FGD: The Red Wings are Coming!

Kent Wilson
November 01 2013 09:49AM

 

 

The former juggernaut Detroit Red Wings aren't quite as run down as their unfortunate home town, but cracks are finally starting to show in the armor. Right now, Detroit is 14th in the league in terms of score-close possession, a metric they routinely dominated for years. Datysuk and Zetterberg are growing long in the tooth, but for now remain top drawer two-way players. 

The divide between them and the rest of the club continues to grow, however. Absent Lidstrom, the team doesn't have a third elite leg to support the rest of the average stool (yeesh...talk about your clumsy metaphors). Only three other forwards are in the black in terms of possession so far - Bertuzzi, Alfredsson and Abdlekader. And Bertuzzi mostly plays with Datsyuk and Zetterberg (meaning he's not driving that number). Alfredsson is 40-years old and Abdelkader hangs out at the end of the rotation. Johan Franzen is close (49%), but there's a big drop off after him.

The biggest disappointment for the Wings must be Stephen Weiss. He has the worst possession rate on the team (43%) even with a sky-high zone start ratio (57%). Weiss was a pretty good player in Florida for a long time, but his numbers started slipping over the his two seasons as a Panther. He was supposed to anchor the Wings second scoring line, but he's sinking the boat instead.

All of which is an overly long way to say - the Red Wings are still good, but they don't appear to be ridiculously good anymore. They have two elite forwards, some decent support pieces and a whole bunch of meh. If the Flames can cage Datsyuk and Zetterberg (easier said than done, I know), then they have chance to outplay the Wings so-so depth.

The Lineup

Hartley announced yesterday Backlund would slide back into the line-up and Joey MacDondald would get a turn after Ramo's *ahem* "performance" against the Leafs. Her's how things will probably shape up:

  • Glencross - Stajan - Jones
  • Galiardi - Colborne - Cammalleri
  • Baertschi - Monahan - Hudler
  • Bouma - Backlund - McGrattan

  • Russell - Wideman
  • Brodie - Butler
  • O'Brien - Smith

  • MacDonald

A lot of plaudits have been handed to Joe Colborne over his recent play and particularly his 23 minute game vs Toronto the other night, but I still find the decision making governing his usage rather bizarre - at least relative to other players on the club. Colborne has certainly looked better over the last few games compared to his first few (where he was completely lost) and in general I am not opposed to coach playing the heck out of a few young guys this year for informational and developmental purposes.

Here's the thing - Colborne hasn't been that good so far. Certainly not "usurp Backlund" good. The former Leaf has been fed some of the softest minutes of any forward on the team (65.5% zone start) and yet on Wednesday night he boasted the worst even strength scoring chance ratio on the Flames (3 for, 9 against). He's nowhere near a 20 minute per night center yet and I don't see what he's done to privilege him above players like Backlund or Baertschi (who have seen their minutes limited or slashed at both ES and on the PP).

Maybe it's a motivational thing. Maybe Hartley is using different reinforcement techniques with different players. But on the face of it, the disparate treatment of certain guys on the team seems...incongruous.

The Opposition

It's the Datsyuk line and then everyone else. Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Bertuzzi
  • Cleary - Franzen - Alfredsson
  • Tatar - Weiss - Abdelkader
  • Miller - Andersson - Eaves

  • Kronwall - DeKeyser
  • Quincey - Smith
  • Kindl - Lashoff

  • Howard

Detroit's blueline is somewhat underwhelming as well. Kronwall is a legitimate top pairing guy at this point and most teams could probably get away with Smith and Ericsson (currently injured) in their top-4, but the rest of the defense brigade is trouble.

DeKeyser was a highly sought after College free agent, but he's only 24 games into his NHL career. Quincey is kind of the Wing's version of Chris Butler - he has some tools, but always seems to end up a scapegoat at the end of too many games. Kindl is still trying to find his way at the NHL level and Lashoff (Brian, not Matt) is a 23 year old rookie and former free agent signing who has been plying his trade in Grand Rapids for the last few years. HIs resume reminds of Adam Pardy's when he made the Flames a few years ago. 

