FGD: Battle of Vancougary

Byron Bader
December 29 2013 12:42PM

After a lackadaisical Battle of Alberta match-up two nights ago aginst the Oilers, it will be another all-Canadian affair tonight. The Flames (14-18-6) welcome the Canucks (22-11-6), arguably the Flames greatest rival, to the Dome for the second time this season.

In the 1980's and through to the mid-90's there's no quest that the Battle of Alberta was one of the strongest rivalries in the NHL.  The teams continually finished at the top of the standings and played each other every other year in the playoffs. However, the teams haven't played each other in the playoffs in 22 years. Barring a miracle, that number will reach 23 years this year.  

Over the past two decades, it seems that either both the Flames and Oilers were bad teams or only one of the teams was good and the macth-ups were often very lopsided. As a result, the rivalry has become essentially non-existent. The Flames and Canucks rivalry, on the other hand, is going strong.

It is unclear how the rivalry between the Flames and Canucks ever got so intense.  Was it the playoff series in 2004? Is facing an opponent that is in close proximity to you once in the playoffs all it takes these days? That would appear to be the case.

The Flames and Canucks have had a few good games against each other since the Cup run in '04.  However, the Flames record against the Canucks since'04 is 21-33, many of those being drubbings at the hands of the Canucks. That is not really an indication of a close rivalry but interesting that it has persisted on over the last decade.  This year will mark the 10th anniversary since they last met in the playoffs and these two teams now find themselves at opposite ends of the hockey world.

The Flames are in year-one of the rebuild.  The Canucks are riding the post-apex wave of a perennial President's Trophy team.  With almost every player in tact from their last President's Trophy in 2011-12, the Canucks are still a good team, likely a playoff team.  But with most of their core now well into their 30's, they appear to be slowly sliding away from elite status.

Interestingly, by the time the Flames are ready to contend for the playoffs in 2-3 years from now, the Canucks could very well be starting their own rebuild.  As a result, it could easily be another ten years before the teams see each other in the playoffs again.  Will the rivalry continue until then?

Sorry for the ramble. Let's get to tonight...

THE LINE-UPS

Via www.dailyfaceoffs.com, the lines should look like this...

  • Galiardi - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Cammalleri - Backlund - Byron
  • Hudler - Colborne - D. Jones
  • Bouma - Monahan - McGrattan
  • Smid - Gio
  • Brodie - Butler
  • Breen - O'Brien
  • Berra

The lines should be pretty much the same as what we saw on Friday against Edmonton.  Although, not generating any goals on Friday might cue Hartley to shuffle the deck a bit.

Monahan is still riding dirty with Bouma and McGrattan on the 4th line.  He's been getting killed on any and all fancy possession stats since coming back from injury.  So a 4th line role right now is ok for the young guy.

The 4th line treatment certainly sparked something in Backs.  He has been determined to say the least in the past few weeks.  Playing over 20 minutes a night has turned into a regular thing.  He has been rattling shots off from everywhere. He is also finally starting to see some points come his way.  Backs might be out tonight though which could be a blow to the Flames.  However, if he's out we'll get our first look at Markus Granlund who is one of the point leaders out in Abbotsford.

Injuries seem to have subsided for the time being.  It was starting to look like they were just going to move the entire AHL Heat tem up here and have them on standy-by for a while there.  Dennis Wideman was seen skating yesterday so he should be G2G in a day or two.  

Berra is going to go again tonight.

THE OPPONENTS

  • D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Hansen
  • Higgins - Kesler - Santorelli
  • Booth - Richardson - Kassian
  • Sestito - Dalpe - Weise
  • Hamhuis - Tanev
  • Garrison - Weber
  • Bieksa - Alberts
  • Lack

After trying out the Sedins on separate lines earlier on in the season, Tortz has got them back together.  For me, why would you ever split those two up? They literally read each other's minds and know exactly what the other one is going to do when nobody else in the world knows.  They form probably the deadliest 1-2 punch in the NHL.  Tortz being Tortz I guess.

Zack Kassian finds himself a regular on the 3rd line these days, unable to hack it in the top 6.  That Hodgson/Kassian trade might go down as one of the worst trades the Canucks ever made when everything is said and done.  That trade is exactly the type of trade that I am praying to god Burke doesn't make, unless he's the one getting the Hodgson type guy. 

Luongo is out with an injury so the Canucks should have Eddie Lack in the pipes tonight.

SUM IT UP

The Flames take on their biggest rivals tonight in the Canucks.  In the past five or so years, the Flames have always had a tough time against the Canucks.  Add to that, the Canucks are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and are rolling right now. That's not good news for the Flames.  I am really hoping that we don't see the Canucks team of yore that shows up at the Saddledome and puts up a six spot on the Flames.  I can't take another one of those!

The Flames will need to get on the Canucks early and get a few goals on the board.  Even if they do get up by a few goals, as history has shown 100% of the time the last few years, the Canucks will turn on the jets in the 3rd and get back in the game.  The Flames have been competing lately, no matter who the opponent, so we should be in for a close one.

