FGD: Looking for a Deal in Disneyland

Ryan Pike
November 29 2013 10:33AM

The day after American Thanksgiving is best known as Black Friday, a day where bargain-hunters wake up early to hunt for deals. The Calgary Flames (8-12-4) are no different, as they're up early in Orange County for a 2pm MT matinee date with the Anaheim Ducks (17-7-3), and it's not even the earliest hockey game of the day. It's on Sportsnet's various media properties. The Flames' bad record in the Honda Center is the stuff of legend, as they haven't won in 17 visits to Anaheim. The last visit preceded their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004.

Moreover, the Flames are suddenly mired in a streak of bad luck, both on the ice and off. Blown leads, bad starts and a rash of injuries have left Calgary reeling. A win in Anaheim would go a long way towards keeping morale on an upward tick.

THE LINE-UP

Max Reinhart and Paul Byron joined the team in the last 24 hours, as T.J. Galiardi, Sean Monahan and Denis Wideman are on the shelf. With a lack of full line rushes due to injuries and the schedule, here's my guess.

Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
Baertschi – Backlund - Hudler
Bouma – Colborne – D. Jones
Reinhart – B. Jones – McGrattan/Byron

Russell – Brodie
Butler – Smid
Breen/O'Brien – Smith

Berra
Ramo

Five regulars are out for Calgary (Galiardi, Glencross, Monahan, Giordano, Wideman) and I'd expect Byron to play one of the next two games, so he'll probably sit to get acclimatized with his teammates before playing. As mentioned before, the Flames never, ever win in Anaheim.

Ever.

They're also a not-great road team in general, with a 4-7-1 record (worst in the West) away from home. The line-up is also super-depleted, most notably their defense, which wasn't great shakes to begin with. If you took the blueline group of a team expected to flirt with 30th place and then took away two of the three best players from that group, well, it'd look like this one.

Optimism: the penalty-kill's been pretty good over the last stretch.

THE OPPOSITION

After filling up on turkey yesterday, the Ducks hope to fill up on the Flames today. Lines from Daily Faceoff:

Penner – Getzlaf – Perry
Palmieri – Perreault – Selanne
Cogliano – Koivu – Winnik
Beleskey – Bonino – Jackman

Fowler – Lovejoy
Yonkman – Vatanen
Fistric – Lindholm

Hiller
Andersen

Like Calgary, five regulars are out (Allen, Souray, Silferberg, Beauchemin, Sbisa, Fasth), but the Ducks have more depth and have been more or less fine lately. They host in a bit of a “slide” (by their standards), having gone .500 over their last 10 and struggling to score a lot.

Saku Koivu is a game-time decision due to an injury he's recovering from, but he's expected to play. He adds a bit more firepower to a group that boasts size, speed, talent, and Tim Jackman – traded to the Ducks last week. Perhaps we see a Jackman/McGrattan face-punching battle?

SUM IT UP

The odds are stacked against the Flames: afternoon game, on the road, in Anaheim, against a team hoping to get back on track, with a line-up that's even more depleted by injuries than beforehand. This 36 hours will definitely test Calgary's mental fortitude. The upside is that very few on-lookers expect the Flames to win given the circumstances, so there's no better time than right now for this group to buckle down, dig in and shock the world with a pair of good performances in SoCal.

And there would be no better way to start that than with a win against the Ducks today.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#1 Byron Bader
November 29 2013, 11:00AM
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Calgary's D tonight...Yikes! The Russell and Brodie top pairing is probably going to play 30 + minutes each. Beyond that we're talking more holes than swiss cheese. This could be a nasty one for the YYC boys.

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#2 Nighteyes
November 29 2013, 11:07AM
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Butler and Smid as our second paring....sick!! If Backlund does not get top 6 or top 9 minutes it's going to be a very sad day. Please scratch McGrattan with all the call-ups Hartley. Of course you won't. And start Ramo for the love of god. 2.5 million sitting on the bench for so long, for no particular reason, kudos.

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#3 SmellOfVictory
November 29 2013, 11:09AM
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Remember, those are guesses at lines and pairing. I'd actually guess that Brodie and Russell each anchor a separate pairing.

