FGD: A Slumbering Monarch

Kent Wilson
February 20 2013 02:48PM

 

 

If you think the Calgary Flames start to the season is disappointing, imagine being an LA Kings fan. Fresh off their Cinderella (sort of) Stanely Cup win, you endure 3 1/2 of months of lock-out, only to see your club stumble out of the gates and land at 12th in the Conference through the first 14 games.

Of course, the Kings struggled though much of last season only to squeak in under the wire and then win the whole thing, so it's possible LA's issues aren't causing as much consternation amongst their faithful as the Flames are here. Nor should they, frankly, because the Kings still boast some of the league's best underlying numbers, including the top close-fenwick (corsi) ratio in the league (58.29). Meaning, Sutter's boys still control the flow of the game better than anyone else in the NHL, the puck just isn't going in for them enough for it to matter. Yet.

In addition, Jonathan Quick had off-season back surgery and has gone from stud to dud. His even strength SV% is just .905 right now (roughly about replacement level) which is a huge step back from his elite .933 last year. It was Quick and the defense that held the Kings in the running during the clubs long offensive dry spell in 2011-12, so now the team will either need him to re-discover his form or actually start converting all that zone time to goal scoring earlier rather than later this time around.

The Flames can't really count on a goaltending turn around, at least not right now. With Kipper still out and the pairing of MacDonald and Taylor probable to guard the net for another few games at least, Calgary will either have to hope one of them plays over his head for a bit or they can outscore their issues in net. A nice run of percentages would really help things out right now.

Like the Blues, the Kings are an excellent team at dictating play, so Calgary will have another stiff challenge on their hands this evening. St. Louis kind of toyed with the Flames through the first half of that game, so without Backlund and the first liners looking a bit lost south of the red line these days, the team will have to have their foot to the floor from minute one in order to have a chance tonight.

The Line-up

The Flames first line was mostly a non-entity against the Coyotes and didn't really show up in the Dallas game either despite the club's notable come back in the third period. Tanguay and Iginla are some of the only forwards with an o-zone ratio above 50% at this point, but both are back to hovering are break even in terms of possession.

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

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

  • MacDonald

The Stajan line has probably been the best one through the last two games. Matt's semi-resurrection under Hartley probably has less to do with the player and more to do with the coach and opportunity. Stajan was never good enough to be tabbed as "Iginla's next center", but he was also never as bad as Brent Sutter seemed to think. Centering a line with guys like Glencross and Stempniak, who are generally at the bad end of the ice and can contribute offensively, is ideal for a guy of Stajan's skillset. If that was Calgary's third line (and if they had a true PvP option) they'd be in good position.                                   

MacDonald goes again tonight after Taylor's loss in Phoenix. I thought Taylor generally looked more solid and was better at absorbing rebounds than the former Red Wing, but it's hard to argue too hard given how lousy a couple of the rookies goals against were.

The Opposition

Unlike the Flames, the Kings have three first/second lines, although Sutter seems to have inserted at least one third/fourth liner on each of them

  • Clifford - Kopitar - Brown
  • King - Richards - Carter
  • Penner - Stoll - Williams
  • Lewis - Fraser - Nolan

  • Ellerby - Doughty
  • Scuderi - Voynov
  • Muzzin - Drewiske

  • Bernier

It is somewhat obscene, as a Flames fan given the clubs center depth, to see the Kings using Jeff Carter as a winger.

Aside from scoring troubles and lackluster goaltending, the Kings are also battling injuries on the blueline, which is why you see youngster (and up until now first round disappointment) Keaton Ellerby skating on the first pairing with Drew Doughty. Scuderi and Voynov are a more than capable second pairing though, so it's not like the Kings have a severe depth problem there.

In net will be Jonathan Bernier, who in contrast to Quick has a sterling.950 ES SV% in three games played so far. Bernier was disgruntled in the summer and asked the Kings organization for a trade, which never happened. If Quick continues to struggle for any length of time, he might just have a chance to usurp the incumbent (which was unthinkable just a few months ago).

Sum it Up

Both teams are looking to climb out of the Western basement and sooner rather than later. The Kings have a better roster, better underlying numbers and a better reason to expect a sharp turn around at some point. The Flames, on the other hand, are simply trying to turn back the tide and prove to everyone - especially themselves - they can be an-going concern.

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 schevvy
February 20 2013, 09:46PM
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The Flames PK is dreadful

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#2 Mitch P
February 20 2013, 10:04PM
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Does anyone else despise Ferraro as much as I? Seriously, he's f'n horrible.

