FGD: Do We Still Need a Bigger Boat?

Justin Azevedo
March 06 2013 12:47PM

 

Tonight, the Flames welcome the San Jose Sharks to the Dome (they're likely on the plane from Vancouver right now!) for the first time since game one. Much has happened for both of the teams since that time, so don't expect it to be anything like that match. Or do. I dunno.

For the Flames, they've lost a starting goaltender, a possession center and some games they likely shouldn't have. They've also won some that they shouldn't have as well, so it's pretty even in terms of that. For the Sharks, they started off insanely well, winning all of their games in January - and then proceeded to go 2-6-4 in the month of February. Most of that was likely regression-based, as their PDO had been strong to start the season and is now pretty close to even as we start March.

This will be the Flames' fifth (!) attempt at breaking the .500 mark this season, and playing a team on the second game of a back to back (again) gives them a bit of an advantage.

The Line-Up

 

  • C. Glencross M. Stajan L. Stempniak
  • J. Hudler R. Cervenka J. Iginla
  • A. Tanguay M. Cammalleri S. Baertschi
  • S. Begin B. Comeau B. McGrattan
  • M. Giordano J. Bouwmeester
  • C. Butler D. Wideman
  • T.J. Brodie D. Smith
  • M. Kiprusoff

Miikka Kiprusoff looks to return tonight after being first off of the ice at practice this morning. For as bad as he was before his injury, he's still the best goaltender the Flames have by quite a large margin. Danny Taylor will likely be sent down tomorrow, if not sooner, and Joey MacDonald will ride the pine for about 24 of the next 28. Mikael Backlund is also drawing nearer to a return, so that's nice.

For as much crap as Mike Cammalleri has taken this season, it's interesting to note that he's currently scoring at a PPG pace on the year (8-8-16 in 17GP). To my knowledge, he's never been a real tough-minutes guy, but he definitely has that scoring ability still. It'll be interesting to see if he keeps up the pace over the whole 48 game season, but I have a hunch he'll be pretty close to PPG at the end. He's currently tied for second on the team in scoring with Jarome Iginla (6-10-16 in 20GP), behind Alex Tanguay (6-11-17 in 20GP).

Everyone's been really impressed with TJ Brodie this season, myself included. He's been a legit top-4 guy pretty much the entire season, marking the first time in forever that the Flames have actually had 4 top-4 quality defensemen in the line-up at the same time. Along those lines, it still baffles me as to why the Flames continue to play Cory Sarich and Anton Babchuk in any role. That said, TJ's been moved down the rotation with Smith the last few games. We'll see how Butler does with Wideman for now.

The Opposition

 

  • L. Couture J. Thornton B. Kearns
  • T. Kennedy P. Marleau J. Pavelski
  • R. Clowe S. Gomez J. Sheppard
  • A. Desjardins A. Burish T.J. Galiardi
  • M. Irwin D. Boyle
  • B. Stuart M. Vlasic
  • D. Murray J. Braun
  • A. Niemi

The Sharks have relied quite heavily on their big guns thus far this season, as only 5 players have reached double-digits in points. Joe Thornton continues to be one of the best centermen in the entire league down the middle and as such Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski have reaped the rewards of playing with him. All three are legit tough-minutes guys, which makes it easy for coach Todd McLellan to go power-versus-power on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, the bottom of the roster has failed to take advantage of the easier assignments, at times because of injury but at others because of inept play. TJ Galliardi has only 3 points, Ryane Clowe hasn't scored yet (which is pissing me off because I have him on my fantasy team), Martin Havlat has had nagging injuries the whole season and Michal Handzus got old the same time he signed with the Sharks.

With the lack of scoring depth in mind, the Sharks have continued to be in a playoff position basically on the back of Antti Niemi, who's carrying the team at the moment. His numbers are quite gaudy - a 1.83 GAA and .935 SV% (.941 at evens), both good enough to put him in the top-5 of the league in both catigories. I don't think he'll be able to keep that up over the whole season, so the Sharks better hope they bank enough points now or get secondary scoring later if they want to get out of the first round.

Sum It Up

The Flames have yet another good chance to move above .500 tonight, playing a tired team on home ice that lacks depth. If Bob Hartley plays his lines right (i.e. try to shut down Thornton somehow) and Kiprusoff isn't too rusty after being off for a month, I like their chances.

Catch it on 960 or Sportsnet West tonight.

