FGD: A Capital Visit

Ryan Pike
March 30 2014 10:32AM

The Calgary Flames are set to begin their last big road trip of the 2013-14 season today in Ottawa with a rather rare Sunday matinee tilt with the Ottawa Senators.

This is the second of two meetings between the Flames and Ottawa this season, the previous being a 4-1 Flames home win just hours after the NHL's trade deadline. Here we are a few weeks later, and the teams have fare a bit differently: Calgary's gone a respectable 7-5-0 since then, while the Sens are a rather uneven 3-4-3. Both clubs are coming off impressive home wins against playoff teams – Calgary over the Rangers and Ottawa over the Blackhawks.

The puck drops at 3pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE PESKY FLAMES

The Flames (31-36-7) are really hoping to shore up their iffy road record (13-18-4) before season's end.

Lines partially from Daily Faceoff and partially via Roger Millions.

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

Brodie – Giordano
Butler – Russell
Billins – Wotherspoon

Ramo

Chad Billins replaces Ladislav Smid and T.J. Galiardi slots in for Kenny Agostino. Bryce van Brabant will wear #48, but he's a healthy scratch along with fellow ex-NCAAers Ben Hanowski and Agostino. Dennis Wideman, David Jones and Markus Granlund are all still out with injuries, but each have a locker stall once more.

Despite everyone thinking "Man, Calgary won't win," Calgary continues to win, probably out of a combination of gumption, hard work and spite. Most of the offense has been generated by the top two lines - and a bit by McGrattan and Westgarth - so returning Bouma to the third line may be a move to generate more scoring out of Monahan and Colborne.

THE PESKY SENS

You may be shocked to learn that Ottawa (30-29-14) has fewer wins than Calgary does, but it's true. They also aren't great at home. They couldn't get anything going on deadline day, but were strong in a 5-3 win over Chicago on Friday. They'll need more of that to salvage what's left of their season.

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Michalek – Spezza – Hemsky
MacArthur – Turris – Stone
Greening – Smith – Neil
Hoffman – Zibenejad – Condra

Methot – Karlsson
Cowen – Gryba
Wiercioth – Ceci

Anderson

The Sens got Craig Anderson back for the Chicago game after missing seven games. He won, so he probably goes here. The locals are without Chris Phillips and Bobby “Intensity” Ryan. Matt Kassian may or may not draw back in after being scratched against Chicago.

The Sens have a roster that includes an elite goalie, strong defenders and good forwards. Their issues have historically been consistency, injuries and depth - when guys get hurt, guys beneath them are forced into roles they're not accustomed to, which spells disaster. But they've missed just 61 man-games, which tells me consistency is the culprit. (Calgary's lost 247 man-games.)

SUM IT UP

There are 8 games left for the Calgary Flames - 2 at home and 6 on the road. Their road trip begins this afternoon, and includes subsequent stops in Toronto, Florida, Tampa Bay and New Jersey.

Boston College's regional final game with U-Mass Lowell also begins at 3pm MT (on ESPN U and TSN Go), while the Abbotsford Heat play the Toronto Marlies beginning at 2pm MT on Sportsnet 360.

Sunday afternoon hockey! Yay!

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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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#1 cunning_linguist
March 30 2014, 11:17AM
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I'm ok with the Bryce Van Brabant signing IF he replaces the right type of player. If we're resigned to the fact the Flames will always be dressing a couple goonies, then I'd rather have this kid in the lineup offering some youth/potential for improvement than a Kevin Westgarth. Just don't sit a real player or take away a chance to see a legit prospect, for another tough guy...or at least only do it until the Islanders pass us in the standings.

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#2 RKD
March 30 2014, 12:16PM
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The Senators have been really brutal this season, I think they definitely overachieved last season. Their goaltending has been poor but the whole team defensively has been really bad plus losing Alfie was a much bigger blow than many people would have expected. Just because they got Bobby Ryan and now Hemsky doesn't guarantee you a playoff spot.

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#3 Colin
March 30 2014, 01:27PM
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@cunning_linguist

I got to agree with that as well. However I think Van Brabant is more Abby material for now then an NHL reguar next year. I think he was mainly targeted to replace Lane MacDermid who retired in February for whatever reasons he had.

