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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#1 rubbertrout
November 22 2013, 11:03AM
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How many times are you guys going to lose the back end for a team coming off of a back to back game?

Starting to get ridiculous. Not quite Oilerville ridiculous but close.

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#2 RustyStrombone
November 22 2013, 11:14AM
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Looks like we turned around and sent that 6th round from the Jackman trade to Dallas for Lane MacDermid.

Don't know much about the guy, but based on stats and size alone, he appears to be a younger Jackman

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#3 mattyc
November 22 2013, 11:16AM
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@RustyStrombone

looks like lots of PIMs (in multiples of 5...)

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#4 RonR
November 22 2013, 11:17AM
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@RustyStrombone

Not quite sure I understand what the purpose of that latest move is. RonR

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#5 RonR
November 22 2013, 11:17AM
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@RustyStrombone

Not quite sure I understand what the purpose of that latest move is. RonR

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#6 Brad
November 22 2013, 11:21AM
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McDermid is an entertaining fighter. Have heard comparisons to Shawn Thornton before when talking about skill level (My opinion is that Thornton is a useful 4th liner). These types of players get ragged on alot here, but a good energy player who can fight is a good asset.

Jackman for McDermid is a good deal IMO

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#7 piscera.infada
November 22 2013, 11:37AM
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@Brad

If he's more of a Shawn Thornton type than simply a chucker, than it makes some sense.

If the guy has more speed than Jackman, I also understand it.

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#8 RustyStrombone
November 22 2013, 11:38AM
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@mattyc

Forgot he was the one who fought Breen last month.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv5oVLN3iyE

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#9 RTZ15
November 22 2013, 11:55AM
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Rumor has it Brad Boyes to Calgary. Please happen.

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#10 SmellOfVictory
November 22 2013, 11:57AM
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RTZ15 wrote:

Rumor has it Brad Boyes to Calgary. Please happen.

Ew. Why, though?

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#11 Bob Cobb
November 22 2013, 12:20PM
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RTZ15 wrote:

Rumor has it Brad Boyes to Calgary. Please happen.

For a vacation or to play? Who would want to do either.

Calgary's as bad as Lethbridge, I spent a year there one weekend, Hi Jeff.

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#12 Parallex
November 22 2013, 01:06PM
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Brad wrote:

McDermid is an entertaining fighter. Have heard comparisons to Shawn Thornton before when talking about skill level (My opinion is that Thornton is a useful 4th liner). These types of players get ragged on alot here, but a good energy player who can fight is a good asset.

Jackman for McDermid is a good deal IMO

We already have Lance Bouma (whose better then either of those guys). McDermid only adds value to the team if he ends up bumping McGrattan... and just about anyone on the reserve list does that without costing the Flames a pick. If they wanted a #gritchart guy for the heat there are tons of guys out there that they could sign to an AHL contract for that purpose.

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#13 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 22 2013, 02:25PM
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Bob Cobb wrote:

For a vacation or to play? Who would want to do either.

Calgary's as bad as Lethbridge, I spent a year there one weekend, Hi Jeff.

while the "spent a year there one weekend" bit did make me laugh, I must show my displeasure anyway out of principle.

Every town has its drawbacks...

Calgary has the traffic on the dearfoot

Edmonton has potholes the size of your basement and guys wearing sweetpants with good shoes

Vancouver has their fans, not to mention girls with willies, and winnepeg has... well, its winnepeg. piling on would be in bad taste.

dont even get me started on the east!!!

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#14 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 22 2013, 02:40PM
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B Jones - Backlund - Nimisz

if they'd trade out mcgratton for greg nimisz i'd be ok with the fourth line

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#16 Lordmork
November 22 2013, 05:28PM
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According to Darren Dreger via twitter, 4-5 teams are interested in Backlund, and the Flames are willing to make a trade. I think everyone in the org has to be available for the right price, but I can't help that worry at the end of the season, Backlund is gone in exchange for an older player who brings more grit, and we've re-signed Stajan.

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#17 Lober
November 22 2013, 05:29PM
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Darren Dreger just tweeted "4 or 5 teams have kicked tires on Calgary's Mikael Backlund. Flames willing to move him" Luckily i'm in Regina so I can just head down to Riderville to drink the pain away.

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#18 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 05:59PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

B Jones - Backlund - Nimisz

if they'd trade out mcgratton for greg nimisz i'd be ok with the fourth line

I was actually thinking B. Jones - Backlund - Galiardi would make a nice line 3rd or 4th line.

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#19 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 06:02PM
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RustyStrombone wrote:

Forgot he was the one who fought Breen last month.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv5oVLN3iyE

Am I the only one that finds it despicable that McDermit didn't remove his helmet. A guy could break his hand, if the glanced the edge of the visor.

