FGD: The Avengers

Ryan Pike
November 14 2013 12:40PM

Arguably Calgary's most one-sided loss of the year was October 24 in Dallas, featuring three goals against in 61 seconds in a game where the team looked pretty decent, then awful, then couldn't claw back. The Stars (9-7-2) make their first trek to Calgary this season, and the Flames (6-9-3) definitely have nightmarish visions of that awful second-period stretch in Dallas floating in their heads.

The Stars are on a bit of a roll, having won four of their last five and earning points in five of their last six games. The Flames are on the flip-side of that, having just one win and three points in their last seven games, and a 2-7-1 record in 10 games without captain Mark Giordano. The records suggest an outcome, but the Flames are definitely motivated to provide a different one.

The puck drops at 7pm on Sportsnet Flames, Fan 960 and all over the Twitters.

THE LINE-UP

Via DailyFaceoff, suggested Flames lines:

Galiardi – Stajan – Jones
Cammalleri – Colborne – Stempniak
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan

Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
O'Brien – Smid

Berra
Ramo

Lance Bouma and Derek Smith cycle out of the line-up in favour of Tim Jackman, playing his 400th career game on his birthday, and Shane O'Brien. Reto Berra, fresh off being perhaps the only Flames player to play three periods against San Jose, gets the start once again. It'll be Berra's fifth start – he's 1-2-1 with a 3.24 goals against average and .900 save percentage.

The Flames slow starts have been the talk of the Saddledome for the last few days, with them following the Flames back from their road trip. Whatever the reason, they desperately need to score first, as they probably don't have too many more miraculous third period comebacks left in the tank.

And yes, this means that Backlund will start the game with Jackman and McGrattan. He'll also take key defensive zone and penalty-kill face-offs and probably be thrown into the top nine rotation in the third period, or if somebody in the top nine under-performs.

THE OPPOSITION

Dallas is riding high, coming into town after laying a 3-0 drubbing on the Edmonton Oilers. Via DailyFaceoff, potential lines.

(Jamie) Benn – Seguin – Nichushkin
Chiasson – Eakin – Cole
Horcoff – Fiddler – Peverley
Roussel – Morin – Garbutt

Dillon – Robidas
Goligoski – Daley
(Jordie) Benn – Gonchar

Lehtonen
Ellis

Dallas didn't have a full skate, so we're all guessing that (a) lines aren't changed from last night and (b) Lehtonen starts because he didn't really have to do much “goaltending” last night. That said, Dan Ellis could slot in based on the back-to-backs and the travel.

After a slowish start out of the gates, the Stars have been cooking. Valeri Nichushkin has been pretty damn good after having some struggles to begin the year, and the Dallas coaching staff has figured out a nice balance of older and younger players throughout their line-up. That said, their bottom-six isn't amazing, but their top six is dynamic enough to make up for it.

SUM IT UP

The Flames want a mulligan for Tuesday's awful first 40 minutes and for the 61-second stretch in Dallas that cost them that game. They'll be motivated and energized right out of the gate. Dallas will be confident after beating the Oilers up north last night, but potentially tired due to the game and the travel.

This is a winnable game for the Flames if they can execute their game-plan. Whether they do or not will be a test of this club's character and resolve.

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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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#1 SeanCharles
November 14 2013, 12:50PM
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I just wish I could see this as our lineup:

Glencross-Stajan-Jones

Cammalleri-Colborne-Stempniak

Baertschi-Monahan-Hudler

Bouma-Backlund-Galiardi

Brodie-Gio

Russell-Wideman

Smid-Butler

Berra

But good call playing a guy on his bday in Jackman and I have no problem shuffling Smith out. I noticed on a few occasions last game where he would poke at the puck and it would end up in a dangerous area instead of corralling it and trying something else....

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#2 TRAV
November 14 2013, 01:14PM
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While I agree I hope that we don't revert back to spending all of our time on Jackman and McGratton shouldn't be dressed... Dancing bear etc...etc...

