The Flames At The Dot

Ryan Pike
October 29 2013 09:05AM

 

 

Even before the rebuild, one of the biggest holes for the Calgary Flames has been face-offs. This season, they're 30th in the league. Last season they were 28th. They were even 30th during Brent Sutter's last year as coach. Being bad at face-offs isn't a new phenomenon, and seems to be immune to changes in management, coaches or players.

Here's a brief situational look at how the Flames are doing at the face-off dot after 11 games.

NEUTRAL ZONE

Team-wide, the Flames win roughly 42% of face-offs at center ice. The breakdown among the regular centers is like this: Joe Colborne is at 47% (but has taken the least neutral zone draws), Mikael Backlund is 43%, Sean Monahan is 40% and Ben Street (now in Abbotsford) is at 31%. Matt Stajan's at 57%, but has only taken 23 draws (as opposed to Backlund's 65).

OFFENSIVE ZONE

Overall, the Flames are again at 42% in the offensive zone. Player-by-player, that breaks down to 57% for Street, 43% for Backlund, 63% for Monahan and a miserable 31% for Colborne. Monahan has taken the most offensive zone draws of the regular centers, while Colborne has not-shockingly taken the fewest. Stajan's at 58%, but has only taken a dozen draws in the offensive end.

DEFENSIVE ZONE

Arguably the most important zone to win your draws in, the Flames have had some success in the defensive zone – although they're still losing 52% of their draws and winning a mere 48%. Sean Monahan leads the regulars at 50%, followed by Backlund at 48%, Colborne at 47% and Street at 45%. Backlund's taken 87 of the team's 216 draws in their own end , which is a pretty big proportion (about 40%) and shows how he's been deployed by Bob Hartley thus far. Stajan's at 42% in his own zone through 19 draws.

EVEN STRENGTH

When things are even-keel, the Flames fare at 44% overall. The team's leaders are Stajan (50%), Street (46%), Monahan (45%), Backlund (43%) and Colborne (41%). Backlund takes the most of the team's even-strength draws (92), followed by Monahan at 70.

POWER PLAY

Overall, the Flames win 45% of their power-play draws. Curtis Glencross actually takes a number of these and has fared pretty well for somebody who's not a natural center. He's won 47%. Of the regular centers, Monahan takes the most power-play draws and, to be blunt, has been getting killed. He's won just 29% of his PP draws.

PENALTY KILL

The PK is where the Flames have been getting killed (in terms of getting scored on a lot) and they're not amazing in the face-off circle, winning just 44%. Matt Stajan has won 64% of his draws, followed by Backlund at 59% and Street at 23%. Backlund has taken the majority of Calgary's short-handed draws, which combined with his percentages make him pretty damn useful as a defensive player.

SUM IT UP

On the whole, Calgary's won about 44% of their face-offs, which places them dead-last in the NHL. Stajan's got the best team-wide winning percentage (at 52%), but he's also only played three games, so there's no telling where his percentages will end up over a longer span. Backlund leads the regulars at 45%, followed by Monahan and Colborne, both around 42%. Considering that Monahan and Colborne are both fairly inexperienced, they're likely to get better over time, but the team obviously has some work to do. They were excellent against Washington, so hopefully they can keep it up.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#51 clyde
October 30 2013, 12:06PM
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mattyc wrote:

In fairness, it's probably premature at best to say they've been lucky 2 seasons in a row, when they've so far only played 61 games in the last '2 seasons'.

Let me know when we can say it. Seems that they have some very high end talent, mobile def, great goaltending and a very gritty team. Who built this team? Who traded for that Kessel and Gardiner and Franson, etc? Oh, and they have a pretty good win loss record despite the stats.

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#52 SmellOfVictory
October 30 2013, 12:29PM
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clyde wrote:

Let me know when we can say it. Seems that they have some very high end talent, mobile def, great goaltending and a very gritty team. Who built this team? Who traded for that Kessel and Gardiner and Franson, etc? Oh, and they have a pretty good win loss record despite the stats.

No one is arguing that a team can't have consistently elite goaltending (not saying the Leafs do, but it is something that is repeatable). A team can have its PDO legitimately inflated by playing in front of an excellent starting goaltender, or pair of goaltenders.

The big thing is team shooting percentage - some teams have legitimately higher ones than average, but so far not to the extent that the Leafs do. Remember, their current team SH% is outstripping the Penguins, a team where the majority of the offense goes through Crosby (league high on-ice SH% talent), Malkin (less good, but still high on-ice SH% talent), and Neal (high personal SH%).