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#20 MichaelD
November 22 2013, 06:06PM
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@ChinookArch

Blame it on the NHL not the guys

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#22 Lober
November 22 2013, 06:21PM
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@Kent Wilson

What's a realist return for Backlund?

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#23 thymebalm
November 22 2013, 06:24PM
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Gillies injured in the Providence game this evening, still playing despite going down. Groin likely.

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#24 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 06:32PM
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It occurred to me during dinner that I cannot name more than two players on the Florida Panthers.

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#25 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 06:41PM
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@Kent Wilson

Beloch posted earlier today that the org game Jackman the high ground, in terms of zone starts and I thought that maybe they were trying to pad his stats. You'd think they'd try to pump Backlund's price up as well with better linemates.

It's sounds like my investment strategy, buy high and sell low.

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#27 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 07:01PM
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Official scratches: Galiardi, Smith, Breen (conditioning)

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#29 Van is better than YYC or YEG
November 22 2013, 07:09PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

It occurred to me during dinner that I cannot name more than two players on the Florida Panthers.

Out of ignorance, or arrogance ? Do you still eat everything by hand or have you learned how to use sharp stick ? fLame, buddy, fLame.

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#30 Parallex
November 22 2013, 07:10PM
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Sports announcers do fans disservice. Look at Simmer talking about how some of Berra's starts have been "brillent"... y'know without bothering to mention the ones where he looked heinously awful.

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#32 piscera.infada
November 22 2013, 07:27PM
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I really like this makeshift Bouma-Colborne-Jones line.

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#33 Parallex
November 22 2013, 07:29PM
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@Kent Wilson

Sure. But do they have to be so obvious about it? Also...I wish Kerr would take the time to specify which Jones.

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#34 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 07:29PM
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Bouma's been really good since he got scratched a few games ago.

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#35 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 07:33PM
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@Van is better than YYC or YEG

Mostly ignorance. Florida hardly ever comes out this way, so I rarely get a chance to get familiar with their roster at all.

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#38 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 07:44PM
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@Kent Wilson

For Oilers games I've taken to listening online while watching the tv feed. It cuts out a lot of the SN chatter. HNIC is a lost cause on most nights, and TSN can go either way. The radio feed, albeit a rights holder, is usually strong enough to call a spade a spade and give some deference to the opposition when they are playing a good game.

Maybe its just me, but Kerr and Simmer seem worse this year than previous seasons.

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#39 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:00PM
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@RexLibris

I imagine the worse a team is, the higher the likelyhood that the home announcers are to be non-critical. Frankly, I appreciate honest coverage, but I'd get sick of announcers constantly critical of my team.

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#40 Lordmork
November 22 2013, 08:17PM
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For some reason, Colborne seems to know when I'm between turning off the TV and turning on the radio, and he chooses that moment to score. Maybe I should do it more often.

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#41 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:19PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I imagine the worse a team is, the higher the likelyhood that the home announcers are to be non-critical. Frankly, I appreciate honest coverage, but I'd get sick of announcers constantly critical of my team.

Not necessarily.

The Oilers rights holders (CHED - a station I prefer not to listen to at any other time of day, regardless of the situation) do a very good job of the broadcast relative to some of the television coverage I have seen.

They provide information on both teams (Stauffer is a vault of hockey arcana) and can give credit where credit is due, even in situations where the home team is awful. They aren't polishing coprolites, but they will point out positive play even on a night where the roster is struggling.

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#42 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:19PM
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Baertschi was awesome on that PP goal!

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#43 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:21PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Chances 7-1 Florida in the first. Yeesh.

Look on the bright side, if the game gets out of hand there's always Google's Doctor Who game to play.

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#44 mattyc
November 22 2013, 08:22PM
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Great screen by Colborne on Baertschi's goal

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#45 wot96
November 22 2013, 08:22PM
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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?

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#46 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:27PM
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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?

Yes, amongst other things...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uxTpyCdriY

(warning - language)

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#47 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:35PM
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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 might be on to something Blair Jones is wearing a Flames Jersey and playing a regular shift.

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#48 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:40PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

You might be on to something Blair Jones is wearing a Flames Jersey and playing a regular shift.

Is he wearing Backlund's number yet?

;)

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#49 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:51PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Is he wearing Backlund's number yet?

;)

Wrong universe, that's the one were in now.

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#50 RKD
November 22 2013, 08:53PM
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Nice to see Barts score. Despite Thomas being on a bottom feeder his numbers are decent 2.79 GAA and .911 save %. In his last 3 games he has a GAA of 1.96 and a save% of .938. His goaltending on some nights have made the Panthers look like world beaters when they won games against Anaheim and Colorado.

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