Yes they get killed. No it doesn't really make much sense to keep dressing both of them. I hope that it changes too. Backlund should play more. Lets move on.. (not that these aren't valid points just a bit tired of rehashing them...)

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#3 John
November 14 2013, 01:16PM
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When you look at the Flames Depth and the line up compared to teams like the Sharks and ST. Louis, it is obviously we are going to lose a lot of games this year. It won't be until we get Gaudreau and Gilles and a few other of our more talented prospects into the lineup that we will have a better chance of winning.

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#4 Feaster Famine
November 14 2013, 01:31PM
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SeanCharles wrote:

I just wish I could see this as our lineup:

Glencross-Stajan-Jones

Cammalleri-Colborne-Stempniak

Baertschi-Monahan-Hudler

Bouma-Backlund-Galiardi

Brodie-Gio

Russell-Wideman

Smid-Butler

Berra

But good call playing a guy on his bday in Jackman and I have no problem shuffling Smith out. I noticed on a few occasions last game where he would poke at the puck and it would end up in a dangerous area instead of corralling it and trying something else....

I'd move Backlund and Hudler to the second line, drop Stempniak to the third, and slot Colborne in as the number 4 center. Either way though, this would be a line up you could rotate all four lines pretty equally without too much trouble at all. Then again, I've never won a Stanley Cup as a coac so whatever. Anywho, I just hope they put forth a better effort tonight.

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#5 Vowswithin
November 14 2013, 01:41PM
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Yay face punchers .....

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#6 SeanCharles
November 14 2013, 01:48PM
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Feaster Famine wrote:

I'd move Backlund and Hudler to the second line, drop Stempniak to the third, and slot Colborne in as the number 4 center. Either way though, this would be a line up you could rotate all four lines pretty equally without too much trouble at all. Then again, I've never won a Stanley Cup as a coac so whatever. Anywho, I just hope they put forth a better effort tonight.

I've just resided to the fact that Backlund is bound to slot it below the other 3 centers currently on our club. If I could choose I would do the same thing.

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#7 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 02:00PM
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to further complicate things, Blair Jones is tearing up the AHL right now (3 goals, 5 points last night). Will Hartley ever give him a shot again?

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#8 McRib
November 14 2013, 02:12PM
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What is Joe Colborne still doing on the second line?!?!?! Over Backlund the guy has played extremely sheltered minutes and been given ample opportunity and frankly he just isn't cutting it. I don't mind him filling a roster space while Corban Knight continues to get some more AHL grooming, but come on the kid is not a player.

Anyone can put up 90 points in the AJHL if your father buys the team and you play 30+ minutes a night... This kid should never have been a first rounder and is your typical bust getting far too many chances to make it, because he was one and teams can never face the facts on them until it becomes way too obvious.

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#9 Lordmork
November 14 2013, 02:14PM
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Not at all related to today's game, but I'm pretty excited over the Heat's performance so far this year. It sounds like we have some real talent growing down there, including but not limited to this.

http://www.abbynews.com/sports/heat/news/231819751.html#.UoU3kRyRKPY.twitter

I don't think the team should be afraid to let some of those players continue to gain experience in the AHL, but at the same time, I really hope we're able to open up some roster space by the end of the year and allow the ones who've earned it to have a shot at making the team.

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#10 beloch
November 14 2013, 02:17PM
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Dallas managed just 24 shots and only scored one real goal against the Oilers last night. The other two were empty-netters. If a team can't light up the Oilers, their offense is stalled. The Flames have a shot at this one.

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#11 Graham
November 14 2013, 03:21PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

to further complicate things, Blair Jones is tearing up the AHL right now (3 goals, 5 points last night). Will Hartley ever give him a shot again?

I'm not sure what Jones did, but he is so out of favour with Hartley that making it to 'dog house' status would be a huge promotion.

I kind of liked Jones as a bottom six energy forward, but things would have to be pretty bad 'injury wise' for him to get another shot. If he keeps it up in the AHL, he might improve his trade value.

