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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#51 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:53PM
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The Tanguay line got stuck out too long.

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#52 schevvy
March 03 2013, 06:53PM
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Q wrote:

Come on Gio! What was that crap giveaway!?

From now on we call him Jordano. So his new nickname is Joe.

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#53 Q
March 03 2013, 06:55PM
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Gios pissin me off this yr! Can't he make decent clean plays anymore without penalties?! He's regressed this yr! Taylor looks shakey! Has no stature in net!

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#54 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 06:59PM
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How did that go in?

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#55 mattyc
March 03 2013, 07:01PM
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How McGrattan Begin and Comeau can get stuck out against the Sedins at home (!) boggles my mind.

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#56 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:01PM
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MacGratton on the ice while the sedins were on and there was at least 3 scoring chances while MacGratton was out of position to help because he was being "tough".

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#57 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:02PM
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I have no idea why Hartley has moved Butler up the rotation. He's done nothing to suggest he's a top-4 guy this year.

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#58 schevvy
March 03 2013, 07:02PM
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Thanks Lu!

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#59 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:04PM
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@Colin.S

I was going to say - McGrattan with 2 bit hits...and they didn't matter at all on the play.

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#60 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:07PM
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Chances were 9-5 VAN in the first. Flames are lucky that Cammalleri shot went in.

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#62 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:10PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I was going to say - McGrattan with 2 bit hits...and they didn't matter at all on the play.

Exactly they were those hits, that were half a second away from being late hits and then he removes himself from the play while the puck is already moved into scoring position and he's not in a position to defend. Sure the hit looks nice, but it's not like he's actually hit the puck carrier, the puck is long gone.

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#63 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:15PM
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BTW, The new 4th line got it's teeth kicked in that period (chances 0-4) but Hartley played them more than Cammalleri and Baertschi.

Just silliness.

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#65 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 07:21PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

BTW, The new 4th line got it's teeth kicked in that period (chances 0-4) but Hartley played them more than Cammalleri and Baertschi.

Just silliness.

perplexing actually

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#66 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:23PM
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Not a great first, but if Hartley adjusts a bit things can get better. Not playing the 4th line all the time will help.

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#67 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 07:24PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

I'll be on a plane to Newark during the trade deadline, which virtually guarantees that the Flames make a big, big move.

you will be the only person in newark not packing a gun, you might want to try the airport giftshop they have some nice tourists sidearms

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#68 schevvy
March 03 2013, 07:29PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

you will be the only person in newark not packing a gun, you might want to try the airport giftshop they have some nice tourists sidearms

Hahaha! Great.

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#69 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:30PM
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Well Luongo made up for that Cammy goal with the save on Baertschi.

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#70 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 07:34PM
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schevvy wrote:

Hahaha! Great.

was in a bar in northern michigan awhile ago it was deer season, everyone but me had a sidearm and a buck knife. good mix a glock and a jager.

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#71 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:35PM
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MacGratton with his first fight after the great Stempniak goal, now that we got that fight out of the way can he sit on the bench the rest of the night, he's already played his 4 minutes.

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#72 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 07:36PM
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How happy is Stajan that Brent Sutter is gone? Great pass from behind the net.

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#73 Gunk
March 03 2013, 07:36PM
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haha. ahhh McGratten gettin' 'er done! I'm not convinced that fight was salute worthy but... sure, why not.

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#74 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:38PM
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Nice play by Stajan on the Stemps goal.

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#75 Gunk
March 03 2013, 07:38PM
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Colin.S wrote:

That stare was like staring into the soul of a serial killer, SO SCARY!!!

Dude looked possesed!

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#76 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:40PM
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Gunk wrote:

Dude looked possesed!

Win or Lose, who ever does the Post Game should use a screen cap of that stare.

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#77 Colin.S
March 03 2013, 07:40PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

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

It's a pretty stupid penalty, but did the Flames a favour, keeps him in the box longer.

