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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#51 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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#52 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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#53 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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#54 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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#55 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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#56 Jeff In Lethbridge
November 29 2013, 03:19PM
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why doesnt mcgratton slap someone around..

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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 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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#61 SmellOfVictory
November 29 2013, 03:47PM
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Carlizzle wrote:

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.

Byron will draw some because he's tiny and sucks. Guaranteed he'll get "tripped" or something at least once.

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#62 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 03:50PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

why doesnt mcgratton slap someone around..

Amen to that.

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#63 Carlizzle
November 29 2013, 03:54PM
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I know that Paul Byron is not playing in this game, but, when he plays tomorrow, who sits?

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#64 yomamen11
November 29 2013, 04:17PM
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Butler...

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#65 Johnnydapunk
November 29 2013, 04:32PM
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As I have written before here that I'm an Oil fan but also a huge fan of Berra so I don't come here to be a dick or anything of the sort.

I'm watching the game and I think the biggest mistake the Flames made was bringing Berra up so quickly before he got some serious time in North America. The decent euro goalies usually spend a season or two in the minors before coming up so they can get used to the style of play and rink at a slower speed.

I can only guess as I have only been half paying attention to the Flames goaltending situation and it seemed like the management was more pissed off with MacDonald as he didn't come to camp in the best shape despite having the number one job to lose and now being in a position where unless they wish to lose Berra or even find someone to take the weirdly high paying contract for Rämö (though looking at his KHL numbers, I can now see why he is being paid so much ) the Flames are stuck with the decision they have made since Berra will improve, and Rämö should as well eventually.

All I can suggest is just enjoy the season as much as you can and try to be patient with your goaltending as it will get better with time.

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