FGD: A Pre-Season Tilt With the Rangers

Ryan Pike
September 23 2013 10:03AM

(you can thank ESPN for the pic)

 

We're eight days prior to the start of the NHL's regular season and inching closer and closer to final cuts. With 38 guys left in camp, there are still roster decisions to be made at more or less every position.

The Flames face the New York Rangers tonight at the Saddledome in their sixth of seven pre-season outings. The Rangers are almost on the opposite trajectory as the Flames – they're coming off a playoff year, they're poised for a strong season, and they're playing the third of six pre-season games.

THE LINE-UP

Calgary is enjoying a fairly productive pre-season, having posted a 3-2-0 record over their first five games. Now that things are getting serious in terms of roster decisions, they're putting together a line-up that is getting closer to being their opening day roster.

Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Galiardi – Monahan – Reinhart
Ferland – Backlund – Knight
Bouma – Horak – McGrattan
 
Russell – Wideman
Giordano – Brodie
Smith – O'Brien
 
Ramo
MacDonald

In terms of guys battling to stay on the big team, it's notable that Ferland, Knight and Reinhart are dressing, as they're probably on the outside looking in for final roster spots. With Reto Berra playing on Wednesday, we see Ramo tonight, as well as a defensive group devoid of young'uns. I'd expect we'll see two or three of Ramage, Sieloff and Wotherspoon on Wednesday, as well as perhaps Baertschi, David Jones and Jackman. Hudler and Cammalleri are nursing injuries, but should be ready for opening day.
 
In terms of battles, pay particular attention to how Derek Smith fares, as he may be competing with Chris Butler and the afroementioned kid trio, as well as the guys in the bottom two lines. Oh, and the guy in goal. But he should be noticeable either way.

The Flames complete their pre-season schedule on Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes.

THE OPPOSITION

The Rangers have 39 bodies in camp – they're without Derek Stepan, who is still embroiled in a contract dispute with the cap strapped Rags – and have been holding camp in Banff since last week. They lost to the Devils last Monday and beat the Flyers on Tuesday in their first two pre-season games.
 
Here are the Blueshirts line combos via Pat Steinberg:
 
Rick Nash - Brad Richards - Chris Kreider
Marek Hrivik - Brian Boyle - Danny Kristo
Taylor Pyatt - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast
Brandon Mashinter - Darroll Powe - Arron Asham

Marc Staal - Michael Del Zotto
John Moore - Anton Stralman
Justin Falk - Stu Bickel

Martin Biron
Cam Talbot
 
The Rangers are beginning a span of four games in five days, including meetings with the Oilers, Canucks and Kings. So expect them to rotate through basically all of their available bodies in short order. Tonight they are boasting a fairly veteran laden roster, including Richards, Nash, Boyle, Del Zotto, Stralman and Staal. Going to be a stiff test for the Flames kids.

SUM IT UP

Five pre-season games down, two to go for the Flames. With 15 cuts left to make for the hometown team, tonight's game should prove very interesting, perhaps winning somebody a job – or banishing them to the minors.
 
Sometimes pre-season games are low-stakes. For some of the guys involved wearing red tonight, the stakes may never be higher this season.

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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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#1 T&A4Flames
September 23 2013, 11:36AM
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Ahhhhhhhh, my eyes, MY EYES.....

Please don't post pics of nude dudes in your blogs....PLEASE!

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#2 McRib
September 23 2013, 02:13PM
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@FireOnIce

Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down. But everyone is begging for Sean Monahan to go down after he nets two goals?!?!?! Huh. Who's more ready?

Nathan Mackinnon had (1.70 PPG for 75 Total) last season on the deepest club in the CHL. Sean Monahan had (1.35 PPG for 78 Total) on the second worst club in the CHL (No one was worse than Cape Breton).... Monahan has much better size (3+ inches and 10+ pounds on Mackinnon) and from my viewings has shown a better Hockey IQ... Who's more ready again?

