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.

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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 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 10:08PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Chances were 9-4 Canucks in the second. 16-9 for VAN overall so far.

dominated

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#102 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:09PM
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Well...HERE COMES THE COMEBACK

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#103 Baalzamon
February 09 2013, 10:09PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Chances were 9-4 Canucks in the second. 16-9 for VAN overall so far.

I am absolutely amazed it was that close.

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#104 Bean-counting cowboy
February 09 2013, 10:10PM
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Just realized Hartley's entire BBC line from training camp is in the infirmary. Sucks.

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#105 CDB
February 09 2013, 10:11PM
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Why are they interviewing glenncross? Until I see a rock solid alibis I refuse to believe he wasn't at the roxy till 4 am with how he's playing. Irving's been great that was a terrible second. Wide man needs to see less PK time. Poor read to jump to the corner and leave Schroeder in front

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#106 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:16PM
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Irving's getting hung out to dry

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#108 Q
February 09 2013, 10:18PM
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I liked our first period. Leland has looked great. A bit lackluster by the higher paid boys. Little dissapointed. For hell sake, why do cervenka and hudler get put with crap for centres! Piss me off! Time to put roman in his natural position and get someone other than gayjan and street ! And what the crap is Peter maher saying "seddervenka " for? Sounds. Horrid!!!

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#109 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 10:21PM
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Irving is playing a damn good game tonight. Would be nice to see the offense do some more to help him out.

Can't really pick out a forward that's noteworthy tonight.

watching Steve Begin skate around there tonight makes me really miss David Moss.. Even though he'd probably be out with a hip flexor by now... SMH

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#110 yomamen
February 09 2013, 10:21PM
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@Q

I was little bit hoping that they call up Horak and put him with Hudler and Cervus when Backs get injured. Worth to try it I think.

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#111 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:25PM
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Put a fork in em

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#112 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 10:25PM
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CDB wrote:

Why are they interviewing glenncross? Until I see a rock solid alibis I refuse to believe he wasn't at the roxy till 4 am with how he's playing. Irving's been great that was a terrible second. Wide man needs to see less PK time. Poor read to jump to the corner and leave Schroeder in front

I wonder if Iginla or Tanguay picked up the cab fare?

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#113 Q
February 09 2013, 10:26PM
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Not a fan of begin at all, and I'd wave him or comeau in a second! No excuses tnite! Irving's been our best player! Why didn't we go after a descent tough guy in the off season. Our excuse if we lose, can't be the BBC line injured! Time for iggy to step up!

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#114 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 10:27PM
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... sigh

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#115 Q
February 09 2013, 10:28PM
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yomamen wrote:

I was little bit hoping that they call up Horak and put him with Hudler and Cervus when Backs get injured. Worth to try it I think.

Couldn't agree more! I like horak! Good hands and has proven to be good defensively! Street sucks!

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#116 Scary Gary
February 09 2013, 10:28PM
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What sort of clown throws their jersey on the ice?

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#117 Vowswithin
February 09 2013, 10:29PM
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A calgary fan threw their calgary shirt on the ice... Kinda feel like that with the play tonight..

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#118 Vowswithin
February 09 2013, 10:30PM
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Scary Gary wrote:

What sort of clown throws their jersey on the ice?

I should specify FEEL like is different then would do.. Its disrespectful and just dangerous..

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#119 MC Hockey
February 09 2013, 10:31PM
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What is wrong with Flames...been sitting back scared all night! Only Irving and Brodie have played ok!

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#120 Scary Gary
February 09 2013, 10:31PM
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Vowswithin wrote:

A calgary fan threw their calgary shirt on the ice... Kinda feel like that with the play tonight..

Ah it's all about expectations, I expected a loss tonight but I still watch the flames and cheer for a win.

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#122 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 10:32PM
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Codename: Gio Status: MIA Last seen: 2010-2011 NHL season

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#123 Scary Gary
February 09 2013, 10:32PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

Codename: Gio Status: MIA Last seen: 2010-2011 NHL season

Haha since that quad injury, totally.

