FGD: Stem the Tide

Kent Wilson
March 13 2013 02:00PM

While most in Flamesland are now busily fabricating semi-plausible deadline trade scenarios or hunting down top-10 prospect lists for the draft in June, the reality is the team still has a bunch of games to play this season before any of that stuff matters. The second half begins tonight versus the Detroit Red Wings.

They aren't the overpowering juggernaut of yesteryear, but the Wings are still decent. Datsyuk and Zetterberg have taken real steps back in terms of their ability to control play this season (the latter in particular) and they aren't girded by the sort of depth that would help soften the blow of that decline. Still, going from "incredibly dominant even strength players " to "pretty good" isn't quite the death knell for Hockeytown's unending playoff streak. Yet.

The Wings have suffered through injuries, too, on top of the massive loss of Lidstrom to retirement in the off-season. The club has some quality players coming up through the system in Gustav Nyquist (who should play tonight), Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson while import Damien Brunner has filled in well in the top-6. That said, replacing Datsyuk/Zetterberg once they finally do fall off the horse is going to be a tall order.

So Detroit is merely "good" and their top-end still needs to be respected, but they're no longer unbeatable demi-gods. They currently sit 7th in the Western Conference and it wouldn't surprise me if that's more or less where they stay for the rest of the year.

The Flames still have the faintest of faint chances of making the dance. No doubt some portion of the fanbase wants the club to throw in the towel now in order to improve their chances at a lottery pick, but the players have pride and future contracts to play for, so expect Calgary to go down swinging. If there's to be any sort of meaningful run at the post-season, though, it has to start right away: the boys need roughly a 65% win% through the rest of the year to even have a shot.

If, on the other hand, the true goal is the chance to draft Drouin, Barkov, Jones or MacKinnnon well...just pray that Kipper continues to channel his buddy Vesa Toskala. 

The Lineup

Glencross skated this morning but will be a gametime decision. Cammalleri missed the practice, though it's possible that was only for maintenance purposes. For now we'll assume they are both in.

  • Tanguay - Backlund - Iginla
  • Glencross - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Cervenka/Comeau - Cammalleri - Hudler
  • Comeau/Cervenka - Begin - Jackman

  • Bouwmeester - Brodie
  • Wideman - Butler
  • Sarich - Giordano

  • Kipper

Backlund ended up playing with Iginla and Tanguay at the end of the Kings game. He scored the Calgary's only goal in that role so it would surprise me if he didn't at least start there tonight.

And just because I haven't advocated enough for Backs the last year or two, Hartley needs to start thinking about given Mikael more PP time - not only does the team generate more shots at ES with him on the ice, they do so on the man advantage as well. There's small sample concerns with that latter number, but it's intuitive to assume he'll have the same effect at 5on4 as he does at 5on5.

Brodie slid up to the top pairing to replace Mark Giordano (who spent a week or two serving up platters to the team's best skaters) and didn't look out of place. I'll be stunned if he persists there long term given how tough that assignment is and his youth, but it's impressive he managed even a single game in that role without looking hopelessly overwhelmed.

The Opposition

Word is the Wings could get Filppula back tonight, adding a bit more punch to their top-6. Nyquist is the AHL's leading scorer with 60 points in 57 games, so he should land in a scoring role as well.

  • Nyquist - Datsyuk - Franzen
  • Brunner - Zetterberg - Filppula
  • Cleary - Abdelkader - Andersson
  • Miller - Emmerton - Tootoo

  • Kronwall - Ericsson
  • Quincey - Smith
  • Lashoff - Kindl

  • Gustavsson

The depressed state of the Wings blueline post-Lidstrom is obvious. Smith, Kindl and Lashoff are all kids, each with less than two full seasons under their respective belts. Kindl and Smith are walking on their own, but Lashoff is getting beat up, even on the third pairing. Incredibly, Ian White has gone from Lidstrom's frequent partner last year to a current healthy scratch (despite Detroit's needs on the back-end). None of his numbers are overly terrible, so I'm not sure what is motivating Babcock to give the former Flame the stink-eye.

Nik Kronwall has tried to fill Lidstrom's clown sized shoes and has managed to keep his head above water as the club's number one defender. He's not Lidstrom, obviously, but at least he's not completely out of his depth. That said, you can see why the Wings are rumored to be interested in Jay Bouwmeester.

Sum it Up

Detroit is battling their slow slide from annual contenders to a middle-tier Western Conference club. The Flames, on the other hand, are battling the inevitable. Calgary can still make the post-season with an incredible turn-around (starting tonight) while the Wings will want to climb back up the ladder as much as possible.

Game time is 7:30 on TSN tonight. I will be attending, so Justin will be counting chances. Tune in to cheer for or against the Flames, depending on your sensibilities. 

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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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#51 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 08:13PM
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@negrilcowboy

I think he probably knew a little more english originally than he let on

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#52 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:13PM
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For all we know the stretch of hockey going on while this Habs-Sens game is on could be the most exciting hockey of the year.

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#53 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:15PM
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This Sens-Habs game is absolutely going to a shootout btw.

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#54 Tyler
March 13 2013, 08:17PM
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Not sure how sitting someone for conditioning reasons helps his conditioning?

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#55 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:17PM
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Was that not goalie interference on that Wings goal they just showed?

