FGD: Vision Quest

Ryan Pike
January 07 2014 01:41PM

Just 24 hours after kicking off the second half of the season with a big win over Colorado, the Calgary Flames (15-21-6) head back on the road to face the Phoenix Coyotes (20-12-9) in Glendale. The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet Flames, Sportsnet 960 Radio and all over the web.

The Coyotes sit in the final wild-card playoff spot in the West, just ahead of the Minnesota Wild due to the games-played tie-breaker. They've been sliding a bit in the past few weeks, having lost their first two contests of 2014 – and their last regulation win was back on December 12. They face a Flames club that has faced similar issues, both winning and closing games out.

This is Calgary's third meeting of the season with Phoenix. So far, the home team has won each game (and scored four goals) – the Coyotes won 4-2 on October 22, the Flames won 4-1 on December 4 in Calgary's last regulation win prior to last night.

THE ROAD WARRIORS

The Flames are coming off a gutsy 4-3 win in Denver last night, where the scoring flood-gates opened via goals from Sean Monahan, Joe Colborne, Jiri Hudler and Mike Cammalleri. Karri Ramo made 22 saves for the win. I don't expect many, if any, line-up changes from last night.

Via DailyFaceoff, last night's lines.

Cammalleri – Backlund – Hudler
Byron – Monahan – Stempniak
Bouma – Stajan – McGrattan
Galiardi – Colborne – Westgarth

Brodie – Giordano
Smid – Wideman
Butler – O'Brien Smith

Ramo Berra
Berra Ramo

UPDATE: Patrick Steinberg indicates that Berra starts and Smith is in for Shane O'Brien.

I'm not entirely sold on the bottom six, as McGrattan and Westgarth on different lines seem a bit redundant. That said, the top six performed fairly well last night. Backlund's been great lately, as has Paul Byron, and Hartley's utilizing of them to spark other lines seems rather smart. The team also doesn't have a lot of other options, as Derek Smith is their only 100% healthy extra body.

The Flames offense continues to be a bit scattershot, but largely driven by Jiri Hudler (and whatever line he's on). Shockingly, Hudler has 14 more points than any other player on the team. In fact, he has more assists (23) than any other player has points. If that's not a commentary on (a) how good Hudler's been and (b) how not-good the rest of the team is, I'm not sure what is.

The Flames boast two Olympians – Ladislav Smid (Czech Republic) and Reto Berra (Switzerland).'

THE HOME SIDE

The Coyotes have lost back-to-back games, 5-3 to the Flyers and 2-0 to the Blue Jackets, to kick off 2014. They've dropped a lot of close games of late, including a stretch where they went to overtime in six straight – they won two of those six.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson won't suit up for a second straight game, as he's out with an upper-body injury. Via DailyFaceoff, the projected lines.

Korpikoski – Hanzal – Vrbata
Klinkhammer – Vermette – Boedker
Doan – Ribeiro – Moss
Chipchura – Halpern – Bissonnette

Yandle – Murphy
Morris – Schlemko
Stone – Klesla

Greiss
Smith

Phoenix has a pretty balanced attack, especially compared to Calgary. Five Coyotes are within three points of each other for the team lead in scoring: Radim Vrbata, Mike Ribeiro, Martin Hanzal, Keith Yandle and Mikkel Boedker. Three others are just below this cluster. In short? You need to be strong defensively to beat the Coyotes; they don't have any sure-fire scorers, but everyone contributes.

The Coyotes boast five Olympians: Mike Smith (Canada), Lauri Korpikoski (Finland), Zybnek Michalek and Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden). Michalek has been out since before Christmas with a lower-body issue. Despte getting good news today, Smith sits as Thomas Greiss – who was strong in relief against Edmonton in his last outing – gets the start.

SUM IT UP

Was last night a one-off? Did the Calgary Flames meet their January quota for solid hockey games? Or was last night a return to prior form for the team? Oddly, the Flames are 3-2-1 in the back-half of back-to-backs this season. Does that record drop back to .500, or can the Flames continue their strong play?

We'll find out a lot about the Flames' mental make-up tonight. Are they merely satisfied with one good effort and four goals, or do they expect more?

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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 Parallex
January 07 2014, 02:58PM
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An away game against the Coyotes?... good I was having some trouble getting to sleep the last few days this should help out greatly.

