FGD: On the Road in Nashville

Ryan Pike
March 21 2013 01:00PM

 

 

For the twelfth time this season, the Calgary Flames are entering a game with a record just below .500 and hope to get back to even with a win. Thus far this season, their 11 previous attempts have resulted in a 6-4-1 record, which would be great if they managed to win more when entering a game with a .500 record.

Now, in the midst of an extended win-one, lose-one stretch, the Flames really need a win and really need to get back from .500. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Tonight's game is the first of a back-to-back – tonight in Nashville, tomorrow in Columbus – that sees Calgary begin to use up their games in hand. Entering Thursday, the Flames had two (or three) games in hand on literally every other Western Conference team. If they put together wins over the next 48 hours, they can get to within two points of a playoff spot – with games still in hand.

Puck drop is at 6pm on your various Sportsnet sports broadcasting properties.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames are coming off of a 4-3 loss in Dallas on Monday night. According to Roger Millions and Pat Steinberg, the team will look a bit different tonight. Here are likely line combinations:

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

  • Brodie – Bouwmeester
  • Giordano – Wideman
  • Sarich – Butler

  • Kiprusoff

In summation: Kiprusoff has returned from child-birth and will start. Cory Sarich subs in for Derek Smith. Steve Begin subs in for Roman Cervenka, who, I think we can safely say at this point, isn't being sat for "health reasons".

Biggest head-scratcher may be the Sarich sub-in, although Smith has been merely “fine” and I'd wager that he's back for the Columbus game. Ditto Cervenka. The Flames have three lines clicking right now and merely need to come out in the first period with some form of urgency. Any form, really.

Iginla had perhaps his best game of the last month against Dallas, but just could not score.

THE OPPOSITION

Like the Flames, Nashville is coming off a 4-3 road loss. Theirs came in Columbus on Tuesday night. Lines for tonight weren't immediately available, so here's roughly how they looked on Tuesday:

  • Mueller – Legwand – Bourque
  • Beck – Fisher – Erat
  • Boychuk (gone) – Spaling – Halischuk
  • Clune – Smith - Yip

  • Weber – Josi
  • Ellis – Blum
  • Klein – Bartley

  • Rinne

Either Bobby Butler or Sergei Kostitsyn will replace Boychuk in the line-up, as he's been claimed on waivers by Carolina. I'd lean towards Kostitsyn. If so, let's hope he shows the same level of try and tenacity he displayed against the Oil.

Pekka Rinne has been lit up (and chased) recently – most recently against the Flames last week. The Preds are also injury-hobbled and their forward roster is full of, to be blunt, random dudes. If Bob Hartley can line-match a bit, the Flames could make some hay in Music City.

SUM IT UP

The Flames need points. They've beaten the Predators convincingly recently, and really need to do it again. As much as the road losing streak hangs over the team, they have to put it out of their minds and go to work. Miikka Kiprusoff should be able to hold the team in the game, so as long as the club can score on Pekka Rinne (and undermine his likely flagging confidence), they have a good shot here.

Next stop: .500.

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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 Avalain
March 21 2013, 02:53PM
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If I stopped people everytime I'd heard it before, I'd never hear anything about the Flames at all!

:(

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#2 Parallex
March 21 2013, 03:03PM
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@Kurt

Why not? We have a guy eating up a spot in our lineup who doesn't play on the PP, or PK (or much even strength for that matter) who probably ends up spending more time in the penalty box then on the ice. I'd rather have Cervenka out there playing on the PP/soft-circumstances/shootout then watch the Dancing Bear waste space.

I like Hartley's style but I hate that he sits Cervenka while McGrattan, Begin, & Jackman draw in.

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#3 schevvy
March 21 2013, 08:06PM
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Le sigh.

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#4 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 08:13PM
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@jeremywilhelm

To be fair to McGrattan, the 4th line has been the best of the bunch tonight...

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#5 A
March 21 2013, 08:50PM
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Wow! Not surprised really, but thought I had a good feeling about this game . Please folks, this has to has to has to be the final nail in the coffin or the last litmus test for management with this team! We've been man-handled by the bottom feeders and the elite, not to mention the middle pack teams. What gives? This is so uninspiring and so dissapointing as a long time fan! If its " stay the course" after tonight than truly we as fans cannot have a future to hope for with the Calgary Flames. They have fully run the gammit of failing now and if iggy and at least 3 others aren't moved we have incredible reason to be worried. The only positive will be drafting but it will be a painfully long wait! Lets hope it begins tonight gang! :( :(!!!!!!!!!!!

