FGD: A Lone Star State Of Mind

Ryan Pike
October 24 2013 12:22PM

 

 

The Calgary Flames conclude their lengthy five-game road trip – their first of three of that length this season – tonight in Dallas with a game against the Stars. Puck drop is at 6:30pm and the game is covered by the usual suspects (Sportsnet Flames, Fan 960 and us during/after game).

The Flames are getting healthier, having welcomed back Mike Cammalleri in LA and David Jones in Phoenix. Matt Stajan is primed to join the returners club, but some moves need to happen for him to play tonight. Either way, the Flames are 1-3-0 in the first four games of their trip, so they're probably excited that a veteran center who can win face-offs is healthy, because that's a huge, gaping hole in their game right now.

THE LINE-UP

Despite their woes on this trip, the Flames boast a fairly respectable 4-3-2 record – technically below .500 but good for a team that everyone was predicting to finish 30th (or 31st) in the league. Most impressive, as pointed out by Sportsnet's Charlie Simmer on the Phoenix broadcast, is that the Flames have been in every game they've played – even the ones they've lost. Again, for a young team that up until this week was missing their three best non-Glencross forwards, that's full marks.

Via DailyFaceoff, lines:

Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Galiardi – Backlund – Jones
Cammalleri – Monahan – Hudler
Bouma – Colborne – Jackman

Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Breen – O'Brien

Ramo
MacDonald

Karri Ramo gets his third start, both in part because Joey MacDonald was a bit rambunctious against Phoenix (and lost) and because Ramo was excellent against the Kings and only got rested because it was a back-to-back. Notable by their absences from the Flames projected line-up are Roman Horak (likely back to the AHL), Sven Baertschi and Brian McGrattan (scratched) and Mark Giordano (day-to-day). Giordano reportedly didn't skate today or yesterday, and indications it's a “wait-and-see” type of injury, not a “legs are broken off” one.

The Baertschi scratch is interesting but not shocking – he's got appreciably less points than his two regular line-mates (Hudler has 12, Monahan has 9, Sven has 4) and with Stajan and Cammalleri's return, he doesn't really fit into the top nine. He also doesn't really fit a checking role, so perhaps a stint on the sidelines is what he needs to re-focus. Maybe in future games, Jackman rotates out, Galiardi plays with Bouma and Colborne and Baertschi returns to the line-up? I'm just guessing.

THE OPPOSITION

The Stars are one of 13 NHL teams officially worse than the Calgary Flames, boasting a 3-5-0 record through 8 games. A lot of that can be attributed to some weak offensive starts – Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are producing, but that's it – and an injury to Kari Lehtonen (who's great) requiring them to rely on Dan Ellis (who's capable but not great).

Via DailyFaceoff, some lines:

Jamie Benn – Seguin – Peverley
Whitney – Eakin – Chiasson
Cole – Horcoff – Nichushkin
MacDermid – Fiddler – Roussel

Dillon – Robidas
Daley – Jordie Benn
Connauton – Gonchar

Lehtonen
Ellis

Aaron Rome cleared waivers but hasn't been re-assigned as of yet. Kevin Connauton slots in for Alex Goligoski and makes his NHL debut. Erik Cole was nursing some malady but will play tonight. Lehtonen gets the start. The Stars have been off since Saturday and have lost four of their last five, including dropping back-to-back games to LA and Anaheim over the weekend.

Oddly, the Stars boast a lot of 30-and-older players: Cole, Vernon Fiddler, Shawn Horcoff, Rich Peverley, Ray Whitney (who's 41), Trevor Daley, Sergei Gonchar, Stephane Robidas and Ellis. Heck, Kari Lehtonen joins the club next month. Considering how the NHL is shifting towards a game predicated by youth and speed, their roster construction seems a bit strange.

Of course, the unit to watch is also one of their youngest - the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverly. Seguin and Benn are significant offensive talents and can be handful if left to their own devices.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are finishing up their road trip and while they probably won't have their captain tonight, they will get Matty Franchise back. For a team that's suffered greatly due to losing a boat-load of face-offs, gaining Stajan's services once again will be a huge step towards proving they really are as good as they've played in the past three weeks.

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Now in his fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#51 jonahgo
October 24 2013, 07:57PM
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i hope baertschi is paying close attention from the press box. lots of great examples of "playing in all three zones" tonight.

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#52 kittensandcookies
October 24 2013, 07:58PM
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Gak. Please Jebus bring back Gio.

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#53 Kent Wilson
October 24 2013, 07:59PM
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Well, that's not good.

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#54 prendrefeu
October 24 2013, 07:59PM
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!#%#@!$#@!

One and a half minutes and the game is totally different. WTF happened?!"

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#55 Kent Wilson
October 24 2013, 08:05PM
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@prendrefeu

Two bad break downs and a fluke deflection.

The team should probably waive Breen after this and bring up Cundari or something.

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#56 TRAV
October 24 2013, 08:06PM
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Well most of the games have been fun to watch...Need a BIG pushback and some soft goals would help... Need shots for that though

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#57 RKD
October 24 2013, 08:06PM
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The curse of the second period rears its ugly head once more.

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#58 prendrefeu
October 24 2013, 08:08PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Two bad break downs and a fluke deflection.

The team should probably waive Breen after this and bring up Cundari or something.

Agreed.

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#59 Kmp
October 24 2013, 08:16PM
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Looks like they put Brodie with Russell trying to stop the bleeding. Breen and Butler to AHL, bring up Cundari and Ramage.

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#60 Clyde
October 24 2013, 08:28PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

As O'Brien and Breen ably demonstrate, size isn't the lone consideration. I can't think of another defender as close to NHL ready in the org.

If a 5'9 inch defender who was not considered much of a prospect by anyone is our best option, we better stay the course or get another def

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#61 Clyde
October 24 2013, 08:29PM
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Kmp wrote:

Cundari can shoot skate plays with an edge, has to be better than any of the bottom 3.

He's not. That's why he was cut so early on.

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#62 ChinookArch
October 24 2013, 08:37PM
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And now it's getting into ugly territory.

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#63 TRAV
October 24 2013, 08:39PM
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So far we've been able to rally around work ethic. Can't say the same after that last powerplay.

Ramo overplayed on that one. How many times have our goalies seemed to wander this year...

Might as well get Breen some playing time for the rest of this one.

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#64 RexLibris
October 24 2013, 08:40PM
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Wow.

Just tuned in to the game.

Of what's left of it.

As a veteran of many (MANY) Dallas beatdowns, I can empathize.

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#65 TRAV
October 24 2013, 08:41PM
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@TRAV

Gotta think Ramo's Save % will e pretty terrible. All even strength I think.

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#66 RexLibris
October 24 2013, 08:47PM
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Makes you wonder where this Stars team would be if they'd kept Neal.

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#67 ChinookArch
October 24 2013, 08:56PM
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5v3

Maybe we'll see some effort now.

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#68 ChinookArch
October 24 2013, 09:02PM
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Great pass by Hudler to O'Brien and the Monahan to Hudler. Really good vision by Monahan on that one too.

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#69 Kmp
October 24 2013, 09:14PM
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On a positive note PK was good in the 3rd.

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#70 RexLibris
October 24 2013, 09:14PM
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Flames kept that closer than the score would lead one to believe based on chances and shots.

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#71 Kmp
October 24 2013, 09:16PM
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Hopefully 5 goals against doesn't mean McDonald back in net.

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