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#3 Mullen Mania
February 20 2013, 11:09PM
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I blame Comeau.

I thought MacBackup had a decent game though. Does he get the start on Saturday or will they rotate.

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#4 schevvy
February 20 2013, 03:12PM
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Another backup tonight eh? I'm a little surprised, although with the way Bernier has played it shouldn't have much of an effect.

It's gonna be a sleeper tonight, for the Flames to get the 2 points they're gonna have to jump on the Kings early and take advantage of the Kings playing last night. Macbackup is going to have to play well also.

Also: Iggy scores tonight. I just have a feeling he's due to get one.

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#5 beloch
February 20 2013, 03:33PM
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Another contributing factor might also be that the Kings are now all too well-acquainted with Dutter. After his mid-season arrival last year the Kings suddenly started playing like someone had lit a fire under their behinds. As we've seen with the Flames, after a while a coach's motivational tricks get old and success comes harder.

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#6 beloch
February 20 2013, 03:34PM
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@schevvy

Can we reuse McBackup so soon after Curtis McElhinney left town?

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#7 Avalain
February 20 2013, 03:47PM
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beloch wrote:

Can we reuse McBackup so soon after Curtis McElhinney left town?

This time it's MacBackup. Totally different.

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#9 schevvy
February 20 2013, 03:50PM
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beloch wrote:

Can we reuse McBackup so soon after Curtis McElhinney left town?

I'm actually a tad surprised the Flames didn't try to get McBackup when Kipper went down. It'd be a very Flames-esque thing to do

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#10 the-wolf
February 20 2013, 03:51PM
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It's beyond my understanding how the Kings can struggle so badly offensively with all of that talent, character guys with skill like Richards, Kopitar and Brown and while having the puck most of the time.

I think as far as Darryl goes, he's toned it down and his picked his spots better.

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#12 schevvy
February 20 2013, 03:54PM
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@Kent Wilson

Must all be there for Comeau.

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#13 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 03:57PM
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@Kent Wilson

Word. Lots of plotting going on. Probably gonna be packed until the trade deadline, I'd suppose.

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#14 beloch
February 20 2013, 04:12PM
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How do pro scouts decide which teams to concentrate on? i.e. Is there a feeling that the Flames might actually be sellers this year? Unless the Flames go on a streak, this might be the first year in a very long time where they're clearly out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline.

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#15 seve927
February 20 2013, 04:13PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Yea, but they still have the best outshooting rate in the entire NHL. So it's not like they are completely tuning him out or anything.

I fully expect them to be top-5 in the West by the time the playoffs roll around.

Just a question about the outshooting rates, I don't look at these things much. It does look like the Kings are absolutely astoundingly ahead of the pack. Am I reading things right that the Hawks and Ducks are actually very poor in this area? If so, are you expecting a severe turnaround in their fortunes as well?

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#16 the-wolf
February 20 2013, 04:17PM
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seve927 wrote:

Just a question about the outshooting rates, I don't look at these things much. It does look like the Kings are absolutely astoundingly ahead of the pack. Am I reading things right that the Hawks and Ducks are actually very poor in this area? If so, are you expecting a severe turnaround in their fortunes as well?

From the games I've seen, the Hawks ALWAYS seem to have the puck.

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#17 VK63
February 20 2013, 04:27PM
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beloch wrote:

How do pro scouts decide which teams to concentrate on? i.e. Is there a feeling that the Flames might actually be sellers this year? Unless the Flames go on a streak, this might be the first year in a very long time where they're clearly out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline.

One look at Feaster should verify the excellence of the Flames buffet, that is ALWAYS a mitigating factor in any self respecting scouts choice of venue for an evening.

*pro tip*

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#18 s_yav14
February 20 2013, 04:30PM
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Any news when Sven is back?

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#19 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 04:35PM
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Teams that are struggling generally make trades to shake things up, and a game between two struggling teams seems like a strong viewing opportunity for pro scouts.

Baertschi hasn't been cleared for contact yet.

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#20 the-wolf
February 20 2013, 04:45PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Teams that are struggling generally make trades to shake things up, and a game between two struggling teams seems like a strong viewing opportunity for pro scouts.

Baertschi hasn't been cleared for contact yet.

That, or if teams have talked trade already and they want a better look at what they're talking about or they've targeted certain players without having yet talked trade.

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#22 MC Hockey
February 20 2013, 04:52PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Teams that are struggling generally make trades to shake things up, and a game between two struggling teams seems like a strong viewing opportunity for pro scouts.

Baertschi hasn't been cleared for contact yet.

