FGD: Old Friends

Ryan Pike
October 09 2013 02:45PM

 

René Bourque
- pic via Jeff Nyveen

 

For the fourth contest of the 2013-14 regular season, the fledgling Calgary Flames (1-0-2) are welcoming an old friend back to the Scotiabank Saddledome, in the form of the Montreal Canadiens (1-1-0). It's the third game for the Habs and will be at an odd time due to TSN holding the broadcast rights – it starts at 6pm MT (on TSN), and the Fan 960 like always.

The Flames may have a more angry and bitter rivalry with the Canucks or Oilers, or they may have a more cantankerous and bizarre history with the Leafs due to a series of lopsided trades, but with the Bleu Blanc et Rouge, the rivalry means something special. The two teams met in two Stanley Cup Finals (1986 and 1989), with the Flames holding the unique distinction of being the only team in the 100-plus year history of the Montreal Canadiens franchise to go into the Montreal Forum and beat the Habs for a Stanley Cup. The teams have also dueled in a Heritage Classic in Calgary and, to be honest, first thing in the morning, with groggy eyes, their logos kind-of look the same.

All-time, the Canadiens hold the hammer, winning 54 times against the Flames franchise, although since the move to Calgary the Flames and Habs are tied at 31 wins apiece. Tonight's game holds importance then, as it gives the winner the edge in the Calgary/Montreal life-time series.

THE LINE-UP

Through three games, Flames coach Bob Hartley seems pretty happy with his team. While their execution has been a bit lacking, particularly with holding leads, any way you slice it they've been playing well in games they've played against three better teams. That's not bad.

Because of his pleasure with his line-up, he's not making anychanges from the group that opened the home schedule on Sunday night, although it appears lines have been slightly shuffled. Via DailyFaceoff and Sportsnet's Roger Millions, the lines for the home side:

  • Glencross – Street – Stempniak
  • Galiardi – Backlund – Hudler
  • Baertschi – Monahan – Jones
  • Bouma – Colborne – McGrattan
  • Giordano – Brodie
  • Russell – Wideman
  • O'Brien – Butler
  • MacDonald
  • Ramo

Chris Breen is reportedly close to gaining medical clearance for his shoulder, which he had surgery on late last season. It remains to be seen if Calgary keeps him up, puts him on waivers to send him to the Heat or keeps him on the roster and sends him down for a conditioning stint. A conditioning stint would take up a spot on the 23-man roster, so somebody (Derek Smith?) would need to go down either way. Smith (healthy), Tim Jackman (healthy), Breen (shoulder), Matt Stajan (leg contusion) and Mike Cammalleri (hand) are the extra bodies, with Stajan and Cammalleri not yet skating with the main group.

Brian McGrattan gets his fourth straight game and joey MacDonald, despite boasting an .867 SV% in his first two games. I'm not sure just why Hartley is sticking with these two guys in particular (neither has been an ever day player at any point in their careers), but I guess we'll see.

THE OPPOSITION

The Montreal Canadiens come into town with a .500 record and, unlike the Flames, some uncertainty regarding their line-up. They've recalled young blueliner Nathan Beaulieu from the Hamilton Bulldogs, and expect to have both Brian Gionta (who travelled to Calgary on his own) and Max Pacioretty (who missed Saturday's game) in the line-up.

The Habs followed up a tight 4-3 loss to the Leafs in the first game (anywhere) of the season with a 4-1 win over the Flyers on Saturday. Unlike the Flames, who've finally had a couple days off after 3 games in 4 nights (in 3 different cities/buildings), the Habs have had a more spread-out schedule. That will stop after tonight: they play Edmonton tomorrow, Vancouver on Saturday and the Jets on Tuesday before returning home.

Per DailyFaceoff, the likely lines for tonight.