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#4 T&A4Flames
November 29 2013, 11:10AM
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Pull one of the 4th liners and put in a 2nd goalie. 1plays high, the other low. :)

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#5 Primo
November 29 2013, 11:18AM
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In my view starting Ramo is a waste of time but he needs to play second string minutes. He has played enough this year to confirm he is not an NHL goaltender and a good candidate for one of the buy-outs this summer. The other buy-out I anticipate will be David Jones.

With regards to Berra I am not prepared to write him off at this point but give him another 20 games to decide if we sign him to an extension as he is an RFA and all we have at this point. Regardless he is an adequate fill in until Ortio and Gillies develop.

I have accepted there is a major rebuild process here for the next 2 years. Until we keep filling the cupboards with high end draft choices I will show the patience required as long as they play high energy hockey and continue to develop the talent with frequent call ups from Abbotsford.

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#6 Baalzamon
November 29 2013, 11:19AM
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Eh. I'm not really in the mood for a slasher flick.

On another note, did anyone else notice the phenomenal game Stajan had against Chicago the other night? 57% Corsi with 22% zone starts? Holy smokes.

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#7 Baalzamon
November 29 2013, 11:20AM
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@Primo

No. The Flames need Jones to reach the cap floor.

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#8 Parallex
November 29 2013, 11:21AM
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@Primo

We won't be buying either of those guys out... we need to spend to get to the cap floor next year so we won't be shedding any salary. And why does Berra continue to get starts? He's a back-up quality goaltender at best. They should send him down and give Ortio a look or two.

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#9 Byron Bader
November 29 2013, 11:22AM
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@Baalzamon

He was real good on Wednesday. One of his best games as a Flame.

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#10 Kent Wilson
November 29 2013, 11:34AM
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Yeah that was a monster game by Stajan vs Chicago.

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#11 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 12:01PM
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I'm predicting hat-trick for Backlund, and NO, I am not a homer...

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#12 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 12:03PM
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@Parallex

meh...

it's a long season... give the guys each a chance to work out the bugs... i really don't want to win too many games anyway as would like to get a couple high draft picks

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#13 KelownaFlames
November 29 2013, 12:23PM
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Hartley is going to be so confused when the Baertschi/Backlund/Hudler line plays well.

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#14 Captain Ron
November 29 2013, 12:29PM
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I'm predicting an ugly beat down of embarrassing proportions in this one. There is no reason to think the Flames will be in it unless Anaheim is completely bored and takes the day off.

Reto Berra should be flipping around in his stall between periods like that goalie in Slapshhot.

Come to think of it he flips around a lot on the ice during games so it should come naturally for him.

Could be a good day for Getzlaf on my fantasy team.

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#15 Lordmork
November 29 2013, 12:31PM
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Really, really hoping Backlund can have the kind of game that makes the organization think twice about trading him. That's my one hope for today.

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#16 sathome
November 29 2013, 12:37PM
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This may be completely crazy, but how about trying Backlund on defense and calling up Knight? If it doesn't work, they don't have a whole lot to lose.

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#17 Skuehler
November 29 2013, 01:05PM
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sathome wrote:

This may be completely crazy, but how about trying Backlund on defense and calling up Knight? If it doesn't work, they don't have a whole lot to lose.

Brodie in goal, Berra on D, Granlund up front

Oh and MaGrattan first line

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#18 mk
November 29 2013, 01:16PM
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sathome wrote:

This may be completely crazy, but how about trying Backlund on defense and calling up Knight? If it doesn't work, they don't have a whole lot to lose.

I've mentioned this a couple times jokingly - but stranger things have happened.

Burns was shifted to forward because the Sharks bet on his offensive instinct, skating and size being good qualities of a power forward.

Backlund has very good defensive skills and skates well, but lacks the offense to stick as a top-6 forward. Would defense be so crazy?

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#19 Kurt
November 29 2013, 01:17PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

meh...

it's a long season... give the guys each a chance to work out the bugs... i really don't want to win too many games anyway as would like to get a couple high draft picks

You are really worried about winning too may games? Thanks for the laugh.

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#20 Kurt
November 29 2013, 01:24PM
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mk wrote:

I've mentioned this a couple times jokingly - but stranger things have happened.

Burns was shifted to forward because the Sharks bet on his offensive instinct, skating and size being good qualities of a power forward.

Backlund has very good defensive skills and skates well, but lacks the offense to stick as a top-6 forward. Would defense be so crazy?

