FGD: The Heat Is On

Ryan Pike
April 21 2013 11:25AM

 

We're into the last four games of the 2013 Calgary Flames season. It ends on the road, so those of you cheering for losses and good odds in the draft lottery can rejoice, because the Flames have been downright lousy on the road this year. They boast the league's 15th best home record and 29th best road record, which is how they enter the game at 25th overall with a 18-22-4 record.

Despite all the injuries, inconsistency and everything else, Calgary can still finish at .500. It's a minor miracle.

To aid the Flames in their battle with the Minnesota Wild tonight (4pm MT on Sportsnet West and The Fan 960), the club has recalled seven guys from the AHL's Abbotsford Heat: goalie Leland Irving, defender Mark Cundari and forwards Akim Aliu, Carter Bancks, Paul Byron, Blair Jones and Ben Street. Now that the Heat are done for the year, these guys will get tested at the big-league level to see if there's a spot for them in the new regime. Also, to sort of, maybe help the team win a better draft position.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames have gone 5-4-0 since that 8-2 shellacking from the Oilers on deadline day. What's their secret? They've been playing the kids, and the kids have been doing pretty well. Max Reinhart has 2 points in 8 games. Backlund has 5 points in their last 9 games. Baertschi has a four-game points streak and has 5 points in his recent 7-game recall. Horak has 5 points since the deadline. Also, the goaltending hasn't been terrible for perhaps the first time this season.

As per the Flames, who posted Bob Hartley's line-up card on Twitter, here's how the lines shake out for your hockey heroes.

  • Baertschi – Backlund – Cammalleri
  • Reinhart – Horak – Hudler
  • Byron – Street – Stempniak
  • Jackman – Stajan – Hanowski

  • Brodie – Cundari
  • Giordano – Sarich
  • Butler – Carson

  • MacDonald

Scratched: Aliu, Bancks, Begin, Cervenka, Jones, McGrattan, Babchuk, Irving

Injured: Glencross, Tanguay, Smith, Wideman

I love that first line, to be honest. Mark Cundari (wearing 42) makes his NHL debut with the Flames. He's been compared to a Mark Giordano, given that he plays with a bee in his bonnet (well, not literally, the NHL has banned bonnets since the 1912 season). Also, keep an eye on who wears letters for the Flames – third alternate captain Curtis Glencross is done for the year with a knee injury, so either the club will dress two alternates (Giordano and Cammalleri) or they'll stitch a third A on somebody.

And finally, pour a bottle out for your dearly departed minor-league friends. Danny Taylor, Lance Bouma and Chris Breen are injured, so nobody expected them to get recalled. But if you're under an NHL contract, are healthy and didn't get the recall – looking at you, Kolanos, Nemisz, Walter, Testwuide, Lamb – it's probably not a good sign. Granted, the Flames no doubt didn't want to have too many bodies on the road with them this late in the season, but if they aren't trying to evaluate you at the NHL level, you might not have an NHL future.

THE OPPOSITION

As per the Wild's site, here's probable lines for the home side:

  • Coyle – Koivu – Parise
  • Pominville – Brodziak – Bouchard
  • Zucker – Cullen – Setoguchi
  • Clutterbuck – Mitchell – Granlund

  • Brodin – Suter
  • Clark – Spurgeon
  • Gilbert – Stoner

  • Backstrom

Scratched: Prosser, Falk

Injured: Harding, Rupp, Heatley, Konopka

The Wild have taken three of four meetings with Calgary this year – winning once each in regulation, overtime and the shootout. In a classy move, the team will be putting up Ben Hanowski's St. Cloud State hockey teammates in a box tonight. It should be no great surprise if Hanowski's teammates cheer for the team in green and red this evening.

Minnesota's on their way to the post-season and likely hoping that Calgary's bunch of young upstarts plays a playoff-style game tonight. It's probably a good hope to have, as that's how the Flames have been playing in their last nine games.

SCOREBOARD WATCHING

If the draft lottery happened today, the Flames would begin at sixth overall and have a 6.2% chance of winning the lottery and picking first overall. The Flames (40 points) cannot be caught by last-place Florida (32 points), so let's ignore them. Carolina (37) plays Tampa Bay (38), Colorado (35) plays St. Louis and Anaheim plays Edmonton (41) today.

SUM IT UP

The Calgary Flames will dress eight guys who spent significant time in the AHL or college tonight. They're starting their back-up goalie. They're missing four regulars, including two of their regular top-six forwards. Nobody will be too sad if the team loses.

But we've said that for the last nine games and this rag-tag group has responded well to whatever Bob Hartley is preaching. Don't be too surprised if the Flames give the Wild a bit of a fight.

 

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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 schevvy
April 21 2013, 11:34AM
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Good to see McGratten sitting, can't have any of his highlight-reel goals in the lineup.

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#2 Q
April 21 2013, 11:38AM
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All I have to say is babchuk and sarich better be the only D ON THE ICE THE NEXT 4 games. Nothing but 4th liners and bench warmers double shifting now! TOP FIVE PICK OR BUST!