  • Bourque - Plekanec - Gionta
  • Galchenyuk - Eller - Gallagher
  • Prust - Desharnais - Briere
  • Moen - Bournival - White
  • Gorges - Subban
  • Markov - Diaz
  • Tinordi - Bouillon
  • Price
  • Budaj

Montreal's without George Parros and Davis Drewiske, and are currently carrying one extra forward and two extra defensemen, in contrast to the usual NHL strategy of one extra defender and two extra forwards. Ex-Flames Rene Bourque and Brandon Prust return to the 'Dome, although ironically neither player on the Flames roster that were involved in the Bourque trade will be in the Calgary line-up (Ramo's the back-up tonight, Cammalleri is hurt).

Lars Eller has had a really good start to the season and Bourque is going through one of his phases where he appears to be a legit top-6 guy. Montreal also have a fairly good blueline anchored by Norris winner PK Subban, Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges. They will definitely be handful.

SUM IT UP

It's always fun when the Habs come to town, as the Saddledome is a little bit louder – and hosts a few more francophones than it usually does. Moreover, the fast and skilled Canadiens should prove a nice test for the mettle of the Flames' work ethic. As many players have said this week, there aren't many teams that the Flames will merely out-skill. They'll have to win games by out-working their opposition.

They'll have another opportunity to do that tonight.

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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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#1 vowswithin
October 09 2013, 02:58PM
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Looking forward to seeing how we respond tonight, Surprised that Street is playing the first line though..

WE WANT RAMBO!!

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#2 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 03:07PM
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@vowswithin

He played on that line last game, so that's where he starts again. Im sure he's surprised too.

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#3 vowswithin
October 09 2013, 03:18PM
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@Kent Wilson

Yeah it's just not expected... I guess nothing is exactly what it seems... Ramo not playing is kind of a head scratcher so why not street on the 1st.

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#4 EducatedHockeyFan
October 09 2013, 03:24PM
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This isn't related to tonight's game, but is there any stats out such as WOWY that could be relevant to Johnny Hockey's upcoming season?

Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney are both gone from BC and it seemed all of Johnny's points were scored on that line. Hopefully he can continue to produce without them.

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#5 MathMan
October 09 2013, 03:25PM
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Some Habs lineup notes:

Murray and Drewiske are both injured. Beaulieu is being yo-yoed on the AHL to serve as the spare body until they recover. He's been called up before every game and sent back after each, presumably to save cap space and give Beaulieu some AHL icetime. Not sure what they will do with him on this trip; figure he'll stay up throughout.

All signs point to Pacioretty playing. He'll take his usual place on Desharnais' left wing, bumping Prust down to the fourth line. It appears Bournival will be scratched to make room.

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#6 Nighteyes
October 09 2013, 03:40PM
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I wouldn't put too much weight on Street centering the "1st line." As it seems to me, Hartley has basically assembled 3 decent second lines and rotates them more equally than a team that has a truly elite 1st line. I think Street is in there basically for his utility and defensive awareness given the Flames' often horrible defensive coverage.

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#7 everton fc
October 09 2013, 03:43PM
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I really like Street. Not in a first-line role, but he and Bouma are the kind of guys winning teams have on the ice. They get the job done with little flash. Smart players who know what's expected of them. Galiardi seems the same type of player. They'd make a nice line, actually.

Glad Street's getting a long look. Hope he does well in his role this evening.

As for McGrattan - what's the alternative, Jackman? Both are about the same, at this point in their careers. Too bad Colborne can't play RW - then Horak could slot in the middle and you might have a line that could generate scoring opportunities.

Alas....

(I think Colborne may not be an NHL player)

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#8 SmellOfVictory
October 09 2013, 03:49PM
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EducatedHockeyFan wrote:

This isn't related to tonight's game, but is there any stats out such as WOWY that could be relevant to Johnny Hockey's upcoming season?

Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney are both gone from BC and it seemed all of Johnny's points were scored on that line. Hopefully he can continue to produce without them.

NCAA hockey stats are assy, to say the least (that is, they're hard to find and not very detailed), so the best that can be done is a general overview of how he's doing while being expected to carry the offence. That said, I'm sure he'll be just fine.

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#9 MichaelD
October 09 2013, 05:02PM
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So what your saying is that Street is listed as our 1st line centre, Right on. Good on him.

