FGD: Back Into the Lion's Den

Kent Wilson
February 09 2013 05:23PM

Behind Enemy Lines: Canucks Army

The Flames have a chance to go 3-for-3 on this brief road trip tonight on HNIC, but they'll have to get by the always difficult Vancouver Canucks to do it.

Without David Booth and Ryan Kesler, Vancity isn't quite as intimidating as they once were. In fact, for the first time since Vancouver started habitually leading the NW division, Calgary has better underlying numbers than their divisional rival. That doesn't mean the Canucks are now the inferior team just yet gvien how few games we've played and the lack of Kesler in Vanouver's line-up, but at least that suggests the distance between the two clubs is shrinking rather than growing.

Of course, the Flames are now battling significant injury problems of their own. Out of action this evening are Mike Cammalleri, Mikael Backlund and Miikka Kiprusoff - a top-6 PP forward, the team's best possession center and the number one goaltender. Backlund, in particular, will likely be a particularly bad blow. His +23.87/60 corsi is tops on the team (and 10th best in the league amongst regular forwards). His three goals and 14 or so minutes per night don't seem like big shoes to fill on first impression, but a good puck possession guy is like a built-n positive feedback loop for a team - it means more shots on the opponents net, less on your own net and makes life easier for the rest of the roster by promoting things like offensive zone faceoffs. Backlund's line(s) have spent larger portions of almost every game so far this season dominating their counterparts, so it will be interesting to see how the ice shifts in general without him on the active the roster.

The Line-up

The Heat's leading scorer Ben Street is the guy who got the call once Backund was put on IR and he will probably patrol the second unit with Hudler and Cervenka to satrt. Street is a guy who consistently stuck out as above average when I watched Abbotsford play this year, so even though I thought Horak held his own during his season opening cup of coffee, Street is a pretty good choice to make the trip as well

  • Glencross - Tanguay - Iginla
  • Cervenka - Street - Hudler
  • Comeau - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Begin - Jones - Jackman

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

  • Irving

The third line goes from a great streanth to mild weakness in the absence of Backs and Cammalleri. Lee Stempniak has had a really good start to the season, but I'm not sure he can float that trio alone. Stajan is Stajan - the very definition of luke warm. He alternates good shifts where he moves the puck around well, with bad ones where he gets plastered or gives it up in the neutral zone too easily. Blake Comeau, who I went to the mat for a bit in the off-season, has been awful to start the year and has acted as a boat anchor on any line he has skated on so far. I don't think he has high a ceiling, but he should be better than he has been.

Irving gets his second chance tonight after an okay outing in Columbus. None of the goals against could really be blamed on him that night, nor did he make any noteworthy saves. The competition is going to much stiffer tonight so we'll get to see if he's made of sterner stuff.

Cory Sarich is the odd-man out on the back-end again. $2M/year well spent.

The Opposition

As mentioned, two thirds of the Canucks typical second line is on the mend, causing them to scramble a little bit. I have a lot of time for both Mason Raymond and Janik Hansen, but they probably shouldn't be in a club's top six - particularly centered by a rookie.

  • Burrows - Sedin - Sedin
  • Raymond - Schroeder - Hansen
  • Higgins - Lapierre - Kassian
  • Volpatti - Malhotra - Weise

  • Hamhuis - Beiksa
  • Garrison - Edler
  • Tanev - Ballard

  • Schneider

Zack Kassian had a big night with the Sedin brothers the last time these two clubs met, but he has since been moved down the rotation in favor of the much more time-tested Alex Burrows. The Canucks first line is far and away their biggest weapon and strength right now and you can bet AV will be looking to get them on in the most favorable circumstances possible.

Obviously the Canucks have the edge in net, despite Schnieder's really rough start to the season. The former AHL goalie of the year has proven his talent levle at both the AHL and NHL levels so we can safely expect his numbers to improve at some point.

Sum It Up

Neither team is anywhere close to 100% right now, so it's up to the bodies remaining to make a go of it. Both teams are lacking their best possession centermen and both have second lines staffed by rookie pivots. There's an odd sort of symmetry to the Flames and Canucks predicament, although that is obviously broken by Vancouver boasting two established, high-level goaltenders to the Flames...well, none at the moment.

That said, Irving came in last year around December and stood on his head to record one of the Flames best "W's" of 2011-12. Here's hoping he can do it again.

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 09 2013, 08:59PM
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negilcowboy wrote:

comeau has become coma, man has he regressed.

How did he score 25 one year? He's brutal

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#2 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 09:33PM
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@ Kent

Impressions of Ben Street so far?

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#3 schevvy
February 09 2013, 09:35PM
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Tangs is really fighting the puck. But somehow, Comeau has looked...OK

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#4 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 09:35PM
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glen healy has to be the worst possible commentater in the history of history. feidman is good but they never let him fully speak, some buffoon jumps in.

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#5 Willi P
February 09 2013, 11:22PM
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Pathetic performance in front of Leland. This game could have been 10+ to 1. He stood on his head and was thrown to the wolves.

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#6 Marrrio2
February 09 2013, 05:27PM
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Any live in game chat this season?

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#7 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 05:55PM
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huge test for irving, also why street why not horak? whats the over under on lelands goals against?

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#9 ChinookArch
February 09 2013, 06:24PM
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It's the first real test for this team since the last Canucks game.

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#10 Clay
February 09 2013, 06:26PM
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The scenario is unlikely, but I would love to see Irving play well enough to convince Feaster/Weisbrod to move ahead with Ramo/Irving... then move Kipper.

