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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#101 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:42PM
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chances that period 3-2 det, 2-2 at ev. total 7-4 det, 6-4 at ev. flames -24 in corsi, 13/17/27 only non-negative players, 5/26 -41 combined

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#102 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:46PM
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@RexLibris

Good to hear on Broissoit! I'd say they scratched Ferland as a precaution. They've got the division locked up and Edmonton's too far ahead to catch for 1st.

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#103 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 09:46PM
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@Justin Azevedo

That's all?

=)

Most of that period seemed like the Red Wings had a man advantage. The Flames could barely make it past their own blueline.

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#104 mcculb
March 13 2013, 09:47PM
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Backs seems to be getting forth line minutes tonight.

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#105 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:48PM
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@RexLibris

yeah, majority of det's shots are from outside home plate or unintentional redirects

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#106 RKD
March 13 2013, 09:48PM
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Nate MacKinnon, 4 points tonight in his first game back from injury. TSN says the Flames were 5th spot in the lottery draft before tonight but are now in 6th.

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#107 s_yav14
March 13 2013, 09:48PM
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Ya, you had to know they'd score with the non-stop jynxing by the announcers. Worse than saying shutout. Bastards!

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#108 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 09:49PM
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@schevvy

Gernat was HS as well.

Agreed, I think teams like the Blades and Oil Kings are resting some of their players ahead of the post-season.

Lazar was a force, he drove the play every time he was on the ice, and outperformed every single player for and against.

He may not be a top ten pick, but any team getting him between 12 and 20 should be pleased with the kind of player he could become.

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#109 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:49PM
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Unrelated note that none of you probably care about: The Lethbridge Hurricanes finally won a game!!

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#110 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 09:50PM
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@RKD

I also start looking at Monahan, Nichuskin, Barkov, and Lindholm. They may become viable draft targets for the Flames if things stay as they are.

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#111 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 09:51PM
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schevvy wrote:

Unrelated note that none of you probably care about: The Lethbridge Hurricanes finally won a game!!

I didn't know they played the Blue Jackets.

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#112 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:52PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I didn't know they played the Blue Jackets.

Haha. They beat Kootenay 4-2 in Lethy.

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#113 Vowswithin
March 13 2013, 09:55PM
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How do the tan guys figure we are in #6th draft position, as i see it with 22pts we are drafting 3rd

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#114 schevvy
March 13 2013, 09:55PM
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@Vowswithin

Win %. Negates the games in hand.

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#115 s_yav14
March 13 2013, 09:56PM
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Wideman is due for a goal

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#116 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 09:58PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I also start looking at Monahan, Nichuskin, Barkov, and Lindholm. They may become viable draft targets for the Flames if things stay as they are.

in order, my top 10: mackinnon, drouin, jones, barkov, monahan, lindholm, shinkaruk, nichuskin, nurse, nistolainen

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#117 Vowswithin
March 13 2013, 09:58PM
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schevvy wrote:

Win %. Negates the games in hand.

Ahh well that will all wash out

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#118 John Deere Green
March 13 2013, 10:01PM
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How has the attendance been at the Dome the last few weeks? Just watching the TV it looks like there are a few empty seats. Maybe the lineups were extra long at the intermission.

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#119 Baalzamon
March 13 2013, 10:03PM
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RKD wrote:

Man, do the Flames have to hit rock bottom before they start to play with desperation?

That's... sort of the definition of desperation. I think what you, just like everyone else who says it, actually mean is "playing with urgency."

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#120 schevvy
March 13 2013, 10:04PM
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Nicely done Glencross

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#121 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 10:04PM
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Great play by Stajan.

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#122 Baalzamon
March 13 2013, 10:05PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

in order, my top 10: mackinnon, drouin, jones, barkov, monahan, lindholm, shinkaruk, nichuskin, nurse, nistolainen

You have Monahan ahead of Lindholm? Why?

