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 22-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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#1 bookofloob
March 06 2013, 12:51PM
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KIPPPPPPPPERRRRRRRR

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#2 Colin.S
March 06 2013, 01:33PM
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I get sending down Taylor, because he can be sent down without clearing waivers, I'm still of mind he's the better goalie of the two backups though.

Have no idea what to expect this game other than our 4th line scares the crap out of me.

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#3 icedawg_42
March 06 2013, 01:35PM
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MacDonald has been good. An NHL team *should* be able to go over .500 with NHL average goaltending..otherwise blow it up.

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#4 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 01:40PM
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@icedawg_42

I agree, although I don't think I'd call an .899 SV% average.

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#5 Scary Gary
March 06 2013, 01:45PM
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It might take a few games to get back into game form. I definitely see Kipper letting one if not two soft goals tonight.

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#6 icedawg_42
March 06 2013, 01:46PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I agree, although I don't think I'd call an .899 SV% average.

Hahaha - yeah, true..Guess I should have separated those 2 observations with a carriage return ;)

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#7 backburner
March 06 2013, 01:47PM
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This has all the makings of a bad night for Kipper...

I'm liking the Flames lines though... wonder how many times Hartley will mix it up tonight.

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#8 Willi P
March 06 2013, 01:53PM
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Don't get the "D" move.

I guess Brodie can bail out Smith now. Who will bail out Wideman. Certainly not Butler.

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#9 Parallex
March 06 2013, 01:54PM
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@backburner

Really? I was thinking the opposite... Healed up, well rested, at home, San Jose team on the 2nd half of a back to back (tired)... has the makings of a good night for him.

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#10 FireOnIce
March 06 2013, 01:57PM
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Clowe finally scores. Pavelski scores.

Flames take this one, 3-2 in OT.

Really though, I hope the Flames lose. This is not a winning team and the roster will basically be unchanged next season. So, I'd prefer having Drouin or MacKinnon to getting knocked out in the first round.

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#11 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 02:00PM
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This is about the time the Flames start going on a run - apparent 11th hour and the percentages finally flip the script and the Flames look like contenders again for a bit.

So I'll say 5-1 Flames.

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#12 icedawg_42
March 06 2013, 02:02PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

This is about the time the Flames start going on a run - apparent 11th hour and the percentages finally flip the script and the Flames look like contenders again for a bit.

So I'll say 5-1 Flames.

lets hope its a multi game run as opposed to a multi period run.

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#13 meat1
March 06 2013, 02:20PM
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I just feel a loser point coming on. That way Feaster will feel we're still 'in the hunt'. I think Kipper's rust equalizes the Sharks back-to-back games.

By the way, I think we may as well add Tim Jackman's name to the trade list now, too.

I would love for us followers here to have a chance to be the GM until July 10. That takes us through trade deadline, the draft, and the first few days of free agency.

For the hundreds of games our core has played in its career, we boast virtually no playoff experience. Other teams will not consider that a good thing come trading time. There may not be three players in the league who have been as durable and played as many regular season games as our three most valuable veterans come this years trade deadline (Kipper, Jarome, and Jbo). But I think other teams will consider their lack of action in the post-season.

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#14 FlameinATL
March 06 2013, 05:15PM
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Huge game Flames...huge. Put forth a good effort and great things will happen.

Kipper's return and Backs not too far off. If we can somehow get on a little roll and then pick up some injured players and some steam, we could peak at just the right time.

Wishful thinking and dreaming I know, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Huge game Flames. Jump on the Sharks early and often and no late-game meltdowns.

Go Flames!

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#15 ChinookArch
March 06 2013, 05:19PM
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@Kent Wilson

I am very torn. On one hand, I watch the Flames because I want them to win every game. On the other hand, I don't see the Iginla situation correcting itself unless Calgary is hopeless out of the playoff picture.

If the team does go on the a run, does Iginla feel like he can't walk away from 'his' team? Will he worry about his legacy here in Calgary, if he were presented with this. It would be much easier on everyone, if the Flames would just tank until the trade deadline.

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#16 schevvy
March 06 2013, 05:52PM
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Personally, I want the Flames to win. Maybe that's not best fo the future, but I can't cheer for losses. It's not in my fan DNA. I don't care if people disagree with me, every fan can have their own opinion.

Would I be up in arms like some if Iggy is signed to an extension? Hell no. There are (in my opinion) far worse things that could happen. If he signs a 3/4 year deal @ 5.5M per that's ok for me.

Anyway...back to the game, Flames get another team on a back to back. I think they take this one 4-3.

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#17 lionlager
March 06 2013, 06:14PM
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@schevvy

Well said.

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#18 Jibmeister
March 06 2013, 06:15PM
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@schevvy

I'm with you. Whether it's better for them or not I just can't want this team to lose.

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#19 Captain Ron
March 06 2013, 06:34PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

This is about the time the Flames start going on a run - apparent 11th hour and the percentages finally flip the script and the Flames look like contenders again for a bit.