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#3 jeremywilhelm
April 21 2013, 11:49AM
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Hartley could honestly do nothing more to lose this game. I like his dedication.

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#4 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 11:52AM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

Hartley could honestly do nothing more to lose this game. I like his dedication.

He could take a stick to Brodie in warm ups, then dress Babs in his place.

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#5 FireOnIce
April 21 2013, 12:21PM
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So the Flames had 6 AHL recalled players before, now they have 7 more. 13 AHL players; that's half a squad. They were terrible in Abby so I hope they bring that with them.

Kipper might as well start packing his house up and be getting ready to move back to Finland. He's doneski.

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#6 RKD
April 21 2013, 01:27PM
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The Flames are an abysmal 5-13-2 and 3/4 opponents they face will be stiff competition. They've got games against the Wild, Blues and Hawks. It would suck not to get a guy like MacKinnon or Drouin, but maybe at least getting Barkov or Lindholm, both centers could be the start of something good.

If the Flames lose 4 straight and Tampa, Carolina, go 2-2, TB would have 42 points, Carolina would have 40 Nashville goes 1-3 they would have 41 then and only then would the Flames pick third with 40 points. The question is can TB, Car go at least .500 and Nashville go .250?

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#8 Baalzamon
April 21 2013, 02:20PM
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Actually, they could do more to lose this one--they could dress Babchuk instead of Brodie or somebody.

but lol at Stajan at 4th line center. I'd love to hear the conversation that prompted that decision (Hartley: "Who do we have at 2nd C?" Cloutier: "Stajan" Hartley: "He's too good, put him on 4").

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#9 mattyc
April 21 2013, 02:34PM
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poor stempniak has to lug around byron and street all game

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#10 schevvy
April 21 2013, 02:47PM
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If they don't lose tonight with this line-up, it is official that the Flames have pissed off someone in high places.

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#11 McRib
April 21 2013, 03:23PM
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Considering Tampa Bay plays Florida and Carolina you have to think they end up with at least 42 points. If Nashville beats us they end up with 41 points. Lets just hope the Flames can lose all four games in regulation and we end up pickin at fourth staying at 40 points on the season. Even if we pick in the 5 or 6 slot you would think we could still get Sean Monahan, who at the begging of the year was a Top. 3 anyway and is a potential Firstline Centre in the making.

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#12 schevvy
April 21 2013, 04:01PM
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Cundari and Giordano look freakishly alike. Honestly, I think they are long lost brothers.

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#13 schevvy
April 21 2013, 04:05PM
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Minnesota is not in the same division next year. That alone is one reason to be happy about this game.

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#15 schevvy
April 21 2013, 04:11PM
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Cundari is tiny

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#16 mk
April 21 2013, 04:13PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Is it weird that I think this line-up is more impressive and even than most Flames rosters this season?

Probably because there are natural centers everywhere now. Not that they're ready for the big show (or meant to be here longterm), but its nice not to see a bunch of converted wingers trying to play the most important forward position....

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#17 stretch14
April 21 2013, 04:25PM
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Flames in in full tank mode HARD! What a bunch of hypocrites lol

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#18 Vintage Flame
April 21 2013, 04:26PM
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Nothing bad to say about Cundari so far. Good skater.

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#19 schevvy
April 21 2013, 04:30PM
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Holy god what a shot

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#20 Lordmork
April 21 2013, 04:31PM
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I guess if we throw enough rookies into the lineup some of them are going to score, but it seems like we've had a lot of first NHL goals lately.

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#21 Jibmeister
April 21 2013, 04:33PM
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That was a damn good shot.

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#22 schevvy
April 21 2013, 04:40PM
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That's better

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#24 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:01PM
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Atta boy Sarich! Good try.

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#25 ChinookArch
April 21 2013, 05:03PM
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I can't watch thus game on tv, any suggestions on internet streaming options? Bear in mind, all have is an iPad.

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#26 ChinookArch
April 21 2013, 05:04PM
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Any play by play comments would be very appreciated.

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#27 Lordmork
April 21 2013, 05:12PM
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Sarich and Stoner had a little tussle. Listening on the radio, so hard to tell who came out on top. Any thoughts from anyone watching?

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#28 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:12PM
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Sarich and Stoner fight, not many landed. Stempy penalty for goalie int. 1-1 at about 15:00 of the second.

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#29 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:16PM
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No score on PP. 11:50 in 2nd

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#30 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:18PM
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Backs with a dirty goal, after rebound from nice Baer pass to rushing Stempy.

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#31 schevvy
April 21 2013, 05:18PM
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Backs is a pretty good player. Nice pass by Sven to Stempers as well

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#32 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:21PM
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And Schanko just scored as well!

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#33 schevvy
April 21 2013, 05:22PM
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5 game point streak for Sven

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#34 SeanCharles
April 21 2013, 05:22PM
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Gawd I hope Lindholm is a top line centre....

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#35 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:26PM
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Sarichs nose busted up pretty good from the Stoner fight. It was sideways after the fight.