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#10 beloch
October 09 2013, 05:28PM
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@everton fc

Rejoice friends, for behindthenet has started posting 2013/2014 stats!

Let's take a quick look at how Colborne is doing.

Corsi Rel QoC: -1.873
Off Zone start: 83.3%
TOI/G: 9:43

These stats indicate Joe's being given a reasonable amount of TOI with a huge amount of shelter. Easy competition and more high ground than the Sedin's get! His minutes are bound to get tougher.

Off Zone finish: 50%
Corsi Rel: 2.0

When he's on the ice, the Flames tend to give up ground but are still out-shooting the opposing team.

Shots/Goals/Assists/Points: 0

Not a good thing for a forward.

This is a very small sample size (just two games), but not exactly inspiring for a kid one year younger than Backlund. The news looks better if we compare him to MacGrattan.

Corsi Rel QoC: -6.781
Off Zone STart: 100% (!!!)
TOI/G: 5:12
Off Zone Finish: 50%
Corsi Rel: -40.6 (ye gods!)
Shots: 3
Assists: 1

MacG is far more sheltered and bleeds chances at a rate that can only be chocked up to small sample size (Seriously, -40.6 is nuts!). Still, even though MacG has managed a few shots and has an assist, it looks like Colborne is actually helping carry the Enforcer's water.

In short, Colborne has been sheltered and underwhelming so far, but he at least looks like he can sit on the fourth line without ruining the Flames day on a consistent basis. More time in the AHL might be best for his development, but he's stuck in Calgary and there's no reason to give away that fourth round pick for nothing on waivers just yet.

P.S. Behindthenet's data may be a little wonky. I swear I saw McG out for at least one defensive zone draw this season.

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#11 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 05:50PM
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@beloch

Extra skater has McGrattan at 100% as well:

http://www.extraskater.com/team/calgary-flames/2013

There's really no use analyzing McG's outcomes - we know what he is - a sub-NHL talent who is ostensibly deployed to intimidate the other team and punch other similar players in the face. His actual hockey results have always been very, very poor from every angle.

Which is why I always protest the use of such players.

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#13 thymebalm
October 09 2013, 06:06PM
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Go Flames Go. And Boo MacDonald! but do good since you are in net. Same to you Grats.

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#14 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:20PM
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Looks like Baertshi is getting to play with Backlund/Hudler (finally).

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#15 mattyc
October 09 2013, 06:20PM
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@Ryan Pike

probably scouting MacDonald for the Team Canada starting gig...

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#16 Primo
October 09 2013, 06:24PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

17 scouts in the press box, as per Darren Dreger. (Grumble grumble...)

Ryan..I have said it before I don't think Sven and Backs are Burke type players. For sure Sven is gonzo...I would expect Burke to get a lot in return. My gut feeling!

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#17 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:24PM
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10 mins in and we don't have single scoring chance so far.

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#19 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:28PM
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Nice little goal there.

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#20 thymebalm
October 09 2013, 06:30PM
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There's a scoring chance for ya Kent! 2 of em!

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#21 RKD
October 09 2013, 06:31PM
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Sean Monahan keeping it going.

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#22 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:31PM
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@thymebalm

Haha yup. The only two for the Flames so far. Although Canadiens only have one, so...

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#23 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:35PM
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Bad sequence for Colborne, who looks very awkward out there.

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#24 thymebalm
October 09 2013, 06:36PM
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counted 2 more scoring chances for montreal there. 3-2 montreal?

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#25 mattyc
October 09 2013, 06:36PM
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I'm still not much for the enforcer roster spot - but did anyone else notice how gallagher had a big smerk on his face as he crashed the net and knocked around Bouma/MacDonald, but as soon as McGratton grabbed his shoulder the smerk was gone and he backed off. Sobering I would imagine haha.

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#26 RKD
October 09 2013, 06:39PM
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Anyone else thinking Hartley has been given direction from up top to start Joey McBackup in order to improve their draft position? Despite what Feaster and Hartley say about not tanking, etc. If there's no logical reason for McBackup to play and not play a goalie who your organization wants to find out can be the starter then it seems other people are influencing the outcome negatively. I'm not saying that if Ramo were in net we would be 3-0 or 2-0-1. Everyone knows what you have in McBackup.