We've discussed the forward unit, though I'd like to add I continually wonder what power Todd Bertuzzi holds over the Detroit Red Wing organization - he's 38 year old, he was a suspect two-way player even as a Flame back in 2008-09, he hasn't scored more than 45 points in six seasons and he only has four points 12 games this year...and yet he's skating with Dats and Zetterberg at ES. I don't get it.

Sum it Up

Detroit's first line is a powerhouse and can take a game over all by themselves. Calgary has no true power on power option that can be reasonably expected to take them on, but some nights you have hold the big guns in check via luck or hard work (or both). The key to the game will be to minimizing the damage from those guys and then outplaying the Wing's much softer underbelly.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#52 prendrefeu
November 01 2013, 09:28PM
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... and that's the night.

It's been real, McDonald, it's been real.

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#54 seve927
November 01 2013, 09:56PM
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Clyde wrote:

No, I'm not a troll. I'm a hockey guy. Sorry I have caused such an intelligent person to resort to name calling. And, thank you for the correction. I am not a great writer

We're all hockey guys. That's why we read this site. That should be self-evident.

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#55 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 12:52PM
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The only positive about that picture is that nothing's on fire. Or that might be a negative.

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#56 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 03:18PM
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for me, the psychological calculus of a player before he cheap-shots someone is a red herring. for that player, it's not about whether or not he can get away with it without consequences, it's about habits. (and as a consequence, why should fighting be feared relative to the other potential dangers one faces in a hockey game at the nhl level? burke even hints at this when he notes that he feared crashing into the boards more than a fight).

cheap-shots are not a problem of rational choice decision making in the game; they are the outcomes of a general style of play, or a player's habitus. certain guys play on the edge because that's what they're there to do. to get rid of these plays you need to get rid of that style of player, or better put, that set of habits.

how did matt cooke change? he got to the point where he was threatened by his own organization with no longer being able to play (a real consequence upon which he had a significant amount of time to reflect). and this had nothing to do with the threat of a physical altercation. furthermore, at the moment of 'revelation'--his decision to clean up his game--he didn't immediately change. in fact, he had to work extensively with the pens' coaches in order to transform his habits.

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#57 Parallex
November 01 2013, 03:54PM
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@Monaertchi Gaudnett

If that was anything but bullspit he'd put Backlund on a scoring line and not with grinders and goons

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#58 Bean-counting cowboy
November 01 2013, 04:06PM
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clyde wrote:

I played in Europe when there was very little fighting. It was usually us Canadian guys going after a very dirty player. lol. The stickwork, spitting, cheap shots, kicking, etc were horrendous. The crowds were very passive as the game was very structured and featured a great deal of trapping and obstruction. They would get very excited when there was a bit of emotion through a hard hit, scrums and the odd tussle much more so than even a goal. I have noticed some leagues, especially the KHL have started employing tough guys and I'm sure it is in no small part in order to get the fans a little more excited. However, an interesting thing happened in Sweden a few years ago. They changed what they were doing by realizing they needed to develop players with a grittier playing style. Not necessarily fighters but guys who would go to the tough areas and compete much harder in the physical areas. The first generation of this type of player included guys like Kronwall, the Sedins and Douglas Murray. It took them 6-7 years but their victory in the 2006 justified that what they were doing was right. Coaching against a Swedish team is much different than when I played against them as they are no longer willing to be intimidated. You ask a question asked by many. Why should hockey be different than other sports? I would say that why wouldn't it want to be unique? I don't want soccer or basketball on ice. I teach my younger players that they are not to fight and would like to see that as a rule until pro. There is nothing worse than seeing or having been that 16 year old getting challenged and fighting a 19-20 year old. That is when fighting is very dangerous in my opinion. Plus,if you are a third line talent you feel that if you back down, you may not be playing much longer. At the NHL level, I understand why most coaches employ the guys they do. It needs to be understood that the vast majority of these guys are not as talentless or dumb as many on this site feel they are. They understand their role/job. They sometimes sit for many minutes and are thrown out cold against 1st liners who have been playing. Sometimes they do not fare well statistically but their goal is to bang some bodies, hopefully get the puck deep and change some momentum. They are often some of the smartest players and best team guys. Detroit tries to get by without a tough guy but they are not anti fighting. If they could find another Probert, they would be all over that.

