FGD: Twin City Showdown

Ryan Pike
November 05 2013 12:29PM

 

(photo courtesy Stadium Journey)

 

After opening their road trip with a hard-fought and gutsy win in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Calgary Flames (6-6-2) head north to visit a former divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild (8-4-3) tonight at the Xcel Energy Center. The puck drops at 6pm MT on Sportsnet West, Fan960 and all over the Twitters.

This will be the 75th meeting between the two teams, the first 74 of which took place when both teams were part of the since-disbanded Northwest Division. The Flames have a 41-20-13 edge all-time and went 2-1-2 in five games with the Wild last season.

THE LINE-UP

A bit of tinkering took place with the line-up, as Bob Hartley is parking Derek Smith and Sven Baertschi on the sidelines in favour of the debuting Chad Billins and Lance Bouma. Smith's benching will probably be met with less fanfare, but he's been just fine and Billins' insertion is probably a reward for his hard work and an attempt to gauge where Billins fits in. Roger Millions noted on Twitter that Billins' parents are coming in from Michigan to see his first NHL game, which is pretty special.

From DailyFaceoff, the lines:

Glencross (A) – Stajan (A) – Jones
Cammalleri (A) – Colborne – Galiardi
Bouma – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan

Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Billins – O'Brien

Berra
Ramo

Baertschi was used sparingly in Sunday's win against Chicago, putting up just 13:12 in ice-time and seeing some of his shifts go to Mikael Backlund in the third period, although he still ended up with four more minutes of ice-time than Backlund did. Once again, the question of what Baertschi needs to do to stick in the line-up full-time comes into the forefront. It's probably some version of “play hard in all three zones.” He may not have a lot of offensive upside, but Lance Bouma plays hard.

Calgary's power-play is now officially goal-less in six straight.

THE OPPOSITION

The Wild lack a lot of upper-end star power, but they have a roster that's got a lot of top-end depth. Jason Pominville is having a great year so far with 10 goals, but Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund are also off to strong starts. The Wild last played on Sunday, just like Calgary, when they shut-out the New Jersey Devils.

Via DailyFaceoff, lines:

Coyle – Parise (A) – Koivu (C)
Neiderreiter – Granlund – Pominville
Cooke – Brodziak – Mitchell
McMillan – Konopka – Heatley

Suter (A) – Brodin
Stoner – Ballard
Scandella – Spurgeon

Harding
Backstrom

Per Roger Millions, it appears that Charlie Coyle has recovered from a nagging day-to-day injury and that means Justin Fontaine is headed back to the AHL potentially.

Last year's Masterton winner, Josh Harding, gets the start. He has a 7-2-1 record with an insane 1.10 goals against average and .950 save percentage. A cynic would suggest that he's going to regress (he will), but that's just a great start for a guy that has had a rough couple of years and handled it with great character.

The Wild are one of the better five-on-five teams in hockey right now, with their even-strength scoring differential being roughly twice Calgary's. They also boast the NHL's second-best power-play (behind St. Louis). Their glaring weakness is their PK, which is actually worse than Calgary's.

Either way, the Flames are on an emotional high after beating Chicago in overtime, and they'll need that momentum heading into Minnesota.

ELSEWHERE

While the Flames are in St. Paul taking on the Wild, the Abbotsford Heat return home from a sweep of their three-game road trip and face the San Antonio Rampage tonight. Joey MacDonald joins the Heat, but expect Joni Ortio to start after winning all three weekend games. That game starts at 8pm on TeamRadio.ca, so in theory one could watch the Flames game and then listen to the Heat.

And in the Dub, Brett Kulak and the Vancouver Giants host the Edmonton Oil Kings.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are back at .500 after beating Chicago, and to be honest, probably have more points so far than anybody expected them to get on this road trip. A win tonight could guarantee that they go at least .500 on the trip. And with a back-to-back Thursday and Friday against St. Louis and Colorado, they might not have a better chance to get points than tonight.

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Now in his third full season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#101 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 08:19PM
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GlenX is apparently done for the night. Looks like he hurt his leg.

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#102 Tony
November 05 2013, 08:24PM
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prendrefeu wrote:

One thing is clear, Hartley knows more than many of the people commenting here.

Is this still true?