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#2 seve927
January 07 2014, 02:28PM
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Flames need this one to pull to within 11 of Phoenix for that final playoff spot.

Heh, heh. That ought to get this comment thread rolling.

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#3 cunning_linguist
January 07 2014, 05:21PM
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Flames need to give Westgarth and McGrattan top 6 minutes. They are our MVP's for winning the lottery. Thank you John Tavares for earning 5 points to keep us in the hunt for a top 3 pick.

Play a line of McGrattan, Westgarth and Stajan against other teams' top players.

Play a line of Cammy, Backlund, Stempniak against 2nd lines and on PP to pad stats, pump up trade value for Cammy and Stemps, and help Backlund grow his offensive confidence.

Play Monahan with Hudler and Byron and make him the defensive conscience of that line. Just playing with those 2 guys right now will help him towards the Calder.

Play whoever else you want on the 4th, doesn't matter much.

Play Berra all the time, either he will somehow develop into the all-world goalie Hartley thinks he is, or he will remain as is (the least consistent of the two goalies) and give us the best chance to a high pick. Win-win scenario.

Finally, play an all-out offensive system. Enertain the fans while we plummet to the bottom, pump up trade value of all our players. Sell off Cammy, Stajan and either Hudler (high value right now) or Stemps (if he picks up his game). Trade as much as possible with TORONTO, players for draft picks, and do it soon. That way, when they'r luck bubble bursts and they rocket to the Eastern conference basement, we profit in terms of draft position.

At least that's what I would do.

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#4 sathome
January 07 2014, 05:43PM
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Still can't believe the Czech Olympic team snubbed both Hudler and Vrbata.

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#5 coachedpotatoe
January 07 2014, 06:24PM
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Congrats to Westgarth for playing reasonably well last night he contributed to game. If he could string 5-10 games together like that I would be a happier fan.

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#6 Clyde
January 07 2014, 09:44PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The Flames are running away with the shot attempts and possession numbers.

Unfortunately that is sort of where the good news stops.

Love those important so called advanced stats

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#7 O REALLY NOW
January 07 2014, 02:28PM
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Edit to your game day lineup:

O' Brien is out, Smith is in.

Berra is in, Rami is out.

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#8 McRib
January 07 2014, 08:18PM
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Roman Cervenka made the Czech Republic Olympic team over Jiri Hudler and Radim Vrbata ..... Hahaha. They have been drinking too much beer in the Czech Republic this year I think!!! Teams are really over valuing the difference with bigger ice having played on both most of my life with my home rink FDB then at Notre Dame (Both Olympic Ice Surfaces) for years I have to say I hardly notice a difference other than space behind the net and having to make more extended passes. A crappy player over two legitimate ones makes no sense just because he is used to a slightly wider ice surface.... Bazaar!!! The reason Europeans are more skilled with the puck on average is because they practice with pucks more often not because of a wider ice....

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#9 ChinookArch
January 07 2014, 08:42PM
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@RexLibris

It just depends on when Burkie wants to release the news. He knew has was firing Feaster in day 1 on the job, if he didn't know who his GM would be then, I'm sure he does by now.

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#10 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:47PM
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@Clyde

Heard a comment the other day that I thought was the most concise and accurate description of advanced analytics.

They are an excellent diagnostic tool, but poor determiners.

The Flames controlled the puck for the majority of the game but couldn't finish and Berra had a below-average game.

If they had been able to put a goal past Greiss in the 1st perhaps the complexion of the game changes.

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#11 RKD
January 07 2014, 09:50PM
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That howl has to be way more annoying than Cheslea Dagger. This is a beatdown of epic proportions.

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#12 Carlizzle
January 07 2014, 09:26PM
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Burnward wrote:

Nope. Clapper went off the back of Vrbata's leg. The short-side one is on him, but that's it.

Regardless, it's 4-0 now on 16 Phoenix shots.

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#13 Burnward
January 07 2014, 09:26PM
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I think I'm going to watch St. Louis pound Edmonton's head in. Will probably put me in a better mood.

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#14 Primo
January 07 2014, 09:45PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

regier has some nice pieces in buffalo, compher, mccabe,rustolienen,the big russian and a stockpile of picks from some other screwd dealings. his death was appointing rolston after the teardown. a helluva lot better gm than jay buffet.