It's not entirely impossible, but I would be willing to eat multiple hats if the Leafs have managed to put together a team that legitimately (not by variance) scores on a greater proportion of its chances than the team with two of the top 3 offensive players (centres, no less) in the world on it.

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#53 Monaertchi
October 30 2013, 12:44PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

It's also an incredibly small proportion of time within the game. If there are, for sake of argument, fifty faceoffs per game, that's maybe a couple of minutes of the game. It affects initial possession, but there's a lot of time in-between faceoffs for possession to be gained or lost; and that's more important, in an overall sense. It's why, to use the Team Canada argument earlier, Team Canada invited Bergeron as a defensive faceoff guy rather than Malholtra; they're both amazing on the dot, but Bergeron is an elite two-way player whereas Maltholtra is not Olympic calibre.

This comment makes me sad, because I can't give it more than 1 Like.

The faceoff stat describes a moment in time that lasts about 1 second. After that, the faceoff stat doesn't describe what is happening in the game.

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#54 RustyStrombone
October 30 2013, 02:36PM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Go home Jeff, you're drunk.

But yes I saw it, yes it was funny.

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#55 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 11:17AM
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Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

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#56 kittensandcookies
October 29 2013, 11:38AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

Fuuuuuuuuuuu.......

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#57 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 11:48AM
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schevvy wrote:

Well, could a Wotherspoon call up be in store?

My guess would be Billins, actually. They brought him in this summer, and he's been putting in good work with the farm team (ie. maybe they want to reward him). Moreover, they don't lose anything (developmentally speaking) by playing him very little (or not at all).

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#58 kittensandcookies
October 29 2013, 12:05PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Giordano out? More minutes for Butler!

You could only wish to have a #1 d-man like Butler available.

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#59 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:06PM
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As for Gio/Stemps. Dang...that's really going to hurt.

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#60 John
October 29 2013, 12:28PM
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I don't understand why defencemen don't wear padded hockeys skates, for the majority of them, it won't make a difference in their skating ability. Is it better to get a puck off the ankle? Hobble around for a few minutes and hope nothing is broken? With Giordano out, there no depth player to replace him.

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#61 Craig
October 29 2013, 01:29PM
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It'll be cundari coming up, and hopefully he shows that he's better than Butler and SOB those two are god awful. I really like Cundari, and think he can make a big impact.

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#62 CutterMcAwesome
October 29 2013, 01:53PM
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All i know is Monahan will get better with time. More draws taken equals more experience.

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#63 SoCalFlamesFan
October 29 2013, 02:26PM
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@Kevin R

We are 1-0 without these two already.

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#64 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 02:35PM
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@Kevin R

Ha!

Not too sure about that. I think the Flames finish higher than most predicted, including their fan base.

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#65 everton fc
October 29 2013, 03:18PM
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gotommygo wrote:

Flames projected lines are posted. Backlund is centering 4th line with Bouma and McGrattan. http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=689067

If they keep winning with a lineup like this, you gotta hand it to Hartley and the coaching staff, me thinks.

Is Colbourne simply getting a look with better linemates? Having Backlund centre the 4th line is nuts, unless they play 10 minutes.

Is Backlund in the doghouse?

As for the next d-man called up, Cundari has experience... For what it's worth, I think it'll be him.

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#66 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 03:34PM
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Hockey Prospectus reviewing the top 20 CHL players recently. I don't know if its been mentioned here already, but for interests' sake...

4. Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (#22 overall) 2013

It may be somewhat of a surprise that Poirier is listed this high given some of the other high scorers in the CHL, but Poirier is thus far the most effective player in the Q. He has recorded four game-winning goals in the last three weeks. Poirier plays in all situations (he already has one short-handed goal), and can fight, if necessary. Poirier has posted points in 11 of the 13 games in which he has appeared, including all of the Olympiques October contests, and was recognized by the league as its First Star for the week of September 30th.

15. Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats (WHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (28th overall) 2013

Klimchuk is not a sexy choice for a top-20 player in the CHL; he does not play on a team that is tearing up the league (Regina is right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference) and he is not doing anything outstanding. What he does do is solidly contribute to every game. Currently leading the Pats in scoring (six goals, 12 assists in 13 games), Klimchuk is particularly effective on the power play.

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1599

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#67 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 04:49PM
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Careful what you ask for? There has been a lot of talk about seeing the prospects lately; now with the injury to Gio and Stemp we get that wish. There might also to be a tendency to over react and make a stupid costly trade.

