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 third full 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, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#51 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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#52 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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#54 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:28PM
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Nice little goal there.

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#55 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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#56 RKD
October 09 2013, 06:31PM
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Sean Monahan keeping it going.

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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 06:40PM
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@thymebalm

2-2 by my count.

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#61 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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#62 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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#63 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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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 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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#71 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:12PM
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Nice shift by the Glencross line.

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

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#73 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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#74 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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#75 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:21PM
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At least Colborne's winning faceoffs.

At least....

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#76 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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#77 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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#78 yomamen11
October 09 2013, 07:29PM
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I think that flames have 6 players on ice on that Hudler shot. Good for us refs didnt see it.

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#79 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:32PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

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

Not surprising. But we've still picked up points in every game. So they've not been a liability.

Yet.

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#80 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:33PM
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Habs seem small. And they are. Lots of little guys.

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#81 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:39PM
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Nice PP for that unit. Wideman/Brodie is a great pairing for the first unit.

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#82 MichaelD
October 09 2013, 07:41PM
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It's still kind of weird to see a C on a jersey other then Iggy

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#83 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:47PM
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@Mitch P

Near the end of the period he chased a puck into the Flames zone one-on-one against Bourque, who is a bigger dude. Brodie carefully positioned himself, shifted the puck with his stick, slipped away and passed it out of the zone. It took about a second.

Damn.

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#84 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:51PM
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Extra skater now has in-game advanced stats: http://www.extraskater.com/game/2013-10-09-canadiens-flames

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#85 Mitch P
October 09 2013, 07:52PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Near the end of the period he chased a puck into the Flames zone one-on-one against Bourque, who is a bigger dude. Brodie carefully positioned himself, shifted the puck with his stick, slipped away and passed it out of the zone. It took about a second.

Damn.

That was the play that inspired my comment. He looks like a seasoned vet out there.

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#86 SmellOfVictory
October 09 2013, 07:55PM
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Mitch P wrote:

That was the play that inspired my comment. He looks like a seasoned vet out there.

He's beyond a seasoned vet. The way he handles the puck and sees the ice is god damned magical. I have no idea how he doesn't put up more points.

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#87 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:57PM
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How's Baertschi look?

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#88 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:07PM
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Price looks bad. Almost like he's reacting to the shot well after the fact.

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#89 everton fc
October 09 2013, 08:10PM
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If they sent Colborne down, would anyone claim him?

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#90 everton fc
October 09 2013, 08:11PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

He looks fine. Honestly I'd put him on Backlund's line for awhile, see what he can do.

It'd be nice to see Sven work with the same group for a stretch.

If we had a better 4th line, we might actually cause many teams many problems. Give Bouma some linemates!

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#91 everton fc
October 09 2013, 08:16PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Yes.

Oilers?! ;)

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#92 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:17PM
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@mattyc

From what I've seen I'd agree. They are stripping the puck quickly and getting it to a forward with puck support options very well.

On the flip side, the Canadiens look almost like they are waiting for the game to start. Very unfocused and out of sync.

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#93 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:19PM
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@everton fc

Doubtful. They're happy with Acton and Arcobello in the bottom six right now.

He'd have to pass by Tampa Bay, Colorado, Florida, Nashville and Carolina to start.

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#94 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:20PM
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Things get interesting...

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#95 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:23PM
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Sidenote: Eller's little brother (using that term figuratively, of course, he's 6'1 196lbs LW) Mads is playing tonight for the Oil Kings.

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#96 Kmp
October 09 2013, 08:23PM
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They need to hold this lead.

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#97 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 08:24PM
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Flames dominate the whole period for a change, and then one bad shift and it ends up in the back of their net. That sucks.

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#98 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 08:31PM
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@mattyc

Yup. No complaints tonight.

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#99 RKD
October 09 2013, 08:38PM
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Flames win! Their streak of 4 goals per game is over sadly. Time to start a new one.

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#100 Kmp
October 09 2013, 08:39PM
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Very nice win.

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