I think if anything Nathan MacKinnon needs another year in Junior, but because he dominated the CHL the Hockey World has written his name in pen for this NHL season. That's where in lies the biggest rub. Its not necessarily rushing guys like Sean Monhan who have the Size/Hockey IQ and have shown in preseason that they can play. The biggest issue is rushing guys like Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who are "too good for Junior". Sean Monahan would have lit it up last year with even some adequate help on the 67s, but because he didn't he needs to go back to Junior to do so? Just don't understand what he is left to do in OHL?

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#3 McRib
September 23 2013, 02:17PM
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I'm so damn glad the Ottawa 67s sucked so much last year!! We never would have gotten Sean Monahan at six!!

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#4 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 07:44PM
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The more I see him, the more I like Monahan in the NHL this year contract and team direction be damned.

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#5 SoCalFlamesFan
September 23 2013, 09:26PM
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Hmm at this rate Stajan is due to get 246 points this year. So much for finishing in the bottom 5.

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#6 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 11:08AM
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@schevvy

The "Tank for Whoever" run is off to a roaring start.

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#7 RexLibris
September 23 2013, 09:46PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

I am starting to think we are just one or two pieces away from being a legit contender...

:P

Jeff, be warned, your FN account has been hacked by Jay Feaster.

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#8 Avalain
September 23 2013, 01:26PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

Cammy had better get healing. The Flames are going to need him at the deadline to pick up another 1st or some 2nds.

Saw on Twitter that Flames MGMT is unimpressed with Joey MacDonald. Leaning towards Ramo/Berra. This was in the same time as saying that if they chose today, Monahan would stay on the team.

One can only hope Monahan plays like crap in his first couple games so they have to send him down.

Maybe it's unrealistic, but I hope Monahan plays amazing and improves in leaps and bounds every game.

Despite all of the debate between giving the kid shot in the NHL or being sent back down for a year, I don't think anyone really wants to see Monahan turn out to be a bad player.

I'm not sure about the statistics, exactly, but I would imagine that the players who come into the NHL and play really well tend to turn out better than the players who come into the NHL and fall flat on their faces.

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#9 everton fc
September 23 2013, 10:01PM
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Also, Bouma seems to be quietly staking his place on the long-term roster.

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#10 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 09:13PM
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Nice finish by Stajan. Read that again.

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#11 Bigfatflamesfan
September 23 2013, 11:54AM
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Hartley expects both Cammy and Hudler back for opening night in Washington. No big deal.

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#12 iSteve
September 23 2013, 04:54PM
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Heard Pittsburgh is looking to trade for a backup goalie while vokun is out... What about Joey for a 2nd? Give Berra and Ramo a full season shot...

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#13 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 08:32PM
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I cannot believe that Galiardi has been such an unremarkable third line forward to this point in his career. He seems like so much more than that.

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#14 seve927
September 23 2013, 09:30PM
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Karri Ramo hasn't given up an ES goal in two games. I don't have my calculator, but that's got to be a pretty high ES Sv Pct.

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#15 EugeneV
September 23 2013, 02:23PM
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McRib wrote:

Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down. But everyone is begging for Sean Monahan to go down after he nets two goals?!?!?! Huh. Who's more ready?

Nathan Mackinnon had (1.70 PPG for 75 Total) last season on the deepest club in the CHL. Sean Monahan had (1.35 PPG for 78 Total) on the second worst club in the CHL (No one was worse than Cape Breton).... Monahan has much better size (3+ inches and 10+ pounds on Mackinnon) and from my viewings has shown a better Hockey IQ... Who's more ready again?

I think if anything Nathan MacKinnon needs another year in Junior, but because he dominated the CHL the Hockey World has written his name in pen for this NHL season. That's where in lies the biggest rub. Its not necessarily rushing guys like Sean Monhan who have the Size/Hockey IQ and have shown in preseason that they can play. The biggest issue is rushing guys like Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who are "too good for Junior". Sean Monahan would have lit it up last year with even some adequate help on the 67s, but because he didn't he needs to go back to Junior to do so? Just don't understand what he is left to do in OHL?

Fine, just please, please, please let Monahan, McKinnon, Drouin etc... play in the WJHC.

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#16 Scott
September 23 2013, 11:55AM
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Flames just tweeted that they still expect Cammy to be ready for Oct. 3 vs. Washington. Unless they are keeping the injury secret, Millions must be smoking something good.

