FGD: Parched in the Desert

Kent Wilson
February 18 2013 03:51PM

In some ways, the Phoenix Coyotes are the anti-Flames: they have a terrible ownership position, lackluster fan support, a lousy budget and next to no expectations every year. And yet, despite those obstacles, the club manages to remain competitive under the steady guidance of Don Maloney and Dave Tippett, each year pressing for a playoff position with a motley crew of apparent has-beens and misfit toys.

The Flames, on the other hand, are well-heeled, supported by, strong fanatical fanbase and has, for the better part of two decades, managed to under perform expectations (with one or two notable exceptions).

It's somewhat unfair to compare the Coyotes to an Island of misfit toys. While their on-oing ownership uh, situation, means next to no budget, the team nevertheless boasts some pretty capable players. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata have combined for years to form a very strong possession duo up front for Phoenix. Hanzal is the glue guy for the team up front, a strong, two-way center whose value far exceeds his counting stats each year.

On the back-end Keith Yandle tends to get the headlines because he puts up nice offensive numbers, but the true hero is probable youngster Oliver Ekmann Larsson. Although just 21-years old, he is already an NHL veteran and taking on the best the other team hs to offer every night. He already averages a team high 25:03 per game and is poised to be one of the game's better blueliners for years to come.

The 'Yotes are currently 8th in the west and definitely one of the teams the Flames will be jousting with for a playoff spot this year. A win tonight would go a long to way to making that possible.

The Line-up

After two periods of...well, not much, Bob Hartley mixed his lines up again and settled on these combinations in the third frame yesterday. It seemed to work too, as the Flames scored 3 goals and outchanced Dallas 7-1 in the process.

  • Cammalleri - Tanguay - Iginla
  • Glencross - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Hudler - Horak - Cervenka
  • Comeau - Begin - Jackman

  • Giordano - Bouwmeester
  • Wideman - Brodie
  • Butler - Sarich

  • Taylor

Danny Taylor gets his first NHL start with the Flames, an honor well earned by his strong play over the last two seasons in the AHL. It's impossible to know if he will be able to transfer that success to the big leagues, but it's nice to see him at least get a chance.

Anton Babchuk pulls the short straw on the back-end, and for good reason...he's just not an NHL caliber defender at even strength.

The new top line featuring both Cammalleri and Iginla makes sense, although that trio wasn't really part of the Flames come-back in Texas yesterday. Im not sure they even generated a single chance at 5on5 in the third period, in fact. It's better than Jarome skating with Comeau at least and will make even more sense if Hartley can somehow give them the high ground.

The Opposition

 Like the Flames, the Coyotes kind of have two or three second/third lines rather than one true offensive or power unit.

  • Doan - Vermette - Boedker
  • Korpikoski - Hanzal - Sullivan
  • Moss - Gordon - Chipchura
  • Bissonette - Torres - Vrbata

  • Michalek - Ekman-Larsson
  • Klesla - Yandle
  • Summers - Rundblad

  • Smith

Hanzal's line will be the "erasure" unit, so expect Tanguay and Iginla to see a lot of them. I don't know what vrabat is doing on a line with Bissonette, but I doubt that lasts. He's the teams leading scorer after all.

Goaltending has been part of the Coyotes secret sauce for getting into the post-season the last few years, but this season Mike Smith has been below mediocre with an .897 SV%. He's probably better than that, although I don't expect him to match his glowing numbers from last year either.

Sum it up

The Coyotes and Flames come from very different places as organizations, but end up jammed together in the middle of the western conference nonetheless. The come from behind victory against the Stars was a good step forward last night, but the Flames will need more of the same in Phoenix tonight if they are to climb out of the basement.

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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#1 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 04:38PM
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Gio would go a long way to get into my good books if he murderslammed Doan into the boards.

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#2 backburner
February 18 2013, 05:01PM
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Scary Gary wrote:

Langkow?

Got to give Feaster credit on the Langkow for Stempniak deal.. That has definitely worked out in Calgary's favor!