I agree Ryan...convenient to have 2 struggling teams (and a great buffet) in one game for the pro scouts. ALSO - I am convinced the FLames are about to make a multi-player deal...things just feel that way to me. Then again, I hid in a cave on January 1, 2000 due to the Y2K dilemma...did me no good, my clock-radio STILL did not work, I am living in 1913.

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#23 negrilcowboy
February 20 2013, 05:50PM
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VK63 wrote:

One look at Feaster should verify the excellence of the Flames buffet, that is ALWAYS a mitigating factor in any self respecting scouts choice of venue for an evening.

*pro tip*

They don't call him "FLYIN J" Feaster for nothin. I heard he was in Florida awhile ago and recieved the JIMMY BUFFET award, thought it had something to do with margeritaville turns out is was cheeseburgers in paradise.

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#24 FlameinATL
February 20 2013, 06:32PM
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Need 2 tonight Flames, and the Kings are certainly beatable.

I do like the 2nd and 3rd lines more and more.

Good effort tonight.

Go Flames!

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#25 schevvy
February 20 2013, 06:38PM
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If you want some positive "winning" feelings, the Flames have not gone two straight games without a point since the first two games of the year. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing. But I need positive vibes.

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#26 negrilcowboy
February 20 2013, 06:42PM
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schevvy wrote:

If you want some positive "winning" feelings, the Flames have not gone two straight games without a point since the first two games of the year. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing. But I need positive vibes.

Thanks for the emotional boost schevvy, whattya doin penning a book Chicken Soup for The calgary Flames fan.

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#27 2:00 AM
February 20 2013, 06:46PM
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everyone is so funny here, i love it. Great job guys!

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#28 Bruins
February 20 2013, 06:47PM
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It's going to be tough to watch the flames tonight after I have been watching the flyers and the penguins game. What a game!!!

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#29 schevvy
February 20 2013, 06:50PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

Thanks for the emotional boost schevvy, whattya doin penning a book Chicken Soup for The calgary Flames fan.

That would be a terribly long book. There would be tears shed.

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#30 negrilcowboy
February 20 2013, 07:02PM
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schevvy wrote:

That would be a terribly long book. There would be tears shed.

Without pain there can be no true pleasure or something like that. Flying j has givin me new hope schevvy, the flames are only a couple of moves away from the cup. wait til janko carries them all the way.

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#31 Captain Ron
February 20 2013, 07:28PM
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Bruins wrote:

It's going to be tough to watch the flames tonight after I have been watching the flyers and the penguins game. What a game!!!

I know I'm watching this game too before leaving for the Dome. I wish we would see some battle of AB games like this Pitt/ Philly tilt. Hope it's not a snooze fest Sutter deal tonight.

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#32 Scary Gary
February 20 2013, 08:19PM
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Bah haha, curling possible extra ends; thanks TSN.

The 8pm start is brutal on a week night.

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#33 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:20PM
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PEI's got the hammer, buds. But BC is throwing better tonight.

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#35 schevvy
February 20 2013, 08:25PM
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On the bright side, this Flyers-Pens game is fantastic

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#36 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:26PM
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Final stone!

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#37 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:27PM
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BC wins!

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#39 schevvy
February 20 2013, 08:28PM
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Make the final! Now let's play some hockey

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#40 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:32PM
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Judging by the tickets-for-sale threads over at CalgaryPuck, quite a few fans dressed like seats tonight down at the Saddledome.

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#41 schevvy
February 20 2013, 08:32PM
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Hate the 8 pm start. It's Wednesday for god sakes

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#42 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:35PM
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Not playing for Calgary tonight:
Kiprusoff (MCL), Backlund (MCL), Baertschi (hip flexor), Byron (hand), Jones, Sarich, Babchuk

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#43 ChinookArch
February 20 2013, 08:37PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Not playing for Calgary tonight:
Kiprusoff (MCL), Backlund (MCL), Baertschi (hip flexor), Byron (hand), Jones, Sarich, Babchuk

Seeing Sarrich and Babchuk out made me smile. Hopefully it's not the last one tonight.

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#45 schevvy
February 20 2013, 08:38PM
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Good to see the crowd's sleeping already

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#46 mattyc
February 20 2013, 08:39PM
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@Ryan Pike

+5 mil in the pressbox tonight...

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#48 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:41PM
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Actual headline I used over at THW today: "Matt Stajan leads rag-tag group of Calgary Flames centers"

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#50 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 08:41PM
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"LA hasn't scored in the first 8 minutes of any game this year..."

UNTIL NOW, TSN. UNTIL NOW.

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