FGD: FTC (Attack of the acronyms!)

Justin Azevedo
January 23 2013 02:19PM

 

Well, the past two games haven't gone as well as hoped. 

However, two games is only two games. Sure, 48 is less than 82, but to make as much noise as has been made feels, to me, asinine.

Tonight the Flames play a team with only one more point than they have: the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have gotten off to an even shakier start than the Flames, giving up 7 goals on opening night to the Anaheim Ducks and losing in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday. 

Last year, the Flames finished about even with Vancouver for the first time in years (3-2-1). With a Western Conference and division heavy schedule, Calgary will have to make hay against some of their closet rivals in order to make the post-season.

The Line-Up

  • Cammalleri-Backlund-Iginla
  • Glencross-Tanguay-Stempniak
  • Baertschi-Stajan-Comeau
  • Begin-Horak-Jackman

  • Bouwmeester-Giordano
  • Wideman-Brodie
  • Smith-Sarich

  • Kiprusoff

I'm already starting to question Hartley's decision-making when it comes to lines, although to be fair to the new bench boss he's still figuring out what he has with this roster.

That said, the existing set up above seems like it will get murdered if they try and go power versus power, but there's also no line that you can bury. To me, it looks like the Flames have the players for 3 second lines and a third line that you can feed to the wolves, but Hartley is going with 2 second lines, a generic third line and a 4th line. It is nice to see a natural center on the top unit in Backlund, however.

It seems Jones is getting bumped tonight in favor of Steve Begin, although with Hudler and Cervenka slated to return on Saturday, Roman Horak is the good bet to be sent down to Abbotsford given his waivers exepmt (and would be better served playing rather than watching from the pressbox as well).

The defense looks suspect to me as well - as much as I like Brodie, I'm not sure he's better suited to a top-4 role then Butler is, and given the line combos yesterday Butler could be a healthy scratch tonight, which is insane. Giordano had a terrible game one, Bouwmeester had a terrible game two, and Wideman just looks completely lost on the defending side of the red line. A shakeup is needed, for sure, but moving Butler out of the line-up altogether seems unncessarily harsh.

The Opponent

  • Sedin-Sedin-Kassian  
  • Higgins-Burrows-Hansen  
  • Raymond-Schroeder-Weise  
  • Volpatti-Malhotra-Lapierre

  • Hamhuis-Bieksa
  • Edler-Garrison
  • Ballard-Tanev

  • Schneider

There's been a faux-controversy regarding the Canucks' goaltending situation since...well, pretty much since ever. In my opinion, the better goalie started the season on the bench, but the difference between the two of them is probably pretty small. It remains to be seen how Schneider will hold up throughout a whole season, so it's probably a good idea that Mike Gillis held on to Luongo.

Obviously the prominent name missing from the above roster is Ryan Kesler, who is currently rehabbing from both shoulder and wrist surgeries and still has no timetable to return. Kesler is likely the best single player on the team - or, rather, the player that effects the team the most with his consistent Selke-caliber play. David Booth is also out long-term, which means the Canucks highly adept second line has been completely hollowed-out to start the season. As a result, Vancouver is far more vulnerable in the middle of the rotation - to the degree the Flames arguably have the better depth after the top line up front.

Sum It Up

Even if the Flames lose this one, I wouldn't be too worked up about it. They'd have one basically "equal" loss against Anaheim, a loss against a top-5 Western Conference team and another against their most hated rival/top-5 Western Conference team. Point is, two losses to good teams and an even game against another playoff bubble team isn't a big deal. The issue, more than anything, is timing. It's just not good optics for the team to have a start like this after the past three seasons under Brent Sutter. 

Saying that, it's always nice to see those pukes on the West Coast lose. Go Flames.

Enemy Perspective - Thom Drance sets things up from a Vancouver perspective at Canucks Army. Swing by and make sure to brink the smack talk.

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Justin is a 22-year-old Flames fan who also happens to be pursuing a double major at the University of Calgary. He has played hockey at high levels, enjoys wearing shorts and tends to drink far too much Grasshopper. Please don't hate him.
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#1 jeremywilhelm
January 23 2013, 02:23PM
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This could only go two ways. Canucks win 5-1. Flames hang on to win 4-3.

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#2 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 02:24PM
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UGH, Sarich over Butler, really? I really don't think that Hartley has an idea of what he wants or where this roster is going. I mean Brodie goes from being benched to top 4 in essentially 1 game.....

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#3 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 02:31PM
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@Colin.S

It could have been any member of the top-4 defense core really. They've all had their struggles. Heck, Im surprised it's not Gio because he has been mostly awful. And I'm one of the biggest Gio boosters out there.