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#3 Denscafon
February 18 2013, 05:25PM
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yes...the czech mate line has been created! they should only talk in czech when they're on the ice to confuse the opposition haha

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#4 xeno
February 18 2013, 05:55PM
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Thank god Babchuk is out!

He's so bad. Not to mention he looks like an alien.

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#5 loudogYYC
February 18 2013, 08:57PM
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Another snoozer tonight. Iginla doesn't make a difference when he plays, nothing since he fought a French rookie after Warrener called him out.

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#7 GermanFlame
February 18 2013, 04:11PM
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Personally, I like the look of these lines. Its miles better than the Comeau as third line center experiment. I think Horak can (at least) provide what Stajan provided while he was centering Hudler and Cervenka.

And who is more happy that Butter is gone, Matty-Franchise or Jbo?

This seems like a classic Flames let down game though, so my expectations are all relative

Good luck Danny Taylor!

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#8 Alt
February 18 2013, 04:14PM
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Forgot to mention your buddy Moss,who will no doubt be up for this game

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#9 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 04:14PM
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Another win would be nice. get above that .500 mark finally.

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#10 Monaertchi
February 18 2013, 04:33PM
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I think that given the players currently available to Hartley, that is probably the best line up he can put on the ice. Lets hope it is good enough.

Goaltending not included. We will know a little more about that after the game.

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#11 RKD
February 18 2013, 04:35PM
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Lots of former Flames with the Yotes: Moss, Langkow, Lombardi, and Morris.

It's somewhat mind boggling to me, I think the Flames have looked better on paper than Nashville and Phoenix but have underachieved. The Yotes and Preds aren't full of stars, yet they somehow elevate their game and play consistently more often than Calgary can. This why both of those teams have made the playoffs and the Flames haven't.

Babs out is a good thing, he was standing still while Dallas scored.

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#12 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 04:40PM
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@RKD

Both the Yotes and the Preds have been blessed with some out of this world goal tending the last couple years. Something Calgary hasn't had in quite a while.

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#13 Scary Gary
February 18 2013, 04:43PM
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RKD wrote:

Lots of former Flames with the Yotes: Moss, Langkow, Lombardi, and Morris.

It's somewhat mind boggling to me, I think the Flames have looked better on paper than Nashville and Phoenix but have underachieved. The Yotes and Preds aren't full of stars, yet they somehow elevate their game and play consistently more often than Calgary can. This why both of those teams have made the playoffs and the Flames haven't.

Babs out is a good thing, he was standing still while Dallas scored.

Langkow?

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#14 Scary Gary
February 18 2013, 04:59PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Both the Yotes and the Preds have been blessed with some out of this world goal tending the last couple years. Something Calgary hasn't had in quite a while.

Haha seriously? I think Calgary has had some pretty good goaltending the past few years concisidering the team in front of Kipper. Rinne is excellent but I think both teams have benefitted from elite coaching the past few years. Mike Smith was not a very good goalie prior to Tippett/Pheonix.

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#15 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 05:02PM
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@Scary Gary

In the last 5 years, Kipper has only been league average or better 2 of them. He's a big part of the Flames missing the playoffs.

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#16 backburner
February 18 2013, 05:10PM
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IF Danny Taylor plays well, and catches fire stopping everything in sight... what then would happen to Kipper? is there potential for Taylor or MacDonald to take the number 1 spot? I wonder if this could be the start of a Luongo/ Schneider situation...

I'm sure a problem any team would love to have!

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#17 Bean-counting cowboy
February 18 2013, 05:12PM
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I predict Taylor has a strong game. 1st games for tenders seem to quite often go well whether its adrenalin, etc. I think Calgary will be on their heels a bit but will stay in it with good goaltending. But I'm guessing it'll be a tight game that could go either way.

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#18 schevvy
February 18 2013, 05:16PM
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backburner wrote:

IF Danny Taylor plays well, and catches fire stopping everything in sight... what then would happen to Kipper? is there potential for Taylor or MacDonald to take the number 1 spot? I wonder if this could be the start of a Luongo/ Schneider situation...