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#12 Vowswithin
November 14 2013, 03:30PM
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I would love jones as a 4th line dude, him bouma and backs/Colbourn instead of dumb and dumber

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#13 mattyc
November 14 2013, 03:39PM
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@Kent Wilson

Careful what you wish for. If he does, it will be at Backlund's expense I'd imagine.

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#14 jonahgo
November 14 2013, 03:45PM
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@Kent Wilson

the ways of hartley are truly mysterious...

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#15 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 03:52PM
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@mattyc

I suspect Backlund will be moved this year. The org's expectations for him seem to be out of step with what he actually is and it doesn't look like they're willing to settle for that.

Could be wrong though. We'll see.

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#16 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 03:57PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

to further complicate things, Blair Jones is tearing up the AHL right now (3 goals, 5 points last night). Will Hartley ever give him a shot again?

Nope. B. Jones is finished in Calgary, but at least he's making Hartley look dumb. Nothing like letting your personal vendetta get in the way of a sound business decision.

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#17 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 04:04PM
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Changing the subject. I just heard Craig McTavish's press conference. Holy Hell are things bad in Shelbyville, I'm the first guy to pile on when it comes to mocking the S'Oilers, but man it's not even funny anymore.

The only thing worse then the terrible state of the organization is the terrible product on the ice. An ill-constructed squad of individuals with on board a rudderless ship.

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#18 Lordmork
November 14 2013, 04:23PM
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@Kent Wilson

What could we get for a player like Backlund? The organization doesn't seem to value him at all, so I guess the Flames would be willing to trade him for a facepuncher or something, but let's pretend some other team makes a decent offer based on his value.

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#19 Brent G.
November 14 2013, 04:32PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I suspect Backlund will be moved this year. The org's expectations for him seem to be out of step with what he actually is and it doesn't look like they're willing to settle for that.

Could be wrong though. We'll see.

You really think they would do that Kent? I would say its a safe bet to assume Stajan wont be here soon enough and Colborne isnt good enough to replace him; he never will be (how sad of a statement is that lol?).

I'm not saying you are wrong but I would have thought (hoped?) they were smart enough to realize what he was and the impact he could have on the game as a third line center used to shut down the other teams top lines. The thought of them deeming him expendable is a clear step back and frustrating to say the least...

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#20 coachedpotatoe
November 14 2013, 05:37PM
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Happy birthday Jackman, play like a man possessed.

BJones keep playing well and even if Hartley can't get by whatever his problem is we might be able trade him. His value goes up even if he is not here.

Backs to be traded, it could well happen. Would we get fair value? What would that be? He was a first rounder. He is an NHL player with a valuable skill set and could be valuable for some teams down the road. Is he more valuable here? Great questions, no answers that's up to Feaster and Hartley.

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#21 Southern_Point
November 14 2013, 05:45PM
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I figure if Backs does get traded it will either be Backs+ for a bigger piece, or it will be Backs for another young player who doesn't quite fit on his team and may be perceived and as underachieving slightly.

David Rundblad springs to mind as a target for Feaster in that second scenario, Maybe Dimtry Kulikov although I'm sure Tallon wants draft picks, Jake Gardiner as well. More realistic though would probably be someone like Matt Frattin.

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#22 SmellOfVictory
November 14 2013, 05:49PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I suspect Backlund will be moved this year. The org's expectations for him seem to be out of step with what he actually is and it doesn't look like they're willing to settle for that.

Could be wrong though. We'll see.

If he's moved they'd better get someone god damned worthwhile in return. He's even gotten the seal of approval from Mike Babcock, for god's sake. Clearly some people understand that he's a worthwhile player.

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#23 CDB
November 14 2013, 05:54PM
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I HATE HARTLEY.

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#24 jonahgo
November 14 2013, 06:03PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I suspect Backlund will be moved this year. The org's expectations for him seem to be out of step with what he actually is and it doesn't look like they're willing to settle for that.

Could be wrong though. We'll see.

it's funny because backlund seems like the prototypical "calgary flames" forward; he's sound defensively, has a very good all-around game, but lacks elite offensive talent...

