattree

No other franchise can compare to the Isles. Their front office personnel is the Nhl's equivalent to Barney Fife leading the FBI. Monetary issues aside, Garth Snow went from career backup to running the show with no apparent credientals.

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#7 everton fc
January 03 2011, 04:25PM
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I think Jackman is capable of as much point-production as Glencross, if given the chance. Look for he and Konopka to possibly square off this evening.

Why is Ivanas not in Abbotsford?

@watree

Sage words.

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#8 John Deere Green
January 03 2011, 04:46PM
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The Flames must be trying to move Hagman somehow. He is very inconsistent and very hard to watch. Some nights I have to look at Kent's game stats to see if he was even playing. When do we stop saying "Kotalik's off to a slow start because of the knee injury"? Surely he would wave his no trade clause, he didn't want to come here in the first place. I realize he's terrible right now but maybe at the deadline another team needs a winger because of injuries and we get a pair of socks back for him. Stajan? Sorry to say we're stuck with the pillowy soft style of Matt for another four years. Tragic.

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#9 dotfras
January 03 2011, 04:54PM
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Kotalik played decently in buffalo, you think they'd want him back?

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#10 John Deere Green
January 03 2011, 05:01PM
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@Dotfras That's a good point. He also played for Lindy Ruff too didn't he? Might be worth a phone call for Feaster, though I imagine he's probably already called and left messages at everyone of the Buffalo Sabre management numbers. Please take him!

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#11 walkinvisible
January 03 2011, 06:51PM
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everton fc wrote:

I think Jackman is capable of as much point-production as Glencross, if given the chance. Look for he and Konopka to possibly square off this evening.

Why is Ivanas not in Abbotsford?

@watree

Sage words.

ivanans is suffering from post-concussion syndrome and (i presume) on LTIR. he's not healthy scratched every night or practicing with the team, if that's what you're getting at.

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#12 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 06:55PM
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Ryan let me know his internet is acting up, so it looks like this will be the gamethread tonight.

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#13 Robert Cleave
January 03 2011, 07:01PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Ryan let me know his internet is acting up, so it looks like this will be the gamethread tonight.

Tears do tend to short out electronic equipment.

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#14 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:05PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

Tears do tend to short out electronic equipment.

Heh. To be fair, he emailed me before the US started losing.

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#15 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:14PM
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Wow. Tavares may be a limited player right now, but that's quite the goal.

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#16 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:18PM
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Yeesh. Pretty uninspired start to this one for the Flames (as per usual).

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#17 coptin_
January 03 2011, 07:20PM
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#4 is the softest d man in the league! i would trade him for any offer,no matter how bad. his bad play far outweighs any thing he is good at

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#18 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:23PM
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Just terrible coverage by Bou and Reggie on the second goal.

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#19 John Deere Green
January 03 2011, 07:27PM
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This is like watching grass grow compared to the Can/U.S. game.

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#20 coptin_
January 03 2011, 07:28PM
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good ole #4 out played and out of possition yet again,has this tool know how to throw a check yet.imsupprised he isnt -100 yet for the season. if i was reggie i would beg and plead for a new partner before it affects his #s too badly.id like to see brent have the guts to sit his *ss in the press box

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#21 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:30PM
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@coptin_

I'm generally a bouwmeester fan, but tonight he's been off. Reggie didn't impress me on the second goal either.

Frankly, tho whole team looks like it needs a stiff colonic to wake up.

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#22 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:34PM
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Nice finish by Mosser. At this point, I might like to see the 4th line get more ice than the Stajan unit.

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#23 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:41PM
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Flames need to just escape this period.

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#24 coptin_
January 03 2011, 07:45PM
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this game looks so unbelievably slow and un inspired compared to the juniors.the 2 best junior teams look far better than the nhl's 2 worst teams

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#25 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:47PM
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Chances were 10-4 in the first for NYI. Yuck.

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#26 coptin_
January 03 2011, 07:48PM
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yyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa bbbbaaaaaabbbbbyyyyyy

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#27 Robert Cleave
January 03 2011, 07:49PM
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Corsi.

CGY -8, EV shots 10-9 NYI. Outplayed at EV, can't kill a penalty. Beauty. I'm glad I spent more of the period watching the junior game.

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#28 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 07:55PM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

Corsi.

CGY -8, EV shots 10-9 NYI. Outplayed at EV, can't kill a penalty. Beauty. I'm glad I spent more of the period watching the junior game.

Smart move. Not an option for me though.

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#29 Robert Cleave
January 03 2011, 07:56PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Smart move. Not an option for me though.

Understood, and I for one appreciate your diligence.

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#30 coptin_
January 03 2011, 08:03PM
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looks like the 4 game win streak went to their heads,probably thought they couldn't loose to the iles

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#31 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:03PM
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Flames should push in this one. Second can't be much worse.

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#32 Robert Cleave
January 03 2011, 08:07PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Flames should push in this one. Second can't be much worse.

Spoke too soon, Kent.

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#33 coptin_
January 03 2011, 08:10PM
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i think there is a re run of 2 1/2 men on

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#34 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:14PM
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Well, things can't get more ideal for a Flames come back here. Someone named Nathan Lawson is now in net for NYI.

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#35 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:18PM
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How did Kostopolous do against Konopka? Did we lose that battle, too?

Also... is this the type of game that screams coaching change? How do you get beaten this bad by this team, and in a must-win situation (which is every game against sub .500 teams for the balance of the season)?????

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#36 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:19PM
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Is Karlsson also playing poorly? I am not watching...

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#37 Robert Cleave
January 03 2011, 08:20PM
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everton fc wrote:

Is Karlsson also playing poorly? I am not watching...

Not really. He's been hung out to dry by his teammates.

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#38 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:23PM
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Flames created something on the PP, but are still doing nothing at ES.

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#39 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:23PM
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How about Kostopolous - did he take one for the team?

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#40 negrilcowboy
January 03 2011, 08:24PM
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@Kent Wilson

Calgary kid, you could have seen him at the Max Bell in the ajhl.people should go watch minor hockey while its still a game not a business.

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#41 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:25PM
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everton fc wrote:

How did Kostopolous do against Konopka? Did we lose that battle, too?

Also... is this the type of game that screams coaching change? How do you get beaten this bad by this team, and in a must-win situation (which is every game against sub .500 teams for the balance of the season)?????

I think the coaching change will wait until the GM is chosen for good.

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#44 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:30PM
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Pat Steinberg wrote:

You're assuming it will happen Kent...I don't know...my guess is Feaster is the guy. And he and Sutter are on the same page, or at least they've gone out of their way to say that publicly.

Well, what I meant was if they choose someone else or come out and confirm the guy is Feaster for good going forward.

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#45 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:31PM
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Perhaps the President, GM and coach all go after this most untimely implosion!

Perhaps we can unload Hagman and Stajan this evening, as well - to the Isles. Of course, I see no one outside Taveras on the current squad worth a punt... Half this squad are AHLers...

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#46 Kent Wilson
January 03 2011, 08:32PM
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The 4th line continues to be quality.

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#47 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:35PM
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They should keep Kostopolous/Moss/Jackman in tact. Regardless. Again, I think Jackman can produce the same numers as Glencross, with fewer turnovers and outright dumb penalties...

Good for Kostopolous. Just giver! He comes to play. I'll give him that.

Would I be blasted if I said Sutter is a better GM than Feaster? 'Cause I think he may be...

Time will tell. We shall see....

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#50 everton fc
January 03 2011, 08:36PM
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Moss. Jackman. Brilliant.

I've said it before - Moss is the type of player Cup winners have on their roster.

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