FGD: Things To Do In Denver (When You're Dying To Be Above .500)

Ryan Pike
February 28 2013 01:08PM

 

 

Your Calgary Flames have a bit of a problem, gang. They're seemingly allergic to getting over that hump at the .500 mark. They're 0-3-1 this year in games that could've put them over the top, and have arguably put out their four worst games of the year in those four outings. Heck, the same thing happened early last season and the Flames were only 3-4-2 when entering a game with a .500 record and the “horrible effort” train chugs back to that point last year, most notably the 9-0 mauling by the Bruins.

But the Flames get a second chance tonight, as they head into snowy Denver to tangle with the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams did battle in Calgary earlier this season, with the Flames blowing a third period tie in rather spectacular fashion and losing 6-3. They're hoping to put together a strong effort tonight.

THE LINE-UP

To say the Flames were “flat” on Tuesday against Minnesota would be charitable. The entire team is probably thankful that Joey MacDonald was there to keep them in the game. Through the first 18 games, MacDonald is the only Flames goalkeeper with a respectable save percentage. His start tonight will see him pass Miikka Kiprusoff for the most time in a Flames net this season.

It's been a weird year. Here's the probable lines for tonight, courtesy of Sportsnet's Roger Millions (@rogmillions):

  • Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
  • Glencross – Cammalleri – Stempniak
  • Baertschi – Hudler – Comeau
  • Aliu – Begin – Jackman

  • Giordano – Bouwmeester
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Butler – Sarich

  • MacDonald

Aliu's back, at the expense of (likely) Roman Cervenka. Cervenka has been “fine” this year. If you're asking why Blake Comeau is (a) still in the top-nine and (b) has played 17 of the 18 games this year, I have no idea. He's the Anton Babchuk of Flames forwards – he seemed like a decent low-risk pick-up at the time but I have no idea why you re-sign him or retain him in your line-up when the results have been so middling to poor. Particularly in the top-9 rotation.

On the other hand, Matt Stajan continues to be awesome.

THE OPPOSITION

The Avalanche are missing a ton of bodies and are riding a three-game winless streak (all of which took place on the same terrible road trip to California). Now back home, they're hoping to get healthy and get back on track. Like the Flames, Colorado hasn't been above the .500 mark all year, but can get back to the black with a win against the Flames.

Courtesy of the Herald's Scott Cruickshank, here are the probable lines:

  • McGinn – Stastny - Parenteau
  • Landeskog – Mitchell - Jones
  • McLeod – Olver - Hejduk
  • Bordeleau – Kobasew - Palushaj

  • Hejda - Barrie
  • Hunwick - O’Byrne
  • O’Brien - Zanon

  • Varlamov

Matt Duchene didn't practice at Wednesday's optional session, but could slot in for the Avs. He's been out day-to-day with a groin issue. Also out for the Avalanche are Ryan Wilson, Erik Johnson, Steve Downie and the un-signed Ryan O'Reilly.

Despite their mediocre record, the Avalanche aren't a bad team – although that blueline is a tad thin (a product of injuries). Their two top lines are respectable and former Flames pick Chuck Kobasew has carved out a fairly distinguished career for himself. Thursday will be his 548th NHL contest, which makes him noteworthy amongst a string of awful, awful Flames first rounders.

SUM IT UP

With a fully healthy (and signed) roster, the Avalanche are every bit Calgary's equal talent-wise. However, the Flames largely out-played Colorado for 40 minutes at home when they played last month. Sadly, that was followed by a weird, wacky third period where bad luck and inconsistency burned the Flames and gave them a loss.

Life's not full of second chances, but the Flames have a shot to get above .500 once more. Their four previous opportunities to do so were, to be blunt, horrible. Let's hope that's not repeated in Denver.

 

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Now in his third full season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#51 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:17PM
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It was a brilliantly crafted deal, which will hurt ht AVs for years to come. I love it, win or loose.

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#52 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:18PM
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@schevvy

They had three in the first 4 minutes and then only two for the rest of the period.

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#53 Blob
February 28 2013, 08:19PM
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Greg Sherman not happy.

Quit crying.

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#54 Willi P
February 28 2013, 08:20PM
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2 year offer sheet almost looks planned (between the GM's). Add an uncomfortable 2nd year clause to make it look good. If they really wanted him, they offer something Avs won't match (4-5 years). Almost sounds like collusion. Given the speed of the match, each GM looks good in the eyes of their fans. Just sayin.

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#55 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:23PM
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@Blob

Boohoo.

"How dare the Flames use the rules to undermine our low-balling our best forward."

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#56 Mangotanker
February 28 2013, 08:25PM
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Didn't really see the penalty there, but watever

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#57 Mangotanker
February 28 2013, 08:26PM
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flames get lucky on that one

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#58 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:27PM
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atta boy mac D... !!!

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#59 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:28PM
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MacDonald getting the love from his posts recently.

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#60 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:31PM
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ya, we're definitely gettng some serious lucky bounces/calls here...

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#61 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:33PM
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@Kent Wilson

Have you written an article on FN that discussed the criteria of what counts as a chance?

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#62 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:35PM
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@ChinookArch

Not recently but I guess I could at some point.