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#25 wineeditor
November 14 2013, 06:07PM
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re:McRib

For the record Colbornes father did not buy the AJHL team where Joe excelled. Neither did Colbornes father buy the University of Denver where Joe also excelled. I find the tone and implication of your post rather offensive and demeaning both to Joe and his father. It is interesting to note that Joe had more points than Knight in their last season of AJHL competition and their first two years at University. How can you compare them now? You cant, as Knight had never played a professional game prior to this year. I hope he stays at the AHL level for the entire year, tears up the league and learns to score and play at the professional level and comes to camp next year ready to be a Flame. Backlund? You cant compare Backlund to Colborne either. Backlund is a year older and prior to this year had played over 150 more NHL games PLUS they are totally different players. It is unfortunate that it seems that Backlund and Colborne are seen in completion with each other re 2nd line or 4th line time but that seems to be Hartleys way to give both an opportunity to play while allowing Stajan and Monahan to fill their respective roles on the team. In my view the problem could be solved by either moving Stajan freeing up time for both Backlund and Colborne to sink or swim over the rest of the season (and please don't suggest that a minor slump by either is grounds for dismissal) OR give Monahan some 4th line or press box time moving forward. From all I have heard about Monahan I wouldn't think that time on the 4th or pressbox would hurt his development or attitude AND if it DOES hurt his attitude maybe the Flames did make a mistake in having him stay on the club for the year. Having said that I think it could be beneficial for both him and the Flames to try him in a different role from time to time. Remember he is just 19 and the long slog of playing against men can get tiring. I have said it before, you have a log jam at center with some bright young kids and this is the year for them all to get every opportunity to play in all situations (and this includes Backlund, Colborne and Monahan).

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#26 mk
November 14 2013, 06:12PM
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jonahgo wrote:

it's funny because backlund seems like the prototypical "calgary flames" forward; he's sound defensively, has a very good all-around game, but lacks elite offensive talent...

You forget, he's not from Western Canada - therefore doesn't play 'old-school' hockey.

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#27 Primo
November 14 2013, 06:51PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Nope. B. Jones is finished in Calgary, but at least he's making Hartley look dumb. Nothing like letting your personal vendetta get in the way of a sound business decision.

Jones tears it up in the AHL but in the NHL he is a 4th liner at best. In fact as a 4th liner he was on pace for a 7 goal season. He is not an NHL caliber player.

So much for your sound business decision.

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#28 Pimo
November 14 2013, 06:56PM
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McRib wrote:

What is Joe Colborne still doing on the second line?!?!?! Over Backlund the guy has played extremely sheltered minutes and been given ample opportunity and frankly he just isn't cutting it. I don't mind him filling a roster space while Corban Knight continues to get some more AHL grooming, but come on the kid is not a player.

Anyone can put up 90 points in the AJHL if your father buys the team and you play 30+ minutes a night... This kid should never have been a first rounder and is your typical bust getting far too many chances to make it, because he was one and teams can never face the facts on them until it becomes way too obvious.

I'm guessing you are not able to back up your facts. Oilernation needs you!

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#29 mattyc
November 14 2013, 07:11PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I suspect Backlund will be moved this year. The org's expectations for him seem to be out of step with what he actually is and it doesn't look like they're willing to settle for that.

Could be wrong though. We'll see.

welp. I suppose everyone is tradeable for the right price. We'd better be getting a solid young D-man though if that's happening.

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#30 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 07:12PM
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I'd like to comment on this "Flames are scrappy and battle back!" thing that has spring up with the MSM recently. Pushing back in the third period of games where you are trailing is an enduring facet of NHL hockey. It happens so persistently it has a name (playing to score effects) and we correct for it in most stats analysis because it persistently skews things.

In other words, when you shorten your bench and the other team sits back, you tend to get more chances and shots than otherwise.

