FGD: Into the Fire

Kent Wilson
February 02 2013 02:51PM

A lot of consternation in Flamesland after the 6-3 loss to the Avs on Thursday, but from my angle the team has exceeded expectations from many angles through the early going. The results aren't there and the goaltending has been *ahem* questionable, but the club has made a habit of outchancing and outshooting their opponents so far. With a few different bounces and an NHL-average Kipper, the Flames have a much better set of W-L numbers heading into tonight.

Chicago is probably the best team the Flames have faced thus far though. The Sharks are the only other true playoff caliber opponent Calgary has seen and they have some severe depth problems. Not so much for Chicago, who boast starts like Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Keith and Seabrook at the top-end of the roster and then quality depth options like Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and David Bolland elsewhere.  The addition of Michal Roszival and Johnny Oduya in the off-season solidified their top-4 on the back-end as well, so there really is no obvious weakness to exploit on Chicago's roster.

The Hawks haven't lost in regulation this season, in part because of the quality of their line-up, but also because Corey Crawford is pulling a reverse-Kipper so far. Much maligned last year during an entirely mediocre season, Crawford has some out a put up a .934 SV% in 7 starts, including .930 at ES and a mind-boggling .968% on the PK. Obviously that's not going to continue forever, but it wouldn't surprise me if Crawford is better than what he seemed in 2011-12.

The Line-up

Out are Begin and Sarich, replaced by Comeau and Smith. The Butler-Sarich duo were victimized a couple of times last game and were an obvious sore spot on more than one occassion. Comeau is back to being one of the least popular Flames on the roster, but I think we can all agree he's better than Begin.

  • Cammalleri - Tanguay - Iginla
  • Cervenka - Stajan - Hudler
  • Glencross - Backlund - Stempniak
  • Comeau - Jones - Jackman

  • Bouwmeester - Giordano
  • Wideman - Brodie
  • Smith - Butler

  • Kiprusoff

Word is Cammalleri will get elevated to the Iginla line today. Neither he nor Glencross had great games against Colorado, although that has been par for the course for Cammalleri thus far. He's had a lot of problems executing all over the ice, so maybe Hartley is looking to get him some more ice time to help him find his legs.

With Glencross moving down to the Backlund line, I would suggest tonight would be a good point for the Flames new coach to start burying the bottom-6 in the defesive zone as much as possible. Last game the Iginla trio including Glencross generated the most chances at even strength (6) but also gave up the most against (5), whereas the Backlund unit only saw one chance against all night.

At best the top line is going to be even more "high event" with a struggling Cammalleri on the wing, so it would make sense to give the Backlund and Jones units the bulk of the own-zone draws.

The Opposition

  • Saad - Toews - Hossa
  • Sharp - Kruger - Kane
  • Bickell - Shaw - Stalberg
  • Bollig - Meyers - Frolik

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

  • Emery

Okay maybe I exagerrated when I said there were NO weaknesses on this roster. For example, I have no idea what rookie Brandon saad is doing on the first line and I doubt it lasts more than a period. He's a good quality prospect, but no way can he hang with Toews and Hossa at this point in his young career. Byron Bickell on the third line over Frolik is a baffling decision as well since Frolik has the best relative possession rate amongst regular forwards on the team. He still can't seem to put a puck into the ocean, but even as a pure driver of the play he's wasted on the fourth line.

Chicago's third defense unit is pretty suspect as well, if only because the incorrigible Sheldon Brookbank is on it. 

Also odd in the early going for Chicago is the fact that Patrick Kane is getting his head absolutely beat in in terms of possession (-17.74 corsi/60) and it's not like he is suddenly starting 70% of his shifts in the d-zone or anything. That's the sort of rate goons, grinders and marginal AHLers put up, so it will be interesting to watch him to tonight to see just what is going on. The points are there for him right now, but that's due to an on-ice SH% of 17.73% (which is more than double the league average). When that percentage regresses his results will crater if he continues to spend so much time in his own zone.