So I'll say 5-1 Flames.

I have Kipper starting in my hockey pool tonight so I hope you are right.

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#20 FireOnIce
March 06 2013, 07:02PM
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Looks like Michael Frolik is scratched for the Hawks tonight. Why did the Flames not pick him up in exchange for Karlsson? He's CHI's Comeau, but with actual potential.

Saw something in Friedman's 30 Thoughts that was interesting. He was talking to Adam Oates and Oates pointed out this:

"Look at Boston's roster now: four left-shooting wings. Four right-shooting wings. Two right-shooting centres. Two left-shooting centres. Three right-shot defencemen. Three left-shot defencemen. (It's true, you can look it up.)"

I know this has been discussed previously, as the Flames have usually had an overabundance of left-handed shots on D. Just look at the intricate details that Boston has taken care of in order to build a consistent Cup contender. Compared to them, the Flames are a heaping pile of garbage covered in manure and going down on a sinking ship.

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#21 ChinookArch
March 06 2013, 07:07PM
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@schevvy

I can't really argue, since I do feel the same way. The trouble is that I remember all too well the terrible Young Guns era of the 90s, and I don't have stomach for another lost decade.

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#22 Ryan Pike
March 06 2013, 07:15PM
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Decent buzz in the building, particularly for a weeknight game. I speculate that the Return of Kipper has something to do with it.

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#23 Alt
March 06 2013, 07:42PM
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@Ryan Pike

I speculate the Buzz is for McGratten and his ability to bring UFC to the Dome.

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#24 schevvy
March 06 2013, 07:45PM
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Another back-up tonight folks. Griess starts tonight. Flames need to take advantage.

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#25 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 07:59PM
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@Alt

McGrattan is scratched.

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#26 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:03PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

McGrattan is scratched.

Nope. Begin is, according to Flames site

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#27 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:04PM
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Sven with Tangs and Cammy. Me like

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#28 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 08:05PM
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Stop. Icing. The puck.

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#29 Jibmeister
March 06 2013, 08:05PM
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I heard its Begin scratched.

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#30 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:07PM
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nice to see Kiprusoff back.

I agree, Kent. This is usually the time of the season (approximately), where the Flames string a few together. Wins, that is.

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#31 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 08:07PM
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@schevvy

Right you are. Twitter lied.

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#32 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:08PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Stop. Icing. The puck.

Part of Hartley's strategy to wear down the Sharks defence by making them skate 160 feet to retrieve.

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#33 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:08PM
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It's...in!

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#34 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:08PM
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@RexLibris

Quit trolling Rex...

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#35 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:09PM
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Good backcheck.

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#36 Ryan Pike
March 06 2013, 08:09PM
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First few minutes were quite low-event, but the Flames are pressuring nicely.

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#37 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:09PM
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Looks like a fractured wrist for Jackman

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#38 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:09PM
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schevvy wrote:

Quit trolling Rex...

Wait, am I on FN? Thought I was trolling ON. Sorry.

=)

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#39 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 08:10PM
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Good start. Chances are 3-0.

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#40 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:11PM
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Curious Kent, how do you track chances? Eyes, pen and paper, or something more refined?

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#41 Kent Wilson
March 06 2013, 08:11PM
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@RexLibris

I used excel up until tonight. Trying out a fresh new chance counting app.

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#42 Ryan Pike
March 06 2013, 08:13PM
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Lots of pressure by the Sharks, but Kiprusoff is looking good.

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#43 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:13PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I used excel up until tonight. Trying out a fresh new chance counting app.

I wondered if there had been some more techie advances than simply tallying them up on a notepad.

Thanks.

I like how the Sharks are collapsing in front of the net. This last rush shows a very different response on the part of the Flames - chasing players behind the net and scrambling.

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#44 ChinookArch
March 06 2013, 08:15PM
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@Kent Wilson

At the App Store? What's it called?

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#45 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:15PM
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Damn, I thought Kent used cool mind tricks to relay chances to paper.

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#46 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:17PM
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schevvy wrote:

Damn, I thought Kent used cool mind tricks to relay chances to paper.

He said he used Excel, he never said how. Kent Wilson, the Amazing Kreskin of the Nations Network!

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#47 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:18PM
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When I see #16 I originally thought it was Kosto, which was scary. Then I realized it was McGratten, which scared me even more.

EDIT- These two sentences could easily win the most poorly written short paragraph of all-time

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#48 schevvy
March 06 2013, 08:20PM
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So Kipper looks fine.

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#49 RexLibris
March 06 2013, 08:21PM
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schevvy wrote:

So Kipper looks fine.

He does, not that the kinds of chances he's denied are necessarily a good sign for the rest of the team. The Flames defenders need to be more ornery in clearing their crease.

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#50 Vintage Flame
March 06 2013, 08:22PM
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Good to see Kipper right back into the flow. Looks like he hasn't missed a beat.

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