You mention soccer and basketball. I mentioned neither. I don't consider those overly physical sports (I have played both).

I did mention Auzzy Rules Footbal (my new 2nd favorite sport to watch next to hockey), Rugby and Football, none of which allow fighting.

I'm not saying I'm completely against fighting in hockey at this point, however I think if the NHL came out next week and said "no fighting allowed", I wouldn't be disappointed.

As human beings we have to learn how to handle our anger and agression through all frustrating aspects of our life. You start punching someone in the face because you're mad at them - you could go to jail. Rugby, Auzzy rules Football and Football players had to learn to control their agression and not face punch. Just sayin'

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#59 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 04:42PM
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TRAV wrote:

I can understand playing your heavyweight when the other squad has big tough guys in their lineup. I prefer real hockey fights that result from on ice events but I have argued here in the past that I can support a McGratton in the proper situations. I DON'T think he should be in the lineup tonite. This would have been a perfect game to get one of the kids in from Abby. Detroit doesn't fight and won't be intimidated by McGratton. I would far rather see a Knight on the fourth line. You can't tell Backs to play better offensively and then plug him between Bouma and Grats for seven minutes. I think that maybe coach potato had suggested rolling four decent lines. To me this would be a great game to employ that strategy.

Finally are there any free agent Dmen that we could bring in and then swap at the deadline for a draft pick. It seems maybe we are thin down on the farm with injuries etc...

Thanks Trav for the plug for rolling four lines, while I have consistently been calling for this I know there are several others who also support this idea. If you kept the current 3 lines and add an offensive player from Abby to Backlund and Bouma you could do this. Unfortunately they have not brought anyone up at this point. Why I like this idea?; is it encourages development and ultimately creates team depth. No one in their right mind would suggest that we have any elite forwards on this team. What we have is a number of good to maybe very good forwards and a number of average to good forwards. By playing 4 lines you could match a line of sound NHLers who can also play D against some of the more high end lines and still generate some O from this line, Your other 3 lines get to play against other teams secondary lines which could create interesting matchups or where down the other teams lines especially those whose have a fourth line that seldom plays the other 3 lines will get tired faster. This also in no way be tanking the season but create a competitive team and player development.

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#60 Loges
November 01 2013, 05:13PM
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Im really glad you wrote this post, I've been waiting for some perspective analysis on Hartley's decision making with regards to Sven/Backlund ES & PP. These guys need to play to develop, Hartley says Backlund needs to get better offensively, but gets minimal off zone starts, malhotra faceoff treatment and 7mins/gm between two facepunchers..explain how he is supposed to do that?

Good stuff as always Kent.

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#61 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 05:26PM
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@coachedpotatoe

"If you kept the current 3 lines and add an offensive player from Abby to Backlund and Bouma you could do this."

Yeah.. add Corban Knight or Roman Horak to that unit and suddenly Backlund isn't toiling in purgatory any longer... at least, as long as they get above ten/game.

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#62 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 07:31PM
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Gee nice rebound Brodeur... Er, MacDonald.

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#63 coachedpotatoe
November 01 2013, 08:09PM
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Heat win 4-3. Ortio gets his first full AHL game. BJones, Grandlund and Rhino with 2. Knight gets two helpers. Al least some good news there.

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#65 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 01 2013, 08:46PM
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I'd like to see Backlund on a line with Barechee and Monahan

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#67 prendrefeu
November 01 2013, 09:03PM
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FFFFFuuuuuuuuuuuuu...... McButterlegs.

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#68 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 09:07PM
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Clyde wrote:

This site tries to

Well then, it's back to Calgary Puck for you.

On you bike, and on your way.

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#69 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:11PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Well then, it's back to Calgary Puck for you.

On you bike, and on your way.

I guess you don't like alternative opinions

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#70 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 09:16PM
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Next game: Ramo in net, Stajan on line 4.

Although with that "big" save MacDonald just made, you never know.

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#71 KetchupKid
November 01 2013, 09:19PM
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@Clyde

Wins are a metric.

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#72 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:25PM
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KetchupKid wrote:

Wins are a metric.