Sum It Up

The Hawks have a strong line-up with high-end talent and ga oalie playing over his head right now. The Flames have put together some strong performances but the goaltending has been poor so the record isn't there. The best news for Calgary is the hawks played last night and lost in a shoot-out so they should be tired at least. In addition, Corey Crawford is taking a seat in favor of back-up Ray Emery, so that should help the Flames cause to some degree.

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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#151 Vintage Flame
February 02 2013, 11:05PM
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SWEET CHRIST, WHAT WILL IT TAKE????

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#152 11yomamen
February 02 2013, 11:06PM
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shots 19 - 45 for CGY

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#153 thymebalm
February 02 2013, 11:06PM
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@northernstamp

Because he's been one of the best Flames on the ice tonight

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#154 Gunk
February 02 2013, 11:06PM
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What a fantic end to this insain game! fans are getting their moneys worth tonight. Glencross/Cervenka/hudler

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#155 ChinookArch
February 02 2013, 11:07PM
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Please please Hartly no Iginla or Cammilleri' in the shoot out.

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#156 northernstamp
February 02 2013, 11:07PM
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@thymebalm

Best on the ice ... really? I must be watching a different game. He gets pushed off the puck every time he touches it.

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#157 Drad
February 02 2013, 11:08PM
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Begin - Jackman - Butler

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#158 ChinookArch
February 02 2013, 11:09PM
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@northernstamp

Stajan's been very good tonight.

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#159 ChinookArch
February 02 2013, 11:09PM
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@northernstamp

Stajan's been very good tonight.

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#160 negrilcowboy
February 02 2013, 11:10PM
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hrudey was bubblin stubblin please write you political representatives idle no more remove hrudey

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#161 Gunk
February 02 2013, 11:10PM
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Hudler looks like he just turned 16

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#162 thymebalm
February 02 2013, 11:11PM
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1-3-2. Nasty.

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#163 Monaertchi
February 02 2013, 11:11PM
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Unjust.

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#164 ChinookArch
February 02 2013, 11:12PM
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Too bad, the boys really deserved a better fate.

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#165 Gunk
February 02 2013, 11:12PM
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Bloody hell. could not buy that game. thats gotta sting for the sad flamers

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#166 beloch
February 02 2013, 11:12PM
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Okay... Whoever stashed a damned Egyptian mummy in the Flames dressing room, please put the #$%@ing thing back where you found it!

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#167 seve927
February 02 2013, 11:14PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Despite this going to a shoot-out, the Flames are playing very, very good hockey right now.

Seriously. Everyone talking about intellectual honesty, watch the games. Honestly, they have been playing great. They will win a lot of games if they keep playing like this. Admittedly not the Hawks best game, but still, give the Flames their due. The wins will come.

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#169 Drad
February 02 2013, 11:15PM
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@ Kent Wilson

Yup. I love the way they're playing, and it seems they might have the horses. If that second (Backlund - Stempniak - Glencross) line keeps it up against the toughs, the other three lines should be able to make some hay.

I had tonight as a sure loss. Second of a btb for the Hawks, but they dominated an elite team.

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#171 Mitch P
February 02 2013, 11:16PM
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The Flames have been the better team in 4 of 6 games this year. However that stat won't dry my tears.

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#172 Vintage Flame
February 02 2013, 11:16PM
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@Kent Wilson

What were the scoring chances in OT?

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#173 Bean-counting cowboy
February 02 2013, 11:16PM
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Which Flame offended the hockey gods?

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#174 Drad
February 02 2013, 11:19PM
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I can hear Sutter's voice right now: "we just gotta stick with it".

Although this team looks like they might actually turn it around if they continue to play this way. I love that defensemen are being given the green light to jump up, and Backs is looking like a legit, difference-making center.

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#175 cLYDE
February 02 2013, 11:20PM
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Calgary is 30th. The schedule has been beyond great. We are on our way to our 4rth straight years out of the playoffs. When will the rebuild?

