FGD: Not-So-Shining Stars

Ryan Pike
March 18 2013 01:20PM

 

 

The Calgary Flames hit the road for a three-game swing this week, one that will probably tip the scales regarding their playoff fate. That is, unless they go 1-1-1, in which case they'll tread water.

Nonetheless, the Flames begin their trip with a jaunt to Dallas to visit the Stars for their third meeting of the year. Calgary (11-11-4) previously beat Dallas twice – once on February 13 by a 7-4 score and once on February 17 by a 4-3 margin. Now the Flames face them one more time, again with a back-up netminder between the pipes.

Can the Flames continue their success against Big D? Or will their 1-5-1 record when trying to get over the .500 hump be a portent of doom? Find out live on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan at 6:30pm.

THE LINE-UP

 The Flames are 2-0 against the Stars this year, but oddly enough, they've become incredibly streaky since their last meet-up with Dallas. Since their February 17 game, the Flames have lost twice, won twice, lost twice, won twice, lost three times and, now, won twice. They have got to find a way to halt that trend and keep their winning ways.

Tonight they'll have to do it without Miikka Kiprusoff (child birth). Kiprusoff is home with his wife, expecting his second child (Oscar Kiprusoff!), while Backlund is on the trip but unlikely to play according to Sportsnet's Roger Millions. Danny Taylor has re-joined the team as a back-up.
 

That probably allows Roman Cervenka to slot back in. Lines will likely start off something like this.

UPDATE (5pm MT): Roger Millions is indicating that Backlund WILL play tonight.

  • Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
  • Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Comeau – Backlund – Hudler
  • McGrattan – Begin – Jackman

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

  • MacDonald

That second line has been dynamite. The trio has combined for 5 goals, 14 points and a +15 rating over the past two games and they have been driving the bus offensively at even-strength. Almost as cold as is Jarome Iginla, who somehow had zero points over a pair of games where his team scored 10 goals.

The absence of Kiprusoff will be notable. Granted, the Flames have won without their starting netminder – they were above .500 without him – but he was excellent over the past two games and if you're looking for a way to halt Calgary's momentum, taking Kiprusoff out is a great way to do it.

THE OPPOSITION

The Stars are floundering a bit, having lost four straight – including three in a row at home – culminating with an 8-1 beatdown by Chicago on Saturday. Their trouble? Lack of scoring, with their team scoring three goals over the past four contests while allowing 15 goals. Eeep.

Dallas (12-12-3) is perched just above Calgary in the standings, and it's hard to tell if that's where they belong. The Stars have been hobbled by injuries at times, but they've been almost as hindered by inconsistency from their roster. A 8-1 butt-whuppin' probably doesn't do much for the team's confidence.

From Roger Millions' Twitter, the likely Dallas lines:

  • Whitney – Benn – Eriksson
  • Morrow – Roy – Cole
  • Smith – Eakin – Jagr
  • Nystrom – Fiddler – Roussel

  • Larsen – Daley
  • Robidas – Oleksiak
  • Benn – Dillon

  • Lehtonen

SUM IT UP

The Flames are at .500, sit four points back of eighth-place San Jose, and have a game in hand. Oh, and they have two or three games in hand on literally every team between them and San Jose in the standings and are beginning a road trip where they play the three teams immediately ahead of them (Dallas, Nashville and Columbus).

I'm not saying this is a make-or-break stretch, but the Flames simply will not get a better chance to get back into the thick of things than they will this week. Kiprusoff or no Kiprusoff, there's no better way to start off a roadie than against a team that got stomped last game and hasn't won in over a week.

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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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#1 backburner
March 18 2013, 01:44PM
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I think the Flames will take this one..

It would be nice to see Calgary's top line show up for this one..

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#2 Vintage Flame
March 18 2013, 01:53PM
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Cammalleri will obviously lead the team in scoring tonight right? It is Dallas!

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#3 Vintage Flame
March 18 2013, 01:59PM
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Thought Backs had a bruised bone? They saying it's cracked now?

