FGD: Blizzard in Calgary

Ryan Pike
March 03 2013 01:49PM

 

 

The weather outside is frightful, but there's a chance that the game tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome could be anything but delightful for the Calgary Flames as they host the Vancouver Canucks.

The Flames organization has had a terrible week, between losing out on Ryan O'Reilly, the RFA waivers fiasco and, most importantly, a series of blown leads in 2-1 and 5-4 losses to the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. The club has had time to lick its wounds and hopefully let any distractions blow over, but another "L" tonight would mean another black eye for team that has already been thoroughly worked over.

If the Flames can put togehter a strong, focused performance, the Canucks are beatable – Vancouver played the Los Angeles Kings at home on Saturday night, went to the airport to fly to Calgary and got sent home because of the storm here in Alberta. It will likely be a hectic, stressful and snow-filled trip to YYC for the Vancouver Canucks. If the Flames are on their game, they can win, get back to .500 and keep their dimming playoff hopes alive.

That is, if the game isn't cancelled outright.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames have been one step forward, one step back all season. Currently sitting at a game under .500, they're about to see their roughest stretch of games so far this year – Vancouver tonight, San Jose on Wednesday, then on the road to visit Anaheim for one and Los Angeles for two. It's not inconceivable that they could lose all five games. That's why this contest is critically important to win, because they're facing a travel-weary, tired Canucks team.

Brian McGrattan – wearing #16 – could return to the line-up tonight. He was described by Bob Hartley earlier this week as a game-time decision. McGrattan is big and can drop the gloves, but not much else. Toughness continues to be an on-going concern with the lclub (amongst other things) so we'll see if he adds anything. Either way, he'll play four minutes a game if he does play at all. Akim Aliu has been banished back to Abbotsford.

The other news this week regards injuries. Miikka Kiprusoff has been practicing and should return sometime in the next 7 days. That means Danny Taylor's expected start tonight could be his last of the year for Calgary – assuming no more injuries, of course. Consider tonight an audition for future employment for “The Impaler.”

Mikael Backlund is back skating alone with the yellow caution jersey. He's not with the group yet, but it's an encouraging sign for a guy that was great before he went down with a MCL injury, not to mention a team with the fewest natural centers in the NHL as things stand.

Here are the team's new lines courtesy Sportsnet's Pat Steinberg.

  • Tanguay – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Hudler – Cervenka – Iginla
  • Glencross – Cammalleri – Baertschi
  • Begin – Comeau - McGrattan

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

Danny Taylor starts after MacDonald's implosion agains the Avs.

THE OPPOSITION

The Canucks prevailed over the Kings last night by a 5-2 score. They're at the top of the Northwest Division and are always a tough game for the Flames. Calgary got a point from their two games in Vancouver, but overall have been out-scored 7-3 by Canucks. Leland Irving was not great in a 5-1 loss the last time these teams met on February 9.

As usual, the magical Sedin twins drive the bus, offensively, for the Canucks. They each have a point-per-game or more. Nobody else on that team is really all that close, except for maybe Ryan Kesler who is fortunately injured again.

The Canucks are dealing with a goaltending “controversy,” in that they have both Cory Schneider (6-4-1, 2.65 GAA, .910 S%) and Roberto Luongo (5-1-3, 2.11 GAA, .916 S%) on their roster and basically flip a coin to see which good goalie will start.

Here are last night's lines.

  • D.Sedin – H.Sedin – Burrows
  • Booth – Lapierre – Kassian
  • Higgins – Raymond – Hansen
  • Sestito – Schroeder – Weise

  • Edler – Bieksa
  • Hamhuis – Garrison
  • Alberts - Tanev

The coin-toss came up heads, so Roberto Luongo will likely start. Oh, and also because Schneider played last night.

SUM IT UP

The Flames have had a rough week and are entering a difficult stretch of games beginning tonight. Facing a tired Canucks team, this is about as easy at it gets for awhile.

This evening's contest is as close to a must-win game as they're going to have this early in the season. With the probable playoff threshold at about 55 points in the West, Calgary can only afford to lose about 9 more games in regulation for the rest of the season. That is a steep hill to climb as it is and grows ever steeper with every new loss.

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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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#101 schevvy
March 03 2013, 08:18PM
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Why does Francis keep getting work?

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#102 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 08:18PM
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yep gio looks better playin againt the middleweights than the heavies, maybe hartley should note dat

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#103 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 08:20PM
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schevvy wrote:

Why does Francis keep getting work?

gotta have pics of somebody impetent i migh important

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#104 clYDE
March 03 2013, 08:20PM
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Love how some on here like to rip a Stanley Cup winning coach for wanting toughness and for bringing up all these meaningful stats when talking about all the negatives that a guy like Mcgratten brings. Did any of you notice an increase in the physical play and energy from the rest of the team?

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#105 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:21PM
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Can the Flames keep up for the third and actually, maybe do something tonight?

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#106 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 08:21PM
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i meant important

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#107 Q
March 03 2013, 08:21PM
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@mk

I've actually been a lot happier with jaybo this yr and he is jumping more into the play. Good point.

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#108 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:22PM
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I'm actually impressed with the play of Taylor so far.

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#109 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:22PM
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JayBo having a great game

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#110 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:22PM
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schevvy wrote:

Why does Francis keep getting work?

All the older, smarter analysts have contracts restricting them from working so many places I assume.

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#111 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:23PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

I'm actually impressed with the play of Taylor so far.

Yes he's been decent

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#112 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:24PM
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Everyone like my new Canada/Flames enforcer/Jets pic?

