FGD: Swimming with the Sharks

Ryan Pike
January 20 2014 02:10PM


(courtesy Vegnews.com)

Fresh off their fisticuffs in Vancouver on Saturday, the Calgary Flames (16-26-7) head down the west coast to face another test in the form of a division rival. The San Jose Sharks (31-12-6) are fifth overall in the NHL, a stark contrast to Calgary's 28th placement in the overall standings.

It's the third meeting of the 2013-14 season between the Flames and the Sharks. The two previous meetings – one each in Calgary and San Jose – were both losses for Calgary. One was a one-sided 6-3 drubbing in the Bay Area (fuelled by the Sharks crazy-good PP scoring three goals), the other was a 3-2 overtime loss in Calgary a month later.

Which Flames team will show up? The October team that got spanked or the November team that grinded out a point? Find out tonight! The puck drops at 8:30pm MT on Sportsnet West, y'all.

THE LINE-UP

After the shenanigans on Saturday, the Flames actually played fairly well, keeping the Canucks to the outside and largely negating their deep top six. They lost because they took too many penalties (and because the Canucks didn't play “their game” until the third). The Sharks are a much deeper team than the Canucks, but the same general approach could be useful.

The Flames didn't do line rushes at this morning's practice in San Jose, so it's guessing games for lines. What we do know is that David Jones and Kris Russell are returning to the line-up from the injured reserve, which pushes T.J. Galiardi and Shane O'Brien to the press box. Ben Street is the other remaining healthy extra body. Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross remain on the IR.

Hudler – Backlund – Stempniak
D.Jones – Stajan - Bouma
Colborne – Monahan – Byron
Westgarth – B.Jones – McGrattan

Brodie – Giordano
Wideman - Smid
Butler – Russell

Ramo
Berra

Ramo starts for the fourth time in the last five games. Calgary's offense continues to be primarily Jiri Hudler-based (he's got 18 more points than the next-closest player, and has more assists than any other player has points), with occasional flashes from Mikael Backlund and a rotating cast of characters.

THE OPPOSITION

The Sharks have been bit by the injury bug much worse than the Flames of late. They enter tonight's game without Raffi Torres, Scott Hannan, Adam Burish, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. Despite all of this, they're still a pretty good hockey club. While the Flames were battling the Canucks on Saturday, the Sharks were involved in a track meet with the Tampa Bay Lightning – Joe Pavelski had a hat trick.

Lines, via DailyFaceoff:

Pavelski – Thornton – Burns
Nieto – Marleau – Wingels
Kearns – Desjardins – Kennedy
Sheppard – McCarthy – Hayes/Brown

Irwin – Boyle
Vlasic – Demers
Stuart – Braun

Niemi
Stalock

The Sharks have won three in a row, four of their last five and five of their last seven. In 2014, they're 6-2-0. Conversely, the Flames are 2-6-1 this year. The Sharks have a much more balanced attack than Calgary – Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau drive things, but other guys have gotten hot from time-to-time to balance things out.

Calgary's defense will definitely have their hands full tonight.

SUM IT UP

On Saturday, the Calgary Flames showed that, despite recent disappointments, they still have some fight left in them. They're going to need to be at their best tonight against one of the NHL's best hockey clubs. They showed they can stand toe-to-toe with them back in November. But in San Jose's barn, they'll need to set the tone early and, like they did against Vancouver, somehow suck the Sharks into playing their style of game.

Otherwise, it could be a very long night for the visitors.

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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 Tony
January 20 2014, 08:47PM
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Great goal by Hudler!

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#52 prendrefeu
January 20 2014, 08:47PM
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Boom! Hudler!

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#53 mattyc
January 20 2014, 09:29PM
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@EugeneV

mostly in jest, I just wanted to give Clyde a hard time because he mentioned something about his corsi in jest.

relCorsi is just corsi relative to the team average.

I like the Stajan signing. Lots of good arguments have been made that he's a decent (under-appreciated) player.

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#54 RonR
January 20 2014, 10:08PM
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Hope Byron's injury is not too bad.

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#55 prendrefeu
January 20 2014, 10:11PM
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I'm not sure if I want the Flames to win anymore. Anyone else have these mixed feelings?

If we win - great for morale! If we lose - puts us further into the lottery*

*Still no guarantee that we'll get a top lottery pick. Increases our chances though.ˇˇˇ

ˇˇˇIt's still a lottery after that: first rounders can be a total bust at the NHL level, just like a 166th pick can be one of the best players in NHL history and a walk-on can become captain.

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#56 Parallex
January 20 2014, 10:34PM
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mattyc wrote:

I'd also be willing to bet the flames never get to 100 PDO this year. The goaltending is so far below acceptable, they'll never get the 92% or whatever they need to get to 100. In that way, it won't be luck so much as it will be anomalously bad goaltending.

Not if they keep giving starts to Berra they won't... Ramo is nothing to write home about but Berra (and Joey Mac in his few starts) really drag team goaltending down. I'm almost surprised Ortio hasn't gotten a turn yet.

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#57 Baalzamon
January 20 2014, 11:51PM
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@EugeneV

On a more depressing front, the 1998 draft:

6th overall, Rico Fata

171st overall, Pavel Datsyuk

yeesh. Better hope scouting is better nowadays.

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#58 coachedpotatoe
January 20 2014, 04:44PM
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Where has the Stajan signing been confirmed? Not exactly what the flames sites says or my limited search on NHL.