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#17 McRib
September 23 2013, 08:15PM
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@exsanguinator

I don't know both teams have 39 players left at camp and I count 11 starters on both rosters (including Brian McGratten). Not to mention they have the supposed best players Nash, Staal, Richards, etc. I think the Flames will surprise this year as well. Our goaltending has improved (Ramo, Berra) if we get the same or more scoring via committee, people forget we lost a lot of games last year because of crappy goaltending!!!

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#18 Jeff In Lethbridge
September 23 2013, 09:35PM
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I am starting to think we are just one or two pieces away from being a legit contender...

:P

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#19 coachedpotatoe
September 23 2013, 09:35PM
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It was great they won, looks like Ramo might be an NHL goalie. The only time the Rangers put real concentrated pressure on was when the kids were out there. What I liked best was the work ethic. note to Phil Kessel, it's okay to fight; you don't need to swing your stick like a baby.

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#20 Bezer
September 23 2013, 09:43PM
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I really enjoyed that game. The PP looked pretty good. It was no more than 2 seconds on the stick before a pass or shot. The Rangers PK looked like the Flames of old, slow. chasing and out of position.

I really doubt we win a lot of games this year but if it is that entertaining I am (somewhat) OK with it.

I am really torn about Monohan. Originally I was in the "Send him to junior no matter what" camp but he sure hasn't looked out of place. He hasn't been perfect but does sending him back to junior even help him develop much more? He might learn and develop more with the big team this year.

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#21 Kypreos
September 24 2013, 06:07AM
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Victoria Flames Fan wrote:

I thought Ferland looked the best of all the bubble players. He had a couple nice chances, had 3 SOGs, finished all his hits. Don't know about advanced stats. I don't know what his ceiling is buthe has impressed me the most of all the U22's.

As much as an old guy like me loves to see a Russell manning the point (think Phil Russell) I am not at all impressed with Kris. Loved him as a Jr. for the Giants and Team Canada but I don't think he's matured into much of an NhLer. If it is him vs. Butler or Derek Smith, I'm not sure. I'd love to see Ramage up his game.

Get out of the past.

Kris has a different game. He is a good skater makes better decisions than Butler or smith. He is not going to run over anyone with his size but he is a reliable 5 or 6 pairing. Glad he is on the team.

He is a good Caroline Alberta boy!

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#22 Baalzamon
September 24 2013, 09:15AM
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@Victoria Flames Fan

I've had no problems with Russell's play so far (aside from his game against the Oilers..) He was great against the Islanders, and passable last night (he was playing second pair with Wideman and looked better than Smith who was playing third).

Russell is a better player than Butler. Full stop. One of Russell, Butler, Smith, and O'Brien is going to be starting the season in the top four, and Russell is the best of the bunch.

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#23 FireOnIce
September 23 2013, 11:42AM
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Cammy had better get healing. The Flames are going to need him at the deadline to pick up another 1st or some 2nds.

Saw on Twitter that Flames MGMT is unimpressed with Joey MacDonald. Leaning towards Ramo/Berra. This was in the same time as saying that if they chose today, Monahan would stay on the team.

One can only hope Monahan plays like crap in his first couple games so they have to send him down.

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#24 RexLibris
September 23 2013, 02:27PM
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mattyc wrote:

Brad Richards + ESPN = NSFW

Could've been worse.

Two words: Mike. Ricci.

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#25 coachedpotatoe
September 23 2013, 06:01PM
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I was wondering about peoples' thoughts are on the Kessle/Scott event. I just watched a short video on it; my take is simply this Kessle pushes Scott, Scott responds with punches Kessle responds with a stick not once but twice the second time with Scott engaged with two other Leafs. Kessle is simply a coward and should get a serious suspension. It's not like Kessle is 5'8 and 160 lbs. I am sure I will get trashed for this opinion but this is what turns me off of the game.

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#26 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 07:42PM
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Pretty good period. Ice was tilted in favor of the Flames for sure.

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#27 Kmp
September 23 2013, 07:47PM
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@Kent Wilson

Agree, they look quicker than the Rangers. This team is going to be a lot better than most people expect. Forwards playing a very nice 2 way game.