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#56 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 08:19PM
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@Tyler

recovery and gives him the opportunity to do conditioning on game days while still taking part in practice

at least that's what I assume

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#57 negrilcowboy
March 13 2013, 08:23PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

recovery and gives him the opportunity to do conditioning on game days while still taking part in practice

at least that's what I assume

how would he have cleared a medical, sounds like he is on death's door

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#58 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:26PM
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So Tanguay scored boys.

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#59 thymebalm
March 13 2013, 08:27PM
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Really? A time out ten minutes in? jesus.

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#60 ?
March 13 2013, 08:28PM
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Nice move by Galchenyak there

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#61 ?
March 13 2013, 08:30PM
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2-1 FLAMES!!

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#62 RKD
March 13 2013, 08:32PM
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Man, do the Flames have to hit rock bottom before they start to play with desperation?

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#63 thymebalm
March 13 2013, 08:34PM
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Are we counting icings against and offsides?

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#64 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:35PM
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Well that was smart Glencross... "eye roll"

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#65 ?
March 13 2013, 08:35PM
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Guy turned back on the play. Don't wanna blame the victim, but GlenX probably thought he was gonna keep skating with it.

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#66 thymebalm
March 13 2013, 08:36PM
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I can't decide whose fault that was... definitely was a sissy to turn away from the hit. But Glencross is just a bit too forceful at time.

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#67 ?
March 13 2013, 08:38PM
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Wow DET is 25% on the PP?!?!?! That's shocking

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#68 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 08:38PM
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Wow! Just tuned in, who scored?

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#69 ?
March 13 2013, 08:39PM
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? wrote:

Wow DET is 25% on the PP?!?!?! That's shocking

Oops. meant 25th in the league

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#70 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:39PM
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@ChinookArch

Tanguay and J-Bo. Kronwall scored 1st.

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#71 ?
March 13 2013, 08:39PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Wow! Just tuned in, who scored?

Kronwall, then Tangs, then J-Bouw

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#72 Vintage Flame
March 13 2013, 08:41PM
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Kipper seems on his game tonight. Some 10-bell saves already.

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#73 RKD
March 13 2013, 08:42PM
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Heard some Flames fans in California saw players strolling into the hotel at 6am, tells you where a few players heads are at if it was on a game day.

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#74 schevvy
March 13 2013, 08:43PM
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I haven't heard Backlund's name in awhile...

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#75 negrilcowboy
March 13 2013, 08:45PM
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RKD wrote:

Heard some Flames fans in California saw players strolling into the hotel at 6am, tells you where a few players heads are at if it was on a game day.

hooray fo hollywood

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#76 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 08:47PM
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Anyone have the scouting report? And but that, I mean how many scouts in the stands?

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#77 RKD
March 13 2013, 08:51PM
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Glad to see Jay-Bo getting some love on TSN, sure beats the Peca beatdown. Too bad Jay-Bo didn't respond with a funny video trashing Peca.

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#78 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 08:53PM
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@RKD

non-game day I believe

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#79 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 08:54PM
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@ChinookArch

thing no one tells you: there are scouts at every game. non-story unless there's more than two for a single team.

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#80 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 08:56PM
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chances 4-2 det, all at ev. flames -19 (!) in corsi.

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#81 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:01PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

chances 4-2 det, all at ev. flames -19 (!) in corsi.

Ouch. But only 4 chances. Interesting

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#82 Vintage Flame
March 13 2013, 09:02PM
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@Justin Azevedo

Were both goals the scoring chances Jazzy?

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#83 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:05PM
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Haha TSN has chances at 10-2 Det. That's a sizeable difference

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#84 Vintage Flame
March 13 2013, 09:06PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

chances 4-2 det, all at ev. flames -19 (!) in corsi.

Haha.. TSN has the chances at 10-2 for Detroit.

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#85 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:06PM
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@Vintage Flame

Um...little slow to that one VF :)

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#86 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:07PM
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Well there's a chance.

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#87 Scary Gary
March 13 2013, 09:15PM
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Nice shift Brodie.

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#88 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:16PM
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a tired tim jackman just won a faceoff against datsyuk. my world is crumbling

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#89 ?
March 13 2013, 09:17PM
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Bad giveaway by Zetterberg there

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#90 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:17PM
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@Vintage Flame

yes

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#91 ?
March 13 2013, 09:18PM
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Wow, Wideman was brave to block that shot. Kronwall can rifle it

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#92 Scary Gary
March 13 2013, 09:20PM
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Wow the last few minutes have looked like a Detroit PP.

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#93 negrilcowboy
March 13 2013, 09:21PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Matt Stajan is playing like a different player this year. Must be nice to have B. Sutter gone for him?

obviously the two did not mess. wonder why

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#94 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 09:26PM
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@negrilcowboy

Whatever it was Stajan's confidence was destroyed.

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#95 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:31PM
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I knew they'd score a goal on the PP tonight

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#96 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 09:32PM
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@schevvy

Slumpbuster yup.

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#97 T&A4Flames
March 13 2013, 09:32PM
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Every team breaks bad streaks or gets their first something (good) against us.

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#98 negrilcowboy
March 13 2013, 09:33PM
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wings first road pp goal?

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#99 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:35PM
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@negrilcowboy

yup

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#100 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 09:39PM
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@schevvy

hey, schev. I looked for Ferland last night, but I guess the coach scratched him when he came to practice in pointe shoes and a tutu.

;-)

Honestly, though, he was a scratch. On the bright side, Brossoit made two astounding saves and played a better game than was asked of Makarov - shootout aside.

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