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#124 Q
February 09 2013, 10:34PM
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What the hell are we keeping stajan for? He is garbage!!!! Enough with the experiment!

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#125 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 10:37PM
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Some people on twitter calling for the Flames to pull Irving and put in Taylor.

This game has not been Irving's fault but I could see them putting Taylor in, not to punish Irv, but to get him some playing time.

If the Flames put in Taylor, their taking a knee on this one.

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#126 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 10:37PM
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Half empty view: The Flames are who we thought they were

Half full view: Mickis is a difference maker for this team

Iginla has definitively jumped the shark...the only question now is how many GMs know this dirty secret...shhhhh.

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#127 yomamen
February 09 2013, 10:38PM
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Hey guys, think positive. We can still have Sarich or Babchuk dressed in this match, so its quite good like this I guess :o)

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#128 Q
February 09 2013, 10:39PM
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@the forgotten man

What are you taking about???

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#129 CDB
February 09 2013, 10:41PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

I wonder if Iginla or Tanguay picked up the cab fare?

Agreed. All of them have been bad. Not creating anything is one thing. Turnovers and penalties have been killer

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#130 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 10:42PM
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@Q

Jumped the shark...the Fonz...Happy Days.

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#132 Vowswithin
February 09 2013, 10:48PM
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Omg thats the first time i have ever seen the flames cycle the puck!!

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#133 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:49PM
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Well this sucked

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#134 Vintage Flame
February 09 2013, 10:49PM
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K.... really. So is it time to offer sheet O'Reilly yet?

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#135 yomamen
February 09 2013, 10:49PM
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Poor Irv :o( Let all by himself

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#137 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:52PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

K.... really. So is it time to offer sheet O'Reilly yet?

Yes. It has been since January 12th

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#138 Scary Gary
February 09 2013, 10:52PM
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Street -2, surprisingly enough Iggy's and Tangs are even.

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#139 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 10:53PM
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GM math time...

BEGIN squared + .75 COMEAU - the half root BADSUCK \ SARICH integrated = 6.3 million dollars = 1 top 6 forward or 1 top 4 defensive stud

However...I didn't go to law school.

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#140 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 10:54PM
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yep a real contender , i pity steinberg tonight robert will be on fire yet again.

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#142 Vowswithin
February 09 2013, 10:55PM
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the forgotten man wrote:

GM math time...

BEGIN squared + .75 COMEAU - the half root BADSUCK \ SARICH integrated = 6.3 million dollars = 1 top 6 forward or 1 top 4 defensive stud

However...I didn't go to law school.

LOL only trouble is 1 dosnt fill 3 spots

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#143 schevvy
February 09 2013, 10:56PM
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Maybe Backs needs some deer antler spray...that'll accelerate the recovery

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#144 CDB
February 09 2013, 10:57PM
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@Kent Wilson

Ya it's bad. Really struggles advancing the puck. Decent #5 or 6 option but thank god he's not logging top 2 minutes anymore. Hartley seems much more aware of how to use guys.

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#145 Baalzamon
February 09 2013, 10:58PM
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Q wrote:

Not a fan of begin at all, and I'd wave him or comeau in a second! No excuses tnite! Irving's been our best player! Why didn't we go after a descent tough guy in the off season. Our excuse if we lose, can't be the BBC line injured! Time for iggy to step up!

Right... Because Colton Orr would have made the difference tonight.

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#147 yomamen
February 09 2013, 10:59PM
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Todays display was literally "towel throwing". See you next time guys, hopefully in happier times.

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#148 negrilcowboy
February 09 2013, 10:59PM
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schevvy wrote:

Maybe Backs needs some deer antler spray...that'll accelerate the recovery

call reverend ray lewis he don't need his no mo mofo he got god on his team

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#149 the forgotten man
February 09 2013, 11:00PM
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Vowswithin wrote:

LOL only trouble is 1 dosnt fill 3 spots

League minimum baby...let a few young guys from the Farm skate their bag off...they can't be any worse than that motley Crüe and you'd still have 4.5-5 million to play with.

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#150 Scary Gary
February 09 2013, 11:02PM
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Nothing worse than losing to the Canucks.

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