I think we're going to see a lot of experimenting by the coaching staff for the first 10 games at least.

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#4 jeremywilhelm
January 23 2013, 02:36PM
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Brodie was essentially playing top 4 with Wideman last game after the first period. Hartley moved Giordano with Sarich for the rest of the game.

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#5 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 02:39PM
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@jeremywilhelm

True. Im surprised Gio and Bouwmeester seem to be back together in fact. We'll see if that persists.

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#6 seve927
January 23 2013, 02:41PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

True. Im surprised Gio and Bouwmeester seem to be back together in fact. We'll see if that persists.

I haven't been able to keep track of whose playing with whom. Seems like it's different every shift.

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#7 schevvy
January 23 2013, 02:48PM
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That Brodie-Wideman pair terrifies me. Two offensive defenceman who are not great in their own zone. Yikes!

P.s- great PP pair though. Would rather Brodie on the point with Wideman than Tanguay.

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#8 DangleSnipeCelly
January 23 2013, 02:48PM
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Maybe Butler's being held out of the line up for the big trade with the Isles :)

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#9 exsanguinator
January 23 2013, 03:00PM
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From the eye test it seems that the flames younger players (backlund bearschi brodie) seem to be playing better than the vets. I'm not sure about the actual stats but despite opening with two losses I still have some measure of hope for this season. If these young guys continue playing like it seems they have been then maybe letting iggy walk won't sting so much. Also hudler and cervenka aren't back yet so hopefully they will have an impact.

My question is what to do with all of the depth players on a team full of depth with no actual number one guys.

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#10 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 03:01PM
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unrelated: apparently McCarthy is going back to the Swiss league now that his PTO with the Heat has expired.

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#11 NateBaldwin
January 23 2013, 03:02PM
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@schevvy

both of whom have a solid outlet pass though.

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#12 Stunner
January 23 2013, 03:09PM
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I don't understand benching Butler over Sarich and/or Smith. This tactic makes the Regehr trade look even worse. Also sitting Jones over Begin and Stajan drives me crazy. We need someone to win faceoffs and Jones does, plus he's a big body down the middle. I know it's a new coach and it's early in the season but this coach-potato isn't pleased. Go Flames!

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#13 Mangotanker
January 23 2013, 03:15PM
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"Tonight the Flames play a team with only one more point than they have: the Vancouver Canucks."

Don't mean to be a pessimist, but tonight may very well be the last night of the season that the Flames are within one point of the Canucks.

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#14 everton fc
January 23 2013, 03:15PM
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Sitting Jones seems suspect. Why not let Horak centre Baertschi? The 4th line is weak. Like an expansion team. And while I understand sending Horak down, I'd love to see him get some minutes here.

Sitting Butler? Could there be a trade in the works?? You never know.

How has Jackman looked thus far?

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#15 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 03:17PM
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I'm willing to give Gio a pass for now because we KNOW how good he is, might just take a game or two more. But at the same time, we KNOW how bad Sarich is, but consistently he is getting in above guys, it's mind boggling.

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#16 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 03:20PM
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@Colin.S

True but the coaching staff is coming in pretty fresh so I understand why they are making some judgements based on the performances so far.

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#17 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 03:21PM
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@DangleSnipeCelly

Maybe, that would certainly be interesting to say the least, we know Nino wants to be traded, wonder what else besides Butler it would take.

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#18 Parallex
January 23 2013, 03:25PM
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If they bench Butler it's silly. The whole Defense has looked shaky to start the season.

Interesting forward shake-up I wonder if it's just a reaction to it being a road game (1st change). Or maybe Hartley is trying to re-create the 2008 1st line (Cammy-two-way center-Iggy) with Backlund in place of Conroy. Regardless, I was kind of enjoying the Baertschi-Backlund pairing... I thought they worked well together.

Kent: How has vancouver been coached the last two games? I mean in the absense of Kesler have they been using the same extreme zone-start combinations that we've been accustomed to from the 'nucks the last few years or have the Sedins been made to pull their weight in area's other then the attack zone?

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#19 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 03:29PM
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@Parallex

I haven't been able to check thanks to the lack of timeonice tools Parallex. I'll ask Thom though.

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#20 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 03:29PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

True but the coaching staff is coming in pretty fresh so I understand why they are making some judgements based on the performances so far.

I dislike that though, you are gonna judge guys off of a single game or two vs what he should have studied of the team from the last several seasons..... that just doesn't sound right. He should be giving the guys that have showed at least from last season they should be playing and if they can't hack it, let some of the outsiders a shot.

