FGD: Blue Travelers Return Home

Ryan Pike
March 24 2013 02:34PM

The Calgary Flames return home to the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome to host the St. Louis Blues tonight. Game time is 6pm on Fan 960 and Sportsnet West.

The Flames are in must-win territory, having lost six of their last eight games, assuming they have any shot at the playoffs at all. Oddly enough, though, they've won six in a row at home and gone winless in nine on the road. The home wins have mostly come against good teams, and that home cooking will need to continue if they're to have any hope of a playoff berth or a respectable finish down the stretch.

A loss will put the Flames four games below .500, a position they haven't been since November 2011 (for a single game).

THE LINE-UP

The coaching staff has shuffled the deck a bit prior to tonight's game. Via Roger Millions' Twitter (@rogmillions), here are probable line combinations for the Flames.

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

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

  • Kiprusoff

Kiprusoff's starting his fourth in a row, despite losing three straight and posting a .866 save percentage – easily the lowest of the NHL's regular starting goalies. But it's a must-win game, so he'll get starts in these situations until the team is officially out of it. Cervenka and Smith take a seat tonight, while Backlund makes his way back in. He'll skate with Iginla and Hudler on the third line.

Note that the excellent second line has been kept together, as has the fourth line, which has been quietly effective for the Flames. Curtis Glencross has scored a point in five straight games (and seven of his last eight), and has scored 11 of his 13 goals this season on home ice.

THE OPPOSITION

The Blues are doing well. They're ninth-best in the NHL with a 17-11-2 record, mostly due to the fact they have given up the fewest shots against in the entire league. The Blues beat Edmonton 3-0 last night in the Hockey Night in Canada late game, so are on the second night of a B2B (like so many of the Flames home opponents this year).

Here are their probable line combinations, based on how they lined up last night.

  • Backes – Steen – Stewart
  • McDonald – Berglund – Oshie
  • Tarasenko – Sobotka – Perron
  • Schwartz – Nichol – Porter

  • Jackman – Pietrangelo
  • Russell – Polak
  • Redden – Shattenkirk

  • Halak

I'm guessing that Halak gets another start after winning last night, but they may throw Jake Allen back in. The Blues are carrying three goalies right now and Allen has the most wins and best save percentage, beating both Halak and Brian Elliott.

The Blues depth is readily apparent, with a strong top six, a couple good rookies in Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, and a very strong defensive group. Chris Stewart has been in and out of Ken Hitchcock's doghouse since the former Dallas bench boss arrived, but the big winger is nevertheless one of the hottest scorers in the league right now having managed six goals in his last five games. Stewart is a guy who can run hot and cold and is generally a libility when the puck isn't going in the net, but a handful for the defense when things are going his way. Stewart is also currently skating with David Backes - the Blues best all around player - so the Flames will have to be aware of him tonight.

SUM IT UP

The Flames have been losing of late, it's true, but their great home streak is keeping them afloat. A loss tonight drops them to four games below .500 with 18 games to go. Suddenly, a losing stretch would threaten to become a free-fall.

They cannot afford to let that happen and still have a hope at a post-season berth. If they lose, expect some major changes. Actually even if they win, expect some major changes.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#51 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 07:43PM
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Why are people talking about Spooner from BOS? he strikes me as a pretty middling prospect.

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#52 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 07:46PM
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Haha, even at less than 100%, Backlund has his good shifts. That was a beauty.

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#53 ChinookArch
March 24 2013, 07:47PM
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Hopefully Cervenka will stay off the scratch list going forward.

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#54 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 07:47PM
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Good good goal from Cervenka

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#55 funkyjaman
March 24 2013, 07:47PM
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Ya Spooner isn't someone the flames should be looking at.

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#56 mk
March 24 2013, 07:53PM
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So this Cervenka guy looks pretty good...what are your thoughts on him going forward? Retain?

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#57 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 07:53PM
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@mk

I'd be surprised if he wanted to re-sign in CGY to tell you the truth.