Game time is 5:30 pm MT.

 

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Byron has a background in psychology, economics and business and is a business researcher/data analyst by day. His love for hockey is as deep as the ocean is wide. Tell him your questions and let him into your heart. Twitter: @Baderader; Email: byron.bader@gmail.com
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#1 SmellOfVictory
December 29 2013, 01:25PM
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Granlund was called up from the Heat, and may draw in for Backlund if Backs isn't feeling up to it.

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#2 CTibs
December 29 2013, 01:38PM
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The Flames site has Monahan on the third line, and Colborne on the 4th line. I'd expect Granlund on the 2nd line if Backlund isn't playing.

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#3 coachedpotatoe
December 29 2013, 01:41PM
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Hopefully we see Granlund replacing Backs on Backs line and not being dumped down with McG. As long as the Flames insist on playing McG his 4-6 minutes a game so we can have some grit other players performances will suffer. I'm excited to see Granlund play and while I hope Backs is okay it might be good for Granlund to be up for 5-10 game look, that would in my mind mean sitting McG once Backs is healthy.

Tonights game should be David vs Goliath as the Nucks are one of the hottest teams and we are the Flames(actually we have played well most of December despite our record)This is exactly the type of game our guys get up for, go Flames.

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#4 MyTwoCents
December 29 2013, 02:24PM
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Why is it that David Jones always seems to duck criticism for a player that earns 4 million a season? We weren't that nice to Stajan a couple of years back.

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#5 Primo
December 29 2013, 02:29PM
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MyTwoCents wrote:

Why is it that David Jones always seems to duck criticism for a player that earns 4 million a season? We weren't that nice to Stajan a couple of years back.

I agree with your comments. I previously suggested on FN that D Jones is not tradeable and should be bought out in the offseason. Many responded and gave him a pass suggesting he should remain to help maintain the cap floor. Of course that is ridiculous and we use the money to sign credible free agents!

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#6 SmellOfVictory
December 29 2013, 03:02PM
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MyTwoCents wrote:

Why is it that David Jones always seems to duck criticism for a player that earns 4 million a season? We weren't that nice to Stajan a couple of years back.

Stajan was an albatross contract on a cap team back then. He was taking up valuable space. Jones is an albatross contract on a floor team. He's taking up space that's valuable only to the team's owner.

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#7 mk
December 29 2013, 04:45PM
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Maybe Backlund isn't actually injured - but in the process of being traded (i.e. kept off so he doesn't injure himself).

!!!

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#8 House
December 29 2013, 04:47PM
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I really don't like them.

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#9 Keith Fredlund
December 29 2013, 04:55PM
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mk wrote:

Maybe Backlund isn't actually injured - but in the process of being traded (i.e. kept off so he doesn't injure himself).

!!!

This was the first thought through my mind also.I was expecting something to happen after the poor effort against Edmonton.

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#10 Clyde
December 29 2013, 05:50PM
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Brutal call. How about an instigator then ? And let mcg finish him off

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#11 ChinookArch
December 29 2013, 06:31PM
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The Flames PK is really good. 5v5 tonight not so much.

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#12 Jeff In Lethbridge
December 29 2013, 06:32PM
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ok... these announcers have McGratton down for a for-sure suspension and said the elbow was up... did I miss something? looked to me like both elbows were down clear thru the hit, the he pushes off after the hit which is when the arms come up. am i seeing this wrong?

these intermission announcers are creepy by the way... where are they from?

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#13 ChinookArch
December 29 2013, 06:38PM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

It looked like McGrattan was going to miss the check and lifted his hands to catch him. Unfortunately he caught him to high. I don't see it as suspendable, but enforcers do get a different level of justice, so we'll see.

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#14 EugeneV
December 29 2013, 06:48PM
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I still say Colborne shows enough to be a good player for us as he gains experience.

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#15 RKD
December 29 2013, 07:37PM
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Score a frickin' goal!

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#16 ChinookArch
December 29 2013, 07:46PM
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Open letter to John Torterella:

Thanks for bringing low event hockey to Vancouver, jerk!

This game makes me want to go to bed.

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#17 EugeneV
December 29 2013, 07:59PM
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Backlund give away.

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#18 EugeneV
December 29 2013, 08:02PM
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What ARE you thinking Stempniak?

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#19 RKD
December 29 2013, 08:04PM
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Fudge, shut out two straight games after that thriller Monday against St. Louis.

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#20 Gored 1970
December 30 2013, 07:09AM
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You had me until you mentioned the Kassian/Hodgson trade. Kassian is 22, makes $870k, has 7 goals and is -4. Hodgson is 23, makes $4.25 Million, had 8 goals and is -10. Kassian plays a physical game whereas Hodgson has yet to find his own blue line. Hodgson has been relegated to the 3rd and 4th lines frequently as punishment for his absolute refusal to play any kind of defense. As soon as Buffalo gets a couple of decent centres, Hodgson will again be relegated to 3rd line.

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