They are giving a spot to a guy that is barely able to hold it over guys that would excel at it because they had one bad game while the other guy is just coasting on mediocrity and cause he wasn't bad for one game, mediocrity is enough to keep him in. Guess we have our 2013 slogan:

Mediocre is just good enough!

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#21 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 03:37PM
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@Colin.S

Im sure that's happening too, but it's human nature to act on what you personally see and experience...especially for a new coaching staff who is more or less tasked with coming in and changing the way things were done before.

Im resigned to the fact that the first 10 games at least is going to be a feeling out period, likely with some superficially odd decisions thrown in. I won't really start judging the coaching staff until we're into the season and their decision making establishes habits and patterns.

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#22 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 03:44PM
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Flames announce Horak has been re-assigned. Meaning Jones is probably back in the line-up tonight.

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#23 SmellOfVictory
January 23 2013, 03:56PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Flames announce Horak has been re-assigned. Meaning Jones is probably back in the line-up tonight.

Poor little fella. He was actually one of the better forwards for the past couple of games. Drawbacks of being on an ELC, I suppose.

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#24 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 04:03PM
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As good as he was he will be getting first line or at worst 2nd line time in Abby and should hopefully be better for it.

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#25 RexLibris
January 23 2013, 04:11PM
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I actually like the Flames chances tonight. I know progression is rarely linear, but the line thus far would suggest that they are due for a win.

As per usual, it would take a good performance from Kiprusoff to outduel Schneider/Luongo, but that is always a possibility.

The physical side of the game may be the most important. The Flames seemed to struggle under the pressure San Jose put at times.

I'd like to see a 4-1 Flames win.

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#26 Baalzamon
January 23 2013, 04:26PM
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@everton fc

having a "weak" 4th line is like having a leaky faucet. You could fix it, but why would you bother when your ceiling is already caving in?

also, expansion teams tend to have fantastic 4th lines and weak everything else. Because no one protects grinders.

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#27 loudogYYC
January 23 2013, 04:42PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I agree, Horak seems like one of the smarter players on the Flames. Hopefully he takes a step up in Abbotsford and makes himself noticed.

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#28 FireOnIce
January 23 2013, 04:57PM
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My guess is that the lack of good play is because only 4 of the players on the Flames played during the lockout, and 3 of those got hurt. What was Iginla doing? Where was JBo? Playing pond hockey with your kids and making drunk-driving commercials is not the way to stay fresh.

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#29 House
January 23 2013, 05:19PM
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Pukes, eh?

To quote Metallica "Sad, But True"

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#30 RKD
January 23 2013, 05:30PM
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Well I guess they can't scratch Jay-Bo, heaven forbid the Flames coaching staff break that ironman streak. Sitting Butler isn't harsh, he's another softy like Jay-Bo. True, I would take Butler over Sarich but you need a complimentary balance of shut down guys and offensive guys.

Most of the Flames D is offensive, which is why a guy like Wideman is getting burned and turning the puck over.

The only good sign is the Flames have outshot their opponents in the first two games. It would be interesting to know their SH%. Eventually, they are going to score and Kipper is going to be back to being Kipper.

Schneider is a very poor puck handler, the Flames should try to capitalize on that.

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#31 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 05:42PM
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Hey Kent, any word on a Cover it Live replacement yet?

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#32 Willi P
January 23 2013, 05:45PM
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Horak and Brodie were the best players on the ice last game. I know Horak (and Brodie) could go back down. Do they want to win or appease the veterans and suspect signings by Feaster and Sutter (Stajan, Sarich etc). Still like Sarich over Smith but not Butler. Maybe good for Horak in the AHL but they could have moved him up too; a Horak, Backlund and Baertschi line would have been worth a look IMO. Why not try something new that might work instead of the same old entitlement based on 1-way contract.

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#33 Willi P
January 23 2013, 05:49PM
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Also should put Stemp in that best player list from last game as well.

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#34 negrilcowboy
January 23 2013, 05:50PM
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some kinda lineup better keep their feet moving.

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#35 ChinookArch
January 23 2013, 05:59PM
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Kent, the number of comments are way up. Has FN seen a lot more traffic compared to last season?

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#36 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 06:44PM
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@Colin.S

I looked at blyve and it might work. That said I have personally enjoyed the active (but static) comment strings more so far this year because moderating and monitoring the coveritlive chat was a lot of work.

