FGD: Wing It

Nation World HQ
November 23 2011 11:29AM

It depends on who you ask, but some believe Calgary's 4-1 win in Detroit earlier this month was their finest effort so far this season.  That can be argued against Friday's Chicago win, but one thing is true: the Flames were full marks for their November 3rd win over the Red Wings.  Coming off a disappointing effort Monday in Columbus, the Flames could use another one of those efforts when they meet Detroit again tonight (5 pm, TSN and Sportsnet 960).

There's no doubting how poorly Calgary's 4-1 loss to Columbus on Monday sat with the Flames faithful, as my three-and-a-half hour call-in show following was evidence of.  However, this team has shown an ability in recent years to bounce back the next game after a poor outing, so we'll see if that's the case here.  Why Calgary cannot put together back-to-back solid efforts is a question no one can answer at this point, but it's something I'll explore a little more in-depth later this week.

The Lineup

It really is the return of Brendan Morrison tonight after it was speculated ahead of Monday's game against the Blue Jackets.  As such, Matt Stajan will exit the lineup for the Flames tonight, as Morrison will play between Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos.  It's the only change to the forward group, as the lines look virtually the same as they have the last number of contests.

Alex Tanguay-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
Derek Smith-T.J. Brodie

For Morrison, you have to hope he's a little more with the play than he was prior to him going back on injured reserve.  He had really struggled in his return from a knee injury last season, and more often than we would have liked we saw him behind the play.  He did help out in the faceoff circle, and to this point is still Calgary's best centre at taking draws statistically.

It's the return of Smith to the active lineup as well, after missing the last two games as an unhealthy healthy scratch.  Basically the coaching staff wanted to give Smith a little time to rest a few bumps and bruises, so he sat out a pair of games in favor of Cory Sarich.

Henrik Karlsson was decent in his fourth start of the season on Monday, but it'll be back to Miikka Kiprusoff tonight for the Flames.

The Opponent

The last time Calgary saw Detroit, the Flames were handing them a sixth consecutive loss sending the Joe Louis Arena patrons home in a rather unhappy mood.  Well since then, the Red Wings have seemingly righted the ship, winning six of their last eight entering tonight with wins in two consecutive.  11-7-1 Detroit enters action tonight eighth in the Western Conference returning home after a 2-2 four game road trip.

To say the Red Wings are a possession team would be an understatement at this point, as even in their losses thus far, they've had the puck vastly more than their opponents.  That's really not a surprise, as Mike Babcock's team has made a habit of this over the last number of seasons.  Through 19 games this year, Detroit doesn't have one player under 56% on offensive zone starts, which tells you just how much they force the play to the right end of the ice.

That said, they're two dynamo forwards have had their issues scoring to this point, specifically Henrik Zetterberg.  With nine points thus far, he's well below his usual pace, aided in large part to his 5.6% shooting percentage; a number about two points lower than his average over the last few seasons.  He's run into some bad luck and haven't had the bounces go his way to this point, but with his possession numbers in the regularly stupid category (25.98 Corsi), you know that will turn at some point.  Pavel Datsyuk is in very much the same boat, but does have 15 points as opposed to Zetterberg's nine.

Johan Franzen-Pavel Datsyuk-Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Dan Cleary
Jiri Hudler-Darren Helm-Justin Abdelkader
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom-Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith
Jakub Kindl-Brad Stuart

On the injury front, the team has been without Ian White the past four games thanks to a fractured cheekbone suffered earlier this month.  He may be ready to return tonight against Calgary, so you can expect the heavily sheltered Smith to exit the lineup if White is able to go.

Kent and Robert are among the more vocal in the "Jimmy Howard non-believer" club, but his numbers don't lie so far this season.  In 16 games, his .950 even strength save percentage is second only to Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom among goalies with ten or more starts this season.  I'll be curious to see how long Howard has to put up elite numbers like that to turn that esteemed pair into believers.  For the record, I'm not the biggest Howard booster myself, so his totals thus far have caught my eye as well.

The Story

Plain and simple, the opponent doesn't really matter for the Flames tonight.  Head Coach Brent Sutter delivered an impassioned plea to his team in a 20 minute discussion with the assembled media on Tuesday afternoon.  He needs his group to buy into "team play" philosophy, which means no more freelancing and refusal to cooperate from certain high profile players.  19 games into the season, this thing isn't lost.  But eventually Jay Feaster will be forced to call a spade a spade, admit this group isn't going to do it, and start to accelerate his future plans.  We'll see if the Flames can stall that with a good effort in Detroit.

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We are the people that keep this whole circus running. We get no love but get to see Wanye freak out about stuff in person which is kind of a trade off.
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#1 Vintage Flame
November 23 2011, 12:08PM
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Not even going to speculate as to which 'team' shows up tonight.