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#11 Colin
February 09 2013, 06:27PM
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Man, outside that top line of the sedins, Vancouvers forward lineup looks like a hot mess without Kessler and Booth. Which makes it all the most saddening and drepressing if Vancouver beats us tonight.

I still think Calgary has a good shot, as hyped as Schnieder is, he has been lousy to start the year and it's been Lou thats carrying the load, so he is most defiantely beatable, though we also have as good as chance to make him look as good as Emery as well.

Love the fact that Sarich is the one sitting, should have been like that from the start. Still never got why he got that big of a contract, must have some sort of Dirt on management, wonder if he earns himself a compliance buyout along with Stajan.

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#12 Baalzamon
February 09 2013, 07:04PM
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@negrilcowboy

I'd have liked to see Horak too, but he really hasn't done much of late. Something like 3 points in his last 14. Yikes.

Street, for his part, has been reasonably consistent, and definitely deserves to make his NHL debut sooner rather than later.

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#13 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 07:25PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

I'd have liked to see Horak too, but he really hasn't done much of late. Something like 3 points in his last 14. Yikes.

Street, for his part, has been reasonably consistent, and definitely deserves to make his NHL debut sooner rather than later.

ya i guess you have to look at rewarding street. probably abby's best thhis year.

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#14 Alt
February 09 2013, 07:38PM
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Irving has not played many games over the last few months, and only a few at this level.I,d be surprised if he survives this game.The Sedins will be shooting from all angles,and exspect an all out attack from the get-go

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#15 Fleury4pm
February 09 2013, 07:40PM
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Off topic but ferland has 2 more assists after one period and 20 points in 15 games since going to the blades.Good confidence builder for him

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#16 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 07:42PM
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flames sure could use a player like prust, brings alot of moxie.

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#17 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 07:42PM
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flames sure could use a player like prust, brings alot of moxie.

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#18 schevvy
February 09 2013, 08:26PM
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Boo Vancouver

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#20 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 08:35PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

flames sure could use a player like prust, brings alot of moxie.

We could bring back Prust for a third or is it fourth go around...I always liked him as a player.

OT...had to do a day trip to Edmonton (shudder)- POTHOLE city!!! Not just little ones either, but sh&t like the earth is opening up and you expect the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse to come crawling out! It is like they lost or forgot the formula for asphalt up North. A guy should just open a wheel alignment/suspension shop at the Henday-Queen E. junction...would make an absolute killing.

The funniest thing I saw were these signs they put up from Sgt.Larry??...one off near West Ed said something about cars being stolen in the area so be sure to lockup. Tip for Larry...they aren't being stolen, they've been swallowed while changing lanes.

No wonder FAs want nothing to do with our Northern Sister.

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#21 meat1
February 09 2013, 08:37PM
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The best part of this installment of "Hockey Day in Canada"..........is that Edmonton wasn't invited.

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#23 Subversive
February 09 2013, 08:40PM
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I miss Backlund already.

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#24 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 08:40PM
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Rene Bourque getting one punched by Orr was hilarious.

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#26 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 08:43PM
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lol the lefs ae moe truculent without buke aound. tangs penalty is going to be painful.

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#27 funkyjaman
February 09 2013, 08:46PM
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Is Vancouver playing Vancouver tonight? Man these guys are homers!

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#28 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 08:46PM
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arre the sedin sisters related to roger from american dad? sure resemble him.

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#29 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 08:47PM
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Hope the Flames have a better game plan for handling Kassian tonight.

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#31 yomamen
February 09 2013, 08:47PM
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Till now its only paintfull for Raymond :)

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#32 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 08:47PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

arre the sedin sisters related to roger from american dad? sure resemble him.

AWESOME!!!!

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#34 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 08:48PM
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Nice stop by Irv on Higgins

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#35 flamesburn89
February 09 2013, 08:49PM
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Nice save by Irving there.

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#36 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 08:49PM
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I'm just going to comment "What Kent said" from now on...

Damn you Wilson

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#37 schevvy
February 09 2013, 08:51PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

I'm just going to comment "What Kent said" from now on...

Damn you Wilson

Classic VF

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#39 negilcowboy
February 09 2013, 08:58PM
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comeau has become coma, man has he regressed.

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#40 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 09:02PM
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schevvy wrote:

How did he score 25 one year? He's brutal

wasn't taveres feedin him that year?

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#41 yomamen
February 09 2013, 09:03PM
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Stempy did it again!

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#42 Subversive
February 09 2013, 09:03PM
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Yeah!

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#44 Colin
February 09 2013, 09:05PM
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Yeah I don't get it, he averaged at about 12% shooting percentage for the first 4 years in the league, how do yo go from that to shooting 4.3% the next year and 0% to start this year.

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#45 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 09:06PM
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flames gotta go get rem murray for a game, that way they got rem and stempie.

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#46 Subversive
February 09 2013, 09:06PM
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Did the HD feed just drop for anyone else?

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#47 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 09:07PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I live to beat you to the punch.

I'm barely lucid right now.. It won't be hard ttonight.

Oh yeah... #STEMPNIAKED

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#49 schevvy
February 09 2013, 09:09PM
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Subversive wrote:

Did the HD feed just drop for anyone else?

Yep it dropped

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#50 Fleury4pm
February 09 2013, 09:10PM
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Bouwmeester is scary tonight

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