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#78 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 07:41PM
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Why couldn't Stajan play like this from the first year we got him?

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#79 Gunk
March 03 2013, 07:43PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Why couldn't Stajan play like this from the first year we got him?

the million dollar question

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#80 Bruins
March 03 2013, 07:43PM
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@Colin.S

your macrattan barbs are getting boring

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#81 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:44PM
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Stajan is the same player he ever was.

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#82 mattyc
March 03 2013, 07:44PM
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There seems to be a lot of guys taking big runs at each other. I wonder if that has anything to do with McGrattan taking a bunch of runs early in the game...

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#83 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:47PM
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Baertschi has been noticeable in a good way for two straight games now.

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#84 Gunk
March 03 2013, 07:48PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Stajan is the same player he ever was.

I hear you but I'm still shocked at how night and day this year has been for him. I'm happy for the guy being able to shrug off some of the never ending negative press he's gotten over the years. bout time.

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#85 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 07:48PM
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lombo versus kerr in a no holds barred barn match winner gets to work with charlie

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#86 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 07:52PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

lombo versus kerr in a no holds barred barn match winner gets to work with charlie

Double header cage match with Simmer vs Ferrarro for the color job.

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#88 mk
March 03 2013, 07:56PM
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I should point out that it's "TAN-ev" not "ta-NEV" like Mahr keeps saying... :)

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#89 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 07:58PM
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Stajan has the highest on-ice SH% on the team right now. That's making him look great, but it won't last.

He's the same guy with more ice and way better line mates. He's still easy to knock off the puck and prone to bad turn overs in the in the neutral zone. He has some skill with the puck, though, and is a decent passer.

I suspected he'd get more of a chance with Brent gone. It helps that the Flames literally have no other centers right now as well. Good for him, though - means he won't be bought out this summer no doubt.

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#90 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:00PM
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@Kent Wilson

Kent there are so few reasons to EVER cheer for Stajan... Why do you deny us this one glimmer?

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#91 Q
March 03 2013, 08:00PM
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Is it just me or is Gio just as disappointing for any of u to watch this yr?

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#92 Jeff Lebowski
March 03 2013, 08:01PM
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Just started watching. Anyone else notice how the canucks press Calgary D hard and it rarely comes out clean for Flames?

Canucks come out easy while Calgary struggles to make a pass. Has it been this way the whole game?

Hartley needs to adjust and counter canucks aggressiveness.

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#93 Vintage Flame
March 03 2013, 08:01PM
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Q wrote:

Is it just me or is Gio just as disappointing for any of u to watch this yr?

Gio has looked flat out bad this year.

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#94 RKD
March 03 2013, 08:03PM
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Q wrote:

Is it just me or is Gio just as disappointing for any of u to watch this yr?

This is his first time on the top 2 pairing on a consistent basis. He's playing against the other team's top forwards, before he was on the second pairing so his minutes were more sheltered than before. He's now experiencing what Jay-Bo has been doing the past three seasons and what Butler did last year. Gio hasn't quite adjusted as quickly, it will take some time for him to get used to it.

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#95 ChinookArch
March 03 2013, 08:03PM
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@Q

I've find him to be hot and cold.

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#96 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 08:03PM
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Looks like Baertschi has earned a promo with his good d-zone play tonight.

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#97 negrilcowboy
March 03 2013, 08:03PM
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gio aint the same since the injury

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#98 Gunk
March 03 2013, 08:04PM
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Well said Kent. I was also thinking the same thing regarding Gio. Like if Stajan seems to have gone from a 4 to an 8 Gio looks like He's gone from a 10 to a 4.

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#99 Kent Wilson
March 03 2013, 08:05PM
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Chances were 6-6 in the second. Coincidentally, the 4th line got like 2 shifts.

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#100 Q
March 03 2013, 08:06PM
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Lets be honest people... We just are nowhere even close to the level of team Vancouver is! They are missing bieksa and Kessler and played last night and at times make us look out right silly! Depressing!

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