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#177 Q
February 02 2013, 11:20PM
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That's neat that everyone's all excited about 47 shots and all but no win? Wasted night again! It's all about W's ! Nobody's gonna care about efforts or close games come April. How the crap did they lose this with 2 seconds left! Meanwhile, everyone else is racking up points! Put cammi on the hudler line!

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#178 ChinookArch
February 02 2013, 11:21PM
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@FlameinATL

I've never seen you chime in before. Come again!

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#179 smith
February 02 2013, 11:22PM
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35 to 15. How do you loose with scoring chances like that

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#180 Q
February 02 2013, 11:25PM
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Comeau and butler suuuuuuuuuuck!

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#181 FlameinATL
February 02 2013, 11:26PM
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Thanks Chinook...will do. A good show against Detroit would erase some of our frustration I think.

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#182 Q
February 02 2013, 11:26PM
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We are soooo hosed! We won't win 1 on this trip. Talk about wasting home games!

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#183 negrilcowboy
February 02 2013, 11:27PM
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well they did like charlie simma says pucks to the net kept their feet movin. hawks 3 games in 4 nights, ouch this one stings. emery the story of the game, simply outplayrd kippa

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#184 seve927
February 02 2013, 11:27PM
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Q wrote:

That's neat that everyone's all excited about 47 shots and all but no win? Wasted night again! It's all about W's ! Nobody's gonna care about efforts or close games come April. How the crap did they lose this with 2 seconds left! Meanwhile, everyone else is racking up points! Put cammi on the hudler line!

Everyone's going to have their slumps. Always seems worse when you start the season with one. But really, who wasn't expecting a slow start with hardly anybody having played this year?

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#185 seve927
February 02 2013, 11:29PM
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Q wrote:

Comeau and butler suuuuuuuuuuck!

I thought Butler was really good tonight. Comeau? Whatever. Fine on the fourth line.

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#186 Drad
February 02 2013, 11:29PM
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"Corey Crawford is taking a seat in favor of back-up Ray Emery, so that should help the Flames cause to some degree."

Wilson!

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#187 Q
February 02 2013, 11:33PM
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@seve927

Slumps are for 82 game seasons. Chicago is way way way more talented than us and they won on skill despite being tired. Sorry guys but buy the time this team pulls their crap together we may be 25 games in and waiting for our lottery pick! I hate stajan on the line he's on! Put cammi as the center! Such a poor choice for that line! Brick hands!

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#188 A
February 02 2013, 11:35PM
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@seve927

Comeau ain't worth even league minimum! I'd wave him in a second! Butler is just meh!

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#189 Q
February 02 2013, 11:38PM
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@Monaertchi

Wow, that got you excited for a spanking in Detroit? Sorry!

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#190 Q
February 02 2013, 11:39PM
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@Mitch P

Who cares about jump! He has brick hands and zero finish! Horrid player! He's our modern day Gary leeman! Pure garbage!

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#191 seve927
February 02 2013, 11:48PM
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Q wrote:

Slumps are for 82 game seasons. Chicago is way way way more talented than us and they won on skill despite being tired. Sorry guys but buy the time this team pulls their crap together we may be 25 games in and waiting for our lottery pick! I hate stajan on the line he's on! Put cammi as the center! Such a poor choice for that line! Brick hands!

Fine. Cheer for losses all you want. Don't tell me not to cheer for wins. So if you're sure you get your lottery pick, why are you complaining? I don't understand these posts. Edmonton might be more for you if you love to lose.

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#192 northernstamp
February 02 2013, 11:54PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Stajan's been very good tonight.

You may like the way Stajan is playing, but he's not a puck possession player and that's the point I was making. He seems to get knocked off the puck very easily so in the final minute of the game, he's not the guy I want on the ice. I admit Stajan is better than last year, but then again he's playing with Hudler and with the way he's playing, he makes everyone look better.

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#193 seve927
February 02 2013, 11:56PM
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Can't believe Stock points to the Flames 7 hits as the reason they didn't win. Cliche that just doesn't apply here IMO. What, give the puck away so you can hit somebody? The shots were 24-6 in the third, and I don't know how many the Hawks got in the last 30. They obviously were worn down, I just don't see why he'd say the Flames failed because they didn't wear them down.