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#4 Avalain
March 18 2013, 02:24PM
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Even though I'm kind of in the "cheering for a loss" camp, I hate Dallas too much to ever want them to win anything (yes, my hate for Dallas is irrational and unfounded. That doesn't matter).

Go Flames!

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#5 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 02:25PM
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@Avalain

Hmm...don't think I've ever run into a Flames fan who hates Dallas. Any particular reason?

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#6 Dave
March 18 2013, 02:28PM
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This team is always significantly better with Backs in the line up. It's a shame he's facing all these injuries. I'd love to see him play a full year. Esspecially with his confidence right now.

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#7 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 02:32PM
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@Dave

Yeah. Im not prepared to call him fragile yet just given how random his injuries have been (broken finger, sprained mcl, cracked foot). Usually injury prone guys have chronic issues (back, knees, head) that contribute to their issues.

Backlund, though, just seems to have run into a cluster of random maladies. Here's hoping it ends and he can stay in n the line-up long term at some point.

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#8 MWflames
March 18 2013, 02:52PM
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Dave wrote:

This team is always significantly better with Backs in the line up. It's a shame he's facing all these injuries. I'd love to see him play a full year. Esspecially with his confidence right now.

The flames performance with and without Backlund is very indicative of what a half decent natural center does for this team.

Backlund has been very promising this year though, so hopefully a quick recovery and some better luck to finish off the season.

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#9 vowswithin
March 18 2013, 03:06PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Yeah. Im not prepared to call him fragile yet just given how random his injuries have been (broken finger, sprained mcl, cracked foot). Usually injury prone guys have chronic issues (back, knees, head) that contribute to their issues.

Backlund, though, just seems to have run into a cluster of random maladies. Here's hoping it ends and he can stay in n the line-up long term at some point.

If you wan keep Stajan off the team next year he might be able to stay healthy! lol

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#10 Avalain
March 18 2013, 03:09PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Hmm...don't think I've ever run into a Flames fan who hates Dallas. Any particular reason?

Honestly, it came from hating Minnesota and that just transferring over when they moved to Dallas. I can't really remember when I didn't like the North Stars, though. That was a while ago...

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#11 Brick
March 18 2013, 05:02PM
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Brendan Morrow, Bill Guerin and Steve Ott used to be good reasons to not like Dallas much.

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#12 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 05:03PM
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@Brick

Don't forget drunken Ed Belfour.

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#13 the forgotten man
March 18 2013, 05:07PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Thought Backs had a bruised bone? They saying it's cracked now?

If its cracked, that is going to take awhile to heal...hopefully it is not his heel bone because that is susceptible to re-avulsing in the future ie. stress fracture from repetitive forces.

Does Backlund have an injury history in junior or is this an isolated stretch of bad luck...might almost be best to keep him out this year, let him heal and rehab properly and come back a beast for a full season next year.

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#14 schevvy
March 18 2013, 05:13PM
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I think Roger Millions said it was a hairline fracture, Backs is taking warm up and then assess things from there

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#15 schevvy
March 18 2013, 05:29PM
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Backs is a go, as per Steinberg

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#17 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 06:38PM
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Well I hope this doesn't just aggravate what he has.

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#20 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 06:56PM
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@Ryan Pike

Cervenka over Begin? Surprising!

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#21 Joe
March 18 2013, 06:58PM
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Let's go Flames! I want major changes before the trade deadline passes, but still want the wins. Hope we have something to cheer about tonight.

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#23 negrilcowboy
March 18 2013, 07:03PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

My guess is that Hartley doesn't want Cervenka sitting for too long. He tried to rotate defensemen through the line-up, too, earlier in the year. Now he's just rotating Sarich and Smith.

rotate sarich right outa town artley

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#24 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:12PM
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3 chances against the 4th line in their first shift and then they ice it. Not the best start for Cervenka.