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#27 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:40PM
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@thymebalm

2-2 by my count.

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#28 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:41PM
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@mattyc

No doubt. Of course, it's not like McGrattan's presence actually stopped him from doing anything...

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#29 thymebalm
October 09 2013, 06:41PM
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@RKD

Doubt it. Why get a guy that has a historically worse SV% than MacDonald and not play him if the plan is to tank?

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#31 everton fc
October 09 2013, 06:42PM
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A few observations:

Street can win faceoffs.

I'd rather have McBackup than Tim Thomas.

I think Monahan's here for the season.

I think Hartley and Feaster may think we have a chance at a playoff spot.

When Stajan's back, I'd like to see a 4th line of Bouma/Horak/Street.

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#32 everton fc
October 09 2013, 06:44PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

If Hartley's starting MacBackup, it's likely because he sees something in him in games and practices that he hasn't seen from Ramo. I don't know what that is, but Hartley's always got a method to what he does.

Agreed. Good point. Hartley likes guys who work hard. Perhaps Ramo's not that type of guy in practice?

Also - the better MacBackup plays, the better chance we may have of moving him. Berra has looked good on the farm.

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#33 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:47PM
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Man oh man, Monahan is spinning gold out there. Three chances in the period, two goals.

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#34 everton fc
October 09 2013, 06:49PM
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You can't send Monahan back to juniors. He's ready. Now. Sending him back may actually hurt him. Let him be a pro. Now. The team's taken points in every game with him in the lineup.

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#35 RKD
October 09 2013, 06:50PM
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The Svengali strikes!

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#36 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:51PM
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Chances were 4-4 in the first. Habs had a lot of shots, but most of them outside of the scoring area. Almost all of the Flames came from there.

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#38 everton fc
October 09 2013, 06:53PM
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Is this team for real yet? Hartley's got them playing as a unit.

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#39 everton fc
October 09 2013, 06:55PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Through 20 minutes:
Shots: 12-5 MTL
Corsi: 21-11 MTL
Face-offs: 13-11 MTL
Score: 2-0 CGY

Finding ways to win. Youth can pull that off some evenings...

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#40 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:56PM
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In a way, the Flames were lucky in that period. They spent a lot of time on their own end, but they managed to keep the play to the outside for the most part. And every chance they had happened to be a golden one.

They'll need to start to push play a lot more if they don't want to give up another lead though.

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#41 ChinookArch
October 09 2013, 07:06PM
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@RKD

I've been thinking that maybe the Flames are auditioning MacDonald for a trade.

Okay fine, I'm dreaming!

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#42 BurningSensation
October 09 2013, 07:07PM
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Monohan has arguably been our best player.

Methinks he is staying for good.

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#43 ChinookArch
October 09 2013, 07:11PM
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BurningSensation wrote:

Monohan has arguably been our best player.

Methinks he is staying for good.

Colburne is sure making the Monahan decision difficult on management, but I think they'll do the right thing and send him down.

But he sure is fun to watch, and a better player than I expected.

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#44 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:12PM
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Nice shift by the Glencross line.

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#45 Jibmeister
October 09 2013, 07:16PM
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Nobody wants to fight McGrattan anymore..

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#46 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:19PM
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Flames PK looks like it's getting better at least.

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#47 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:19PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I've been thinking that maybe the Flames are auditioning MacDonald for a trade.

Okay fine, I'm dreaming!

You might be more lucid than you think. He might have value if they keep showcasing him.

And I don't see how the organization can send Monahan back to junior. I say let him stay. Put Colborne on the waiver wire. The only other option is to option out Street, but he's deserved his ice time.

Or you move Jackman.

How's the 5/6 pairing look? For those actually watching "live"...

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#48 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:21PM
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At least Colborne's winning faceoffs.

At least....

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#49 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:28PM
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Need more offensive zone time Flames!

Just one chance in this period

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#50 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:29PM
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@everton fc

As mediocre as ever. But that's why they're the third pairing.

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