Why we've been scored on twice now with less than 3 seconds left is another question.

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#194 RKD
February 02 2013, 11:59PM
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Clyde, upper brass isn't going to make any decisions quite yet. If the mandate from Murray Edwards is to win now, Feaster can't do anything different.

It's unfair to Iggy and Kipper, they've given everything and more to this organization. Heck, Edwards might be content for the Flames to finish last and collect draft picks rather than trade veteran guys.

Can't believe they didn't win that game after 47 shots, the Hawks hung on barely. The Flames only had 7 hits, hitting may not be their game but you have to be more aggressive against a team playing the last game of a road trip.

Iggy and Cammy have got to get it going somehow.

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#195 Scary Gary
February 03 2013, 12:07AM
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I'd much rather watch an up-tempo game with a ton of scoring chances and shots than the grind them out hitfests of the last three years.

Say what you will but the flames are playing entertaining hockey, they're just not getting the results.

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#196 Kevin R
February 03 2013, 12:12AM
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Wow, great game to be at, we deserved better. Cant believe this team is in 30th place after watching this game. Last years team definitely looked like a 30th place team especially the first 6 weeks. This team not. Not sure if anyone will agree, but Hudler & Cerevenka are finally giving us a lethal 2nd line since the 2004 run. If we had this kind of line in 05 or 06 or 07, we may have had some other long runs. I just get a feeling we are too late for Iggy. I must say, I like Hartley as the coach and if we do fall this year, this guy is the coach for our future as well. So unSutterlike.

Remember, like Colorado, we got a very tired team on the back end of a B2B & 3 games in 4 nights & drawing their backup goalie. We needed 4 points not just 1. Coming up, it is going to be us on the road, playing #1 goalies and us a tired hockey club. Before we blow everything to hell, lets see them perform this month. We are about to see what we really have.

Last tidbit, when was the last time we saw our backup goalie go in play on his freaking head & win us a game? Quite frankly, I cant really remember.

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#197 schevvy
February 03 2013, 12:14AM
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Flames win 99% of the time if they play like this. What are the odds Glencross misses that many 10-bell chances like that again? I thought they played terrific, and in all honesty, they can make the playoffs if they continue to play this way. But, Chicago was gassed. They could barely skate. That had a lot of influence as well. Let's see how they come out vs Detroit: disheartened or upbeat and playing well.

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#198 schevvy
February 03 2013, 12:16AM
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@Kevin R

Flames back-up goalie that stole a game? Um...well...Freddie Brathwaite maybe? I honestly have no idea. We haven't had a MEDIOCRE back-up since Roman Turek.

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#199 Franko J
February 03 2013, 12:18AM
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Why does this team even try at the shootout? Convince me otherwise, but since the implementation of the shootout is there a team in the league with a lower record than Calgary? What is it 10 or 11 straight loses in the shootout?

As exciting as the third period was, the Flames were once again too soft on the opposition. While I like the pace Calgary is beginning to play at they still are struggling with shutting down their opponents. 34 seconds left in the game with a chance to get the puck out their zone and they get scored on. Again this team seriously lacks the grit and killer instinct to win games. No matter how well they did play, unfortunately for the Flames the can't win the puck battles necessary to beat their opponents.

That being said after 6 games I sure like the way Hartleys' system is structured and implemented. Now with a little more execution, the W's might come. Until then I suggest Calgary should hire a specialist for the shootout.

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#200 the forgotten man
February 03 2013, 12:19AM
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Iginla and Cammi were the worst forwards tonight from my viewpoint...I watched the game with mt Dad and lost count of how many times he cursed Iginla's name.

Cammi just isn't bringing it.

The two guys are simply paid to bring it and they are veterans...so sad when the Czechs, Backs, even Stajan for Gods sake are coming to play only to be let down by efforts from the big guns...I would be pissed if I was on the team.

Anyways, more to be happy about than sad with this Club and even better is the fact they are bringing it without Iggy...time to say goodbye to him at trade deadline.

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