Don't forget Steve Staios! He was a forward in Atlanta in 2000 (when he was also their captain... weird eh).

PS - I think this is a crazy idea

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#21 Baalzamon
November 29 2013, 01:32PM
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Kurt wrote:

Don't forget Steve Staios! He was a forward in Atlanta in 2000 (when he was also their captain... weird eh).

PS - I think this is a crazy idea

Or the best example of all (best because it's actually going in the right direction): Dustin Byfuglien.

Mediocre power forward becomes first pair defenseman pretty much overnight.

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#22 Kurt
November 29 2013, 01:40PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Or the best example of all (best because it's actually going in the right direction): Dustin Byfuglien.

Mediocre power forward becomes first pair defenseman pretty much overnight.

Ya I thought of big Buff.

I don't know the answer, but I'd be curious to know if guys like Buff & Burns played multiple positions in junior. I'd guess they both did. Its highly unlikely to me that their first crack at a new position would be in the NHL. If anyone knows the answer, let me know?

Both of these guys are huge too. Burns was a HUGE body on D, whose game translated well to F, because he is able to plant himself in front of the net, and has really good hands for a big man. Similar concept to Chara playing F on the PP in Boston.

On the flip side, Buff is a huge beast of a man, with a cannon. He lacks hands, so his game actually translated back well to D.

Both examples are huge bodies able to jump back and forth.

End of the day, I think its a moot point unless a player has significant experience at the position from their past. If Backs has never played D, he'd have zero chance of learning it on the job in the NHL. He'd be 'thinking' all the time, which is a death blow to any D man.

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#23 MichaelD
November 29 2013, 01:41PM
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@Baalzamon

I believe Byfuglien was originally drafted as a defenceman and Chicago converted him to a forward, then back to D in Winnipeg.

The difference between Backlund and Byfuglien, Burns, and even Staios is size and toughness. Backlund isn't exactly a tough guy to go in the corners with although he has good defensive senses. I don't think Backlund would be good at a D, players would out muscle him all the time.

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#24 Byron Bader
November 29 2013, 01:56PM
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Kurt wrote:

Ya I thought of big Buff.

I don't know the answer, but I'd be curious to know if guys like Buff & Burns played multiple positions in junior. I'd guess they both did. Its highly unlikely to me that their first crack at a new position would be in the NHL. If anyone knows the answer, let me know?

Both of these guys are huge too. Burns was a HUGE body on D, whose game translated well to F, because he is able to plant himself in front of the net, and has really good hands for a big man. Similar concept to Chara playing F on the PP in Boston.

On the flip side, Buff is a huge beast of a man, with a cannon. He lacks hands, so his game actually translated back well to D.

Both examples are huge bodies able to jump back and forth.

End of the day, I think its a moot point unless a player has significant experience at the position from their past. If Backs has never played D, he'd have zero chance of learning it on the job in the NHL. He'd be 'thinking' all the time, which is a death blow to any D man.

Burns was primarily a forward in junior. I believe Jacques Lemaire moved him to D almost immediately after he was drafted because of his size and skating ability.

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#25 MichaelD
November 29 2013, 01:57PM
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@Kurt

I believe Burns was also drafted as a forward

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#26 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 02:24PM
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what the heck... Backlund got one shift on the second line and no more???? or am i seeing things?

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#27 MichaelD
November 29 2013, 02:30PM
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Oh boy Berra, what in the ...

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#28 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 02:30PM
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looked to me like Berra was going to chase the puck into the corner... could he get any farther out of his net?

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#29 Lober
November 29 2013, 02:31PM
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Annnnnnd Berra is still sliding around....

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#30 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 02:32PM
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on the plus side, lots of pretty fans in aneheim... so more goals means more shots of the crowd

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#31 Beerzebub
November 29 2013, 02:34PM
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And Butler is back to normal mode. Why didn't he get Perry's stick on that goal? Stupid.

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#32 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 02:36PM
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colborne takes backlunds place on the 2nd line after one shift.... im getting pretty sick of this... somebody has some splainin' to do

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#33 Byron Bader
November 29 2013, 02:40PM
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Wow. Can someone who's watching the game confirm - are the Flames getting owned as badly as it sounds on the radio?

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#34 Kurt
November 29 2013, 02:45PM
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Dustin Penner has 18pts and leads the NHL in +/-

Weird.

