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

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#53 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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#55 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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#56 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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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:12PM
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Nice shift by the Glencross line.

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

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#62 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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#63 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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#64 everton fc
October 09 2013, 07:21PM
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At least Colborne's winning faceoffs.

At least....

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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 Mitch P
October 09 2013, 07:44PM
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Brodie is noticeably beastly tonight. Damn, he's a solid player.

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#70 Kmp
October 09 2013, 07:45PM
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@EducatedHockeyFan

Gaudreau is playing with Hayes and Cangelosi, he had a goal and 2 assists in an exhibition win Sunday. They open against Micihigan tomorrow night you might be able to find a stream.

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#72 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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#73 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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#74 SmellOfVictory
October 09 2013, 07:55PM
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everton fc wrote:

I really do hope they keep Monahan. He's ready now.

I was going to say: show of hands, who thinks Monahan should go back to the CHL still? Nobody? Good.

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

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#76 Kent Wilson
October 09 2013, 07:58PM
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@everton fc

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

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#77 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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#78 everton fc
October 09 2013, 08:10PM
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If they sent Colborne down, would anyone claim him?

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#79 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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#80 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:12PM
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everton fc wrote:

If they sent Colborne down, would anyone claim him?

Yes.

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#81 mattyc
October 09 2013, 08:13PM
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I've been impressed with our transition game tonight. We're pretty good at breaking out and making that first pass crisp and efficient.

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

Yes.

Oilers?! ;)

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#83 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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#84 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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#85 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:20PM
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Things get interesting...

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#86 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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#87 SmellOfVictory
October 09 2013, 08:28PM
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Can we just deport Butler and SOB? They're so bad they're lowering property values around the 'dome every time they hit the ice.

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#88 mattyc
October 09 2013, 08:30PM
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Hate to say it - but MacDonald has played reasonably well tonight IMHO.

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

Yup. No complaints tonight.

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#90 mattyc
October 09 2013, 08:36PM
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selfish penalty by Subban. Live by the sword, die by the sword

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#91 Kmp
October 09 2013, 08:37PM
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Subban is a moron, that was so blatant.

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#92 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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#93 RexLibris
October 09 2013, 08:39PM
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Great. I'm going to the game tomorrow night. Suspect the Oilers are going to see a very different Habs team humbled by this loss.

I've got a bet with a friend as to at what point this month the Oilers might pass the Flames in the standings. He's targeted the middle of the month where I've picking sometime closer to the end if things go well.

I have suspicions we may both be wrong.

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

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#95 RKD
October 09 2013, 08:41PM
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3 stars: 1. Joey McDonald 2. Sean Monahan 3. P.K. Subban

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#96 prendrefeu
October 09 2013, 08:44PM
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We're #1! We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!

A little Flames pride. I know that a lot of you are all grumpy because you want the kids to tank in order to hope that you might - MIGHT - get a high draft pick... but come on, this is fun to watch.

GO FLAMES!

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#97 beloch
October 09 2013, 08:46PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

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.

I included McG mostly to point out that Colborne already looks like a real NHL'er by comparison. Also, being on the same line, Colborne's stats are undoubtedly being dragged down by McG's. Given his circumstances he appears to be doing okay. A young, okay fourth liner with upside for a 4th round pick is still a good trade in my books!

It would be better to give him time on a better line or send him to the farm. However, with Monahan playing the way he is and Stajan due to return it doesn't look like Colborne is going to move up the rotation at center ice any time soon, so perhaps converting him to the wing should be considered since the farm is not an option.

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#98 everton fc
October 09 2013, 08:48PM
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prendrefeu wrote:

We're #1! We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!

A little Flames pride. I know that a lot of you are all grumpy because you want the kids to tank in order to hope that you might - MIGHT - get a high draft pick... but come on, this is fun to watch.

GO FLAMES!

I'm with you, Predrefeu! I am actually beginning to believe in, and like Feaster. That's a major hurdle for this fan!

Hey, if they make the playoffs with this lineup, Hartley may get the Adams. Of course, with this roster, we may finish bottom on the league. You never know, but if they had Russell in a 5/6 role, could get a better #4 d-man, keep Monahan... Baertschi begins to score... And we try Colborne at LW, Bouma in the middle, Street on the right-side of the 4th line, I don't think we're a basement dweller.

And I'm a cynic, by nature.

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#99 beloch
October 09 2013, 08:54PM
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I really like the consistency in the Flames game so far this season. They've played the same game every night so far this season, and each night it has given them a chance to win. It's certainly not a perfect game, but it sure beats the Jekyll & Hyde schizophrenia of the last few seasons!

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#100 John
October 09 2013, 09:00PM
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You have to give Feaster credit for picking up TJ Galliardi and D Jones, gives the Flames more speed and grit and balances out their lines.

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