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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#51 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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#52 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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#53 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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#54 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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#55 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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#56 stretch14
April 21 2013, 06:41PM
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Haha oh man what a snoozer, thanks for the win losers! You guys are REALLY doing it wrong down there. It is fun though watching you guys get outplayed, outshot and still pick up a couple points off flukey goals (ie. vs. DET, ANA, MIN) Have fun with Lazar, he should turn things around for you!

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#57 Parallex
April 21 2013, 06:44PM
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Goal, Assist, and about 25 minutes in icetime (2nd to Brodie). Yeah, I'm gonna call that a pretty damn good debut for Cundari.

Now if the Flames can go out and get Evan Bloodoff they'll have both my sentimental favorites from Major Junior Circa 08-09

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#58 clYDE
April 21 2013, 06:44PM
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How did they screw up this opportunity? Nurse Monahan Zadorov ???

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#59 schevvy
April 21 2013, 06:49PM
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The reason the Flames are winning is because teams are taking them lightly. It has nothing to do with Iginla being gone. It's funny how people conveniently forget that the Flames went 0-5 immediately after Iginla got traded.

That being said, that was some kinda debut from Cundari. Good for him.

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#60 RKD
April 21 2013, 06:50PM
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Franko J wrote:

I think Cundari hit more players in this game than Bouwmeester did in his career with the Flames.

The reason the Flames are winning is there is no captain on the ice or on the dressing room to undermine the coach. The young guys have no problem listening to the coach. Secondly the goaltending has been exceptional. However the win today pretty much sealed our fate not to finish in the top 3.

Jay-Bo has never been a physical d-man, he wasn't in Florida, here or in St. Louis. Anyone expecting Jay-Bo to hit or be physical is delusional. Sutter knew Jay-Bo couldn't harm a kleenex. As far as Iggy undermining the coach, no one here has been in the Flames dressing room unless your last name is Wilson, Pike or Azevedo. This is all speculation, Iggy seems to be listening to Bylsma he's got 7 points in 9 games. He seems to be helping the team win, yeah he was bad defensively but so are Cammy and Tangs before he got hurt.

Yeah, the kids will listen to the coach. Reinhart, Hanowski and Cundari aren't guaranteed spots plus these guys are hungry.

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#61 Captain Ron
April 21 2013, 06:54PM
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@schevvy

Yeah I know your probably right. I'm being whiny about the wins right now. Time for a snickers bar.

Sure were excited about the possibility of a top 3 pick at one time though. Dammit anyway.

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#62 Jeff Lebowski
April 21 2013, 06:56PM
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schevvy wrote:

The reason the Flames are winning is because teams are taking them lightly. It has nothing to do with Iginla being gone. It's funny how people conveniently forget that the Flames went 0-5 immediately after Iginla got traded.

That being said, that was some kinda debut from Cundari. Good for him.

Exactly.

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#63 BurningSensation
April 21 2013, 07:00PM
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As much as I was drooling at the thought of Barkov being our pick, there is lots to reccomend for Elias Lindholm;

(he's #19)

http://youtu.be/m4x9D3uRqEU

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#64 Franko J
April 21 2013, 07:08PM
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RKD wrote:

Jay-Bo has never been a physical d-man, he wasn't in Florida, here or in St. Louis. Anyone expecting Jay-Bo to hit or be physical is delusional. Sutter knew Jay-Bo couldn't harm a kleenex. As far as Iggy undermining the coach, no one here has been in the Flames dressing room unless your last name is Wilson, Pike or Azevedo. This is all speculation, Iggy seems to be listening to Bylsma he's got 7 points in 9 games. He seems to be helping the team win, yeah he was bad defensively but so are Cammy and Tangs before he got hurt.

Yeah, the kids will listen to the coach. Reinhart, Hanowski and Cundari aren't guaranteed spots plus these guys are hungry.

Thanks for making my point. I would have traded Bouwmeester for a bag of picks. Too soft. Brodie is playing the same number of minutes with less mistakes and better coverage.

Who said anything about Iginla? Nice assumption. The point I was inferring was without any player actually wearing the "C" they are all taking onus with their play in the game and instead of waiting for the former Captain to do something the players are being proactive in their play. As far as I am concerned Iginla is no longer with this team and with him moving on I only hope the best for him. At the same time there has been a change in the lockeroom.

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#65 McRib
April 21 2013, 07:13PM
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@stretch14

The Flames are the losers.... Lol. Ya right!!! We will get Lazar with our third first rounder!!! Sean Monahan, Nurse and Lindholm will do just fine as any other year they are all Top. 3 picks anyway. We will pick up Compher or Erne with our second first rounder. At least we aren't accepting losses as that can be contagious for years and can derail any sort of rebuild. Any fan/team that thinks loosing is wrong is a JOKE!!! Edmonton/Colorado can keep drafting in the Top. 3 not going to change a thing, both gave up when it mattered and will do it again!!