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#35 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 02:45PM
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@Byron Bader

definitely a period to forget... pathetic. looked like a rebuilding team thats depleted by injuries

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#36 maimster
November 29 2013, 02:48PM
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What's it like to watch the game?

Anaheim has the puck in the Flames zone for 40 seconds straight, generating a few chances. Flames finally break out, get puck into Ducks zone for roughly 5 seconds, lose puck, and Ducks break back into Flames zone.

Rinse, repeat.

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#37 the-wolf
November 29 2013, 02:49PM
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Berra is big and not much else. Terrible, terrible goaltender. Do we finally see Ramo again?

Oh well, we don't need a real goalie until 2016 season.

Do the Flames reconsider their European strategy? Cvervenka, Ramo, Berra - all billed as the best in the world outside the NHL and all 3 are nowhere close to what was hoped for.

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#38 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 02:52PM
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Let's see if Berra has learned his less..NOPE and a goal. and he is still cheating when the puck is in the corner...(head in hands, followed by face in palms)

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#39 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 02:53PM
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Byron Bader wrote:

Wow. Can someone who's watching the game confirm - are the Flames getting owned as badly as it sounds on the radio?

YUP!

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#40 Justin Azevedo
November 29 2013, 02:55PM
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reto berra's evsv 888 over 257 ev shots.

so bad.

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#41 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 02:57PM
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Kurt wrote:

Dustin Penner has 18pts and leads the NHL in +/-

Weird.

Must be that he is on a pancake free diet. Rob Kerr mentioned that Penner's success is attributed to his weight loss in the off season.

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#42 Kurt
November 29 2013, 03:00PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Berra is big and not much else. Terrible, terrible goaltender. Do we finally see Ramo again?

Oh well, we don't need a real goalie until 2016 season.

Do the Flames reconsider their European strategy? Cvervenka, Ramo, Berra - all billed as the best in the world outside the NHL and all 3 are nowhere close to what was hoped for.

I don't really think its a "European" strategy that is faulty. Its the whole "out smart the rest of the GMs in the world" strategy.

I get this sense from the org in general that they are trying to beat the system, or short circuit a rebuild, or be creative and go 'off the board' and all that. Even the emphasis on college players... What has it proven? Zero NHLers... Maybe it works, but again it appears to be an attempt to something better, or trickier, or more sneaky than 30 other teams.

In theory I'm happy with creativity, aggresive mgmt, outside the box moves etc. But I fear its coming at the expense of the road tested way to build a team.

1) Get a few top 3 picks 2) Wait 3-4 years for them to develop 3) Add depth, vets through acquisitions/trades/UFAs

Instead we are trying to find secret talent in mysterious leagues around the world, draft 'the best' player with bizarro off the board selections and putting huge faith in college players who may or may not pan out.

It scares me...

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#43 the-wolf
November 29 2013, 03:14PM
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Kurt wrote:

I don't really think its a "European" strategy that is faulty. Its the whole "out smart the rest of the GMs in the world" strategy.

I get this sense from the org in general that they are trying to beat the system, or short circuit a rebuild, or be creative and go 'off the board' and all that. Even the emphasis on college players... What has it proven? Zero NHLers... Maybe it works, but again it appears to be an attempt to something better, or trickier, or more sneaky than 30 other teams.

In theory I'm happy with creativity, aggresive mgmt, outside the box moves etc. But I fear its coming at the expense of the road tested way to build a team.

1) Get a few top 3 picks 2) Wait 3-4 years for them to develop 3) Add depth, vets through acquisitions/trades/UFAs

Instead we are trying to find secret talent in mysterious leagues around the world, draft 'the best' player with bizarro off the board selections and putting huge faith in college players who may or may not pan out.

It scares me...

You and me both.

Well-articulated, btw.

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#44 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 03:19PM
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why doesnt mcgratton slap someone around..

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#45 SmellOfVictory
November 29 2013, 03:20PM
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Kurt wrote:

I don't really think its a "European" strategy that is faulty. Its the whole "out smart the rest of the GMs in the world" strategy.

I get this sense from the org in general that they are trying to beat the system, or short circuit a rebuild, or be creative and go 'off the board' and all that. Even the emphasis on college players... What has it proven? Zero NHLers... Maybe it works, but again it appears to be an attempt to something better, or trickier, or more sneaky than 30 other teams.

