FGD: Jockeying for Position

Kent Wilson
November 22 2013 10:29AM

 

 

Remember when Dale Tallon landed in Florida and started throwing money around like a drunken sailor? Some rather bold expectations were born regarding the Panthers that summer, particularly because the erstwhile Hawks GM had recently built a powerhouse in Chicago (though it took many years and many blunders to get it right).

Florida briefly flirted with competitiveness shortly thereafter, but their charge towards respectability was mostly due to a percentages bubble that eventually burst. Since then, they've fallen back down to the league's basement and there's a good chance they will try to sell off anything that isn't nailed down this season (or under 23 years old).

As a result, the Panthers are one of the other clubs battling with the Flames for 2014 draft position. Calgary is currently 27th overall, with just two more points than Florida who also has a game in hand. Both clubs have similar mediocre possession stats and both rosters feature an uneven mix of decent middle-tier NHLers and youngsters still finding their legs in the show. Florida is also one of three other teams who has suffered wort goaltending than the Flames at even strength this year (.879), though if Thomas can stay healthy and regain his form, that may not last. 

Either way you look at it, this is a close one to call tonight. Whether the competition is to win the the game or win the race to the bottom of the league, this one is a coin flip. The real question is "will this be more entertaining than the Blue Jackets game?"

The Lineup

Here's how things will likely shake out after the exit of Tim Jackman.

  • Cammalleri - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Baertschi - Monahan - Hudler
  • Bouma - Colborne - D. Jones
  • B. Jones - Backlund - McGrattan

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

  • Berra

Tj Galiardi was the odd man out during practice yesterday. Of course, It's possible Hartley will decide to insert him back into the lineup. If so, expect Blair Jones to get the pressbox ticket.

Speaking of Jones, he has had a monster start to the season in Abbotsford. The 6'3", 215 pounder managed 8 goals and 20 points in just 16 games to lead the Heat in scoring. He also fired a team high 54 shots on net, which is good for a 3.4/game average. I always liked Jones as a potential bottom rotation option who could put in quality minutes and maybe slide up the depth chart in a pinch, so it will be interesting to see if he can leverage his hot start to get back into Hartley's good graces and maybe stick at the NHL level for good.

Reto Berra gets the start again and it's become clear that Hartley is going to give the 26-year Swiss puckstopper every opportunity to prove himself in the NHL. The rookie's performance has been uneven so far, alternating between eye-popping, highlight reel saves and sequences where he loses his net and swims around gracelessly on the ice. His overall SV% (.889) and ES SV% (.892) are awful in absolute terms, though it's true that almost anyone can put up those sorts of stats in a such small sample of games. At some point, though, Berra will have to start stopping pucks at least an average NHL rate to justify Hartley's love.

The Opposition

Via our friends at Daily Faceoff, here are the Panthers probably lines:

  • Huberdeau - Bjugstad - Fleischmann
  • Upshall - Barkov - Boyes
  • Kopecky - Goc - Winchester
  • Hayes - Matthias - Barch

  • Campbell - Gilbert
  • Gudbranson - Kulikov
  • Motteau - Gilroy

  • Thomas

Florida is yet another club to play in Clagary on the second night of a back-to-back (not that it's helped Calgary or anything). They lost to the Oilers last night with Tim thomas in net, though there's a good chance they'll go back to the former Vezina winnner since he's been the only goalie worth a damn for them so far this year.

One guy to watch tonight is Aleksandr Barkov, this past summer's second overall pick and a player I was hoping would fall to the Flames. The big Fin is having a comparable season to Sean Monahan: they both start out more often in the offensive zone, they both have respectable, if unspectacular, possession rates and they are both considered similar kinds of players - big, smart, well-rounded centerman. Monahan has outscored Barkov so far, but it wouldn't surprise me if they finish within a few points of each other by the end of the season (health permitting).

And, yes, that's Tom Gilbert, an off-season buy-out who had to practically beg for work, on Florida's top pairing. On the face of it that seems a grave indictment of the Panther's roster, but the truth is he has the second best underlying numbers on Florida's blueline after Brian Campbell. He's a guy I kinda wish the Flames had taken a chance on, even if the result would be to flip him at the deadline for a second rouder or something. Oh well.

Sum it up

It's only November, but neither club has much to play for at this point aside from pride and player development. The Flames have the worst record in the league over their last 10 games (2-6-2) and are in free fall since the end of their respectable opening month. If they lose to Florida tonight, the Panthers will leap frog them in the standings and leave Calgary battling with the Sabres (11 points) and Oilers (16 points) for "worst in the league" honors.