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#31 wineeditor
November 14 2013, 07:13PM
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re McRib Go to the Flames web site and look at Knights stats and Colbornes stats for their last year in the AJHL and their first two years at University. I suspect the AJHL could inform you of ownership interests. WRT the University of Denver I take it as a given that the University of Denver wasn't sold. The Flames site will also show that Backlund is an early 1989 birth while Colborne was an early 1990 birthdate while Knight was a middle to late 1990 birthdate. Finally the Flames site will show NHL Games played by both Colborne and Backlund. hmmm..... don't think their are any other stats. oh, you might want to check the Game Logs showing even strength Goals. Check the last 10 games or what the heck go back to the beginning of the season. Colborne may not look very fast but he plays an intelligent defensive game and is quite adept at controlling the puck behind the other teams net. The point of the post however was that there is no point in mocking a player for what his father did or did not do, AND that Backlund and Colborne play two different styles of play AND that the BOTH need to play in all situations to develop moving forward AND that it is unfortunate that they appear to be in competition with each other for playing time. I hope both are Flames for a long time.

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#32 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 07:25PM
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Rough shift for Backlund to start. And then rough shift for Monahan on the goal.

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#33 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 07:26PM
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Primo wrote:

Jones tears it up in the AHL but in the NHL he is a 4th liner at best. In fact as a 4th liner he was on pace for a 7 goal season. He is not an NHL caliber player.

So much for your sound business decision.

B. Jones is better and a more useful hockey player than both Jackman and McGrattan at any level and any measure except face punching.

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#34 negrilcowboy
November 14 2013, 07:34PM
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loumbo is brutal please kent use you powers for good, strike him down

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#35 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 07:50PM
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Chances were 4-4 in the first.

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#36 Derzie
November 14 2013, 08:00PM
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Mikis & the Punchers are getting beat up. Uncle, Hartley. Uncle.

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#37 Bean-counting cowboy
November 14 2013, 08:01PM
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Kypreos talking about poor play of Jackman and McGratton. "One bad shift set the tone for whole period". C'mon Hartley, stop listening to Burke and go with your gut. 4th line of Colborne, Bouma and Knight/Jones/Reinhardt would be killer playing 10 minutes a night. Move Backs up. so frustrating

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#38 Bean-counting cowboy
November 14 2013, 08:08PM
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C'mon guys. frick

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#39 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 08:13PM
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Well this went south quickly.

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#40 prendrefeu
November 14 2013, 08:18PM
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Nice hit, Wideman.

At least that's something.

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#41 mattyc
November 14 2013, 08:18PM
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http://media.tumblr.com/1cfec16a5d3f61ec2d869602a4384b0e/tumblr_inline_miuqmoUEtR1qz4rgp.gif

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#42 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 08:23PM
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mattyc wrote:

http://media.tumblr.com/1cfec16a5d3f61ec2d869602a4384b0e/tumblr_inline_miuqmoUEtR1qz4rgp.gif

Yup, that's how the Flames look to me.

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#43 prendrefeu
November 14 2013, 08:25PM
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FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU

That was just crap defending.

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#44 Nighteyes
November 14 2013, 08:27PM
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Sigh.

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#45 Baalzamon
November 14 2013, 08:27PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Well this went south quickly.

Seems to be a requirement for Calgary/Dallas games.

On another somewhat related subject, it's a bit frustrating that the only goalie in the organization who has seemingly proven himself to be appreciably better than Joey MacDonald is Joni Ortio. Time for a callup?

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#46 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 08:27PM
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Sven, Never Ever pass to Brian McGrattan. Take the shot!

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#47 mattyc
November 14 2013, 08:30PM
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@Kent Wilson

No dice on embedding .gifs in the comments eh?

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#48 Lober
November 14 2013, 08:30PM
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Annnnnnnnd time to drink

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#49 RKD
November 14 2013, 08:32PM
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Wonder if Hartley is going to yell at the presser, "it's too casual!" wait a second, Brent already did that.

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#50 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 08:32PM
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Im kind of amazed with how bad Tim Jackman is this year. He was never a great talent, but he could get around previously. He's flat out awful now though.

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