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#103 yomamen11
November 05 2013, 08:25PM
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Oh crap. Definitely not worthy to wake up at 02:00am for this one.

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#104 RexLibris
November 05 2013, 08:28PM
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Wow.

I didn't see that game coming. Mathematically the Flames have been strong in games (relative to their perceived outcome by observers and analysts at the start of the year) more often than not.

This game, 5-1 Stars loss and the 6-3 Sharks loss look like minor aberrations in the season thus far. However, a few more of these and I suspect the Flames may yet play down to last year's result.

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#105 Jeff Lebowski
November 06 2013, 10:41AM
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Colin.S wrote:

I don't want to offend but comments like these are so stupid. Want to see how a "hard" working coach or a disciplinarian coach works out, I think the prime example is that idiot Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay(NFL). The hard ass shtick only works for so long before everyone on the team tunes it out. Especially when it is very arbitrary and you set goals that have moving goal posts. People get tired of it fast and if that's all your doing, you are going to fail and hard, because you aren't actually teaching anyone anything other than the fact that your coach is an a-hole.

By your logic and what Hartley is trying to do, Joe Colborne should be a healthy scratch next game. He was a -2, won only 18% of his faceoffs and overall didn't do much, Baertschi or Backlund would get benched for less. And what do tell, have Jackman and McGratton done to receive their spots in the lineup, it isn't by Merit that's for sure, they have not contributed anything of substance to this team.

You can't have imaginary goal posts for guys like Backlund and Baertschi, if it's goals you want from Backlund, it's not happening with Apes on skates for linemates and 8-11 minutes a night at most on the ice and no time on the PP, and you can't say he doesn't deserve it after only 5 or 6 games. Backlund and Colborne have the same amount of games, same amount of points, but he's better defensively and better on faceoffs then Colborne but its Backlund on the fourth and not Colborne? And with Baertschi, either play him or send him to Abbotsford, making guys like him sit the press box does no good. If you want him to learn, it will be by playing hockey, you can't learn to play defence sitting in a press box. Benching him doesn't teach him anything, it's a punishment for which theres no reason to punish him. A much better option is to send him to Abbotsford and learn there from a very good teaching coach. If a guy deserves to sit for being a hot dogger or moron on the ice, sit em, but if you are sitting them for some imaginary goal they are not meeting, that's idiotic.

First you can't compare Schiano with Hartley. Hartley is extremely positive guy, who, if you read his comments spells out exactly what he wants to see from players. Take Colborne: He got here, had to learn, Bob and staff helped him. Colborne played 4th line minutes but with each game Hartley pushed him to improve in an area. First learn his system, then become aggressive and on the puck by being instinctual.

Backlund has admitted himself that he's been hesitant.

With Baertschi: good players want to be held accountable. Look at EDM to see what happens when you give young talented guys ice time without earning it.

You think given his history (his comments about always being the best player, his comments about not having to go to prospect camp) that he's going to thrive in Abby? You think they want that attitude with their young guys?

Someone else looks stupid here. You aren't thinking it through enough mate.

For some reason you fail to see the deficiencies in Sven's game. That doesn't mean he doesnt have any, you just overlook them. Perhpas you're caught up in the Sven as saviour mentality all oiler fans have for their talented youngsters.

Hartley is trying to make Sven better. Hartley and Burke have enough experience to know that on ice prep, details in games are what all the great players do.

There are tons of talented guys playing hockey outside the NHL because they don't have the mental side locked down.

It's not about how many points you put per se, it's about how you play. Specifically with Sven it's about pushing himself.

For me, Sven seems to have thought that it was good enough to show in the MTL game that he can play as Hartley desires. He thinks he only needs to flash it.

It don't work like that anywhere in the league. Sven is in same boat as Kadri was.

Once he commits he will reap the rewards.

Hartley has made your goal posts quite visible. The player Hartley has used as example for Sven is Gallagher. Does he want Sven to be a pest? No. He wants Sven to be relentless like Brendan. Get in there! Sven doesn't do that all the time, he passes up shots and does too much with puck to kill plays. Sven is killing more plays than he's making because he's trying to put on a show. Watch how simple both Gallagher and Kadri play in all zones other than offensive. Sven doesn't do it consistently. Hartley HAS to break him right (hold him accountable to those standards) otherwise Sven will become a diva like Yak.

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