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.
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#51 Tenbrucelees
November 03 2013, 03:31PM
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@jeremywilhelm

Look without stating the obvious, you need to calm down. There is no need for this kind of comment no matter how unnecessarily upset you feel.

Ps. To pick on a rather unappreciated shade of purple to bad mouth someone with is also rather bad form too

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#52 coachedpotatoe
November 03 2013, 03:42PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

I want Hartley to die. No joke. Or at least get hit by a car so he can't coach the Flames any longer.

What a maroon.

21 trashes, a new record!

Time to grow up. Maybe it's time to seek some help. The next number of years of this rebuild are going to drive you beyond being normal if this is how your thinking now.

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#53 Mitchell young
November 03 2013, 03:58PM
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This has nothing to do with anything but does anyone remember Stefan Meyer? I'm still in shock he ever played for the flames lol.

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#54 Mark
November 03 2013, 04:21PM
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Crawford starting tonight... because the Hawks fear the potent offense.... Right guys? Right?

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#55 stads
November 03 2013, 04:26PM
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@Mitchell young

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

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#56 Clyde
November 03 2013, 04:37PM
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With Toronto in desperate need of a 2/3 line center, is there a trade to be done by these two teams?

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#57 @Gingras34
November 03 2013, 05:04PM
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Believe Crawford is starting.

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#58 Franko J
November 03 2013, 05:39PM
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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?

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#59 beloch
November 03 2013, 05:39PM
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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.

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#61 ChinookArch
November 03 2013, 05:43PM
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And McGrattan's first contribution tonight: a penalty.

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#62 Christian Roatis
November 03 2013, 05:44PM
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Berra saves the first shot. So far, so good.

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#63 ChinookArch
November 03 2013, 05:54PM
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EugeneV wrote:

Has anyone EVER said Stajan is?

Darrell Sutter.

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#64 EugeneV
November 03 2013, 05:57PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Darrell Sutter.

Go Dutter Go

No, I mean actually go.

Thank god you're gone!

Ha Ha Ha

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#65 EugeneV
November 03 2013, 06:01PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

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

They had to as they are all team guys and had to support him.

Would you actually want anyone of those above to throw our players under a bus?

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#67 CDB
November 03 2013, 06:15PM
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Stajan is not a 1st line centre but he was there most capable, consistent forward last year and he's been good in limited games this year. He's a capable 2nd or 3rd line centre. It's not his fault Sutter was delusional and gave him a deal he didn't deserve. The guys not untradeable now that he's not playing for Brent Sutter and is useful now on this team or as a trade chip. People need to give up the fact he wasn't as good as the GM thought and a guy who routinely got out coached hated him. He's a decent player

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#68 Keith Jones
November 03 2013, 06:16PM
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SHARP. SHOT. BERRA. SAVE. Rob Kerr sucks.

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#69 SoCalFlamesFan
November 03 2013, 06:19PM
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I love that we are winning faceoffs 15-11. I did not expect that.

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#70 SoCalFlamesFan
November 03 2013, 06:20PM
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Nor did I expect to have no goals against with 18 shots in Chicago.

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#71 Monaertchi
November 03 2013, 06:27PM
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According to my Tsn app, Backs had 2:55 TOI.

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#72 Baalzamon
November 03 2013, 06:33PM
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@beloch

"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."

Draft order doesn't snake. If you have an early first you have an early second too.

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#73 kmp
November 03 2013, 06:40PM
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Turnovers to start the 2nd, ugh!

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#74 beloch
November 03 2013, 06:42PM
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Clearly, Galiardi needs to go full handlebar 'stache to take it to the next level.

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#75 Lordmork
November 03 2013, 06:43PM
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Thank god for replays. Been getting sketchy tv all night, and it cut out right before Galiardi's penalty shot.

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#76 ChinookArch
November 03 2013, 06:49PM
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I really hate Patrick Kane.

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#77 kmp
November 03 2013, 06:51PM
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Can Wideman and Russell play 60 minutes?

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#78 Baalzamon
November 03 2013, 07:09PM
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@beloch

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

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#81 thymebalm
November 03 2013, 07:16PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Not sure what happened on that Kane goal. Berra went the entirely wrong direction in the net.

Goalies can seldom explain what happened after Patrick Kane dekes them.

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#82 Nighteyes
November 03 2013, 07:16PM
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I know Crawford is a good goalie, but is it just me or does he play really ungracefully and sort of oddly? He always seems so scrambly and in awkward position after he makes a save.

Berra is looking good. As opposed to Macbackup and occasionally Ramo, he tends not to over commit to shots and then be out of position for the second one. He seems to stay further back in his net, too.

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#83 SoCalFlamesFan
November 03 2013, 07:17PM
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Wow 15 blocked shots and 30 hit the net and Berra only 1 goal against. I hope he does not tire out, so soon after flying in.

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#84 Maimster
November 03 2013, 07:21PM
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What I don't understand is why does backlund's TOI have to come at the expense of Colbourne? Or Sven? Is there some rule that the flames can only give a certain number of minutes to young guys? Do we think there is some point when this may change? When we're mathematically eliminated, or realistically eliminated (and I think we're nearly at that point)?

Sob.

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#85 Clyde
November 03 2013, 07:34PM
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Smart stagger by russell

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#86 jonahgo
November 03 2013, 07:35PM
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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.

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#87 ChinookArch
November 03 2013, 07:35PM
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Scoreface is back!

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#88 kmp
November 03 2013, 07:38PM
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Nice outlet by Butler.

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#89 Clyde
November 03 2013, 07:38PM
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Brodie, Russell and wideman are very smart players

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#90 Nighteyes
November 03 2013, 07:48PM
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@kmp

And then goes flying and falls. Has happened every time after he coughs it up. He'd look good in a cape.

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#92 Clyde
November 03 2013, 07:50PM
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Good discipline by glenx not to retaliate after that charge

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#93 beloch
November 03 2013, 07:57PM
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Gah! It's not the lambada Butler!

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#94 kmp
November 03 2013, 07:58PM
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Horrible move by Stajan.

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#95 Clyde
November 03 2013, 07:59PM
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Crappy call on butler and now they won't call sharp for that xcheck? Brutal

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#96 Nighteyes
November 03 2013, 08:00PM
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Berra is being an absolute beast.

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#97 SoCalFlamesFan
November 03 2013, 08:01PM
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Now Backlund gets a shift. A BIG shift.

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#98 jonahgo
November 03 2013, 08:01PM
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berrrra!

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#99 prendrefeu
November 03 2013, 08:01PM
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Berra = Berracuda

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#100 jonahgo
November 03 2013, 08:02PM
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.... oh well

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