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#58 Danglesnipecelly
March 24 2013, 07:54PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Why are people talking about Spooner from BOS? he strikes me as a pretty middling prospect.

Only because I'm trying to figure out what prospects the Bruins have that we would want...!! He's a centre, we needs centres... I dunno, what would you ask for Kent?

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#59 Colin.S
March 24 2013, 07:54PM
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mk wrote:

So this Cervenka guy looks pretty good...what are your thoughts on him going forward? Retain?

I'm thinking healthy scratch to be honest, gonna need macgratton in the line up sooner rather than later, otherwise our grit chart stats might drop.

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#60 Kurt
March 24 2013, 07:55PM
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Time to buy! I knew we were just 1 piece away. but who knew the missing piece was in the press box (Cervenka!!! Can Feaster say extension?!?)

#ninthPlace

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#61 RKD
March 24 2013, 07:56PM
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Finally, the real Cervenka is starting to show up. It was too bad he was on blood thinners and wasn't acclimated to the NHL climate nor conditioning for that matter.

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#62 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 07:57PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd be surprised if he wanted to re-sign in CGY to tell you the truth.

Might take some convincing from Hudler.

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#63 Colin.S
March 24 2013, 07:58PM
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Feaster should be inquiring about a contract extension right now for Cervenka, and if his camp puts out a pretty big no, he should be traded before the deadline, no point in holding on to him if he doesn't want to resign.

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#64 schevvy
March 24 2013, 07:58PM
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Shots this period are 16-3 STL. Flames are getting lucky

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#65 RKD
March 24 2013, 08:00PM
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Sven Baertschi 2 points last night in the Heat's win.

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#66 schevvy
March 24 2013, 08:01PM
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Kipper should have had that. Oh well. They deserved it

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#67 ChinookArch
March 24 2013, 08:01PM
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Oshie Smoshie! Friggin frack!

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#68 mk
March 24 2013, 08:02PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd be surprised if he wanted to re-sign in CGY to tell you the truth.

I was afraid you'd say that. Too bad - it would be nice to get someone in that age range, with some skill like he has. I would bet money he produces better next year, after getting accustomed to the NHL game. Ugh.

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#69 Mullen Mania
March 24 2013, 08:08PM
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Cervenka has some offensive touch and I would agree he requires some patience to find out exactly what we have in him. However, he still looks weak in the corners and in maintaining puck possession, which likely put him in the press box. I wouldn't mind giving him another year contract at a reasonable rate, but I am not convinced he is going to make all the adjustments necessary to be effective at the North American game.

I agree with Kent that he may not want to sign with the Flames, but at this point they might as well play him as much as he is able for the remainder of the season.

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#70 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 08:11PM
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Much better period for the Flames in the face off circle but hose shots against?? Yeesh! Lucky to still be leading this one.

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#71 Q
March 24 2013, 08:13PM
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I'm still not buying that iggys given jay a list of teams. With all the intellectual honesty floating around since January why would some no name RDS dude know? Watch.... We'll win tnite and ownership puts the brakes on any moves!

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#72 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 08:14PM
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Chances were 10-2 for St. Louis [9-2 at EVS]

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#73 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 08:14PM
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@Danglesnipecelly

I'd have to go through who they have, but my sights would be set higher than Spooner.

BTW, my comment wasn't totally directed at you. I've seen a lot of people bring up Spooner.

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#74 Q
March 24 2013, 08:15PM
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@RKD

Serious! Real cervenka? He is as soft a player as we've had in years! Trade his a$$!

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#76 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 08:20PM
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@Ryan Pike

The first Kipper special of the season.

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#77 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 24 2013, 08:22PM
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Kurt wrote:

Time to buy! I knew we were just 1 piece away. but who knew the missing piece was in the press box (Cervenka!!! Can Feaster say extension?!?)

#ninthPlace

why use hash-tags?