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#25 negrilcowboy
March 18 2013, 07:14PM
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ray whitney, still looks like the paperboy even at 40 yrs old

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#26 schevvy
March 18 2013, 07:14PM
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Good to see McGratten stay in the lineup!... (Insert sarcasm here)

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#27 schevvy
March 18 2013, 07:16PM
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Shots 6-0 Dallas...yikes

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#28 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:17PM
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Chances are 6-1 for the Stars to open. Flames are lucky it's 0-0.

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#29 schevvy
March 18 2013, 07:18PM
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MacBackup is some kinda goalie

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#30 RKD
March 18 2013, 07:20PM
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Quick poll, should the Flames bring Cervenka back next year based on what you guys have seen? He's more comfortable as a winger than a center, unless he's playing with Jagr.

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#31 schevvy
March 18 2013, 07:21PM
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Didn't Roussel fight Iggy?

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#32 Vintage Flame
March 18 2013, 07:23PM
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Good start for Joey Mac... Not so much for the rest of the team

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#33 negrilcowboy
March 18 2013, 07:23PM
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schevvy wrote:

Didn't Roussel fight Iggy?

oui

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#34 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:30PM
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The chance graphs for the two teams in the first are, uh...well they're not complimentary to Calgary.

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#35 Mitch P
March 18 2013, 07:31PM
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Aye-yai... rough period for Mr. Smith.

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#36 Mitch P
March 18 2013, 07:32PM
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Kent... I can't tell on Twitter but are you and Rog sparring?

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#37 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:33PM
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DAL with a half dozen 10-bell chances...and yet it's a deflection off Smith that goes in.

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#38 negrilcowboy
March 18 2013, 07:34PM
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hey kent, i hope the Raj dont call you names like he did the hawks

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#39 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:34PM
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@Mitch P

Not really. He kind of took offense to my complaint about SNET blanking out the score clock for starting line-ups, but then seemed to realize I wasn't merely sniping them for the sake of it.

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#40 Kevin R
March 18 2013, 07:34PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

NHL.com's roster has Begin, Sarich and Babchuk sitting. Larsen, Garbutt and Vincour out for Dallas.

Stajan, Stempniak, Glencross, Giordano and Wideman starting for Calgary.

That's 5.0mill sitting in the press box. Sounds like fine financial planning. That's almost ROR cap hit when you put it in perspective.

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#41 Kevin R
March 18 2013, 07:38PM
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RKD wrote:

Quick poll, should the Flames bring Cervenka back next year based on what you guys have seen? He's more comfortable as a winger than a center, unless he's playing with Jagr.

You wonder if Dallas would trade for him to unite with Jagr? You have to wonder if he even wants to comeback after being healthy scratched here.

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#42 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:39PM
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Boy what a disaster the start to this game is for the Flames. Calgary's first line starts in the offensive zone against the Stars third line and it turns into a goal for DAL.

The chance totals match the shot totals BTW.

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#43 ChinookArch
March 18 2013, 07:41PM
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Iggy looked right upset in that tussle.

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#44 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:41PM
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Why in the hell is Iginla fighting a 21 year old rookie?

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#45 Mitch P
March 18 2013, 07:41PM
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I can't bring myself to watch the other feed on NHL Game Centre. I also can't help screaming at my computer "SHUT UP SIMMER! JUST SHUT UP!". If they change the goal song next year, can we also chip in to bribe Crisp away from Nashville?

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#46 Vintage Flame
March 18 2013, 07:43PM
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Ruh - Roh

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#47 ChinookArch
March 18 2013, 07:43PM
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Can't wait for the 2nd period. Iginla must be furious in the dressing room right now.

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#48 negrilcowboy
March 18 2013, 07:44PM
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does eakins fight much? or is igglatowski goonin it up.

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#49 Kent Wilson
March 18 2013, 07:44PM
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Neither Wideman nor Giordano take the open man in front of the net.

The Flames are flat as a pancake. Worst period by them in awhile.

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