If it's confirmed he allows a veteran presence although I would have preferered an upgrade via the UFA market. The fact that he got through all the hate form fans during the first contact and the crap from Sutter he has demonstrated character and leadership. 4 years though is too long and the other issue is if there is any trade movement clauses. Another question is how does this fit Burkes idea of needing to bigger as Stajan is only average or a bit below average. Interesting days ahead.

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#59 RexLibris
January 20 2014, 06:14PM
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@Flames15

That would be a win for the Flames. They could re-sign Reimer and select twice in the top fifteen, perhaps ten in this year's draft.

Let's wait and see happens.

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#60 SeanCharles
January 20 2014, 06:22PM
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I'm sorry everyone but 4years is too long for Stajan.

Should have been 2-3years long.

What happens to the other whipping boy UFA: Butler?

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#61 prendrefeu
January 20 2014, 06:24PM
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Tortoise suspended for .... wait for it.... wait for it....

15 days.




Or 6 games. But who's counting, really?

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#62 EugeneV
January 20 2014, 09:15PM
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mattyc wrote:

@Clyde will like this:

Matt Stajan's PDO : 93.7 (Flames PDO: 97.5)

3 straight years of positive relCorsi.

Plus he's a truculent goal-scoring machine.

What is relative Corsi?

Are you speaking seriously, or in jest?

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#63 Baalzamon
January 20 2014, 09:16PM
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Westgarth has scored at least one goals four times in his career.

Watch out, Mike Bossy.

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#64 Schmenkley
January 20 2014, 09:53PM
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Westgarth and Big Ern seeing lots of ice....showcased for a trade?

:)

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#65 Parallex
January 20 2014, 10:10PM
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@EugeneV

No. Without getting into the specifics PDO essentially measures luck in the form of shooting percentage plus save percentage. Having a PDO of 95 is bad luck (PDO 100 is neutral). Stajan's 5 on 5 relCorsi is +3.2. A good number (slightly above average) that looks better when you account for his hard zone starts... not 4 years and 12.5M good mind you but he's a positive player (for now).

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#66 mattyc
January 20 2014, 10:22PM
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@Parallex

I'd also be willing to bet the flames never get to 100 PDO this year. The goaltending is so far below acceptable, they'll never get the 92% or whatever they need to get to 100. In that way, it won't be luck so much as it will be anomalously bad goaltending.

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#67 EugeneV
January 20 2014, 11:22PM
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As far as round 7's go in the NHL Draft check out 1984.

Luc Robitaille 170th

Gary Roberts 180th

Very hard to have that happen nowadays with the amount of scouting done.

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#68 Tony
January 20 2014, 09:05PM
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Goon line! Puck bouncing crazy today.

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#69 mattyc
January 20 2014, 10:19PM
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EugeneV wrote:

So that means Stajan is slightly below the team average? Does it account for strength of competiton faced?

Like I've stated previously, I want to understand the "new" stats.

It doesn't account for competition.

Stajan has a corsi% this year of 47.8%, meaning 47.8% of the shot attempts when Stajan is on the ice are against the opposing net. In a vacuum, that's not great, but when you consider the Flames are a pretty junk team (the Flames' team corsi% is 44.5%), it doesn't seem that bad. Stajan's corsi% is 3.3% better than the team average (relCorsi%).

For competition you can measure against the corsi of the players Stajan plays against (called Corsi QualComp). There's still a lot of debate about how to measure the quality of competition. Some use corsi, some use time on ice...

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#70 Burnward
January 20 2014, 10:29PM
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Now we're playing hockey again! Great effort so far.

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#71 mattyc
January 20 2014, 10:59PM
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meh - we got 18 months until we need to start worrying about a goalie. I guess Berra may not be resigned this summer, but I dunno - I can't see us planning to be winning anything next year.

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#72 Primo
January 20 2014, 04:47PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Where has the Stajan signing been confirmed? Not exactly what the flames sites says or my limited search on NHL.

If it's confirmed he allows a veteran presence although I would have preferered an upgrade via the UFA market. The fact that he got through all the hate form fans during the first contact and the crap from Sutter he has demonstrated character and leadership. 4 years though is too long and the other issue is if there is any trade movement clauses. Another question is how does this fit Burkes idea of needing to bigger as Stajan is only average or a bit below average. Interesting days ahead.

ITS OFFICIAL. 4 YEARS $12.1M.

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#73 coachedpotatoe
January 20 2014, 04:47PM
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Coach do more research, TSN. Why can't the flames update before TSN?

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#74 Primo
January 20 2014, 04:49PM
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@coachedpotatoe

Sportnest TV and 960.

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#75 RexLibris
January 20 2014, 06:15PM
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Also, Hartley fined $25,000.

Had Tortorella not gone to the Flames dressing room this would have been a very interesting incident for the NHL to decide.

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#76 Clyde
January 20 2014, 08:45PM
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mattyc wrote:

@Clyde will like this:

Matt Stajan's PDO : 93.7 (Flames PDO: 97.5)

3 straight years of positive relCorsi.

Plus he's a truculent goal-scoring machine.

Lol Well done

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#77 Beerzebub
January 20 2014, 09:04PM
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Oh, Karri. That probably wraps it up..

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#78 EugeneV
January 20 2014, 09:41PM
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@mattyc

So that means Stajan is slightly below the team average? Does it account for strength of competiton faced?

Like I've stated previously, I want to understand the "new" stats.

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#79 prendrefeu
January 20 2014, 10:26PM
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ffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu

Byron now on the Injured list.

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