Who will we likely see come up? While I liked what we saw out of Cundari last year but he has sat out a couple of the last few Heat games; either he was injured or in the doghouse. He would be the most likey choice but if he is injured then it comes down to Billings or Ramage. Billings is more like Russell and Ramage more like Gio. Spoon still needs more time in AHL.

Up front I would prefer to see one of the skilled forwards but I suspect that in the short run we will McG and Jackman. From the farm we will likely see Horak,Knight or Byron(yes I know there are lots here that don't like him but he has had a good season so far) the other would be Hank.

I would not want to make a trade out of desperation, I would prefer to see the prospects.

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#68 J
October 29 2013, 05:07PM
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I hope people realize flames do have a young, strong two way center who is known for his faceoffs and currently winning faceoffs at a clip of over 65% in the ahl... His name is Corban knight

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#69 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 05:20PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Where did Shinkaruk rank? What about Horvat? Many out there still would have prefered those picks.

Nurse is 8; neither Horvat or Shinkaruk is ranked in that top-20. I don't know if that says much. But it sure is nice to see Klimchuk and Poirier on the list. I also really like how both are considered "all situation" type players. That's awesome.

@J

I hear that! I was listening to the Troy Ward interview on the Fan today, and he raves about Knight - it seems like every coach he has loves him (which bodes well for his development, even if he's not quite there). The number one take away for me, was that he's able to change his game depending on the wingers he plays with - apparently he's very good at complimenting a variety of different 'styles' of play. Ward also said Knight is not flashy, but he's very sound all-around, and always happens to chip in - perhaps that's why he didn't necessarily stand-out in training camp, the rookie tourny, and rookie camp, yet he always seemed reliable and always seemed to contribute. I really like the players that can do that at a high level - they aren't a dime a dozen.

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#70 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 05:43PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Tyler Meyers anyone?

I think we could send Butler back to Buffalo in that trade. We are strong with LW prospects, if we sent Klimchuk their way, would those two be enough to get it done?

Meyers has had a tough go after his rookie year but is currently averaging 21 minutes of ice time and he is just 23 years old (still fits the rebuild mode)

This would soften the blow until Gio returns at which point our D would look really solid.

Can you imagine if we put Kanzig on a pairing with Meyers down the road? Opposing forwards can't wait to jump back on the bench!

5.5 million till 2019? That's a pretty high price to pay for a player who seems to be regressing. In many ways I like the idea because of his age and size. i would not be prepared to trade a high end forward or too high of a draft pick. How about a do over, they can have Butler and Byron back plus a couple of our extra forwards, B Jones and Rhino and we get Meyers, that way they will be assured of winning the lottery.

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#71 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 06:08PM
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@piscera.infada

Shinkaruk didn't make the list because of this:

"Players must have appeared in at least 10 games to be included on this list"

He's only played 7.

As for Horvat, he's been merely okay so far. The list was about the best performers in the CHL so far this season, not the top CHL prospects.

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#72 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 06:09PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

Someone is going to overpay for Myers, and I'd prefer it wasn't Calgary.

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#73 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 06:13PM
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@Bean-counting cowboy

You actually think I really thought this deal would get done, don't you sense humor when you read it?

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#74 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 06:43PM
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@Baalzamon

Right on. Where do you think he'd be on that list though?

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#75 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 29 2013, 08:26PM
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watching the oilers tonight and cant help but wonder... Will our rebuild be this long and this painful?

on second thought, they are in a class of their own.

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#76 TRAV
October 29 2013, 09:59PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

watching the oilers tonight and cant help but wonder... Will our rebuild be this long and this painful?

on second thought, they are in a class of their own.

Wow for some funny/sad stuff check out the Oilersnation. Those guys are in some kind of world of hurt right now...

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#77 vowswithin
October 30 2013, 07:47AM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Yeah things got mighty quiet in Shelbyville

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#78 piscera.infada
October 30 2013, 09:11AM
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@Baalzamon

Watching that game, I'm not sure if 'a' legitimate defenseman is going to help. Even if that happens, they're still going to need to play some semblance of team defense. Their forwards hardly backcheck, and it looks like they're breaking out of their zone before they even have possession of the puck on the backend. Boy oh boy, what a mess it is up there - I almost feel bad for them.

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#79 gotommygo
October 30 2013, 09:30AM
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TRAV wrote:

Wow for some funny/sad stuff check out the Oilersnation. Those guys are in some kind of world of hurt right now...