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Justin is a 23-year-old Flames fan who also happens to be pursuing a double major at the University of Calgary. He has played hockey at high levels, enjoys wearing shorts and tends to drink far too much Grasshopper. Please don't hate him.
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#101 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:15PM
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Interesting pk the Sharks are running. They don't seem the slightest bit worried about giving up the point shot.

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#102 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:17PM
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Nice try Brodie. Chara would've caught that.

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#103 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:18PM
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Ahh man that was going in too

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#104 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:18PM
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Kind of funny that it was a Flames player that pushed Couture in front of a sure goal.

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#105 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:19PM
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So Chicago's gonna lose this season...right?

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#106 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:19PM
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MacInnis would've shot THROUGH Couture.

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#107 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:20PM
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schevvy wrote:

So Chicago's gonna lose this season...right?

I'm holding out hope the Oilers can break the streak next time they play.

(drink)

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#108 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:20PM
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Nice play Jordano...

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#109 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:20PM
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yep

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#110 Ryan Pike
March 06 2013, 09:20PM
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That's on Giordano.

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#111 RKD
March 06 2013, 09:20PM
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The best thing with Baertschi is to preach patience, while we all want to see him on the top line he may not be ready. The Leafs were patient with Nazem Kadri's development and at 22 look at him now. Sven could be that dynamite in his early 20s.

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#112 funkyjaman
March 06 2013, 09:21PM
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@RexLibris

Why bother? The flames cant hit the net anyway.

Oh and Gio is Garbage!

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#113 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:21PM
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Nice pass Wideman...

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#114 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 09:23PM
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That one is on Gio.

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#115 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:24PM
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That is an awesome Pizza Hut commercial

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#116 RKD
March 06 2013, 09:24PM
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funkyjaman wrote:

Why bother? The flames cant hit the net anyway.

Oh and Gio is Garbage!

Disagree, Gio was better by miles than any defenceman before he went down with an injury.

This is the first time Gio is playing top 2 minutes, he used to always play on the second pairing. Now Gio faces the other teams top forwards night in, night out. He hasn't adjusted to what Jay-Bo had to do the last three season and what Butler tasted last season.

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#117 Canucks Suck
March 06 2013, 09:26PM
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I must say Iginla's go to move of behind the net then powering to the front trying to throw it in the corner is a lot better than the floating around last season.

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#118 Kevin
March 06 2013, 09:27PM
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WOW COMEAU

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#119 funkyjaman
March 06 2013, 09:28PM
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Love how Simmer just emphasized "Reach around"!

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#120 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 09:28PM
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Sharks are lucky to be tied right now. Flames have been the better team by a lot.

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#121 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:28PM
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Keep your feet moving

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#122 Canucks Suck
March 06 2013, 09:29PM
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@Kent Wilson

yeah it really looks like greiss?! or whatever is keeping them in this

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#123 RKD
March 06 2013, 09:30PM
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Unreal, Chicago Blackhawks now have gone 24 straight games with a point 21-0-3!

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#124 Vintage Flame
March 06 2013, 09:31PM
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I wonder where Chicago ranks on Sportsnet's grit chart?

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#125 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:31PM
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I don't know that it is Greiss doing the saving or that the Sharks aren't allowing much by way of second chances or rebounds. The Flames get maybe one look per possession and then it is often out of the zone.

That is where average goaltending allows a team to succeed.

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#126 Funkyjaman
March 06 2013, 09:33PM
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RKD wrote:

Disagree, Gio was better by miles than any defenceman before he went down with an injury.

This is the first time Gio is playing top 2 minutes, he used to always play on the second pairing. Now Gio faces the other teams top forwards night in, night out. He hasn't adjusted to what Jay-Bo had to do the last three season and what Butler tasted last season.

Sorry Man but anyone who is paid large amounts of money to play in the best league in the world cannot play the way he is playing, returning from injury or not. If he wasn't ready to play this season then he should have sat out and recovered longer.

Doesn't matter who he paired with. No one makes him pass the puck the way he does except for himself.

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#127 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:33PM
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Let's see if the Flames can give up a late period goal.