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#6 ChinookArch
March 21 2013, 08:50PM
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Well neither Iginla or Kippusoft are making a case for raising their trade values tonight.

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#7 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 08:54PM
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Things just keep going wrong for Calgary. As I mentioned on twitter, this is the right year to implode for 40 or so games. Jones/MacKinnon/Droiun/Barkov are within sight.

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#8 Quintana
March 21 2013, 08:59PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Well neither Iginla or Kippusoft are making a case for raising their trade values tonight.

Iginla a 1st + prospect. Kipper not even a 2nd rounder.

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#9 Q
March 21 2013, 09:04PM
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No one wishes for the team to lose they wish for it to not win which is different because this is all on the owners and king for ineptitude! There is no guilt in It it if your motive is to get management to pull their collective head out of their collective A$$! It sucks to think this way but its what Darryl and owners have done to us!

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#10 Q
March 21 2013, 09:12PM
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@Subversive

Thank you Kent! Finally it's summed up right for us! The ONLY way there will be change is if its forced! There is no way unless through embarrassment and shear ugliness that change can happen! If I'm iggy I am soooo done! Please iggy, no one will doubt your motive! I would love to hear a crazy loud chorus of boos and brown bags at the next home game but not at the players, and before the players are even on the ice! If they win games I'll not protest but I error now on the side if "forcing" the owners hand now! I'm loyal and devoted to a team that wins and loses but not ownership that takes for granted their loyal fans who sell out games regardless of the outcome!!

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#11 Q
March 21 2013, 09:54PM
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@negrilcowboy

Are you Freakn kidding me? At the expense of the team? What the crap are you even spewing dude?!!!!! He has been our team along with kipper! The garbage we've had for coaches have zapped the lifeblood out of iggy and he's been given virtually noone to play with in his career! Conroy, gelinas, olli, tanguay, cammi? A joke! You are not a flames fan! You are spoiled and now rotten! Don't lecture me and don't put iggy even near the loser sundin! You sound more like a bitter leafs fan not a loyal flames fan ! He is 35. One yr younger than lanny was whe n he retired! Blame any flames ineptitude on crap drafting, crap management and horrid horrid Sutter trading and Sutter nepotism! Don't even dude !wake the Freak up!

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#12 SeanCharles
March 21 2013, 01:15PM
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Is Cervenka that bad?

I want to see him on a line with Backs and Hudler. Put Comeau centering on the 4th...

On Smith: I thought he played horrible last game so its not surprising he's back out. We only have 5 guys we can count on night in and night out.

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#13 danglesnipecelly
March 21 2013, 01:16PM
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Well if the fat lady isn't already singing she will be if we don't win tonight... according to Sports Club Stats if we lose tonight our chances of making the playoffs drop from 20% to just under 14%

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#14 danglesnipecelly
March 21 2013, 01:16PM
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Well if the fat lady isn't already singing she will be if we don't win tonight... according to Sports Club Stats if we lose tonight our chances of making the playoffs drop from 20% to just under 14%

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#15 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 01:19PM
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@SeanCharles

I think his combination of low conditioning and lackluster defense makes him seem like too much of a liability in Hartley's eyes.

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#16 the-wolf
March 21 2013, 01:59PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I think his combination of low conditioning and lackluster defense makes him seem like too much of a liability in Hartley's eyes.

Yup, so much for the new, improved offensive juggernaut that was to be the 2013 Flames.

Hartley hss already been preaching defense for weeks now. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone else?

(And somewhere on the ranch, Brent Sutter chuckles to himself)

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#17 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 02:19PM
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@the-wolf

I'd say that's a rational response from the coach insofar as the team's biggest problem is goals against this year.

That said, the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league-worst goaltending.

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#18 The Last Big Bear
March 21 2013, 02:33PM
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Cervenka is probably the safest and steadiest offensive player on the team. I can't recall off the top of my head a single mistake he's made with the puck since he's been a Flame.

The flip side is that he's probably the worst Flame defensively. He doesn't seem to make many obvious defensive blunders, but that's because he's usually nowhere to be found when there is a defensive play to be made.

That said, a player like that is a tool that should be in the toolbox and used selectively, with an awareness of its limitations. Not sat in the pressbox in favour of Steve freakin' Begin. PP minutes, offensive zone starts, linemates better than McGrattan and Jackman, and usage when the team is down by more than one goal.