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#78 Mullen Mania
March 24 2013, 08:22PM
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@Q

Understand where you are coming from, but I seriously doubt that Cervenka is tradable at this point, given the small sample of games, limited success, upcoming UFA status, and health issues.

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#80 Q
March 24 2013, 08:26PM
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@Mullen Mania

No I hear ya! Just so frustrated that we've gotten so soft as a core of players!

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#81 Danglesnipecelly
March 24 2013, 08:26PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I'd have to go through who they have, but my sights would be set higher than Spooner.

BTW, my comment wasn't totally directed at you. I've seen a lot of people bring up Spooner.

Haha no worries I didn't take it personally! Just racking my brain and spending way too much time on cap geek and HF etc etc

Iggy to Chicago for Danault, Clendening and a 1st? Okay I'll stop now...

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#82 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 08:30PM
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Glencross seems to gripping a little tonight.

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#84 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 08:34PM
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Jeebuz

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#85 Aussie Flame
March 24 2013, 08:34PM
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According to CSNNE.com, the Bruins offered 19-year-old Russian prospect Alex Khokhlachev and a second-round draft pick for the 34-year-old Morrow, who decided to join the first-place Penguins. So they would have to up that for Iginla

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#86 Q
March 24 2013, 08:34PM
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That would be crazy if iggys on his way out after the game. This teams the only one that does a press conference for everything so it'll be awhile til we hear anything. Is it just me or is tanguay one of the poutiest players you've ever seen? When were sucking, he is listless and pouty like a 2 yr old. I wish we could rid ourselves of him. He's iggys height and yet sooo frigggn soft. Can't believe he has 3 yrs left. 2-2. Pout time!

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#87 RexLibris
March 24 2013, 08:36PM
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I'm surprised Jared Knight hasn't come up as part of the Boston trade rumours.

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#88 RexLibris
March 24 2013, 08:39PM
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I may have missed this in the comments thus far, but anyone surprised over Boucher being fired today?

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#89 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 08:40PM
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Wow that was a stinker. Just when you were doing so well Kipper.

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#90 ChinookArch
March 24 2013, 08:42PM
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@Aussie Flame

Interesting. Look wht Pronman has to say about him during the World Jrs.

"Alexander Khokhlachev, Center, Boston Bruins (Spartak-KHL): Khokhlachev has been average in the KHL but looked quite good during the Super Series vs. the CHL. He’s a high-end playmaker who has shown some added speed this season which will help his prospect stock. This will be Khokhlachev’s second appearance for Russia".

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#91 Vintage Flame
March 24 2013, 08:44PM
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Such a strong game for Kipper in general. Too bad he's let in two softies.

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#92 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 08:44PM
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@ChinookArch

Khohhlachev has pretty good junior numbers as well. He'd probably be of the most interests for me from BOS.

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#93 Slash
March 24 2013, 08:45PM
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Kipper has been slow to get back up on his skates when he goes down. Sometimes he even pulls himself up using the crossbar.

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#94 RKD
March 24 2013, 08:45PM
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Q wrote:

Serious! Real cervenka? He is as soft a player as we've had in years! Trade his a$$!

The entire team is soft outside of the fourth line, no pushback. The top line before tonight's game a combined -14. Each and every player on this team has folded like a tent, so many passengers it's not even funny.

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#95 ChinookArch
March 24 2013, 08:45PM
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Hey Charlie,

Does moving your feet cure all?

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#96 Kurt
March 24 2013, 08:46PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

why use hash-tags?

It was a joke. Like my post. And like this entire organization.

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#97 Kent Wilson
March 24 2013, 08:46PM
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Butler sucks.

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#98 RexLibris
March 24 2013, 08:48PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Hey Charlie,

Does moving your feet cure all?

Only if you do it while going to the net hard, pinning it against the boards, getting pucks on net, and giving 110% on every shift.

;-)

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#100 RexLibris
March 24 2013, 08:49PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Butler sucks.

You didn't like him in Phantom of the Opera either?

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