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#37 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 06:46PM
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@ChinookArch

Pretty strong boost after the lock-out. Things haven't doubled or anything, but consistently high most days thanks to the latency built up form the long lay-off.

Really nice to have an active community. Makes it easier to write and participate everyday. Thanks folks.

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#38 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 06:47PM
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@negrilcowboy

Pucks and bodies to the net.

If we get a night going at the Tilted Kilt, Simmerisms will be the official drinking game.

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#39 Colin.S
January 23 2013, 06:55PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I looked at blyve and it might work. That said I have personally enjoyed the active (but static) comment strings more so far this year because moderating and monitoring the coveritlive chat was a lot of work.

There are lots of us willing to moderate and help, but yeah the commenting system is nice, just much more fun when it was live. But this will do for now. Till you find the right program anyways.

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#40 Kent Wilson
January 23 2013, 06:58PM
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@Colin.S

I'll keep looking. What I might do is have a mid-week afternoon hockey chat to test it out before going live in a game.

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#41 negrilcowboy
January 23 2013, 07:17PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Pucks and bodies to the net.

If we get a night going at the Tilted Kilt, Simmerisms will be the official drinking game.

the crew would be a striking resemblance to keith richards in no time drinkin to simmerisms, yikes would need an intervention.

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#42 clyde
January 23 2013, 07:28PM
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Butler and Glen-X for Nino and a 1st. Gives the Isles a top 4 def for them anyway plus a very good winger for Tavares. Gives us potential in Nino and a coveted 1st rounder that could very well be a high one. Isles need NHLers more than prospects at this point and the Flames need to look to the future. Glen-X is a steep price to pay but..

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#43 Willi P
January 23 2013, 07:36PM
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@clyde

Sorry, cant agree. GlenX is pretty much everything you want in a player (except the odd stupid penalty), grit, scoring, team guy, cheap (long term) and he has a NMC. The only way I look at trying to move him is for a true 1C. With the NMC or NTC, no way he chooses to go to the NYI's

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#44 clyde
January 23 2013, 07:42PM
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Willi P wrote:

@clyde

Sorry, cant agree. GlenX is pretty much everything you want in a player (except the odd stupid penalty), grit, scoring, team guy, cheap (long term) and he has a NMC. The only way I look at trying to move him is for a true 1C. With the NMC or NTC, no way he chooses to go to the NYI's

I know Glen-X is quality but we are going nowhere with him and we have to give up quality in order to move forward. The idea of playing with Tavares may be enough to get him to waive.

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#45 Vintage Flame
January 23 2013, 07:44PM
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@clyde

Wow... Not sure I'd feel good about giving up Glencross, and to be honest, I don't think the Isles would give up Nino AND a first for Butler and Glennie.

They would be looking at someone like Backlund to be thrown in for that deal.

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#46 clyde
January 23 2013, 07:51PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Wow... Not sure I'd feel good about giving up Glencross, and to be honest, I don't think the Isles would give up Nino AND a first for Butler and Glennie.

They would be looking at someone like Backlund to be thrown in for that deal.

They may want more but are on the hunt for quality vets. Snow is under pressure to improve and the idea of getting 2 good NHLers who will immediately help could be very tempting. He has youth and more prospects following anyway. If they improve and the pick is 12-17 range, it wouldn't look bad for them.If we got lucky and Nino progresses and the pick is top 10 (Barkov) we win. The immediate risk is Calgary's but the payoff may be greater.

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#47 Vintage Flame
January 23 2013, 07:55PM
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@clyde

Ya, I see what you're saying. Personnaly I'd rather package more vets to get that return than give up Glencross. I really like him on this team, and to be honest, I don't think he would give the Islanders what he does for the Flames.

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#48 clyde
January 23 2013, 08:04PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Ya, I see what you're saying. Personnaly I'd rather package more vets to get that return than give up Glencross. I really like him on this team, and to be honest, I don't think he would give the Islanders what he does for the Flames.

I hear you but I think we need to give him up in order to get a great return. He would be very sought after. The kind of player teams will over pay for.We have to give up on the idea of making a trade that will immediately improve the team. We need to get worse to get better or be destined to be mediocre or worse for years to come. It is 3 years and counting and we are getting worse but without accumulating much young talent and draft picks.Perhaps it is better to wait until the deadline with him though.

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#49 Vintage Flame
January 23 2013, 08:24PM
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@clyde

Perhaps it is better to wait until the deadline with him though.

I think we can safely say that for A LOT of players on this team this year.

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#50 Cp
January 23 2013, 08:24PM
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Is there a way to stream this game to a computer? Can't use a tv tonight.

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