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#19 Kurt
March 21 2013, 02:48PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Cervenka is probably the safest and steadiest offensive player on the team. I can't recall off the top of my head a single mistake he's made with the puck since he's been a Flame.

The flip side is that he's probably the worst Flame defensively. He doesn't seem to make many obvious defensive blunders, but that's because he's usually nowhere to be found when there is a defensive play to be made.

That said, a player like that is a tool that should be in the toolbox and used selectively, with an awareness of its limitations. Not sat in the pressbox in favour of Steve freakin' Begin. PP minutes, offensive zone starts, linemates better than McGrattan and Jackman, and usage when the team is down by more than one goal.

There is no place in the NHL for an "offensive specialist". I suppose PP is the closest thing you could have to a pure offence role with no d required. But are you going to eat up a spot in your lineup for a guy who only plays on the PP? It just doesn't work, this isn't football.

Cervenka signing = Fail

He is Kotalik II

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#20 the-wolf
March 21 2013, 03:00PM
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Kurt wrote:

There is no place in the NHL for an "offensive specialist". I suppose PP is the closest thing you could have to a pure offence role with no d required. But are you going to eat up a spot in your lineup for a guy who only plays on the PP? It just doesn't work, this isn't football.

Cervenka signing = Fail

He is Kotalik II

I'd be willing to try 1 more season at league minmum. Maybe he can come back over the summer in better shape and with some idea of how to play D. 3rd line potential.

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#21 shutout
March 21 2013, 03:18PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd say that's a rational response from the coach insofar as the team's biggest problem is goals against this year.

That said, the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league-worst goaltending.

Except that this is the coach that a month ago was talking about how the game is about being up tempo and full of excitement for the fans. That the team was going to play an offensive style of hockey and that he did not care if they won their games 7-6.

Now that he finds out that he has a number of players that dont want to consistently work hard and that playing up tempo is fine if everybody is competing he has started to stress that defense is the cornerstone to all good teams and too winning hockey games.

Pretty sure that when Brent was here he went through a similar stage of disillusionment. Complain all you want about Brent and how Bouwmeester was not getting the offensive opportunities, but he recognized that even though Bouwmeester has the speed he cannot effectively be both players and so Brent sacrificed offense for almost half a game of higher end defense.

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#22 shutout
March 21 2013, 03:20PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd say that's a rational response from the coach insofar as the team's biggest problem is goals against this year.

That said, the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league-worst goaltending.

I think that the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league worst lack of consistency, effort, and attention to detail and that their goaltending the last few years has been the only thing hiding an organizational problem stemming from a lack of proper leadership in the dressing room.

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#23 Michael
March 21 2013, 03:26PM
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@Kent Wilson That said, the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league-worst goaltending

I would argue the opposite, in previous years the Flames defense looked better than it really was because of superior goaltending. The d corp can move the puck better this year, but have looked pretty weak in their own end.

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#24 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 03:38PM
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@Michael

Right, but perceptions follow results in most cases. I can tell you last year the Flames were giving up shots and chances at an equal or greater pace many nights in January and February, but Kipper stood on his head so no one really identified the back-end as a big problem. Of course, in the off-season I noted that Kipper was unlikely to do that again, so here we are.

The difference between the two units is probably pretty small in terms of own-zone play, but if pressed I take this year's group over last years, which featured a top-4 with Scott Hannan and Chris Butler most nights.

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#25 chillout
March 21 2013, 03:42PM
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In my view JBo was freakin terrible under Sutter. Constantly out of position and making stupid mistakes because sutter was forcing him to play a certain way. Now allowed to play it his way he is making smart moves getting involved and making nice plays. Not a square peg being forced into a round hole anymore. Gio has been garbage in our zone this year all I see is bad giveaways that lead to goals. Won't even start with the goaltending... Cervenka will get lots more playing time soon if Iggy moves out and maybe whoever else goes. Might as well rest him up

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#26 Derzie
March 21 2013, 04:15PM
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For Cervenka watchers, keep in mind he is leading the team in plus/minus. Unfortunately, it's the minus part which is his forte. Combination of being on lines with plugs and having zero defensive instinct.

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#27 RexLibris
March 21 2013, 05:11PM
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When the Flames began the season they looked to me like a team with a "run and gun" offense. Unfortunately they had more "run" than "gun" and the results, as Kent mentioned, are to be expected. If the "gun" half isn't working than the "run" isn't worth pursuing.