I'm sure a problem any team would love to have!

Who knows with Taylor, I have no idea what to expect from him. Great AHL numbers but never played in the NHL. If he ends up playing great, that's awesome.

MacDonald is 33 and a career backup, at best for him he'd back up Kipper when Kipper comes back.

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#19 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 05:22PM
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@backburner

Haha this is the most fantastical post of the year!

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#20 Scary Gary
February 18 2013, 05:29PM
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Jeremywilhelm

If you choose 5 yes, if you choose 7 it's 4 times; it's tough to have league average numbers when you're averaging 73 games.

What I'm saying is it's no surprise to me that Bryzgalov had his two best years, which were somewhat average, with Tippett. While Smith looked like he was a career backup only later to be a Vezna candidate with Phoenix.

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#21 Emir
February 18 2013, 05:30PM
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@Denscafon

They probably do, but I doubt it gives them much of an edge. Anytime you hear somebody screaming on the ice its an obvious sign for give me the puck.

But I do like the line, eager to see how it plays.

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#22 jeremywilhelm
February 18 2013, 05:31PM
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@Scary Gary

Yes, but it has been 4+ years since the Flames missed the playoffs, not 7. Kipper hasn't been good, blaming the rest of the team for his failures is silly, he has failed the team as much as he has been failed by the team.

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#23 backburner
February 18 2013, 05:33PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Haha this is the most fantastical post of the year!

Thank you Mr. Wonka

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#24 Scary Gary
February 18 2013, 05:40PM
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I'm curious how Taylor's nerves hold up. Having played last night It'll also be interesting to see if the flames come out, are content on winning one of their two road games and lose 4-2, or if they can manage to out chance Pheonix on the road while playing their 4th string goalie; the ladder would make for a good story/game.

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#25 Scary Gary
February 18 2013, 06:01PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Yes, but it has been 4+ years since the Flames missed the playoffs, not 7. Kipper hasn't been good, blaming the rest of the team for his failures is silly, he has failed the team as much as he has been failed by the team.

So you're saying it's Kiprusoff's fault the flames haven't made the playoffs the last three years (tied for 9th, 10th and 9th), even though there were teams that had given more goals up on few shots that had made the playoffs?

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#26 Bean-counting cowboy
February 18 2013, 06:12PM
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Projected lines 3 weeks from now in my dream world:

Tanguay/O'reilly/Cammy

Hudler/Backlund/Cervenka

Glencross/Sutter/Stempniak (shutdown)

Comeau/Begin/Jackman

Defense:

Myers/Giordano

Wideman/Brodie

Smith/Martin

Kipper

This comes about as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Iggy,Stajan,Butler To Calgary: Sutter, Martin (salary dump), 2013 1st, Pouliot

To Colorado: 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Offer sheet) To Calgary: O'reilly

To Buffalo: Bouwmeester To CGY: Myers + late pick

We are instantly a much younger and deeper team at center. Any injury to top 6 and Baertschi moves in. We also maintain a (late) 1st in the 2013 draft. C'mon Feaster, make it happen!!

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#27 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 18 2013, 06:29PM
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backburner wrote:

IF Danny Taylor plays well, and catches fire stopping everything in sight... what then would happen to Kipper? is there potential for Taylor or MacDonald to take the number 1 spot? I wonder if this could be the start of a Luongo/ Schneider situation...

I'm sure a problem any team would love to have!

I would hardly look at that as being a problem (if Taylor played into the #1 spot with lights out performance) because Kipper doesn't have a hundred year, hundred million dollar contract...

Kipper is all but free next year at what, 1.5 M? I think the team would consider themselves lucky and very happy if Taylor came in and provided NHL Starter level tending that would let them start someone other then Kipper for 45 games next year.

The question I have about Kipper is whether he wants to, in a "contract year" ("2013/2014), prove himself worthy of another 2-3 year contract as a 1A/1B goalie, or whether he wants to retire back to the north pole and smoke fish the rest of his life?

