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 fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#1 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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#2 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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#3 CDB
November 14 2013, 05:54PM
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I HATE HARTLEY.

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#4 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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#5 Frank Miron
November 14 2013, 08:35PM
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Well, if this brutal loss is what it takes to blow up the last of the dead-wood veterans, then so be it !!! Now let's gove the chance to the Knight, Hanowski and Reinhart...

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#6 RKD
November 14 2013, 08:36PM
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whoops, replied to my own comment. sorry.

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#7 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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#8 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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#9 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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#10 RexLibris
November 14 2013, 08:43PM
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RKD wrote:

Seriously guys, can we stop playing like the Oilers?

They at least kept the score down to one EV GA, with two EN at the end that inflated a close game.

Having said that, have the Flames spent an entire 5-3 passing the puck around the perimeter?

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#11 RexLibris
November 14 2013, 08:58PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Hey Rex,

I have a personal moratorium on mocking the Oilers. They have sunk below sad.

Very classy of you.

No sense kicking them when they are down.

On another note, what is your take on the Flames gradual unraveling of late? Other teams catching up to the pace? Regression of play/systems? Is it all McGrattan's fault for reasons yet to be determined?

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#12 Lordmork
November 14 2013, 09:21PM
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Somewhere, Feaster is steepling his fingers and muttering "Just as planned." Connor McDavid 2015, here we come!

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#13 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 09:24PM
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@RexLibris

Given the Flames are in the western conference, the Flames are a bottom 5 team. The Flames cannot afford to take a shift let alone a period off, within Hartley's system. The effort has trailed off more and more sice the Giordano injury. The results are essentially a fair representation of who this team is.

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#14 Lordmork
November 14 2013, 09:31PM
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@ChinookArch

I think if there's one thing Feaster can be confident about, it's the Flames being worse next year, presumably after we trade our pending UFA's. Can't see how guys like Stemp and Cammi would want to come back to a team like this.

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

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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 Kent Wilson
November 14 2013, 08:33PM
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@mattyc

Nope. no embedding capabilities in the comments.

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#18 RKD
November 14 2013, 08:35PM
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@RKD

Seriously guys, can we stop playing like the Oilers?

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#19 prendrefeu
November 14 2013, 08:39PM
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Is it wrong for me to like Hudler more than Baertschi?

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#20 ChinookArch
November 14 2013, 08:46PM
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@RexLibris

Hey Rex,

I have a personal moratorium on mocking the Oilers. They have sunk below sad.

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#21 RexLibris
November 14 2013, 09:02PM
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double post

Seguin scores again. Ouch.

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#22 Lober
November 14 2013, 09:12PM
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And Stemper just got one punched, don't really know what he was thinking Dillon is huge.

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#23 TRAV
November 14 2013, 09:28PM
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I think that this is sort of that other team quitting pushback that Kent was referring to. On second thought maybe Lambert was right... Losing 3-0 or 6-3. Not sure one is better than the other :)

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#24 the forgotten man
November 14 2013, 09:42PM
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RKD wrote:

Benn and Seguin have been beasts tonight. 6 points for Benn, and 4 goals for Seguin already combined for 11 points.

Did Calgary make a play for Seguin this summer?

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#25 beloch
November 14 2013, 09:46PM
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Reto: 0.765
Ramo: 0.800

Time to call up Ortio?

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#26 Bean-counting cowboy
November 14 2013, 09:58PM
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Worst two games of the year - the last two.... since we traded for an oiler. coincidence? Rex... you still here?

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#27 John
November 14 2013, 10:07PM
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Well the Flames just got kidney-punched. Wonder how many more of these losses the kids can take before they start losing their confidence. By the way, Reto they always shoot high to your stick side and score there too. You might want to work on that.

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#28 RKD
November 14 2013, 10:51PM
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@the forgotten man

Not that I know of, I don't if or how close the Flames were in the mix for Seguin.

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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#34 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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#35 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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#36 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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#37 jonahgo
November 14 2013, 03:45PM
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@Kent Wilson

the ways of hartley are truly mysterious...

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#38 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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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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#50 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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