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#123 s_yav14
March 13 2013, 10:06PM
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Cammalleri, Iginla, and Tanguay have looked good together tonight.

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#124 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 10:08PM
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John Deere Green wrote:

How has the attendance been at the Dome the last few weeks? Just watching the TV it looks like there are a few empty seats. Maybe the lineups were extra long at the intermission.

officially sellouts. reason it looks so empty is because the club seats are vacant, but those tickets are all paid for.

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#125 RKD
March 13 2013, 10:08PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

That's... sort of the definition of desperation. I think what you, just like everyone else who says it, actually mean is "playing with urgency."

Yeah, the odd thing is desperation is a synonym for urgency but not the other way around. Go figure.

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#126 Vowswithin
March 13 2013, 10:09PM
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Hey they are moving their feet out there ;)

So do boston, pitsburg start a bidding war since no one wants to be caught with their panta down when iginla goes?

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#127 RKD
March 13 2013, 10:10PM
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Wow, both Datsyuk and Iggy have exactly 589 points since 2005 that's pretty cool.

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#128 schevvy
March 13 2013, 10:11PM
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Atta boy Glencross

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#129 RKD
March 13 2013, 10:11PM
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Glencross!!!

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#130 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 10:12PM
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@Baalzamon

gut feel mostly

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#131 RKD
March 13 2013, 10:12PM
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Comeau!

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#132 ChinookArch
March 13 2013, 10:12PM
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Comeau shoot like that all the time. Crazy good.

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#133 schevvy
March 13 2013, 10:13PM
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Related: Guvstasson is terrible

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#134 Vowswithin
March 13 2013, 10:13PM
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Holy crap what jist happened, comeau for his 2nd of the year

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#135 Mullen Mania
March 13 2013, 10:16PM
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When Comeau scores the opposing goaltender deserves to be pulled...just saying

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#136 John Deere Green
March 13 2013, 10:19PM
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Feaster is hoping that since Comeau has heated up, that he can use him as trade bait to get that tough to find #1 centre, and not have to touch the golden core.

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#137 RKD
March 13 2013, 10:19PM
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Too bad for Backs, maybe he should have tried that sick move by Daugvins!

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#138 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 10:22PM
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Ben Eager was waived today. Anyone think Feaster is crazy enough to claim him? I think Kent would start speaking in tongues out of anger if they did.

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#139 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 10:24PM
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I haven't seen much, but Kiprusoff seems to be fighting his positioning tonight.

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#140 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 10:28PM
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Habemus vincem!

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#141 Vintage Flame
March 13 2013, 10:28PM
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Who's happy????

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#142 schevvy
March 13 2013, 10:29PM
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GOING FOR IT

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#143 Jibmeister
March 13 2013, 10:29PM
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What a win.

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#144 Vintage Flame
March 13 2013, 10:29PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I haven't seen much, but Kiprusoff seems to be fighting his positioning tonight.

Nope, not tonight. Kipper was solid all night

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#145 Vowswithin
March 13 2013, 10:29PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Who's happy????

Nope. Losses only pleaseee

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#146 schevvy
March 13 2013, 10:31PM
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Vowswithin wrote:

Nope. Losses only pleaseee

Booooooooo. Kidding

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#147 s_yav14
March 13 2013, 10:31PM
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Cue the comeback

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#148 Justin Azevedo
March 13 2013, 10:36PM
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chances 7-7 in the 3rd, all at ev. 14-11 det total chances, 13-11 at ev. corsi -29.

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#149 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 10:40PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Nope, not tonight. Kipper was solid all night

Must've been just a sporadic thing then.

Congratulations on the win.

btw, there are rumours that the Oilers might want to trade for Jack Johnson.

I guess that'd put a big smile on most Flames fans.

=)

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#150 RexLibris
March 13 2013, 10:44PM
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schevvy wrote:

Johnson for Eberle and a 1st? :)

If they make that trade they are definitely getting a Johnson.

Sorry, a little uncouth, but the rumour has me rattled.

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