With regards to Cervenka, his signing isn't a terrible move by Feaster, but his billing as a centre was. He has not been, as was commonly held, a low-risk/high-reward signing because of the utter lack of centre depth the roster has.

I hope that when Flames fans look back on the 2013 season they don't tag it with names like the Cervenka era. It was a worthwhile signing, but absent any sort of improvement down the middle it simply wasn't enough to make roster into what fans were led to believe.

I usually cheer for Calgary, but heaven knows that, as an Oilers' fan I'll certainly be cheering for the Flames tonight.

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#28 Jibmeister
March 21 2013, 05:40PM
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I'm calling a 4-3 Flames win.

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#29 Kevin R
March 21 2013, 05:43PM
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shutout wrote:

Except that this is the coach that a month ago was talking about how the game is about being up tempo and full of excitement for the fans. That the team was going to play an offensive style of hockey and that he did not care if they won their games 7-6.

Now that he finds out that he has a number of players that dont want to consistently work hard and that playing up tempo is fine if everybody is competing he has started to stress that defense is the cornerstone to all good teams and too winning hockey games.

Pretty sure that when Brent was here he went through a similar stage of disillusionment. Complain all you want about Brent and how Bouwmeester was not getting the offensive opportunities, but he recognized that even though Bouwmeester has the speed he cannot effectively be both players and so Brent sacrificed offense for almost half a game of higher end defense.

Bingo on the change of drum beating from Hartley. Thing is, I think Hartley knows this team cant play the upbeat style because they are either to small or too old & too inconsistent to establish any type of team identity. I think Hartley & Feaster & even how Ken King talks on the Fan know this. It just seems they are not throwing anybody under the bus, that would be kinda stupid when you are trying to get top trade value for these players. I love to gamble and right now, I think Management know this thing is a big do over & they need to rebuild this team from the foundation up.

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#30 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 06:38PM
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Flames pretty much have to win this one. I mean, the Preds are basically an AHL team right now.

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#31 ChinookArch
March 21 2013, 06:41PM
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Wow! Nice work Jordano

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#32 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 06:42PM
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Nice shot by Gio, but that's really a puck Rinne should stop.

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#33 ChinookArch
March 21 2013, 06:43PM
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Nice kill on the PK for the Flames.

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#34 ChinookArch
March 21 2013, 06:50PM
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Let me guess Kent. Chances are 0-0?

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#35 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 06:56PM
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Chances are 6-0 Preds so far. Yeesh.

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#36 ChinookArch
March 21 2013, 06:57PM
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Another shorty. Holy Wow!

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#37 Lordmork
March 21 2013, 06:59PM
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Is Comeau playing better these days, or is he just getting lucky? I haven't seen him try to skate around the net lately.

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#38 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 06:59PM
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Well that was a legit chance at least.

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#39 ned.
March 21 2013, 07:06PM
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http://atdhe.so/watch.php?id=633851 …these Nashville play-by-play guys are hilarious.

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#40 Vintage Flame
March 21 2013, 07:06PM
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Who needs scoring chances when you can PK like Mother fu.....

Dammit, Fisher just scored

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#41 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 07:07PM
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Aside from their 2 SHG, the Flames have played like hot garbage again in the first period. Chances are 7-1 Preds.

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#42 thymebalm
March 21 2013, 07:07PM
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Looks like those goaltending numbers aren't going up any time soon.

Bring back Taylor.

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#43 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 07:11PM
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@thymebalm

Ironically, Rinne was worse than Kipper in the first, which is the only reason the Flames are in this.

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#44 Vintage Flame
March 21 2013, 07:12PM
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@Kent Wilson

Rinne looks pretty bad tonight.. Thank God

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#45 SeanCharles
March 21 2013, 07:21PM
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Comeau has looked good lately... I was one of the few who wanted him resigned but even I'll admit I didn't think he'd be higher on depth charts than Cervenka and Sven....

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#46 ned.
March 21 2013, 07:23PM
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@ned.

It's Terry Crisp!

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#47 thymebalm
March 21 2013, 07:25PM
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Can't fault him on the cross crease goal.

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#48 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 07:30PM
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Another PK for the Flames. SHG #3??

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#49 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 07:31PM
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@SeanCharles

That's true. His underlying numbers have drastically improved over time, even tough most of the team's have cratered.

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#50 Kent Wilson
March 21 2013, 07:35PM
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The Flames first line has been horrid at ES tonight.

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