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#128 Canucks Suck
March 06 2013, 09:33PM
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@RexLibris

true they are all over the net that shot couture took looked like it hurt if only the flames would take punishment like that

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#129 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:35PM
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Canucks Suck wrote:

true they are all over the net that shot couture took looked like it hurt if only the flames would take punishment like that

You want the Flames to block their own players' shots with their backs? ;-) j/k

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#130 Canucks Suck
March 06 2013, 09:37PM
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@RexLibris

haha no but help their backups out a lot more than they have been known to do

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#131 RKD
March 06 2013, 09:37PM
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@Funkyjaman

Don't disagree with that, just to play devil's advocate if Gio was making less would people have as big an issue?

Jokinen wasn't playing like a $5.25 million player but as soon he made a couple million less people were a lot more forgiving. Since Joker was making less, should we expect less production?

I am confident Gio's probability of adjusting to his new role is much higher. Hopefully it's sooner than later, a guy like Butler would never be able to adjust into a top 2 role, it was over his head.

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#132 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 09:38PM
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Alright guys, best of luck, I have to go.

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#133 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 09:40PM
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Chances were 10-5 in the second for the Flames. 15-8 overall.

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#134 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:42PM
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@RexLibris

Good riddance. Kidding, bye Rex.

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#135 Ryan Pike
March 06 2013, 09:45PM
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That was as dull a second period as I can remember. Chris Butler leads the Flames in ice-time, by the way.

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#136 Vintage Flame
March 06 2013, 09:46PM
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Flames had 7 giveaways... the biggest obviously being the Gio gaffe.

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#137 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:48PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

That was as dull a second period as I can remember. Chris Butler leads the Flames in ice-time, by the way.

Chris Butler?? Really?? Yuck.

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#138 Alt
March 06 2013, 09:52PM
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@RexLibris

Get with it Rex ,We,ve switched to the 3-1-1 forecheck Hartley style,and decided that that,s not working ,so we,ve added more goons.

Just like the Oilers

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#139 funkyjaman
March 06 2013, 09:52PM
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RKD wrote:

Don't disagree with that, just to play devil's advocate if Gio was making less would people have as big an issue?

Jokinen wasn't playing like a $5.25 million player but as soon he made a couple million less people were a lot more forgiving. Since Joker was making less, should we expect less production?

I am confident Gio's probability of adjusting to his new role is much higher. Hopefully it's sooner than later, a guy like Butler would never be able to adjust into a top 2 role, it was over his head.

Not sure the comparison works here. Olli (the first time around) was making to much for what he was providing. He wasn't a bad player he was still capable in his role, but didn't match the pay check. Dido for Bouw. Gio hasn't earned his cheque or his ice time this season and although he has his old Gio moments they are not as noticeable as past years. He seems to be behind the flow of the game more often then not and the result is bad penalties, soft passes and poor coverage.

This year I feel we could have Gio in the press box and not miss him a whole lot.

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#140 Colin
March 06 2013, 09:54PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

That was as dull a second period as I can remember. Chris Butler leads the Flames in ice-time, by the way.

Wait, what, how.......

I don't get that, between Bouwmeester and Wideman I figure we were easily set for whoever got thehigh minutes, but Butler.... I'd have though Gio or Brodie before him.

Well maybe if he keeps logging those big minutes without completely screwing up, Feaster thinks now is the time to trade Bouwmeester.

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#141 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:55PM
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Kent and VF just ripping Pronger on twitter...

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#142 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 09:56PM
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Gio will be fine. He's not going to dominate anymore the diffuclty of his minutes, but he'll even out. Sometimes when you play against the stars you're made to look silly now and then.

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#143 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 09:56PM
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@schevvy

VF wasn't.

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#144 Colin
March 06 2013, 09:58PM
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So looking a D icetimes, the fact that Butler led was hardly a big deal, all the top 4 were probably within 30 seconds of each other, Brodie was after that with over 10 minutes and Smith was just over 8 minutes. I'd figure that smith and Brodie would be a little bit higher, but still, it looks like we can role all our guys pretty effectively, which is a good thing.

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#145 Vintage Flame
March 06 2013, 09:58PM
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What the hell just happened?

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#146 schevvy
March 06 2013, 09:59PM
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Well that was unexpected

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#147 schevvy
March 06 2013, 10:00PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

VF wasn't.

You must of missed his one tweet.

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#148 schevvy
March 06 2013, 10:01PM
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Atta boy Iggy!

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#149 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 10:02PM
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Haha. And then Greiss gives up a stinker.

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#150 ChinookArch
March 06 2013, 10:02PM
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Wow. Iginla doing his impression of a shark.

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