You are correct. And, the only one that really matters.

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#73 Clyde
November 01 2013, 09:33PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

You are a troll. And I think you meant different opinions.

No, I'm not a troll. I'm a hockey guy. Sorry I have caused such an intelligent person to resort to name calling. And, thank you for the correction. I am not a great writer

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#74 maimster
November 01 2013, 09:33PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Wins the thread.

Will second that sentiment.

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#75 yomamen11
November 01 2013, 09:39PM
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So, just another game that can bring us points if we have at least average goaltender in the net. 81.82%? Cmon!

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#76 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 09:49PM
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@Clyde

I actually expected that you would have embraced the title, since you get a lot of attension working it. You don't present any supporting arguments for you opinions. No clear reasoning, no new information, nothing new. By my observation, you simple mock anyone that utters anything that isn't generally acknowledged by mainstream media. So yeah, you are a troll. And, by the way no body cares that you are a hockey guy - whatever that means.

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#77 Burnward
November 01 2013, 10:04PM
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Re: Advanced stats

My thinking on the whole debate can be boiled down into this:

No stat will ever make me disbelieve what I see with my own eyes.

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#78 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 10:21PM
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kittensandcookies wrote:

Depends. How much grit did the car have?

Great.

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#79 Clyde
November 01 2013, 10:45PM
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gussey wrote:

Not necessarily. But cops radars, like stats, are not always right. That's why there is court.

If your walking downtown and get approached by two shady crackheads.. Do feel safe because you were told crime in downtown has dropped by 38 percent this year? Or would you like to have a guy like mcgratten standing next to you?

Awesome!

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#80 mattyc
November 01 2013, 12:26PM
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@Kent Wilson

It's interesting too I think that everyone assumes that cheap shots or dirty hits are premeditated. (Anecdotally), for every Bertuzzi hunting down a Steve Moore, there's 100s of knee-jerk reactions that result in a 'violent' play. That is to say that there's no time for the perpetrators to think about the consequences of their actions before they commit them, they're blinded by rage. While Carter Ashton may have though "man I shouldn't have blindsided Smith, because now O'Brien is going to break my nose", before the hit, all he's thinking is "gotta make a big hit".

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#81 Parallex
November 01 2013, 01:31PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Backs on the 4th line again? I really don't get it. I, along with others here, am also starting to wonder if BB is influencing Colborne getting 2nd line minutes. What a waste of not only one of our best players, but our best young players.

Where is the MSM with the hard questions on this btw? Get some cameras and mikes in front of Harltey and make him explain himself.

Sure would be nice if someone in the media did something other then just seek out the traditional narratives.

Hey Kent... on that note do you guys have credentials?

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#82 mattyc
November 01 2013, 01:39PM
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@beloch

That didn't end so well last time... Backlund vs. Lovejoy

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#83 the forgotten man
November 01 2013, 01:45PM
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Again I ask...is this team rebuilding or going for the playoffs this year...Jekyll & Hyde. What is our hopeful future? Backlund, Monahan, Baertchi, Brodie etc. Play these boys, win or lose, and let the chips fall where they may. Same old Calgary Flames...as I have said before, you literally have to make an effort to be clueless & incompetent as a Franchise to make it past the 1st round of the playoffs once in 25 years.

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#84 clyde
November 01 2013, 03:12PM
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TRAV wrote:

I can understand playing your heavyweight when the other squad has big tough guys in their lineup. I prefer real hockey fights that result from on ice events but I have argued here in the past that I can support a McGratton in the proper situations. I DON'T think he should be in the lineup tonite. This would have been a perfect game to get one of the kids in from Abby. Detroit doesn't fight and won't be intimidated by McGratton. I would far rather see a Knight on the fourth line. You can't tell Backs to play better offensively and then plug him between Bouma and Grats for seven minutes. I think that maybe coach potato had suggested rolling four decent lines. To me this would be a great game to employ that strategy.

Finally are there any free agent Dmen that we could bring in and then swap at the deadline for a draft pick. It seems maybe we are thin down on the farm with injuries etc...

