FGD: Into the Lion's Den

Kent Wilson
November 03 2013 02:00PM

 

2009 Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 Chicago Blackhawks v Calgary Flames, Pengrowth Saddledome    Jonathan Toews
- If only the Flames still had Lundmark. He'd know what to do!

 

Coming off a pair of disappointing losses to the Leafs and Red Wings where the club probably deserved better, the Flames head back out onto the road to face the Chicago Blackhawks. Calgary hasn't won a single game in their last 10 visits to the Windy City and that doesn't figure to change any time soon since Chicago is again one of the best teams by any metric in the NHL.

Although the Hawks depth has eroded since they won their first Stanley cup a few years ago, they still boast one of the most intimidating top-ends in the league. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook is a murderers row of high-end even strength players hockey players. They can put the puck in the net and they tend to spend way more time in the offensive end than most players in the league. Calgary's hard minutes guys - currently Stajan, Glencross, Jones, Brodie and (ugh) Butler are going to have their hands full, to put it mildly.

If there's a weakness on the Hawks, it might be Nikolai Khabibulin, who will get the start today. The erstwhile Oiler ceased being an effective NHL goalie about six years ago and so far this season the 40 year old has stopped just 81.8% of the shots he's faced in three appearances.

Of course, to take advantage the Flames will need to get semi-competent goaltending themselves, something that has been in short supply for Calgary so far this season. Reto Berra was called up in the wake of the MacDonald demotion and he'll get the unenviable "opportunity" to start his NHL career on the road against one of the league's best. Sink or swim Berra my boy.

The Lineup

  • Glencross - Stajan - Jones
  • Galiardi - Colborne - Cammalleri
  • Baertschi - Monahan - Hudler
  • Jackman - Backlund - McGrattan

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

  • Berra

Lance Bouma takes a seat, meaning the scouring of Mikael Backlund continues between the grinders on the 4th line. Fun fact - the Flames best overall effort last year came against the Blackhawks in the Dome. They managed the most shots and the biggest scoring chance differential of any game that year. The outburst was led by the Backlund/Glencross line, who were miles ahead of every other Flames combination that night. Last game, after posting a +13, -1 shot attempt differential at even strength through two periods, Hartley benched Backlund at ES for the entire third period. The third period was the Flames worst in terms of shots and chances versus Detroit.

I have no idea what it is Backlund has to do to get back into the top-9, nor what Hartley expects to see given Backlund's lack of ice time, line mates and opportunity, but it's a terrible way to treat a 24-year old pivot who was developing into the club's most consistent two-way player.

Not much to talk about otherwise. Im sure Quenneville will be happy to send Toews out against the Stajan trio and then will probably target the Monahan unit with Patrick Kane, who is currently skating on the Hawks second line with a pair of youngsters.

The Opposition

  • Sharp - Toews - Hossa
  • Saad - Pirri - Kane
  • Bickell - Shaw - Morin
  • Bollig - Kruger - Smith

  • Keith - Seabrook
  • Oduya - Hjalmarsson
  • Leddy - Brookbank

  • Khabibulin

Chicago has been waiting on Brandon Pirri for a long time. A second round pick in 2009 out of the OJHL, Pirri played one year in College for in the ECAC before turning pro in 2010-11. He has been ripening on the vine in the AHL ever since, putting together 40-point, 56-point and 75-point campaigns consecutively. He led the Rockford Ice Hogs (CHI's AHL club) in scoring by almost 20-points last year, so it looks on the surface like he's ready to make the leap at 22-years old. He has two goals and five points in nine NHL games so far this season.

Aside from Khabibulin, the only other real point of weakness in this roster is Sheldon Brookbank. A fringe player who always seems to pop up in someone's line-up year after year, Brookbank is slow and not terribly good with the puck. He's the only semi-regular skater on the team with a possession rate below 50%.

Sum It Up

Wins have been hard to come by for Calgary lately. The team's goaltending situation is as muddy as ever, though Reto Berra will get ample opportunity to turn some heads if he puts in an above average performance against a superior opponent tonight. Of course, if he gets lit up, it will be hard to blame the guy, but it will also mean the team will have to keep throwing random dudes into the crease on a nightly basis and praying to the hockey gods one of them actually turns into an NHL starter.

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
#101 stads
November 03 2013, 04:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Mitchell young

I Used to work out with him in the summers, guy is a gem. Plays in England now.