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#28 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 18 2013, 06:31PM
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xeno wrote:

Thank god Babchuk is out!

He's so bad. Not to mention he looks like an alien.

plus, he's ugly and his mother dresses him funny.

wait, no, he just sucks at playing defense.

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#29 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 18 2013, 06:33PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Projected lines 3 weeks from now in my dream world:

Tanguay/O'reilly/Cammy

Hudler/Backlund/Cervenka

Glencross/Sutter/Stempniak (shutdown)

Comeau/Begin/Jackman

Defense:

Myers/Giordano

Wideman/Brodie

Smith/Martin

Kipper

This comes about as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Iggy,Stajan,Butler To Calgary: Sutter, Martin (salary dump), 2013 1st, Pouliot

To Colorado: 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Offer sheet) To Calgary: O'reilly

To Buffalo: Bouwmeester To CGY: Myers + late pick

We are instantly a much younger and deeper team at center. Any injury to top 6 and Baertschi moves in. We also maintain a (late) 1st in the 2013 draft. C'mon Feaster, make it happen!!

somethings about that I like...

but the "NEW" J-bo would be missed, I mean, as he is lately.

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#30 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 18 2013, 06:35PM
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the thing that gives me confidence about tonight is how the Flames ALWAYS play well in front of backup goalies...

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#31 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 18 2013, 06:37PM
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Denscafon wrote:

yes...the czech mate line has been created! they should only talk in czech when they're on the ice to confuse the opposition haha

I am 100% positive this is the case... why wouldn't they? it would be easier then trying to walk and chew gum

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#32 beloch
February 18 2013, 06:47PM
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Irving was the Flames' backup only because the club has so much invested in him and nobody really expected Kipper to even need a backup. Like a bank or auto company, Irving was deemed "too big to fail" until the team actually had to rely on him and he, well... failed. MacDonald is a proven mediocrity. If Kipper were out for the rest of the season and Irving started filling his water bottle with Drano(TM), at least MacDonald could be relied upon to backstop the team to something resembling a mediocre finish in the standings. Basically, he's Feaster's security blankie.

Danny Taylor is the only hope for better-than-mediocre goal-tending the Flames have left in the short-term. Taylor might not have what it takes in the NHL, or he might transition to the big league well. Make no mistake, tonight is his "BIG CHANCE" and he knows it. All he has to do is be better than mediocre (i.e. MacDonald) and the starting position is his until Kipper is back. It's a tremendous second chance for a goalie people say "figured it out" late. If he blows it, it's Macdonald and mediocrity for the foreseeable future!

P.S. If Taylor and Macdonald both wind up hitting the ol' Drano, Barry Brust is also a possibility. However, I don't even want to contemplate how much ugly stuff would have to happen before they'd give Brust a contract. Things would have to be *dire*.

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#33 RKD
February 18 2013, 06:47PM
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@jeremywilhelm @scary gary.

Last 3 seasons:

Rinne- 2.39,.923 2.15,.930 2.53, .911 Smith -2.21,.930 Byrz - .248,.921, .229, .920 Kipper - .235,.921,263,.906.231,.920

The numbers are pretty close, outside of two seasons ago yes the goaltending was not as good. However the last time the Flames made the playoffs Kipper has a GAA of 2.48 and .903. So I'm not sure I totally buy that Phoenix and Nashville had better goaltending.

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#34 FlameinATL
February 18 2013, 06:53PM
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Big game tonight Flames...will be cheering you on from work as always. Let us have a good effort tonight in front of Taylor.

I can live with this lineup, but man would it look good seeing the names Backlund and Sven.

Go Flames!

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#35 redricardo
February 18 2013, 06:56PM
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On Sportsnet right now there's an article by Spector about how O'Reilly holding out is ridiculous, there's no way he's entitled to $5 million, and he's letting down his whole team.