At the end of the day Regier and Jay Buffet had the same results. Lousy!

A younger YES man that has exceptional knowledge of player talent and some kind of proven draft record is more likely.

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#15 EugeneV
January 07 2014, 11:11PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The Flames are running away with the shot attempts and possession numbers.

Unfortunately that is sort of where the good news stops.

Game ended 50.6% to 49.4% in Phoenix favor, so of course this means they EARNED their 6 - 0 WIN through the effects of Corsi, because Corsi is the be all end all stat the FN guys love. Not those pesky goals that get in the way of winning the Corsi battle instead of winning on the scoreboard.

HaHaHa

I am trying to get a handle on these new fangled stats and I'll be checking Extra Skater every game to see if I can learn anything new. (I'm an old dog of 45 so I wouldn't count on it)

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#16 negrilcowboy
January 07 2014, 05:35PM
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cammy for kadri and reimer package. reimer doesnt look happy as the backup

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#17 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:08PM
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Berra gets more weird goals scored against him than any tender we've had in a while.

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#18 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:51PM
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@RexLibris

Seriously? Gagner might win the lottery.

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#19 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:03PM
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Burnward wrote:

Seriously? Gagner might win the lottery.

Yeah, he'd have to wear an oxygen mask on the bench to get used to being that high in the standings.

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#20 Carlizzle
January 07 2014, 09:06PM
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Burnward wrote:

Have you been watching? First two were flukes.

I have been watching and you are right, the first goal was a fluke, the second was not, he kicked the rebound right back onto Hanzal's stick in the slot.

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#21 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:15PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

If they hire Darcy Regier, I'll... post an incensed comment or three on here. I'd actually prefer if Burke hired himself, and I am NOT a Burke supporter.

Regier isn't (wasn't) my favourite GM but I thought he did rather well considering many of the limitations placed upon him all those years.

He won a few trades, drafted relatively well, made a lot of chicken salad out of you know what.

Burke might go with Futa or Treliving as a young protege in the same fashion that he mentored Nonis for years (and years and years).

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#22 Burnward
January 07 2014, 09:18PM
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@RexLibris

His last deal was a beauty. Also won the Hodgson deal pretty cleanly, IMO.

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#23 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:25PM
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The Flames are running away with the shot attempts and possession numbers.

Unfortunately that is sort of where the good news stops.

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#24 Primo
January 07 2014, 09:35PM
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Burnward wrote:

Not his fault tonight.

What game are you watching?

Berra + Ramo = Ekblad!

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#25 negrilcowboy
January 07 2014, 09:37PM
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regier has some nice pieces in buffalo, compher, mccabe,rustolienen,the big russian and a stockpile of picks from some other screwd dealings. his death was appointing rolston after the teardown. a helluva lot better gm than jay buffet.

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#26 mattyc
January 07 2014, 10:14PM
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@RexLibris

@ Clyde

score effects

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#27 Monaertchi
January 07 2014, 06:04PM
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@cunning_linguist

It's just crazy enough to work.

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#28 RKD
January 07 2014, 07:15PM
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The Yotes might be struggling as of late, but they didn't have their captain Shane Doan for a while when he had Rocky Mountain Fever. I have never even heard of RMF until Doan had it. They can turn it around with Tippett at the helm.

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#29 gussey
January 07 2014, 07:17PM
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cunning_linguist wrote:

Flames need to give Westgarth and McGrattan top 6 minutes. They are our MVP's for winning the lottery. Thank you John Tavares for earning 5 points to keep us in the hunt for a top 3 pick.

Play a line of McGrattan, Westgarth and Stajan against other teams' top players.

Play a line of Cammy, Backlund, Stempniak against 2nd lines and on PP to pad stats, pump up trade value for Cammy and Stemps, and help Backlund grow his offensive confidence.

Play Monahan with Hudler and Byron and make him the defensive conscience of that line. Just playing with those 2 guys right now will help him towards the Calder.

Play whoever else you want on the 4th, doesn't matter much.

Play Berra all the time, either he will somehow develop into the all-world goalie Hartley thinks he is, or he will remain as is (the least consistent of the two goalies) and give us the best chance to a high pick. Win-win scenario.