This is definitely the game to do exactly what ypu propose. Vancouver took one of their heavies out the other night but the other one went hard to the net to help generate their goal. Perhaps Hartley hopes with Backlund, Mcgratten can help generate as the Detroit defense would have a hard time dealing with his size. Liles is available at all times and I am a little surprised the Flames didn't grab him to do just what you are suggesting.

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#85 kittensandcookies
November 01 2013, 03:12PM
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@winelover

Yeah I think Rhett brought up the fact that Backlund's play was slipping and that other players were playing better. I have noticed that other teams tend to be putting a lot of physical pressure on Backs now. Let's see if he can adapt.

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#86 Monaertchi Gaudnett
November 01 2013, 03:13PM
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Hartley on the Backlund scratch:

http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/01/hartley-wasnt-very-pleased-about-making-backlund-healthy-scratch/?ocid=Yahoo&partner=ya5nbcs

Says he wants to help Mickis be better offensively. Great news! How does putting him on a line with the bears help that? Take away that one element (4th line with Grats) and it all makes perfect sense. But instead it seems totally senseless.

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#87 Primo
November 01 2013, 03:49PM
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Monaertchi Gaudnett wrote:

Hartley on the Backlund scratch:

http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/01/hartley-wasnt-very-pleased-about-making-backlund-healthy-scratch/?ocid=Yahoo&partner=ya5nbcs

Says he wants to help Mickis be better offensively. Great news! How does putting him on a line with the bears help that? Take away that one element (4th line with Grats) and it all makes perfect sense. But instead it seems totally senseless.

Hartley is being politically correct to secure his own job. Colbourne was brought in by Burke so Hartley will do everything possible to make him successful. It's obvious Burke wants nothing to do with Sven and Backs long term. They are simply not his type of players. Hence Barkley is not giving them the ice time.

And you thought politics was only prevalent in the office....

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#88 SoCalFlamesFan
November 01 2013, 04:01PM
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@jonahgo

"for me, the psychological calculus of a player before he cheap-shots someone is a red herring. for that player, it's not about whether or not he can get away with it without consequences, it's about habits."

True the effect can be exaggerated but every day I see drivers break heavily when they see a police car ... even when not speeding.

People are people.

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#89 MichaelD
November 01 2013, 04:26PM
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@clyde

Very well put

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#90 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 06:10PM
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No Billins tonight for the Heat. Possible callup?

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#91 piscera.infada
November 01 2013, 07:38PM
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While I don't like Backlund playing on the fourth line. I kind of like the idea of giving Colborne a shot on the "third" line. It's a positive for this team, if they know what they have in him. He's an older (relatively) prospect, and playing him on more of a scoring line allows the org to assess if he's going to be valuable in that role moving on.

I think if by the end of this season they know what some of these kids do well, and what some of them don't do well, we'll be far better off during this rebuild.

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#92 ChinookArch
November 01 2013, 07:49PM
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I was listening to the game on the radio until just now. It sounds like the Pavel Datsyuk show.

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#94 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 08:20PM
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thymebalm wrote:

Thanks.

Chad Billins officially on his way to the NHL.

Nailed it.

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#95 Clyde
November 01 2013, 08:31PM
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@Kent Wilson

True. A tough game to predict based on things like corsi

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#96 beloch
November 01 2013, 08:39PM
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I'd like to see the shoulder-patches on these jersey's moved to the center of the jersey, the script "Calgary" dropped, and some white striping replaced with yellow.

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#97 jonahgo
November 01 2013, 08:53PM
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looks like hartley is rolling all four lines more than usual, which is nice (especially with backlund still stuck on the fourth)...

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#98 Clyde
November 01 2013, 08:53PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

What metrics would you suggest instead?

This game isn't all about metrics kent.

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#99 Baalzamon
November 01 2013, 08:57PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I'd like to see Backlund on a line with Barechee and Monahan

Who plays center?

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#100 seve927
November 01 2013, 08:58PM
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After calling Butler the worst player in the history of the game, I'd just like to step up and commend mattyc on defending him. He's played really, really well since I called him out ;)

And that has nothing to do with the fact he was credited with a goal. After looking out of place (in a bad way) as a 3rd pairing guy, he hasn't looked out of place as a top pairing guy.

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