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 fourth 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 and the Wrestling Observer.
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#151 ?
February 28 2013, 09:53PM
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Thanks O'BRien!

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#152 RKD
February 28 2013, 09:54PM
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The Flames goal against is way too high, they were tied with Columbus before entering tonight's game.

If I am Jay Feaster I would go out and try to land a top 4 d-man or maybe 2 top 6 d-men. Babs has only played twice since coming back from injury and is useless anyways. Sarich has only played eight games.

My other move would obviously get another top six forward, which they tried today but somehow Feaster's got to make it happen.

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#153 ?
February 28 2013, 09:55PM
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Zanon's beard could penalty kill for him

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#154 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 09:56PM
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@RexLibris

Really dude, why are you here? Bugger off if you're just going to smack talk. All you've done is be an arsehole tonight with nothing constructive to add to the conversation. We get it, Flames suck, everyone here agrees with you. Now go back to trolling the Flames Facebook feed or something.

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#155 ?
February 28 2013, 09:57PM
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Nice play by Iginla and Bouw there

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#156 Kevin
February 28 2013, 09:57PM
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Come on Boys!!!!!!

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#157 Gunk
February 28 2013, 09:59PM
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well. on a positive note, at least the flames are making this... um. interesting! jeez loueez. lets go PP

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#158 ?
February 28 2013, 10:01PM
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Why doesn't Baertschi get a shot on the PP???

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#159 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:02PM
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Sigh.

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#160 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 10:03PM
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So, who does Feaster offer sheet tomorrow? Or trade? Or is this the Stanley Cup 2012-2013 team right here still? That was an absolutely HIDEOUS PP, and this is the second time that the Flames have blown a big lead over the Avs and lost. This was a team the Flames beat 9 or 10 times in a row and now the tables have turned

When do things change in Flamesland?

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#161 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 10:03PM
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@?

I dont know. He deserves one tonight at least.

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#162 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 10:05PM
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You know things are REAL screwy when Matt Stajan is counted on to score in the last minute of a game.

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#163 ?
February 28 2013, 10:05PM
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Terrific. game over

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#164 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:05PM
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@RKD

That's what I was thinking. These offer sheets are all on players that other teams...drafted.

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#165 Willi P
February 28 2013, 10:07PM
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Your Calgary Flames

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#166 Gunk
February 28 2013, 10:07PM
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such a disapointing finish to good looking start. bugger me gently. talk about a game we needed to win...

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#167 Kevin
February 28 2013, 10:08PM
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Unreal...

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#168 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 10:08PM
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Flames continue slump bustin'. Blow it up, PLEASE. Someone needs to grab Feaster by the collar and shake him until his ears bleed. This team is pathetic.

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#169 ?
February 28 2013, 10:08PM
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I would've given Ryan O'Reily the 2nd star if I was picking instead of Iginla. That was the biggest loss/heartbreak tonight, and that was the Avs biggest win :(

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#170 ChinookArch
February 28 2013, 10:08PM
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I know I'm going to sound negative here, but did anyone believe 3-0 was enough of a lead? You can't put it on MacDonald, but a better goalie would have won this game.

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#171 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:08PM
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God damnit O'Reilly

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#172 RKD
February 28 2013, 10:09PM
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These games are worse than those San Jose and Boston massacres, reminds me of the meltdown in Chicago.

The Avs have a plethora of proven talent, Duchene, Landeskog, Stastny and of course our friend O'Reilly.

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#173 Kent Wilson
February 28 2013, 10:11PM
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Final chances were 21-14 Avs. And that's with Calgary getting two chances with the goalie pulled and three more just after some PP's ended in the third.

Yuck.

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#174 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:11PM
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schevvy wrote:

The drinking is commencing

From what little I saw that was an entertaining game though.

I still think this roster has the chance to move up the standings. I like the offense and the speed. Hudler has surprised me.

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#175 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:12PM
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This team hasn't been the same since that 5-0 collapse against Chicago. I hate to say it, but blow it up. This is awful.

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#176 ?
February 28 2013, 10:13PM
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Well, see ya everybody. Like schevvy so eloquently put it, the drinking is commencing.

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#177 Gunk
February 28 2013, 10:15PM
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schevvy wrote:

This team hasn't been the same since that 5-0 collapse against Chicago. I hate to say it, but blow it up. This is awful.

6-5 loss. lest we forget...

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#178 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:16PM
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That was the most bi-polar day I've ever experienced as a Flames fan

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#179 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:19PM
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@FireOnIce

Not trolling, but I do sincerely apologize if it comes across that way.

My criticisms come from wanting better for a fan base that I generally have come to respect. Kent and the other writers here on FN are some of the best in the blogging business, and for the most part the fans who post here are intelligent, passionate, observant individuals. I think they are getting jerked around by the people running their team. Don't misinterpret empathy for sarcasm or pretension.

I wanted the Flames to win tonight and was reasonably confident they could close this out.

As for constructive conversation, I'm don't believe name-calling is raising the bar.

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#180 Gunk
February 28 2013, 10:20PM
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well that kinda sucked the big one. See you guys Sunday vs the nucks.

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#181 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:21PM
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schevvy wrote:

That was the most bi-polar day I've ever experienced as a Flames fan

Yeah, that couldn't have been easy. Hope to talk to you next game.

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#182 FireOnIce
February 28 2013, 10:25PM
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@RexLibris

You're right - my apologies for calling you an arsehole. No need for that. Guess some of my frustration with this team is showing through and it got taken out on the wrong person.

Easy to misunderstand the tone of what someone is saying on here, especially when it's an Oilers fan. You did have a couple REAL sarcastic comments in there, such as the one about how our PP is supposed to be good, when they had been on something like an 0-20 streak. See my issue?