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#66 Q
April 21 2013, 07:17PM
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Well, I have to admit, I'm a little taken back by how this season has ended. Sounds like there's a real healthy atmosphere in the dressing room! I like how players like stempniak, cammi, stajan, glennx, jacko, mcgratts,and hudler etc, have taken the kids under their wing and have been very positive about all the changes! Time to look at things a little differently now. We have to look around and see that there are some crappy teams right close to us and be content with the fact that we have 3, 1strounders either way in a deep draft! Personally I believe the general feeling in the flames dressing room had been unhealthy for a long long time and its just nice to see a major change of culture. I'm guessing we get 3 points out of the last 3 games. Flames faithful, we have a lot to look forward to! The players I hope that leave are Tanguay, sarich, cervenka , and of course babchuk! Keep cammi, stempniak, hudler, wides, and make Gio captain and Glennx assistant captain! Re-sign mcgrattan.

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#67 Kevin
April 21 2013, 07:30PM
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I think we deserve to win the lottery now!! 5 outta 6 really guys hahah

GO FLAMES GO

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#68 Vintage Flame
April 21 2013, 07:40PM
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Post game is up!

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#69 Willi P
April 21 2013, 07:51PM
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McRib wrote:

The Flames are the losers.... Lol. Ya right!!! We will get Lazar with our third first rounder!!! Sean Monahan, Nurse and Lindholm will do just fine as any other year they are all Top. 3 picks anyway. We will pick up Compher or Erne with our second first rounder. At least we aren't accepting losses as that can be contagious for years and can derail any sort of rebuild. Any fan/team that thinks loosing is wrong is a JOKE!!! Edmonton/Colorado can keep drafting in the Top. 3 not going to change a thing, both gave up when it mattered and will do it again!!

McRib,

Better to not feed the troll(s). He knows the Oil are a joke and trying to get a reaction here.

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#70 Willi P
April 21 2013, 07:54PM
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Vintage Flame wrote:

Post game is up!

Shameless self promotion.....ok, JK

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#71 stretch14
April 21 2013, 08:09PM
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McRib wrote:

The Flames are the losers.... Lol. Ya right!!! We will get Lazar with our third first rounder!!! Sean Monahan, Nurse and Lindholm will do just fine as any other year they are all Top. 3 picks anyway. We will pick up Compher or Erne with our second first rounder. At least we aren't accepting losses as that can be contagious for years and can derail any sort of rebuild. Any fan/team that thinks loosing is wrong is a JOKE!!! Edmonton/Colorado can keep drafting in the Top. 3 not going to change a thing, both gave up when it mattered and will do it again!!

Hahaha, Lazar 30th overall? You're delusional buddy. Ya, you're right though...winning these meaningless games down the stretch will give you guys a great "wining culture" when you're in the basement the next 5 years. I'll keep an eye out for you chumps in rear-view. We'll have Barkov send ya a postcard!

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#72 RKD
April 21 2013, 08:29PM
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Franko J wrote:

Thanks for making my point. I would have traded Bouwmeester for a bag of picks. Too soft. Brodie is playing the same number of minutes with less mistakes and better coverage.

Who said anything about Iginla? Nice assumption. The point I was inferring was without any player actually wearing the "C" they are all taking onus with their play in the game and instead of waiting for the former Captain to do something the players are being proactive in their play. As far as I am concerned Iginla is no longer with this team and with him moving on I only hope the best for him. At the same time there has been a change in the lockeroom.

As for Jay-Bo, he ate up a lot of minutes but they should have found a shutdown guy to play with him. He's no Nick Lidstrom but his play has always been positional. Not all your d-men are going to be physical. You need to balance your shut down guys with your offensive guys. People want to hate on Iggy and make him the scapegoat for all the teams problems. When the management team has to go to Iggy and ask which player he would be in favour of signing that tells you how poor the organization was. What was Iggy supposed to do? He had good chemistry in the past with Conroy, Tangs, and Cammy so its only human nature for him to repeat history.

I am glad you clarified your point it just sounded like you were referring to Iginla. The organization made the fans hate Iginla. Everyone says this should have been done two years ago, hindsight is 20/20. 2 years ago the Flames would have been in the middle of missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Had they trade Iggy then I think a lot of people would have questioned that decision and the backlash would have been more severe and two years ago there's probably a higher chance Iginla would not have waived his NTC as the Flames were closer to 8th place and not 15th.

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#73 Rockmorton65
April 21 2013, 09:05PM
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As the season winds down, I find it fairly easy to stay positive, even without knowing what's coming. I love how this team is continuing to battle even though we're out of it. I'm excited by this offseason. Best case scenario, we win the lottery, and the Pens and Blues are knocked out in the first round. Our picks could theoretically be 1,16 & 17. Not likely, but possible. Worst case is Pitts and StL meet in the cup final and we draft, say, 8, 29 & 30. Still not bad. Feaster will either trade them for assets, or draft 3 players who have a good shot at making the team next year. We can sell FA's on the fact that we have a young, hungry team that doesn't quit (unlike the Oilers who seem neither hungry or determined). While we may not be ahead of the Oilers rebuild chronologically, I think we are miles ahead in terms of optimism and attitude.

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