Good call, Trav.

That was the best read I've had in a while. Finally, the 'Oiler Math' is being debunked!

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#80 Danger
October 30 2013, 09:43AM
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Burnward wrote:

I can't even laugh anymore. Is a Special Olympics blooper still a blooper?

Hey now, that's unfair. Special Olympic athletes are known for persistence and triumph in the face of massive adversity. If anything, the Oilers could learn a few things from them!

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#81 mk
October 30 2013, 11:30AM
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I want to laugh at the Oilers ineptitude in their rebuild - but I try to bite my tongue when replying. We're only a couple months into a rebuild and small sample sizes make for bad analysis.

I'm definitely happy the Flames are not cellar-dwellers at the moment, but not ready to taunt the Oilers fans too hard. They REALLY can't catch a break. But at the same time - suck it Edmonton. :)

-- RE: Tyler Myers Is there any possibility the Oilers go after him? They seem to want to beef up and load up for some wins, and Buffalo is happy to be tank-a-saurus-rex. Myers to Oilers for prospect/young player + picks?

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#82 Clyde
October 30 2013, 11:38AM
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beloch wrote:

The Oilers, the freakin' Oilers!!!, outshot Toronto 43:26. That's how bad the Leafs are. The Leafs are so utterly horrendous that they're actually behind Edmonton in almost every advanced stat except PDO! Their goal-tending has been insane so far this season. Reimer is 0.949 and Bernier is 0.930 so far. I don't care what people are saying about the quality of shots Toronto allows, that is unsustainable. Meanwhile, Edmonton played a sub-MacBackup quality AHL'er who got lucky in one game against the Kings.

I was honestly afraid the Oilers would win. I normally pull for Edmonton, but only when it doesn't negatively impact the Flames. Being beaten by the Oilers is a freakin' wake-up call. A call to arms! A cocktail shot of rage, shame, self-loathing, and adrenaline all rolled into one! Had the Leafs lost tonight they would have been a handful tomorrow. Fortunately, they won, and will be feeling as cocky as they've been feeling all season, despite sucking utterly.

The Flames will dominate the Leafs tomorrow night. The only question now is if their insane luck in net will continue.

2nd year in a row the leafs have been lucky despite what the advanced stats say the should be. Hmmmm

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#83 mattyc
October 30 2013, 11:55AM
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Clyde wrote:

2nd year in a row the leafs have been lucky despite what the advanced stats say the should be. Hmmmm

In fairness, it's probably premature at best to say they've been lucky 2 seasons in a row, when they've so far only played 61 games in the last '2 seasons'.

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#84 mattyc
October 30 2013, 12:16PM
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@clyde

They're a reasonably good team, and have a few guys that defy the percentages a bit (obviously Kessel is a special player). But it's 13 games. They're only 5 games over 500, and only 8 points out of 12th in the east. This early in the season the numbers can say whatever you want, and have little meaning. Still way too early in the season for the contenders to separate from the pretenders.

We've only seen a few coin flips. I'm not calling it a weighted coin yet, but if it goes on for another month or two, maybe then we can start talking about something meaningful.

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#85 piscera.infada
October 30 2013, 12:39PM
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@SmellOfVictory

Don't bring up hat eating, it didn't work so well for the last guy...

I do agree in part, at least, about their percentages falling. The Leafs, as much as it pains me to say it, have been playing pretty good puck regardless of the stats - and I really dislike that team. They have a little bit of that never say die attitude, and they also seem to bring it when they're "outmatched in skill". We shall see if they can keep it up though.

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#86 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 30 2013, 02:17PM
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besides... we HAVE to post here about the TO game, because Flames-Nation doesn't ever seem to be in a hurry to get the game day thread posted until about 10 minutes to game time!!!!!! O.o

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#87 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 30 2013, 02:22PM
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is it just me, or could sven, Monahan, Porrier and Johny G be the next coming of some great players

:-D

OK yes, I'm killing time waiting for this pivitol game of this season.

If we win, we make the playoffs, if we lose, we are rebuilding.

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#88 Jeff In Lethbridge
October 30 2013, 02:26PM
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did anyone else get a goood chuckle during the recent (flames or oilers?) game when the camera showed some kid sticking his tongue between the glass into the players bench, and the commentator noted he could be glad that it wasnt craig mctavish behind the bench.

hahahaha stopit your killin me!!!! that was awezome!!!

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