Me thinks Spector has given up on legitimate writing. He tries to put down something controversial and make people talk. I remember an article a couple weeks ago about how any Flames fan would trade rosters with Edmonton in a second.

Check it out, it's good for a laugh. I'd post a link... Bit that's a lot of work on an iPhone. I assume. Too lazy to check for real.

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#36 T&A4Flames
February 18 2013, 07:09PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Projected lines 3 weeks from now in my dream world:

Tanguay/O'reilly/Cammy

Hudler/Backlund/Cervenka

Glencross/Sutter/Stempniak (shutdown)

Comeau/Begin/Jackman

Defense:

Myers/Giordano

Wideman/Brodie

Smith/Martin

Kipper

This comes about as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Iggy,Stajan,Butler To Calgary: Sutter, Martin (salary dump), 2013 1st, Pouliot

To Colorado: 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Offer sheet) To Calgary: O'reilly

To Buffalo: Bouwmeester To CGY: Myers + late pick

We are instantly a much younger and deeper team at center. Any injury to top 6 and Baertschi moves in. We also maintain a (late) 1st in the 2013 draft. C'mon Feaster, make it happen!!

I don't think your getting Sutter for an Iggy trade. Iggy's a rental and Sutter was the main piece in the Staal trade and is likely a big piece going forward.

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#38 negrilcowboy
February 18 2013, 07:23PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Projected lines 3 weeks from now in my dream world:

Tanguay/O'reilly/Cammy

Hudler/Backlund/Cervenka

Glencross/Sutter/Stempniak (shutdown)

Comeau/Begin/Jackman

Defense:

Myers/Giordano

Wideman/Brodie

Smith/Martin

Kipper

This comes about as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Iggy,Stajan,Butler To Calgary: Sutter, Martin (salary dump), 2013 1st, Pouliot

To Colorado: 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Offer sheet) To Calgary: O'reilly

To Buffalo: Bouwmeester To CGY: Myers + late pick

We are instantly a much younger and deeper team at center. Any injury to top 6 and Baertschi moves in. We also maintain a (late) 1st in the 2013 draft. C'mon Feaster, make it happen!!

may i suggest you look into a 12 step program, you may have a more realistic veiw afterwards.

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#40 Ryan Pike
February 18 2013, 07:28PM
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I've watched a LOT of Abbotsford games over the past two years and had the chance to talk with Danny Taylor a few times. Supremely nice guy who his coaches think the world of.

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#41 schevvy
February 18 2013, 07:29PM
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C'mon Taylor. Show em what you got.

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#42 schevvy
February 18 2013, 07:30PM
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Sell out? Must be mostly Canadians

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#43 Ryan Pike
February 18 2013, 07:30PM
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Starters:
FLAMES: Taylor, Giordano, Bouwmeester, Glencross, Stempniak, Stajan
COYOTES: Smith, Yandle, Klesla, Gordon, Moss, Torres

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#44 schevvy
February 18 2013, 07:31PM
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Taylor's nerves must be shot

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#45 Ryan Pike
February 18 2013, 07:31PM
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Complete fire drill in Calgary's zone.

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#46 schevvy
February 18 2013, 07:31PM
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Not good. Not good

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#47 RKD
February 18 2013, 07:31PM
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Since 2005, the Flames have had 10 backup goalies who have combined for a grand total of 25 wins, in that same span of time Kipper has accumulated 275.

I cannot see us landing ROR, I think he's looking for north of $5M. Colorado and NYR were working on a deal that would see ROR, plus one Avs d-man to NYR for Del Zotto plus some combo of a prospect/pick/roster player. The asking price is very steep for ROR, 2 picks/2 roster players/ 2 prospects. Some combo of 2+2 for ROR is insane, NYR have since backed away.

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#48 schevvy
February 18 2013, 07:32PM
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Not Taylor's fault though. Trainwreck

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#50 thymebalm
February 18 2013, 07:35PM
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We may never have a goalie post +.900sv% numbers with this club. The defensive coverage has been atrocious on almost all the goals this year.

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