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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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#51 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:54PM
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@ChinookArch

Remember that story about Feaster and the gang showing Burke around right after they hired him and them saying "we really like this player" and his reply "I don't".

Have we figured out who that player is, yet?

Backlund? Baertschi? Heck, maybe it was Jackman, for all I know.

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#53 TRAV
November 22 2013, 08:57PM
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Grats not much of a player but a helluva fighter. I can only imagine how it feels to drop the gloves with that big man. Scary!

Maybe all that bashin off helmets and noses are why his hands are so bad...

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#54 TRAV
November 22 2013, 09:00PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Remember that story about Feaster and the gang showing Burke around right after they hired him and them saying "we really like this player" and his reply "I don't".

Have we figured out who that player is, yet?

Backlund? Baertschi? Heck, maybe it was Jackman, for all I know.

Maybe it was Horak...or Laurent...

Gotta think Jacks is Burke's kinds player...

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#55 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 09:01PM
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@TRAV

Correction. Was Burke's kind of player.

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#56 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 09:02PM
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B. jones scores! Now how angry is Hartley?

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#57 Lordmork
November 22 2013, 09:02PM
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Nice to see Blair Jones making a case to get more than one game.

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#58 TRAV
November 22 2013, 09:03PM
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All three of coach's favorite in on that one...Baerchi, Backs and B. Jones..

Gotta feel happy for all three guys actually! Best way to respond is on the scoresheet...

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#59 mattyc
November 22 2013, 09:03PM
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nice play Backlund. ... and well Berra...

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#60 Lober
November 22 2013, 09:05PM
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My god that play by Berra....

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#61 tyler
November 22 2013, 09:05PM
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Oh Berra. That was just...awful.

Did anyone else find that extremely funny?

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#62 Parallex
November 22 2013, 09:06PM
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Oh Reto Reto Reto...

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#63 tyler
November 22 2013, 09:06PM
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so ramo next game?

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#64 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 09:09PM
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@RexLibris

Backlund has never been loved by management, but ever since the Horak trade I have wondered it was him. My fear is that it's Sven.

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#65 Parallex
November 22 2013, 09:13PM
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This game must be Hartley's nightmare... Sven, Backlund, and Blair Jones all playing well and Berra not.

I'd like to see a Ramo/Ortio tandam for a little bit I think.

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#66 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 09:16PM
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@ChinookArch

Trading Baertschi isn't necessarily a bad thing, if it brings in a player with a better skill set or more useful to the rebuild.

The big danger is that you are selling low, but in the end you have to give to get, and Burke has absolutely no loyalty to any of the Flames' current picks or prospects.

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#67 the-wolf
November 22 2013, 09:23PM
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Someone please explain to me why Berra is playing yet again while Ramo sits yet again?

What are they paying Ramo again?

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#68 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 09:30PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Someone please explain to me why Berra is playing yet again while Ramo sits yet again?

What are they paying Ramo again?

They do Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who starts in net.

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#69 Clyde
November 22 2013, 09:35PM
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Jankowski with a goal to send it to ot. Gilmour with an asst. gillies left game after 2 periods

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#70 Clyde
November 22 2013, 09:36PM
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Agostino with 2 assts

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#71 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 09:39PM
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Clyde wrote:

Jankowski with a goal to send it to ot. Gilmour with an asst. gillies left game after 2 periods

But did Gillies dust off his hands and say "my work here is done"?

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#72 RKD
November 22 2013, 09:42PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Someone please explain to me why Berra is playing yet again while Ramo sits yet again?

What are they paying Ramo again?

As soon as there is a back to back situation. Lo and behold, next weekend the Flames have a back to back with Anaheim and LA respectively. So Ramo starts next Friday or Saturday. Though it may seem Ramo never plays, he's played 9 games, and Ramo is playing his tenth game tonight. So it's not as one sided as a lot of people perceive it to be.

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#73 RKD
November 22 2013, 09:48PM
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Yahoo, Monahan is our saviour once again!! Take that Tim Thomas!

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#74 prendrefeu
November 22 2013, 09:49PM
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Awww yeah, Berrrrrra!

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#75 flintstone
November 22 2013, 11:33PM
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wot96 wrote:

So I fall asleep during the game, and wake up to Kerr screaming about Baertschi scoring. Then I find out Sven is out on the power-play.

Does Spock have a beard in this universe?

You just suck

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