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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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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#1 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:37PM
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That stare was like staring into the soul of a serial killer, SO SCARY!!!

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#2 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 07:40PM
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I hate those penalties being called.

I can see it if McGratten did it to the Canucks bench, but for the fans... get real refs

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

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#4 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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#5 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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#6 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:22PM
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JayBo having a great game

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#7 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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#8 Chris Fairfield
March 03 2013, 01:55PM
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Let's hope Taylor can have a solid game tonight. I would love to see Grats lay somebody out as well, could be a good "fire up" for the squad tonight.

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#9 VK63
March 03 2013, 01:56PM
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Meh. A mcgrattan vs sestito staged fight might be worth a look.

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#10 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 02:00PM
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Flames (Not) Game Day.

Are you gonna make a new game day for when this game actually gets played if it's cancelled or gonna be lazy and re-use this one?

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#12 FireOnIce
March 03 2013, 02:14PM
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IF they play tonight: Van wins, 3-2 in OT. IF they play later: Van wins, 6-3.

Either way, Flames are doneski. This team is a pile of garbage and having McGrattan in the lineup just makes it worse. OF COURSE Mcgrattan will be in the lineup, Hartley seems to think we need a goon.

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#13 schevvy
March 03 2013, 02:19PM
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From all the road reports I'm hearing on twitter, would be quite surprised if they play. According to Millions, Canucks are on the tarmac in Vancouver waiting to see if the can fly into Calgary.

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#14 funkyjaman
March 03 2013, 02:40PM
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I wonder how the players feel about flying into a snow storm? Nervous!

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#15 FireOnIce
March 03 2013, 02:50PM
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So when do we get to blame Feaster for the snow? This is the straw that REALLY breaks the camel's rather large back.

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#16 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 04:25PM
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Canucks are here.. Games on.

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#17 schevvy
March 03 2013, 04:30PM
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Are any fans actually going to be able to make it?

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#18 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 04:30PM
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anyone know if the fan 960 is off the air or what cant get it online. need help and will there be a game tonight.

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#19 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 04:46PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

anyone know if the fan 960 is off the air or what cant get it online. need help and will there be a game tonight.

I can get the fan online. Try again.

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#20 clYDE
March 03 2013, 05:07PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

IF they play tonight: Van wins, 3-2 in OT. IF they play later: Van wins, 6-3.

Either way, Flames are doneski. This team is a pile of garbage and having McGrattan in the lineup just makes it worse. OF COURSE Mcgrattan will be in the lineup, Hartley seems to think we need a goon.

Considering Vancouver has 3 goons dressed, I'm ok with him in the line up.

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#21 Alt
March 03 2013, 05:21PM
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Now i get it .Hartley wants a goon on all 4 lines.That,s the reason for all the line changes.STRANGE.

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#22 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 05:22PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

I can get the fan online. Try again.

got it now, must be been done for a spell. 660 was functioning though. anyone know how to watch the game online.

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#23 chillout
March 03 2013, 05:24PM
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I really love how after every win this team is amazing and after every loss it's a pile of garbage and should be blown up. Oh and Feaster is a moron every other day too. How about you give it some time and let things happen. Might as well start calling Davidson in Columbus an idiot since they aren't winning the cup yet. People say they can deal with blowing the team up(which is totally idiotic by the way). Well they can't those screaming for the blow up will be the first ones burning their tickets when the team is in the basement with no decent players and a couple of guys who may or may not turn out. All we need is to trade Iggy and Cammy and maybe Kipper and that's about it. If we just change a few pieces we'll be good. Iggy can and likely will be amazing somewhere else and realize he really needed a change of scenery once he does move on.

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#24 Jibmeister
March 03 2013, 05:26PM
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I'm interested to see how many fans are in the stands tonight!

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#25 Stockley
March 03 2013, 05:32PM
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chillout wrote:

I really love how after every win this team is amazing and after every loss it's a pile of garbage and should be blown up. Oh and Feaster is a moron every other day too. How about you give it some time and let things happen. Might as well start calling Davidson in Columbus an idiot since they aren't winning the cup yet. People say they can deal with blowing the team up(which is totally idiotic by the way). Well they can't those screaming for the blow up will be the first ones burning their tickets when the team is in the basement with no decent players and a couple of guys who may or may not turn out. All we need is to trade Iggy and Cammy and maybe Kipper and that's about it. If we just change a few pieces we'll be good. Iggy can and likely will be amazing somewhere else and realize he really needed a change of scenery once he does move on.

They don't need to blow the entire team up. I think it might be time to say good bye to a few aging core players however. Sometimes change might not really be easy but is needed. This group for whatever reason has never gotten it done and since it's been almost 10 years it's time to say good-bye to the last pieces of the '04 miracle run.