In theory I'm happy with creativity, aggresive mgmt, outside the box moves etc. But I fear its coming at the expense of the road tested way to build a team.

1) Get a few top 3 picks 2) Wait 3-4 years for them to develop 3) Add depth, vets through acquisitions/trades/UFAs

Instead we are trying to find secret talent in mysterious leagues around the world, draft 'the best' player with bizarro off the board selections and putting huge faith in college players who may or may not pan out.

It scares me...

Some of their moves definitely seem to be along the lines of "we're smarter than everyone else"; trading for Berra was a big one, and trading down to draft Jankowski was along those lines as well.

That said, there's very little risk in free agent pickups (e.g. Cervenka), and trading for Ramo, who was a top tender in the 2nd best league in the world, isn't bad either.

When you look at a huge proportion of their draftings/signings/trades (Monahan, Baertschi, Gaudreau, Poirier, Klimchuk, Gillies, etc. etc. etc., Russell, Hudler, etc.) it's hard to get too worked up about the occasional "WTF" move that they make.

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#46 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 03:23PM
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Flames aren't even in this one... no fight in any of them... looks like theyve already given up on this game

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#47 chillout
November 29 2013, 03:23PM
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@Kurt

geez what world do you live in and would you quit with the idiotic "out smart the blah blah blah"

I'd be more worried about our g.m. if he didn't scour the world for talent. Those secret leagues like the KHL....k not so secret or how about the swiss eli....okay guess people know about that too, k how bout that NCAa.........what??!? people know about that one too?? Maybe you should open your eyes to the fact that it's not just a north american game.

When it comes to the draft they draft the players "They" feel are the best available. Not the ones you like cause you heard the name mentioned on tsn but the ones they have seen or have had many reports on from trusted contacts.

Oh and another thing no rebuild is guaranteed because you get a few top picks. every team in the league would be a stanley cup champion now if that's all it took. P.S. every player ever drafted may or may not pan out......

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#48 Avalain
November 29 2013, 03:36PM
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Kurt wrote:

I don't really think its a "European" strategy that is faulty. Its the whole "out smart the rest of the GMs in the world" strategy.

I get this sense from the org in general that they are trying to beat the system, or short circuit a rebuild, or be creative and go 'off the board' and all that. Even the emphasis on college players... What has it proven? Zero NHLers... Maybe it works, but again it appears to be an attempt to something better, or trickier, or more sneaky than 30 other teams.

In theory I'm happy with creativity, aggresive mgmt, outside the box moves etc. But I fear its coming at the expense of the road tested way to build a team.

1) Get a few top 3 picks 2) Wait 3-4 years for them to develop 3) Add depth, vets through acquisitions/trades/UFAs

Instead we are trying to find secret talent in mysterious leagues around the world, draft 'the best' player with bizarro off the board selections and putting huge faith in college players who may or may not pan out.

It scares me...

Well, I don't know about that. What's wrong with looking everywhere for talent? It's not like we gave up a 1st overall pick for Berra. Also, they really did not seem to go off the board with Monahan. In fact, Poirier seems like a slightly better pick over Klimchuk at this point, and Klimchuk was more "on the board" than Poirier. So he took a long shot on a big, talented center who was a late bloomer (in terms of size)? At a time when Calgary was having a chronic problem finding good centers?

Putting faith in college players who may or may not pan out sounds a lot like putting faith in teenagers who may or may not pan out. Nothing is a sure thing unless you're drafting in the top 3 or so.

Finally, I just don't understand the whole "out smart all the other GMs" concept. Or why this is bad. Do we want our GM to be the middle-of-the-pack kind of guy? Should he never take a chance with any trades or just always take the safe choice? I agree that there is an issue with Feasters optics, where he tries to oversell some of his trades. The idea that he shouldn't be using everything available to him in order to improve the team is crazy, I think.

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#49 thymebalm
November 29 2013, 03:41PM
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I'm so glad Backlund is getting quality minutes with Monahan out... oh wait... he's at 7:52 through two periods.. He'll be lucky to break 11 minutes this game.

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#50 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 03:45PM
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Did I hear that right? Did Rob Kerr actually say that Calgary has only drawn three PP opportunities over the last 3 games? I wonder if they will ever get a PP on this mini road trip.

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