FGD: The Rangers Visit Cowtown

Taylor McKee
March 28 2014 01:48PM

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pic via Matt DeTurck

One of the benefits of the NHL's re-alignment is getting to see teams like the Rangers with far more regularity. I for one am all for anything that reduces the number of requisite Flames - Coyotes or Flames - Wild games and I am sure I am not alone on that one. 

Tonight, everybody's favourite group of try-harderest, never-say-dieingest, work-ethicest, hockey players will face off against the red-hot New York Rangers who come into tonight looking for a season-high, sixth straight win.  

Check out the lineups and preview after the jump

THE FIGHTIN' FLAMES


The Flames, who will be wearing their slightly less cursed (but still rather unremarkable) third jerseys tonight, have a few minor tweaks from the lineup that lost to Anaheim on Wednesday. Here is the roster thanks to our bosom buddies at Daily Faceoff:

Cammalleri - Backlund - Byron
Glencross - Stajan - Hudler
Agostino - Monahan - Colborne
Westgarth - Bouma - McGrattan

Giordano - Brodie
Butler - Russell
Smid - Wotherspoon

Ramo

Sitting out tonight is T.J Galiardi and Ben Hanowski in favour of dressing Westgarth again. I suppose now that Westgarth is a one man offensive force of nature (two points in his last three games!) this decision makes sense. 

Kenny Agostino is back into the lineup tonight, back playing on a line with Colborne and Monahan. Agostino has looked decent at times with the Flames but he is clearly still getting adjusted to NHL speed. In the game against Nashville, Agostino generated four shots on net which is what we were told to expect from him after leaving Yale. Hopefully, Agostino can continue to generate that kind of offense and maybe even pot one. Especially because of this:

Colborne was the recipient of a fair bit of praise on the TSN telecast of the Anaheim game and looked good at times working along the wall and using his size and reach. I wouldn't say that I am 100% sold on Colborne by any stretch (his 46.8 CF% doesn't exactly sing his praises for instance) but he has looked drastically better than he did around Christmas when I wasn't even sure what his future with the Flames would be outside of a shootout specialist. His move to the wing has clearly helped his game and the more he is able to maintain possession along the wall in the offensive zone the more valuable he will be to the club moving forward. 

Also, Monahan is pretty cold right now. He has just two assists in ten games and hasn't scored a goal in almost a month. I know Flames fans are all waiting with bated breath for his 20th and hopefully it comes soon because it would be an awesome cap on a very good rookie season. I am not too worried about his play of late because he seems to be generating offence lately with 11 shots in his last three games. Perhaps this is simply his SH% regressing towards the mean. However, when the Rangers and Flames played last on December 15th, Monahan did score so maybe tonight will be the night:

Bob McKenzie also mentioned on Wednesday that the Flames are comfortable with Ramo and Ortio in the net moving forward. If this was the indeed the case, I would be very pleased but I am not convinced that Burke isn't dreaming up a big fat contract to a free agent tender. I think Ramo's play this season has been good enough to earn him the chance at being a full-time starter and his play since returning from injury has been very, very good. Plus, he has a super cool Poe mask, so that has to count for something right? 

KING HENRIK'S TEAM

Here is NYR's lineup tonight thanks to our buds at Daily Faceoff:

Nash - Stepan - St. Louis

Hagelin - Richards - Pouliot

Zuccarello - Brassard - J.T Miller

Boyle - Moore - Dorsett


McDonagh - Girardi

Stralman - Staal

Diaz - Klein 


Lundqvist  

The Rangers have won five games in a row and are three points up on Philly for second in the horribly names Metropolitan division. However, Philly has two games at hand on the Rangers so this game does mean something in terms of divisional seeding. 

All throughout their roster, the Rangers are... solid. Not, 'beat Boston or Pittsburgh' good, but solid. Their third line of Zuccarello and Brassard are sneaky good, with Zuccarello tied for the team lead in points with 50. Not many would have expected this kind of season from the skilled Norseman heading into the season. Their top-six group of forwards is pretty respectable, especially that top line of Nash, Stepan, and Benedict Arnold. 