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#28 redricardo
September 23 2013, 08:08PM
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exsanguinator wrote:

Of course, the Flames are at the end of their preseason schedule and the Rangers are just hitting the mid point tonight. The Flames are a lot closer to their NHL roster than the Rangers are.

Hey... exsanguinator...

The last thing anyone needs is you putting cold water on the theory that the Flames will be dominant, based on one good pre-season period, with your facts and logic!!

How dare you ruin dreaming with reality!!

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#29 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 09:05PM
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Whoa nice try by Ferland.

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#30 Baalzamon
September 23 2013, 09:26PM
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Nash seems to be highly talented at painting himself into a corner. Or, more specifically, finessing himself into a washing machine. Or... something.

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#31 seve927
September 24 2013, 07:37AM
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everton fc wrote:

How did Ferland look? All this talk about Monahan is great, but how does Ferland look against the pros?

I think Ferland looks good. I'd like to see him spend the year, or at least a few months in Abby, but it looks like he's back on track. His line, with Backlund and Knight, looked to be keeping the play on the Rangers side of the ice for the most part.

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#32 McRib
September 24 2013, 09:08AM
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@Victoria Flames Fan

Come On Man, Kris Russell was a Medicine Hat Tiger!!!

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#33 schevvy
September 23 2013, 11:17AM
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@RexLibris

You're hoping MacIntyre is just for preseason Rex but the fact is he's totally going to be up there all season because he can punch faces

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#34 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 11:26AM
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@schevvy

And then Glencross. And then Giordano...

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#35 Clay
September 23 2013, 03:20PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Could've been worse.

Two words: Mike. Ricci.

Phil Kessel

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#36 Parallex
September 23 2013, 05:05PM
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iSteve wrote:

Heard Pittsburgh is looking to trade for a backup goalie while vokun is out... What about Joey for a 2nd? Give Berra and Ramo a full season shot...

... Your not serious right?

No one in their right mind will give up a 2nd for Joey MacDonald. The best you'll get for him would likely be future considerations. Pretty sure the Pens have a guys that their assigning to the AHL and if you have that then you in all likelihood have the equivalency to Joey MacDonald.

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#37 Jeff In Lethbridge
September 23 2013, 06:39PM
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@coachedpotatoe

everyone that says, "if you don't like fighting, get a different sport, leave my hockey alone" should be proud of this moment... fights, leaving the bench, goalies going, goons looking to pummel stars.. swinging sticks hard enough to break legs, it's all part of the game... don't change it, get another beer and enjoy!

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#38 Vowswithin
September 23 2013, 07:35PM
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firstrownow.eu for those needing a link not in Alberta

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#39 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 07:50PM
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Kmp wrote:

Agree, they look quicker than the Rangers. This team is going to be a lot better than most people expect. Forwards playing a very nice 2 way game.

Of course, the Flames are at the end of their preseason schedule and the Rangers are just hitting the mid point tonight. The Flames are a lot closer to their NHL roster than the Rangers are.

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#40 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:18PM
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McRib wrote:

I don't know both teams have 39 players left at camp and I count 11 starters on both rosters (including Brian McGratten). Not to mention they have the supposed best players Nash, Staal, Richards, etc. I think the Flames will surprise this year as well. Our goaltending has improved (Ramo, Berra) if we get the same or more scoring via committee, people forget we lost a lot of games last year because of crappy goaltending!!!

With actual goaltending last year the Flames were a bubble team at best. I think tanking last year was a good idea, kind of a blessing in disguise. Hopefully Feaster has better asset management than Sutter did.

I don't think that the Flames will have as bad a year as most people are thinking but making the playoffs is still a dream in my opinion.

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#41 exsanguinator
September 23 2013, 08:23PM
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Ramo is looking pretty solid.

I'm really liking the CAL/MTL trade so far.

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#42 Victoria Flames Fan
September 23 2013, 10:40PM
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everton fc wrote:

How did Ferland look? All this talk about Monahan is great, but how does Ferland look against the pros?

I thought Ferland looked the best of all the bubble players. He had a couple nice chances, had 3 SOGs, finished all his hits. Don't know about advanced stats. I don't know what his ceiling is buthe has impressed me the most of all the U22's.