Avatar
#102 Kevin R
November 03 2013, 04:59PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
0
props
Clyde wrote:

With Toronto in desperate need of a 2/3 line center, is there a trade to be done by these two teams?

My thoughts exactly. We can kill 2 birds, maybe 3 with one stone: Liles, 2014 2nd for Stajan

1/ We get a desperately needed 3-4 dman 2/We get rid of Matty & make that Phaneuf trade right 3/We get Backs back into the top 9 where he friggin belongs.

Avatar
#103 Baalzamon
November 03 2013, 05:03PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
+1
0
props

@Clyde

Stajan and Butler for Gardiner and Liles?

Avatar
#104 the forgotten man
November 03 2013, 05:20PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
0
props

In the rational universe, Backlund and Monahan are the 1 and 2 centres...rebuild or not. Matt Stajan wouldn't be a number one centre on most AHL squads.

Avatar
#105 Franko J
November 03 2013, 05:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Another tough assignment tonight for the Flames. Just like Anaheim, the United Centre is a place where the Flames struggle. Having Backlund playing 4th line minutes can't be good. Both for the player and the team. Maybe the team is leaning towards an early season trade with the particular move. Who knows?

Avatar
#106 beloch
November 03 2013, 05:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Liles is overpaid crap, like O'Brian, except double the cap-hit and signed for 2 more years. The Leafs gave him light duty on their bottom pairing last season and he still didn't hit it out of the park. He's also 32. Liles has large negative trade value, so must come with a significant sweetener. Gardiner isn't great either, but at least he's young and cheap. These two would probably slot into the flames 5-6 position and make little difference, although there is some possibility that Gardiner might improve.

The Leafs second rounder is probably going to be late because the Leafs are more likely to fall of a cliff than continue to defy the entire field of advanced hockey stats. I'd avoid their second and grab their first while they still think it's going to be a late one.

Avatar
#108 EugeneV
November 03 2013, 05:43PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
0
props

Why trade Stajan? Strike while the iron is hot.

To Toronto: Backlund, Glencross and Butler($5.75M 2013/14)

To Calgary: Gardiner, Liles, Kulemin, ($7.55M 2013/14) plus 1st and 2nd round picks.

Toronto gets what they need (GlenX, Backs and nearly $2M in cap space and we get Gardiner, 2 picks, plus players we can trade for more picks.

Let the Backlund loving begin.

Avatar
#109 EugeneV
November 03 2013, 05:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
ChinookArch wrote:

Darrell Sutter.

Go Dutter Go

No, I mean actually go.

Thank god you're gone!

Ha Ha Ha

Avatar
#110 the forgotten man
November 03 2013, 05:59PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
0
props
EugeneV wrote:

Has anyone EVER said Stajan is?

Jay Feaster, Brian Burke, Two Sutters, Bob Hartley, Ken King...shall I go on?

Avatar
#111 the forgotten man
November 03 2013, 06:07PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
+1
0
props

Burke already threw Sven under the bus, while Hartley continues a slow roll over Backlund...I wish they would throw Stajan under the bus - but apparently he has some mystical trade value that we are trying to inflate...it is a fools errand trying to polish up that turd.

Avatar
#112 beloch
November 03 2013, 06:27PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
0
props

The Flames definitely seem to believe in goalie hazing. Talk about staking out a goat for T-Rex! Still, sooner or later one of these goats has got to get lucky...

Avatar
#113 Monaertchi
November 03 2013, 06:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

According to my Tsn app, Backs had 2:55 TOI.

Avatar
#114 Lordmork
November 03 2013, 06:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Thank god for replays. Been getting sketchy tv all night, and it cut out right before Galiardi's penalty shot.

Avatar
#115 Baalzamon
November 03 2013, 07:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@beloch

I don't know. I think that format has been used in fantasy drafts before.

Avatar
#116 kmp
November 03 2013, 07:29PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
+1
0
props

They need to keep Glencross, Stajan and Jones away from the top 2 lines they are getting killed.

Avatar
#117 jonahgo
November 03 2013, 07:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

Oddly Backlund finally got a shift with another line that period...but it was at the expense of Sven.

ha, we should be careful what we wish for, evidently.

Avatar
#118 kmp
November 03 2013, 07:51PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
+1
0
props

@Nighteyes

His skating is awful, slow and labored.

Avatar
#119 SoCalFlamesFan
November 03 2013, 08:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

sigh.

Comments are closed for this article.