Finally, play an all-out offensive system. Enertain the fans while we plummet to the bottom, pump up trade value of all our players. Sell off Cammy, Stajan and either Hudler (high value right now) or Stemps (if he picks up his game). Trade as much as possible with TORONTO, players for draft picks, and do it soon. That way, when they'r luck bubble bursts and they rocket to the Eastern conference basement, we profit in terms of draft position.

At least that's what I would do.

I think hartley is almost doing this.

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#30 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:11PM
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Burnward wrote:

Berra gets more weird goals scored against him than any tender we've had in a while.

x2

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#31 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:15PM
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So, it's going to be one of those nights eh? Better get the beer going.

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#32 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 08:30PM
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Interesting info today about the Flames' GM search.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=440646

By name it mentions Darcy Regier, Mike Futa and Brad Treliving as potential candidates.

I wonder if they don't get this done until the summer because of the difficulty in competing (ie: interviewing) with the Sabres for a GM.

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#33 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 08:39PM
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Burnward wrote:

Sooo, any trade rumours? Ha!

Gagner's name is "out there" according to Dreger. Lebrun has suggested that Crosby has been lobbying for the Penguins to acquire him as his winger.

The Islanders are looking for a goalie. I wonder if they'd give up a mid-round pick for Joey MacDonald?

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#34 Carlizzle
January 07 2014, 08:45PM
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Other than it being the second of back to back games, remind why in the hell "artley" started Berra?

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#35 Baalzamon
January 07 2014, 09:07PM
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@RexLibris

If they hire Darcy Regier, I'll... post an incensed comment or three on here. I'd actually prefer if Burke hired himself, and I am NOT a Burke supporter.

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#36 Burnward
January 07 2014, 09:14PM
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@Carlizzle

Nope. Clapper went off the back of Vrbata's leg. The short-side one is on him, but that's it.

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#37 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:22PM
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Burnward wrote:

His last deal was a beauty. Also won the Hodgson deal pretty cleanly, IMO.

Yeah, I felt his biggest mistake was matching the Vanek deal.

Hodgson was a great deal, but I think part of that is on Gillis. If an idiot offers you one $100 bill for your two $20s, you take it.

Personally, I think Regier could be a good pick for the Flames, I just have a hard time imagining him working well with Burke. Two strong personalities there.

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#38 Burnward
January 07 2014, 09:30PM
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@RexLibris

Plenty of mutual respect though, for sure.

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#39 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:31PM
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@Burnward

4-2 for Blues.

Blues own a lot of this game, but did get a mysterious goal that appeared to go through the side of the net.

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#40 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:40PM
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Well.

Um.

It could be worse.

It could be the home opener.

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#41 mattyc
January 07 2014, 07:36PM
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ahh so what'd i miss - I see both teams are on pace for almost 20 shots tonight.

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#42 mk
January 07 2014, 07:38PM
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gussey wrote:

I think hartley is almost doing this.

And we all thought he was a bad coach - he is actually the biggest proponent of a hard-style rebuild and is gunning for the 1st overall pick. Maybe he's been training in Edmonton these last few years...

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#43 RKD
January 07 2014, 08:13PM
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2-0, this game is turning south in a hurry.

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#44 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:26PM
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Dear Gio,

I love you.

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#45 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:31PM
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Sooo, any trade rumours? Ha!

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#46 Burnward
January 07 2014, 08:51PM
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@Carlizzle

Not his fault tonight.

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#47 Carlizzle
January 07 2014, 08:56PM
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Carlizzle wrote:

Other than it being the second of back to back games, remind why in the hell "artley" started Berra?

.769 save %

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#48 Burnward
January 07 2014, 09:04PM
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@Carlizzle

Have you been watching? First two were flukes.

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#49 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:20PM
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Hmm, this is getting ugly for the Flames.

Next question is: I wonder if they go for another four games/one goal stretch?

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#50 RexLibris
January 07 2014, 09:32PM
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Burnward wrote:

Plenty of mutual respect though, for sure.

Don't know. Regier is a fiery person, as is Burke and their Toronto/Buffalo rivalry is still there.

I haven't ever heard Burke say anything particularly glowing about Regier. Or anyone really, for that matter.

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