On the back end the Rangers are pretty strong as well with six reliable defenders that can all play 15 minutes a night or more. To be honest, I am not sure what to make of the roster, only that I remember when the Flames had Stralman and Stefan Kronwall both in training camp and somehow we let Stralman go, kept Kronwall, sent him to Europe and was never heard from again... That was weird. Also, let's never speak of St. Louis as a Flame okay?

The Rangers also learned that they will be without Chris Kreider for likely the remainder of the reason after he underwent hand surgery this morning. That's a tough break for Kreider who has had a tumultuous start to his NHL career after debuting with the Rangers in the playoffs a few years back.  

A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE LOTTERY 

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Firstly, it seems like any mention of the draft lottery here the last couple weeks at FN draws a shocking amount of vitriol from concerned Flames faithful in the comments section. Look, facts are facts, even with the recent string of good play, the Flames are still fifth worst in the NHL so keeping tabs on their spot in the draft lottery is natural. That is why the draft is structured the way it is, to reward bad teams. Bad teams like our loveable, hard-working, gritty, shot-blockingest Calgary Flames. 

This doesn't mean that the Flames aren't playing better, because their play since the Olympic break has been dramatically better. As BoL pointed out in the last post-game, good enough to draw praise from some of our mortal enemies. However, none of this improvement changes the reality that the Flames are six games below .500 and looking at top-five pick again. We all like the wins, no doubt, but perhaps it would be wise to stow the venom for the tanking side of the argument. We all want the same thing.  

Lottery

The Flames are one point up on the Islanders who play on Saturday against New Jersey. The Flames seem to be comfortably in fifth-last for the time being with a five point cushion on the Ottawa Senators. Wait, the OTTAWA SENATORS? What the hell happened there this season?!

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?

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It's always fun seeing some of the big Eastern conference teams play so I'm sure this game will be interesting for that reason alone. The Flames have put together a string of games where they have played very well, with some of the games (and even wins) coming against very good opponents. Hopefully they can continue this tonight against the Rangers.

Puck Drops at 7PM MT on SNET - Flames

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Taylor splits time between UVIC and Calgary studying history. Taylor likes the Flames, the Cannons, Buckshot, and the Oxford comma. Taylor scored on his own net on dome ice when he was 8. Twitter: @TaylorMcKee_
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#51 Chambers
March 28 2014, 09:34PM
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@beloch

If you can please elaborate on your model of the owners hiring the new GM? Does the new GM report to Burke or the owners? Do the owners take random or selective responsibilities from Burke i.e.: the hiring process? Do they suggest who to draft? Do the owners get involved in coaching decisions? Who has accountability in your model?

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#52 BobbyO
March 28 2014, 09:39PM
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Great win!

Bye Bye - Reinhart Ekblad Bennett Draisatl Dal Colle

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#53 ChinookArch
March 28 2014, 09:40PM
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It's a good night! Flames win and so do the Sens, so no movement upward in the standings. The Leafs lose their 6th straight and tonight's match was the most important against a wildcard rival in the Flyers.

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#54 beloch
March 28 2014, 09:52PM
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@Chambers

To me, hiring a "President of Hockey Operations" is meant to add diversity of viewpoints and sober second thought to the team's hockey decisions, not unlike how the Canadian Senate is supposed to vet bills produced by House of Commons (even if the reality is somewhat dysfunctional). If Burke has complete autonomy in selecting the new GM and also has final say on all decisions then he's really just a GM hiring himself an assistant GM. The new titles would then function only to inflate the pay scale.

Most teams, including the Flames until very recently, don't even have a president. The selection of a GM could be carried out as usual, or perhaps with some input from Burke. That's as far down as the owners' influence needs to go. If they have both the president and GM reporting directly to them then there is some hope of "sober second thought" happening and, perhaps, fewer of the insanely bad moves that characterize the end of most GM's tenures, no matter what title they actually go by.

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#55 Primo
March 28 2014, 09:52PM
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@ChinookArch

Flames will leap Carolina soon who have been tanking big time.

