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.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
Avatar
#51 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 07:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

Bouma's been really good since he got scratched a few games ago.

Avatar
#52 Ryan Pike
November 22 2013, 07:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

@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.

Avatar
#55 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 07:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

@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.

Avatar
#56 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@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.

Avatar
#57 Lordmork
November 22 2013, 08:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

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.

Avatar
#58 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
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.

Avatar
#59 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

Baertschi was awesome on that PP goal!

Avatar
#60 mattyc
November 22 2013, 08:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

Great screen by Colborne on Baertschi's goal

Avatar
#61 RexLibris
November 22 2013, 08:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
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)

Avatar
#62 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props
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.

Avatar
#63 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 08:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props
RexLibris wrote:

Is he wearing Backlund's number yet?

;)

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

Avatar
#64 RKD
November 22 2013, 08:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

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.

Avatar
#65 TRAV
November 22 2013, 08:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

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...

Avatar
#66 TRAV
November 22 2013, 09:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
8
props

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...

Avatar
#67 mattyc
November 22 2013, 09:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

nice play Backlund. ... and well Berra...

Avatar
#68 Lober
November 22 2013, 09:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

My god that play by Berra....

Avatar
#69 Parallex
November 22 2013, 09:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

Oh Reto Reto Reto...

Avatar
#70 tyler
November 22 2013, 09:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

so ramo next game?

Avatar
#71 ChinookArch
November 22 2013, 09:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

@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.

Avatar
#72 Clyde
November 22 2013, 09:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
5
props

Agostino with 2 assts

Avatar
#73 RKD
November 22 2013, 09:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
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.

Avatar
#74 RKD
November 22 2013, 09:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
7
props

Yahoo, Monahan is our saviour once again!! Take that Tim Thomas!

Avatar
#75 prendrefeu
November 22 2013, 09:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
4
props

Awww yeah, Berrrrrra!

Comments are closed for this article.