I do appreciate your comments most of the time, and have enjoyed your series of articles on rebuilding. At least SOMEONE is reaching across the aisle and not just showing up to say "Fl4MERS SUCK HAHA".

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#183 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:27PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Yeah, that couldn't have been easy. Hope to talk to you next game.

It was like getting the hot girl at the bar, having her taken away by her abusive ex-boyfriend, and then getting beaten up and put in intensive care. And that's putting it mildly

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#184 maimster
February 28 2013, 10:28PM
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I commenced drinking midway thru the second (well, technically, before the game even started, but who's counting).

Now the trick is to have small goals - I'll be at the game in Anaheim next weekend and just once I want them to win a game there in front of me! Is that too much to ask? (Please, noone answer that).

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#185 Captain Ron
February 28 2013, 10:30PM
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schevvy wrote:

That was the most bi-polar day I've ever experienced as a Flames fan

Me too. Talk about your mood swings.

We need a goalie right now. Can't serve up rebounds in the NHL like that. This one is on MacBackup.

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#186 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:31PM
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maimster wrote:

I commenced drinking midway thru the second (well, technically, before the game even started, but who's counting).

Now the trick is to have small goals - I'll be at the game in Anaheim next weekend and just once I want them to win a game there in front of me! Is that too much to ask? (Please, noone answer that).

Considering it's in Anaheim, where they haven't won since the 2006 playoffs (2004 in the regular season), not likely. (Sorry)

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#187 Scary Gary
February 28 2013, 10:31PM
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What a rollercoaster...At least we get Van on a back to back so it won't be a total blowout, bah!

We're just not very good, brutal PP (give Sven a shot), terrible goaltending (how slow did MacDonald look?) and the D stand around (come on Gio).

Ugh!

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#188 jeremywilhelm
February 28 2013, 10:32PM
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Dogsh!t day. Ends the way it should. What an embarrassment piled on disappointment. A bad terrible franchise stays the same and loses an easy game.

Words do not express my true dissapointment.

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#189 maimster
February 28 2013, 10:40PM
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schevvy wrote:

Considering it's in Anaheim, where they haven't won since the 2006 playoffs (2004 in the regular season), not likely. (Sorry)

That's why I didn't want an answer! I've been there for most of those losses, and they've all been painful in their own way. They'd usually make it up with a win in LA, but that's far from guaranteed this year.

Ah well, better to have passion in a losing cause than no passion at all. I think.

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#190 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:42PM
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schevvy wrote:

It was like getting the hot girl at the bar, having her taken away by her abusive ex-boyfriend, and then getting beaten up and put in intensive care. And that's putting it mildly

Wow, that bad.

You know, I wouldn't usually do this, but for you Schev, I almost (almost) hope the Flames win the draft lottery.

Here's hoping the Flames can tear a strip off the Canucks.

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#191 RKD
February 28 2013, 10:44PM
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If Sven is so highly regarded let him flourish on the top line or even the second line. He's not going to be impactful on the third and fourth line. He would be better off on the top line back in the AHL.

If I ran a team at least one line every season would be kids, playing them gets them experience. How did Brodie get to where he is now, yes he did take a step forward but played 58 games last season. Experience pay dividends!

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#192 schevvy
February 28 2013, 10:47PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Wow, that bad.

You know, I wouldn't usually do this, but for you Schev, I almost (almost) hope the Flames win the draft lottery.

Here's hoping the Flames can tear a strip off the Canucks.

Thanks Rex! Means a lot...

We all know what's going to happen. Kipper comes back either Sunday or Wednesday, team goes on a streak, stands pat at the deadline as they sit in 8th, fall off at the end and pick 14th.

(Drink)

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#193 RexLibris
February 28 2013, 10:55PM
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@schevvy

I'd love to see the Flames and Oilers battle for the 8th playoff spot. It's the closest we can get to a BoA this season.

Not going to happen though. As much as you seem to think the Flames will find another of their perennial hot streaks, I believe the Oilers will run into their usual "top 6 forwards injured" cliche they like to run every year.

Sleep it off, you'll feel better in the morning. I hear O'Reilly goes to bed with a teddy bear and only orders Shirley Temples at the bar. =)

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#194 RKD
February 28 2013, 11:03PM
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Trade Iggy, Cammy, Tangs, GlenX, Kipper, Stempniak and you have at least 6 draft picks! JK

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#195 mk
March 01 2013, 12:14AM
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I want to stop caring and not both watching/following this team; they're performing terribly this season (mediocre other recent seasons). But I can't. Ugh. You guys know what I mean.

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#196 Stockley
March 01 2013, 12:15AM
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@RKD

Honestly aren't many I'd consider untouchable on this team right now. Keep the youth (Sven and TJ). Keep a few veterans who are actually performing (Hudler, JayBo, maybe Wideman since he is what he is and no one will take that contract right now). As for everyone else? Sell them to the highest bidder. The team can't do much worse with a bunch of AHL rejects, can they? We should almost be paying other teams to take some of these ineffective veterans off our hands. Hard to believe they even give a crap when there is no obvious effort shown.

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#197 Stockley
March 01 2013, 12:19AM
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@mk

I wish I didn't know what you mean but I have to agree. I want to toss my Flames merch in the corner and forget about it. Start following a team with players that play like they care. Hell, even follow a team like the Isles or Jackets who can't help but get better because they're just too inept to get much worse.

To see such a lack of effort from the Flames year after to year, to see a team with so many veterans and so close to the cap play to the level of their competition...I can't think of words to express my frustration without delving into profanity that would make a sailor blush.

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