It is apparent now that there is strife in the locker room, discord between coach and captain.. tonight could be just one big cluster you-know-what.

That being said, watch the Flames come out and win this one and just sky rocket the fan base's blood pressure.

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#2 Bob
November 23 2011, 12:17PM
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Yeah, I can see the team coming out and playing like contenders, only to turn around on Friday and lay an egg against St. Louis. I know we're starting to learn more about what is happening behind the dressing room doors, but I bet this isn't something new, it's been going on for a few seasons...which would partially explain their inconsistent play the past 4 - 5 years.

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#3 jeremywilhelm
November 23 2011, 01:25PM
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Even numbered game VF. The good team shows up brother. Plus no craptacular goaltending from Karlsson! Yay!

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#4 Kent Wilson
November 23 2011, 01:41PM
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Flames have played pretty well against CHI and DET so far. No way I'd bet on it happening a third time here. Calgary just doesn't have the horses for it.

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#5 jeremywilhelm
November 23 2011, 01:47PM
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@Kent Wilson

Silly Kent. You are wrong to make assumptions. This team does not conform to your silly stats or trends.

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#6 Pat Steinberg
November 23 2011, 01:52PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Silly Kent. You are wrong to make assumptions. This team does not conform to your silly stats or trends.

This is the most accurate thing that has ever been said. Have fun figuring this bunch out.

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#7 RossCreekNation
November 23 2011, 02:28PM
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Why bother playing Morrison? Seriously, dude is done. Why they even re-signed him is beyond me. Fack I hate this team.

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#8 VK63
November 23 2011, 02:49PM
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@RossCreekNation

Dude?

I was reminded of the resilience that is involved with cheering for a bad team when with a bunch of Rider fans recently.

When being mocked they responded ... "hey... relax.... Its easy to cheer for a good team".

then again.. a hundred 13 packs of Pilsner can skew reality in a way most Flames fans arent willing to attempt.

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#9 xis10ce
November 23 2011, 03:06PM
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I honestly figure them to come out strong after the verbal lashing they took recently then follow up a solid win tonight with a couple games of garbage play.

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#10 RexLibris
November 23 2011, 03:11PM
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What's the over/under on the number of minutes worth of effort that the Flames can string together? I'd set the line at 36.5. Any takers?

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#11 Big Cap
November 23 2011, 03:13PM
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ZERO chance of the Flames pulling this one out. They lucked out last time at the JLA, but Detroit will be ready this time. 6-1 Wings.

Feaster...time to back up your Big words!!!

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#12 schevvy
November 23 2011, 03:18PM
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Ah the Flames, never a predictable bunch. I am never surprised anymore by this team. They could very well put forth a very strong effort in this game. They could also lose 6-0. It all depends what team shows up.

BTW Pat, those wings in the picture look fantastic. I could totally go for some of those right now.

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#13 Backburner52
November 23 2011, 03:30PM
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I don't expect the Flames to knock this one out of the park, but I'm expecting some competition from the Flames. Could I be asking too much? Maybe.

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#14 Словари
November 23 2011, 03:32PM
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RexLibris wrote:

What's the over/under on the number of minutes worth of effort that the Flames can string together? I'd set the line at 36.5. Any takers?

You talkin per game? I'll take the under. How about this: Odds that Iginla hits -20 +/- before he gets another goal?

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#15 Super_Gio
November 23 2011, 03:39PM
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All I can ask for is effort............ Well a win would be nice too but....

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#16 Quicksilver ballet
November 23 2011, 03:40PM
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The Flames must be tanking on purpose. Who knew it would get this bad.

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#17 Словари
November 23 2011, 03:49PM
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Pat: "You can put it in the "Wing" column!".

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#18 GermanFlame
November 23 2011, 04:03PM
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RexLibris wrote:

What's the over/under on the number of minutes worth of effort that the Flames can string together? I'd set the line at 36.5. Any takers?

I think I would rather take the odds of trying to win the lottery than bet on the Flames at this point.

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#19 Ales Hallsky
November 23 2011, 04:08PM
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Don't worry boys and girls, pretty soon youlle have two lottery picks in a row and the future will look bright again.

Sidenote: What would the Flames fan consider fair trade value for Iggy if you were to make a trade with the Oil?

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#20 FireOnIce
November 23 2011, 04:19PM
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@Ales Hallsky

Bad question to ask Ales. Some people think he's worth a 1st rounder+prospect+roster player. Some think he isn't worth a carton of smokes for Kipper.

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#21 PEPPER962
November 23 2011, 05:37PM
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Iggy for Nugent-Hopkins. Sign the papers.

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#22 Smokey
November 23 2011, 08:20PM
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Yakupov is going tooklook good in a flaming C

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