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#56 Chambers
March 28 2014, 10:01PM
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@beloch

I don't believe you have the correct understanding of the current model. The President of Hockey Operations has final say on all hockey decisions. Full accountability for hockey operations falls with the President. The new GM will report to the President and will of course get the blessing/support from the President on any/all hockey related decisions. The amount of involvement by the President will be driven by Burke and I presume the decision making process by the GM will have full understanding and buy in before he accepts the job. If you want to call that a 'Yes' model then so be it. It is a typical business model that has worked successfully both in the business world and hockey world albeit a very new model in hockey. Time will tell if it is sustainable.

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#57 beloch
March 28 2014, 10:10PM
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@Chambers

Under your understanding of the position, how is a president different from the GM on a team that doesn't have a president?

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#58 Kmp
March 28 2014, 10:10PM
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Ramo played a great game, Giordano too he really took away space from Nash.

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#59 Chambers
March 28 2014, 10:29PM
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beloch wrote:

Under your understanding of the position, how is a president different from the GM on a team that doesn't have a president?

Today I don't believe the roles are much different. But as the game evolves what I believe is happening is that the GM role is becoming more complex than ever before. Adding another layer of management (the President) offers more flexibility in assigning roles and responsibilities to either position hence making the organization more effective. I base this on my Oil and Gas executive experience where I know this model has evolved from. Obviously Murray Edwards has executed this in his businesses successfully. Time will tell if it works in hockey. It appears to be gaining momentum within the NHL. Carolina is in line next to implement the model.

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#60 BurningSensation
March 28 2014, 10:34PM
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beloch wrote:

There's definitely some quality schadenfreude to be had when watching the Toronto "Advanced Stats do not Apply to Us" Maple Leaf's finally let go of their branch and flutter to the ground. However, it's also pretty worrying because Burke had a big hand in building that team. Is this what he could do to the Flames?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The owners should take the final decision on the new GM out of Burke's hands and hire a real GM, not an yes-man assistant GM.

I think there are some key differences to how things were when Burke joined the Leafs, and how things were when he arrived with the Flames.

When he took over the Leafs he had; a veteran laden team, a crap-ton of NTCs, a very popular franchise player playing out the string, no legit goaltending, no legit 'A' prospects, an absolutely rabid fan base, and meddling ownership who wanted an expedited rebuild.

When joined the Flames he had; a roster that had already seen it's biggest names/vets purged, a group of good young prospects coming up the pipe (thanks Feaster!), a legit #1 goaltender just entering his prime (albeit occasionally injured and unproven), an unexpectedly decent defense corps, a motivated and devious (see: Vancouver brawl) coach, some moderatley-priceed but stable vets (Cammelleri, Glen-X, Hudler, Wideman, Gio), etc.

In Toronto he was forced to make the Phaneuf and Kessel deals in order to bring in young elite-ish talent to rebuild around.

In Calgary, he has a lot more decent building blocks (Gio, Monahan, Sven, Brodie, etc.) already in place than he did when arrived in Toronto.

Lastly, he's not given enough credit (except from himself) for being a very smart guy. He's not the type to make the same mistakes twice.

Add it all up and I don't expect the Flames will follow the path of the Leafs.

I'm certain we'll be better.

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#61 clyde
March 29 2014, 01:25AM
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Taylor McKee wrote:

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/19/chicago-blackhawks

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/38/st-louis-blues

http://www2.dailyfaceoff.com/teams/lines/36/pittsburgh-penguins

Thank you Taylor for showing that even these elite teams find space in their line ups for agitators and enforcers. Chicago - Brookbank - 5 points - Bollig - 14 in 75 games. Pitt - Glass - 12 in 58 games. - Engeland - 6 points. Stl. Reaves - 6 points Lapierre - 13

Calgary Westgarth 6 points in only 28 games Mcgratten - 7 points.

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#62 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 29 2014, 12:57PM
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Kmp wrote:

Ramo played a great game, Giordano too he really took away space from Nash.

Gio made a few noticeable blunders, but still is the man.

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