FGD: Flames Hit the Road in Motown

Ryan Pike
February 05 2013 01:58PM

After spending five of their first six games at home, the Calgary Flames head out of town for their first real road trip of the season beginning tonight. First up? A date with the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (5:30pm MT, televised on Sportsnet West and radioed by Sportsnet 960 The Fan).

Before you get too worked up, this ain't your mother's Red Wings team. First of all, there's no Jiri Hudler, Nicklas Lidstrom or Tomas Holmstrom in Motown. Hudler, as you may know, is playing for the Flames now. Lidstrom and Holmstrom retired. Brad Stuart left for the Sharks. And there are a few folks injured besides. Altogether, the Red Wings are missing seven regulars from their line-up.

The Flames are 1-3-2 on the year, while the Red Wings are a comparably massive 4-3-1. Last season the teams split their four meetings evenly. They each even scored the same number of goals on each other. All-time, the Red Wings have won one more game than the Flames have head-to-head, so there's bragging rights on the line.

And a pair of points that the Flames desperately, desperately need.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames lost a heart-breaker on Saturday against the Blackhawks but everyone – media and coaches alike – seemed very impressed with how the team basically dominated Chicago and lost due to some epically horrible luck.

Friend of the site Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) reported no changes at Monday's early morning practice at the Corral prior to the Flames jetting out to Detroit. According to Tuesday's morning skate, your designated scratches will be Tim Jackman and Cory Sarich.

  • Cammalleri – Tanguay – Iginla
  • Glencross – Backlund – Stempniak
  • Hudler – Stajan – Cervenka
  • Comeau – Jones – Begin

  • Bouwmeester – Giordano
  • Wideman – Brodie
  • Smith – Butler

  • Kiprusoff

Anton Babchuk has been cleared for contact and is traveling with the team, but is a ways away from slotting back in.

As you may notice, there's a shocking amount of balance between the top three lines. Hartley's tended to (smartly) give the Iginla and Stajan lines the offensive-zone high ground, but as the games progress (and depending on situation) he's also sent the Czechs into the defensive zone.

Now if only Glencross and Iginla can start to light the lamp...

THE OPPOSITION

The Wings have been utterly ravaged by injuries but have still managed to keep their heads above water in the standings. They'll be without Darren Helm, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Smith, Joey MacDonald, Jonas Gustavsson and (maybe) Ian White. As of yesterday's practice, here's their most likely lines, courtesy Ansar Khan at MLive.com.

  • Franzen – Zetterberg – Brunner
  • Filippula – Datsyuk – Tatar
  • Cleary - Abdelkader – Bertuzzi
  • Miller – Emmerton - Tootoo

  • Kronwall – Ericsson
  • Quincey – Lashoff
  • Huskins – Kindl

  • Howard

Ian White, who led the Wings in scoring against Calgary last year, practiced with the team on Monday but didn't skate in a pairing. He hopes to play, but I'd expect him to be (a) a game-time decision and (b) on the second-pairing if he does swap in, likely at Lashoff's expense.

In an odd quirk of the AHL and NHL schedules, Tomas Tatar and goalie Petr Mrazek played for the Grand Rapids Griffins and beat the Abbotsford Heat 1-0 on Saturday, and now they'll play on the big club against the Flames.

Overall, the Wings have survived quite well without the bodies they're missing. Damian Brunner's fit in admirably, but the team really doesn't have the depth they once had. I mean, Jordin Tootoo is on their team, their bottom-six doesn't really drive the play and their defense is a bit scary.

SUM IT UP

The Chicago Blackhawks are an excellent hockey team that the Flames just took it to on Saturday night, losing through a horrible run of luck. The Detroit Red Wings are not quite as good as the Blackhawks, and the Flames can't keep being this unlucky, right?

Well, it's entirely possible, but it's not likely.

So if the Flames play as well as they did against Chicago, and Jimmy Howard doesn't become the next Ray Emery, there's a good chance that Calgary can leave Michigan with some points. When you consider that the Wings are utterly ravaged by injuries, the Flames won't have a better chance to cash in on Detroit than they have right now.

 

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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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#201 McRib
February 05 2013, 10:03PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Chances were 3-2 for the Flames in the third. Good shut-down period.

The Flames did something a Brent Sutter coached team never realized, you cannot get scored on playing deep in the offensive zone. There was a couple shifts halfway through the third that just defined this for me and it created the PP that sealed the game.

Does anyone else find it hilariously awful that the Flames cannot score empty net goals. Luckily it wasn't needed tonight but in the History of the NHL no team has to be as bad as the Flames the last three years. Its something they may want to practice..... Hahah

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#202 RKD
February 05 2013, 10:06PM
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A huge victory for the Flames, glad to see Iggy score we knew it was only a matter of time. Iggy had to go to the net and get a greasy one but that did take a lot of skill to get that second shot before he fell down. Cammy might have to get one like that.

Really hope the Kipper injury isn't too serious, we need him badly or else Irving will have to step up or Feaster will need to make a trade.

Maybe Kipper was playing through an injury and it was further exacerbated tonight which could explain his early season struggles.

Kipper is only making 1.5 million next season and could retire and the end of this season.

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#203 SeanCharles
February 05 2013, 10:09PM
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@jjones

I've always thought most of our speed issues were due to systems. Sutter hockey had no speed through neutral zone.

That being said Brodie is soo much faster than Hannan which helps transition, plus we are faster at making plays too, with Hudler, Wideman and Cervenka instead ok Jokes and, Kostopolos.

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#204 McRib
February 05 2013, 10:16PM
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@RKD

Kipper did look like he was having a tough time getting back up from his knees early in the game before the injury, you might be on to something. Think its actually a decent time for Kipper to miss a couple as he never plays well in Columbus and is terrible against Vancouver in recent memory. Its now or never for Irving if he wants to be an NHL goalie he needs to show that he has what it takes!!! One thing about Irving he looks small in his net, its very hard for smaller goaltenders to make it in the NHL.

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#205 McRib
February 05 2013, 10:25PM
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Cammy looked much improved tonight, he is starting to get his game legs going. Best game of the season, hopefully a sign of things to come!! He battled injuries the past two years if he can stay healthy he was dynamite in 08-09 on the man advantage and our PP is even better with Wideman up high.

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#206 T&A4Flames
February 05 2013, 10:44PM
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Who was Irving in the runway after the game? I'm guessing it was Malarchuk.

This is all good. If Kip is out for a bit, Leland will get regular playing time and a chance to get in a groove. If not, it's a half wasted season and we get a top pick.

I like what I'm seeing from this team. If we could add a couple solid prospects this year we are well on our way.

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#207 TheRealPoc
February 05 2013, 10:44PM
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That was a professional road win. Great effort in a barn that's tough to walk out of with 2 points.

This team might actually be rather decent.

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