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#63 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:36PM
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Crap!

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#64 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:37PM
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Let's just say this...the O'Byrne goal wasn't a legit chance.

Looks like it went off Gio's stick.

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#65 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:37PM
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2nd Avs goal from a defenseman. Flames still slumpbustin'.

And MacD's posts let him down - that one hit the post and went in.

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#66 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:37PM
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@Kent Wilson

I'd appreciate a link to an old one, if it's not too much trouble.

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#67 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:38PM
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@ChinookArch

There's an infographic that basically explains what counts as a scoring chance. It's basically a five-sided figure that stretches out from the goal.

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#68 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:39PM
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@ChinookArch

Here it is: http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/701151/Scoring_Area.jpg

And here is an old article from Kent about this: http://flamesnation.ca/2011/5/3/flames-2010-2011-scoring-chance-results

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#69 Mangotanker
February 28 2013, 08:40PM
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For the love of God, what is a schmozzle?

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#70 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:40PM
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Just a SHAMOZZLE in front of MacDonald.

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#71 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:41PM
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@Mangotanker

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

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#72 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:42PM
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Aren't there several stats that are subjective along with chances though? like what constitutes a shot on net or even faceoff wins?

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#73 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:42PM
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@FireOnIce

Thanks!

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#74 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:43PM
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@Gunk

Yeah, same thing with 'hits'. Very subjective categories and different employees in different rinks count them slightly differently. I remember there was a bit of controversy over Clutterbuck's number of hits, aka the Wild were counting everything as a hit if he even got near something.

Also, didn't realize that 14 years ago TODAY we traded Fleury to Colorado. Huzzah.

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#75 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:44PM
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is it Begin? or Beige-ann?

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#76 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:46PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

Yeah, same thing with 'hits'. Very subjective categories and different employees in different rinks count them slightly differently. I remember there was a bit of controversy over Clutterbuck's number of hits, aka the Wild were counting everything as a hit if he even got near something.

Also, didn't realize that 14 years ago TODAY we traded Fleury to Colorado. Huzzah.

good point. also 3 years ago today was "The Golden Goal!"

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#77 Mangotanker
February 28 2013, 08:46PM
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Flames: O'Reily ain't coming? Awww well, we might as well make this one interesting

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#78 schevvy
February 28 2013, 08:46PM
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CAN WE RE-OFFER SHEET O'REILLY. Everything is falling apart

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#79 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:47PM
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Dude with long hair and yellow shirt behind Heartly. Class act.

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#80 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:47PM
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Well it's close again.

Avs have dominated this period.

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#81 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:48PM
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Is anyone surprised? I don't know why I watch Flames games. We can have a 5-0 lead going into the third period and lose it.

This team is all smoke and mirrors.

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#82 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:52PM
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Chances are 7-1 in this period for Avs. The Flames one chance came on the PP.

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#83 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:54PM
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Haha, Avs booing the Flames because their (Colorado) player made a stupid play. Love it.

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#84 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:54PM
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Now that was nice.

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#85 Gunk
February 28 2013, 08:54PM
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was that a "chance on net" :-)

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#86 schevvy
February 28 2013, 08:55PM
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Iggy! Atta boy

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#87 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:55PM
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That was a half-decent PP. Iggy driving up his trade value.

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#88 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 08:55PM
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The Flames seem to have a pretty decent PP this year. Surprising given where they are in the standings.

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#89 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 08:56PM
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@RexLibris

Consider me trolled.

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#90 schevvy
February 28 2013, 08:56PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The Flames seem to have a pretty decent PP this year. Surprising given where they are in the standings.

Quit trolling Rex. :)

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#91 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 08:57PM
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Heh and the Flames score on their 2nd chance of the period.

Calgary hasn't had one of these nights where they are well ahead when they don't really deserve it. So I won't complain.

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#92 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 08:57PM
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schevvy wrote:

Quit trolling Rex. :)

Sorry, thought I was on ON. =)

Heartbroken over the Avs matching?

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#93 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 08:57PM
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@RexLibris

Not surprising when you look closely at goaltending.

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#94 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 08:58PM
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Oilers up 3-0 and down two defensemen, Potter due to a boarding headshot and Smid because he tried to headbutt Morrow in the left cheek (posterior).

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#95 schevvy
February 28 2013, 08:58PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Sorry, thought I was on ON. =)

Heartbroken over the Avs matching?

Dreams shattered. I expected it though, so I'm not crying in a corner. (I'm just crying)

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#96 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 08:59PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Not surprising when you look closely at goaltending.

I didn't expect them to be ninth, but yes, they're early season goaltending was definitely subpar. Losing 5-6 sounds alright, but those six really do hurt.

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#97 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 08:59PM
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schevvy wrote:

Dreams shattered. I expected it though, so I'm not crying in a corner. (I'm just crying)

Liquor helps.

Or so I've been told.

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#98 Gunk
February 28 2013, 09:00PM
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Kent, would you consider that iggy one timer a "chance"? I would...

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#99 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 09:00PM
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FWIW, in the long run I think it'll benefit the team.

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#100 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 09:01PM
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Have Landeskog or Duchene had much impact so far? I've just flipped over during the intermission.

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