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.

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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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#101 ChinookArch
February 20 2013, 09:58PM
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@Colin

I don't understand how the team was so bad last year and so much better now.

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#102 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:02PM
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It's worth noting that the Flames are A LOT better on PP face-offs than they were last year.

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#103 Colin
February 20 2013, 10:03PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Stajan's a center and is at 52%.

NHL.com has him listed at 25%, I think you got that backwards.(21% now) that I check again. Tanguay is at 0% and Begin hasn't taken a draw, while Horak is at 60%. But its cool everyone else thats taking draws is 60% or more.

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#105 Monaertchi
February 20 2013, 10:06PM
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Mitch P wrote:

Does anyone else despise Ferraro as much as I? Seriously, he's f'n horrible.

Would you rather have Maguire? I will take Ray given the available options.

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#106 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:07PM
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Mitch P wrote:

Does anyone else despise Ferraro as much as I? Seriously, he's f'n horrible.

Better than Simmer

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#107 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:07PM
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Iggy has 7 of the 15 shots

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#110 Mitch P
February 20 2013, 10:10PM
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Monaertchi wrote:

Would you rather have Maguire? I will take Ray given the available options.

I genuinely would rather have Maguire.

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#111 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:11PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Iginla's best game of the season so far I'd say.

Too bad no other forwards are doing much

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#113 Monaertchi
February 20 2013, 10:28PM
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Clearly the Flames have tuned out Hartley. Time to hire Ruff!

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#114 yomamen
February 20 2013, 10:28PM
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After the match, I will show them all their PP and will play it over and over and over and over again, until some of the players will get sick and puke

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#115 Vintage Flame
February 20 2013, 10:31PM
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I hope this game hasn't been as bad as that PP looked???

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#116 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:33PM
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It has been about that bad, VF.

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#117 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:34PM
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And that, as they say, should be that. With 10 1/2 minutes to go.

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#118 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:34PM
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Bye-bye game

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#119 Gunk
February 20 2013, 10:34PM
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sigh... not looking good

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#121 theartfuldodger
February 20 2013, 10:36PM
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Why didnt any flame react to the run at Macbackup in the first? Where is our physical play?

Kent in your stat tracking hits would be nice to see.

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#122 Vintage Flame
February 20 2013, 10:36PM
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Jeebuz.. That's bad then Piker.

These guys can't even complete a pass??

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#123 Vintage Flame
February 20 2013, 10:37PM
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At least we all got set straight about how to pronounce "Jordano" ... Sigh

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#124 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:37PM
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God the Kings just overpower the Flames. When they have the puck Flames can't take it off them

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#125 negrilcowboy
February 20 2013, 10:38PM
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hope flying j is takening notes on how to build a team

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#126 thymebalm
February 20 2013, 10:38PM
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What will change for next game I wonder?

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#127 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 20 2013, 10:38PM
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there should be a sign above the dressing room that reads, "For Sale". It's gotta be official now.

I watch the team and wonder how they can be that bad? they literally chased the puck and the kings all night... how does a team give the puck away THAT many times in one game... no, in one shift!

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#128 yomamen
February 20 2013, 10:39PM
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just one step closer to Barkov, Drouin or Nichushkin

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#129 Gunk
February 20 2013, 10:40PM
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monster stop. kudos Mc D

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#130 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:40PM
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Nice freakin save

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#131 Jibmeister
February 20 2013, 10:41PM
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Woah Macdonald.

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#132 Kurt
February 20 2013, 10:42PM
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Any idea how many of our games we've played against the other teams backup goalies? I think it's 4 of the last 5 games, but overall, is it half?? Is there a record for that?

Imagine if we played against #1 goalies.

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#133 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:43PM
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Kurt wrote:

Any idea how many of our games we've played against the other teams backup goalies? I think it's 4 of the last 5 games, but overall, is it half?? Is there a record for that?

Imagine if we played against #1 goalies.

I don't know how much worse they'd be, they only score 1 a night

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#134 Jeff In Lethbridge
February 20 2013, 10:44PM
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They say there's a ton of scouts in the building... I hope Iggy and Jbo have good games

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#135 yomamen
February 20 2013, 10:44PM
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@schevvy

ehm technically 1 in 2 nights. but Smith is no.1 goalie, so it should count right?

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#137 RKD
February 20 2013, 10:46PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

They say there's a ton of scouts in the building... I hope Iggy and Jbo have good games

I've heard there have been 16-20 scouts a night at Flames home games. Boston is pushing for Alfredsson, if they can't get him, maybe they'll try for Iggy.

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#139 Vintage Flame
February 20 2013, 10:47PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

If hitting/toughness was the Flames real problem it would be really easy to fix.

WHO'S THE LAW???? OLIWA!!!!

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#140 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:48PM
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Anyone thinking of checking out the Hitmen: Prince Albert is in town on Friday night (Josh Morrissey is a draft-eligible D-Man who's a BEAST) and the Saskatoon Blades (winners of 13 straight) are in town a week from tonight.

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#141 Vintage Flame
February 20 2013, 10:48PM
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@Kent

Did you end up going to the game tonight?

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#143 theartfuldodger
February 20 2013, 10:53PM
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@Kent .... Touche... Part of the whole passion/effort part non?

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#145 RKD
February 20 2013, 10:54PM
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It was funny earlier today when Darryl was asked about LA having a Stanley Cup hangover and he replied "I've had a hangover."

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#146 Colin
February 20 2013, 10:54PM
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Remember those games where at least we were outshooting the opposition, yeah good times, gonna miss those days.

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#147 schevvy
February 20 2013, 10:55PM
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Yeah... LA is still pretty good

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#148 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:56PM
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The one day I sleep in instead of going to game-day skate, I miss Helene Elliot AND Darryl Sutter being hilarious.

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#149 Franko J
February 20 2013, 10:58PM
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WOW!

Simply remarkable. I never thought I see the day where the Flames were the absolute worst outfit in the league. It appears on all accounts this team has rolled over, given up and withered away. Tonight was another example how soft this team is. No pride and no passion.

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#150 Ryan Pike
February 20 2013, 10:58PM
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Flames drop to 5-7-3 on the year. Next up is Minnesota on Saturday night.

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