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#36 Willi P
April 21 2013, 05:26PM
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Monaertchi Gaudnett wrote:

And Schanko just scored as well!

Ya, again...Gawd, SNW need some new ads, same ones every break

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#37 Lober
April 21 2013, 05:28PM
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Am I the only one thinking that maybe our young players are just good? We are 5-5 in our last 10 with our young line up and I was hoping for a top 3 pick like everyone else and could not believe some of the games we were winning (Ducks, we never beat the duck) But now I am thinking maybe we just are not a bad enough team to pick that high. Thoughts?

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#38 SeanCharles
April 21 2013, 05:31PM
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@Lober

Flames just can never do what their fans want

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#39 subz
April 21 2013, 05:33PM
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@Lober

It’s a mirage, what a horrible way to end the season unreal. We had an opportunity to add a franchise piece with a top three pick. Now McBackup is a world beater ugh.

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#40 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 21 2013, 05:34PM
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@Lober

A bunch of young guys playing for their future careers might just have more drive (which could be infectious) than old guys playing out the string.

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#41 RKD
April 21 2013, 05:40PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I can't watch thus game on tv, any suggestions on internet streaming options? Bear in mind, all have is an iPad.

Use First Row Sports, but I get a lot of pop ups maybe you'll have better luck on your iPad.

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#42 Baalzamon
April 21 2013, 05:43PM
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............. So I pretty much just tuned in. Wtf? How are the Flames winning with this roster?????????????????????? I have literally never been this confused as a hockey fan. This is just too bizarre. No matter what's going on, the Flames always seem to manage to hurt themselves at the end of the regular season. They either sleepwalk into the playoffs, or they go on an inexplicable winning streak and ruin a much needed draft pick.

Here's hoping for Lindholm, I guess.

On a more positive (less whiney) note, good for Cundari scoring in his first game.

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#43 RKD
April 21 2013, 05:50PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

............. So I pretty much just tuned in. Wtf? How are the Flames winning with this roster?????????????????????? I have literally never been this confused as a hockey fan. This is just too bizarre. No matter what's going on, the Flames always seem to manage to hurt themselves at the end of the regular season. They either sleepwalk into the playoffs, or they go on an inexplicable winning streak and ruin a much needed draft pick.

Here's hoping for Lindholm, I guess.

On a more positive (less whiney) note, good for Cundari scoring in his first game.

Yeah it is bizarre, they should be getting destroyed night in and night out. The big difference is that these guys have a lot of heart unlike the Oiler kids who were developed in a toxic losing environment and have now accepted losing as a norm. Reinhart, Hanowski, and Cundari all scored in their debuts. They are hungry guys chomping at the bit. Who says we need to be down for seasons on end. 4 years plus who knows how many others out of the playoffs is long enough.

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#44 FireOnIce
April 21 2013, 06:04PM
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RKD wrote:

Yeah it is bizarre, they should be getting destroyed night in and night out. The big difference is that these guys have a lot of heart unlike the Oiler kids who were developed in a toxic losing environment and have now accepted losing as a norm. Reinhart, Hanowski, and Cundari all scored in their debuts. They are hungry guys chomping at the bit. Who says we need to be down for seasons on end. 4 years plus who knows how many others out of the playoffs is long enough.

Flames got rid of their loser players. Jokinen (last year), Iginla, and Bouwmeester. While I wish the Flames were getting destroyed by Minnie right now, this team is fun to watch. Speed, creativity.

However, this is the problem, and I predicted it (who couldn't have?). Season ends. Nothing to play for. Now they're "just having fun" and winning games. Flames used to do that in the 90s too, that's why they only ever picked 15-25 for a long time.

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#45 Kevin R
April 21 2013, 06:12PM
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Sounds like the moral of the story is why pay lazy entitled vets big $$$ when we can pay less to players who are truly motivated to be hockey players & do what it takes to succeed. Ironic we lose 20mill of franchise players & we are doing as well as if we had a full veteran lineup. Next year could get ugly. Wose top 3 next year?

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#46 SeanCharles
April 21 2013, 06:17PM
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Why is it so hard being a Flames fan? Constant disappointment

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#47 Baalzamon
April 21 2013, 06:18PM
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Cundari seems to be a perfectly acceptable player. I would not have called that.

And the Flames score again. Welcome to Calgary, Elias Lindholm.

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#48 Captain Ron
April 21 2013, 06:27PM
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How can the Wild be so useless today? God I hate that team. Don't they need to win this game for the points. I sure won't miss having to watch them as often starting next season.

Minny is not even pushing the play right now. Man they suck.

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#49 mattyc
April 21 2013, 06:31PM
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Damn you Joey MacDonald - I knew we shouldn't have resigned him!

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#50 RKD
April 21 2013, 06:32PM
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One thing to remember is that the teams who have clinched a playoff berth are far less motivated to player harder. Look at who is struggling now, some of the top teams like Anaheim and Montreal. Teams 7-12 are playing playoff hockey every night while the other guys have become complacent. Before tonight's game, Minny was 3-6-1 in their last 10, now make it 3-7-1 in their last 11.

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