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#113 Bean-counting cowboy
March 03 2013, 08:25PM
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Hows the game looked? Just joined. I see the oilers have been held to seven shots into the 3rd period (wild have 32) no shots at all in 2nd period! Havent noticed Rex commenting yet. Seems he only shows up when Flames fans are down in the dumps or the Oil are up 5 -0.

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#114 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 08:27PM
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Comeau looked good. That's one in a row!

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#115 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 08:28PM
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No chances in the 3rd so far. Both teams playing tight.

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#116 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:28PM
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Shooooot already

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#117 Alsker
March 03 2013, 08:29PM
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I may not be Rex but copper/blue fan I am and we suck ass tonite4 like you guys did last week against the wildBORES of minny..epic sh*^ty game..you're tied..so were we..Van gotta be tired kick some ass and see what happens

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#118 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:31PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

No chances in the 3rd so far. Both teams playing tight.

Thanks Kent! And what happened to the cool "comment on the fly during game" application?

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#119 schevvy
March 03 2013, 08:32PM
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How hilarious would it be if McGratten scored the winner?

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#120 MC Hockey
March 03 2013, 08:33PM
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schevvy wrote:

How hilarious would it be if McGratten scored the winner?

Mucho!

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#121 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 08:36PM
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Tanguay has been a little too cute with the passing tonight.

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#122 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 08:37PM
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Flames looking like the better team in the 3rd now. VAN looks like they're out of gas.

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#123 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:38PM
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leave it to Kent to throw the #WilsonJinx in here early..

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#124 Jeff Lebowski
March 03 2013, 08:41PM
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Seems like Calgary has fragile confidence with puck. Everything is chipped off glass or rimmed around boards from own end.

They need to get some confidence and make some plays in the middle of the ice.

Brodie needs to show his worth then hopefully some other D men start to make some plays too.

Guys like Tanguay and Cammi needs to get puck on their stick in stride through neutral zone. Back the D off with some rushes with speed and make plays in the open ice with a second level from D men.

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#126 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 08:45PM
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Yes!

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#127 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:45PM
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Nice tip Iggy.. err.... Hudler

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#130 schevvy
March 03 2013, 08:47PM
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I think that's Iggy, but either way, good goal

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#131 schevvy
March 03 2013, 08:48PM
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Simmer is not good tonight.

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#132 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:49PM
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@schevvy

Simmer is not good ANY night

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#133 schevvy
March 03 2013, 08:50PM
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@Vintage Flame

True. Very true. Hire Pierre Maguire! (Sarcasm)

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#134 RKD
March 03 2013, 08:50PM
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Iggy passes Theo Fleury!

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#135 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:54PM
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Goal changed to Iggy

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#136 Gunk
March 03 2013, 08:56PM
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if we get this W do we consider it a "lucky' win? Far superior play by the flames in the 3rd.

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#138 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 09:00PM
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Nice third from the Flames. They played a decent game for sure.

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#140 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 09:02PM
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I had chances 5-4 Flames in the third.

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#141 Gunk
March 03 2013, 09:03PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

That'll do, Flames. That'll do. Should be Danny Taylor's first NHL victory.

Finally the kid get a win. happy for him. aaand we lose to Colorado and then knock off Vancouver; have we seen this before? I think so

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#142 schevvy
March 03 2013, 09:07PM
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Good for Taylor. Hope he starts Wednesday (unless Kipper's ready)

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#143 mk
March 03 2013, 09:09PM
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schevvy wrote:

Good for Taylor. Hope he starts Wednesday (unless Kipper's ready)

I hope he starts anyways. Kipper has been BAD this season.

Haha now everyone will hate me.

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#144 schevvy
March 03 2013, 09:11PM
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@mk

Ha. No way that would ever happen. Wouldn't be the worst thing ever, but I think Kipper's still better than Taylor.

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#145 Q
March 03 2013, 09:16PM
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This win does t solve our woes but it sure feels a lot better when u beat the Canucks, even if they were tired. But we were missing kipper and backs!

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#146 Q
March 03 2013, 09:18PM
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Sorry, not a Taylor fan! He's got a strange style! Handles the puck too much and some weird rebounds. Back to abbotsford please.

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#147 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 09:22PM
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I didn't like Taylor's game too much tonight either. Almost every shot on him produced a big rebound.

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#148 Q
March 03 2013, 09:38PM
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@Kent Wilson

Glad to see someone else feels the same. Just was really quirky and if this had been a healthy rested Canuck team tnite, maybe different results? I don't care how bad kipper may have been to start the season, he gives a team way more confidence. There were times where Taylor went behind the net with the puck and played the puck and I had to hold my breath! Weird rebounds off his chest bouncing high and to the hash marks! Please b back soon kipper! I'm fine with smith. Much more sure of himself.

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#149 seve927
March 03 2013, 09:41PM
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schevvy wrote:

Ha. No way that would ever happen. Wouldn't be the worst thing ever, but I think Kipper's still better than Taylor.

Maybe it'll be Ramo.

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#150 Q
March 03 2013, 09:47PM
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@Q

Hey kent... Couple questions for you. I liked cammi and Glennx with baertschi. Why isn't bob giving Sven more ice time? He has so many skills I feel are being wasted! I'm not as impressed with cervenka. He is soft. My other question deals with the style of team we have. I don't think of our top 6 as soft, they are just finesse type players. So how do we augment that with grit? Not fighter grit but nose to the grindstone grit? I like our finesse players but what could we give up for grit and who might be out there? Just tired of the abbotsford experiments, ie. Aliu, etc.

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