As much as an old guy like me loves to see a Russell manning the point (think Phil Russell) I am not at all impressed with Kris. Loved him as a Jr. for the Giants and Team Canada but I don't think he's matured into much of an NhLer. If it is him vs. Butler or Derek Smith, I'm not sure. I'd love to see Ramage up his game.

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#43 SydScout
September 24 2013, 06:09AM
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Thanks for all the commentary guys. Stream didn't work in this part of the world.

As always great job

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#44 schevvy
September 23 2013, 11:01AM
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According to Millions, Cammalleri may be out for an extended period of time because of his hand injury. That's not good, but it may allow Ferland or Reinhart to stick around for a bit

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#45 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 11:18AM
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@schevvy

Agreed. He'll play half the games is my bet.

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#46 Kent Wilson
September 23 2013, 01:15PM
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@RexLibris

I'd say Brown is the bigger worry. He's an even worse player than Eager.

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#47 RexLibris
September 23 2013, 01:16PM
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@FireOnIce

Re; Cammalleri's hand

That's what I was thinking. The last thing the Flames need is a shooter with a bad hand at the trade deadline. The asking price immediately drops.

Suspect they are simply resting him because, frankly, everyone knows what Cammalleri can do. He has nothing left to prove in these final few games.

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#48 RexLibris
September 23 2013, 01:25PM
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schevvy wrote:

You're hoping MacIntyre is just for preseason Rex but the fact is he's totally going to be up there all season because he can punch faces

I'm wondering if he isn't a pickup until the Oilers see which way the Supplementary Discipline winds are blowing this season.

If it looks like the league is going to enforce their rules, he'll be dropped by the end of November at the latest because suspensions may start to have an effect.

If not, then he'll probably be around until the end of the season.

That being said, I wonder what McGrattan feels about MacIntyre's being brought on? The Ivanans fight is still fresh in many people's memory and I would hope, for everyone's sake, that neither team decides on a re-bout.

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#49 Parallex
September 23 2013, 03:43PM
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@McRib

"Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down."

I'd say it if I gave a rat's behind about the Aves or the Lightning. But I don't so...

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#50 the forgotten man
September 23 2013, 03:48PM
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McRib wrote:

Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down. But everyone is begging for Sean Monahan to go down after he nets two goals?!?!?! Huh. Who's more ready?

Nathan Mackinnon had (1.70 PPG for 75 Total) last season on the deepest club in the CHL. Sean Monahan had (1.35 PPG for 78 Total) on the second worst club in the CHL (No one was worse than Cape Breton).... Monahan has much better size (3+ inches and 10+ pounds on Mackinnon) and from my viewings has shown a better Hockey IQ... Who's more ready again?

I think if anything Nathan MacKinnon needs another year in Junior, but because he dominated the CHL the Hockey World has written his name in pen for this NHL season. That's where in lies the biggest rub. Its not necessarily rushing guys like Sean Monhan who have the Size/Hockey IQ and have shown in preseason that they can play. The biggest issue is rushing guys like Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who are "too good for Junior". Sean Monahan would have lit it up last year with even some adequate help on the 67s, but because he didn't he needs to go back to Junior to do so? Just don't understand what he is left to do in OHL?

What's your point though? Nischuskin has 2 goals and team leading 13 SOG in the preseason for Dallas Stars - do you really think Jim Nill is going to decide his fate this year based on how Mackinnon or Drouin are doing? I couldn't care less what Drouin or MacKinnon do or have done - they don't play for the Flames. All I care about is this Franchise legitimately (not circa 2004 lightning in a bottle) challenging for the Stanley Cup, if there is a God, in the next 5-10 years. If the Flames want Monahan to stay with them, then clear out veteran body space in the top 2 lines and have at it. If not, then send him back to Junior. Just please God, not this straddling the fence stuff that this Franchise has perfected for the last 25 years - have a strict plan and go with it. Put it this way, if as you argue, he is truly NHL ready, then he better be 100% ready. If not, send him back for one more year + World Juniors...he will be one more year older, more mature and hungrier to destroy next season. This Franchise is going nowhere for another 3-4 seasons anyways assuming everything swings our way.

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