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#26 chillout
March 03 2013, 05:45PM
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@Stockley

Well that's why I mentioned trading a few of our aging pieces and also why I said blowing it up would be idiotic. I was more pointing this comment at the ones who are bi-polar and think that we're awesome or should be blown up depending on what hour of the day we are in

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#27 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 05:50PM
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Just get this win so I don't have to hear the Feaster rhetoric. No harm, no foul and time to move on.

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#28 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 05:53PM
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I mentioned this on twitter, but I wonder why things have been so quiet on the Iggy front.

Now that Iggy has tied Theo for career points as a Flame, as soon as he gets the next one, is that when the two sides get together and start talking turkey?

AS in... Is that when Iggy presents his list of teams he would be willing to go to?

.. Just a thought

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#29 Brent G.
March 03 2013, 06:08PM
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@Vintage Flame

What do you think the odds are they move him, actually?

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#31 Alt
March 03 2013, 06:25PM
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chillout wrote:

I really love how after every win this team is amazing and after every loss it's a pile of garbage and should be blown up. Oh and Feaster is a moron every other day too. How about you give it some time and let things happen. Might as well start calling Davidson in Columbus an idiot since they aren't winning the cup yet. People say they can deal with blowing the team up(which is totally idiotic by the way). Well they can't those screaming for the blow up will be the first ones burning their tickets when the team is in the basement with no decent players and a couple of guys who may or may not turn out. All we need is to trade Iggy and Cammy and maybe Kipper and that's about it. If we just change a few pieces we'll be good. Iggy can and likely will be amazing somewhere else and realize he really needed a change of scenery once he does move on.

I had the same line of thought Chillout,and then Cervanka get,s benched,Comeau can do no wrong,McDonald was a goalie that the team had been targeting (injured for a year),Baertchi is a fourth liner,Jones is no good,and McGrattan is a player we need.Hard to stay positive

This team can be retooled,and become competitive again within a few years.However this management group will need to overachieve to pull that off.

Recent blunders do nothing in regard.s to confidence

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#32 Stockley
March 03 2013, 06:25PM
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@Ryan Pike

I was thinking earlier that I thought he had already passed Theo in points as a Flame. Didn't want to argue the point since my brain power hasn't been 100% lately.

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#33 Clay
March 03 2013, 06:25PM
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McGrattan looks like a weird dude

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#34 RKD
March 03 2013, 06:26PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

got it now, must be been done for a spell. 660 was functioning though. anyone know how to watch the game online.

Yup, go to first row sports. I must warn you that there are a ton of pop up ads but they do time out and you can close them if you click exactly in the x, anywhere else and you will get another pop up.

Hope the Flames don't get slaughtered 5-1, if it weren't for the Blue Jackets we'd be dead last. 14th in the West is getting too familiarly cozy.

Glad Taylor gets another crack, MacBackup gives up way too many rebounds. Goaltending isn't the only concern. The Flames have given up the most goals in the Western Conference. Gio is still adjusting playing in the top 2 every night. They need another top 4 shutdown guy or 2 shutdown guys that can play in the top 6.

We jumped all over Brent Sutter for being to defensive orientated now with Hartley's uptempo style we are one of the worst defensive squads. Sigh.

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#35 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 06:26PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

I mentioned this on twitter, but I wonder why things have been so quiet on the Iggy front.

Now that Iggy has tied Theo for career points as a Flame, as soon as he gets the next one, is that when the two sides get together and start talking turkey?

AS in... Is that when Iggy presents his list of teams he would be willing to go to?

.. Just a thought

i hope the front office crew does their due diligence on any or all activities from here on out. pittsburgh would be a good fit, and they have ample young d men. perhaps shopping some other aging assets might be fashionable now that the cba issues are in the past.

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#37 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:30PM
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Barker in for Ballard tonight.

Huzzah!

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#39 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:33PM
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Interesting to see the quick changes by both coaches. Hartley responded to the Sedins with Stajan, so I think we'll see Iginla sheltered tonight, assuming he stays with the Czechs.

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#40 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:38PM
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Not a lot going on with the first PP.

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#41 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:42PM
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Well that's not good.

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#42 Jibmeister
March 03 2013, 06:43PM
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Well that sucked.

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#43 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 06:45PM
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TERRIBLE defensive play at the opponents blue line, really at that point they should have just dumped it deep instead of the crappy little passes.

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#45 Q
March 03 2013, 06:45PM
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Don't like how Danny dinks around with the puck. Soon as kippers back he's gone!

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#46 funkyjaman
March 03 2013, 06:50PM
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Vancouver is just so strong on the puck. The board work is pretty awesome to watch. I hope the flames, at the very least, learn a few things this game.

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#47 Q
March 03 2013, 06:50PM
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Come on Gio! What was that crap giveaway!?

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#48 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:50PM
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Most of the fan base dislikes Raymond in Vancouver, be almost always looks great when he plays the Flames.

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#49 funkyjaman
March 03 2013, 06:51PM
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Flames need a soccer net tonight if they want to score one. jeezzzzzuss!~

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#50 funkyjaman
March 03 2013, 06:52PM
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Gio, go figure.

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