I don't think to many people should have a problem with the signing, he's a big tough kid and in his three years in the NCAA he was able to always increase his point totals year over year. As well the only absurd year for PIMs was this last year, so he could be a half decent 4th liner. It's not bad to find cheap young players to fill the fourth line, especially if you can find effective ones that are not completely lost out there.

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#4 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 01:41PM
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I'm not a tank-proponent, but I wouldn't mind losing this one for a little insurance for the 5th pick.

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#5 Colin
March 30 2014, 02:01PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

I'm not a tank-proponent, but I wouldn't mind losing this one for a little insurance for the 5th pick.

As long as they play as hard and well as they have the last few weeks I don't care if they lose all their remaining games, except the Toronto one, I hope they CRUSH Toronto.

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#6 kevin
March 30 2014, 04:19PM
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Gaudreau just tried to head butt a goal in... Creative atleast haha

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#7 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 04:21PM
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@kevin

How/where are you watching that?

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#8 kevin
March 30 2014, 04:42PM
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@chinookarch

ESPNU games tied at 2 2 Arnold with a goal gaudreau 2 helpers

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#9 loudogYYC
March 30 2014, 05:15PM
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How the heck do you stream a college game from Canada? Those rules are tighter than HBO boxing.

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#10 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 05:21PM
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@loudogYYC

Oh good, it's not just me.

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#11 kevin
March 30 2014, 05:32PM
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I'm from buffalo

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#12 MontanaMan
March 30 2014, 05:45PM
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Brodie looked pretty bad on two of those goals. And Ramo didn't look much like a number 1 goaltender. On a positive note, the Flames are much more entertaining to watch. Personally, I'd rather see them lose 6-3 than 2-1. At least there's some entertainment value.

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#13 RKD
March 30 2014, 05:51PM
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Backlund 9 shots, Glencross 7 shots, that's pretty impressive in a loss.

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#14 The Sultan
March 30 2014, 05:55PM
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I think it's safe to say that Calgary will be picking no lower than 5th overall barring some draft lottery magic, with a good chance the Islanders edge us out at the end of the year and we get 4th. I'll never cheer for the Flames to lose, but I will cheer for teams below them to win!

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#15 McRib
March 30 2014, 07:27PM
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@loudogYYC

Hockey Streams or FAST Hockey usually have NCAA Games on the Web you have to pay $5-7 on those two site. Not sure about any great free ones, an American IP which costs $5-10 a month would get you on ESPNU.

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#16 McRib
March 30 2014, 07:32PM
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@The Sultan

Ottawa, NJ, NYI (potentially) not having their actual first rounders is a major blessing in disguise as they have no motivation to tank, I think the Islanders really don't want to give up a chance at McDavid and strong draft next year so they are trying to get as high as possible to ease pain in giving this years away. Carolina and Nashville have coaches fighting for their jobs so that is also a positive and both had weak goaltending earlier in the season now Pekka Rinne is back and Anton Khudobin has stepped up when Cam Ward faltered. I think we end up with the 4-5 pick which would be great (Leon Draisaitl , Michael Dal Colle or catching someone falling) are a major step up from what we would get at 6-7 (You gotta think Burke takes Nick Richie, who has a much lower offensive ceiling than those other two). Not that I want to give up and tank, but it would be nice to get a Top. 5 this year and next as we likely won't be in the absolute basement much longer than that with everyone in the pipeline. Glad we are going on the road for the five games not nearly as much pressure to win out east away from home.

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#17 suba steve
March 30 2014, 08:06PM
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I'm not sure that anyone on this site is a proponent of "tanking", by that I mean attempting to lose. I have never seen a Flames team do that, and really don't think I ever will.

I have, however, seen the team go on the occasional losing skid while actually trying to win. Would a 4 or 5 game skid at this point just crush this young group in such a way that we would be creating a "losing culture" that they would not be able to recover from? I really don't think so. Was Colorado permanently damaged by their weak performance last season? Again, I don't think so.

Tanking....no. A prolonged winning streak to close out the year....no thanks. A few losses in a row to finish out the year....yes please.

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#18 ChinookArch
March 30 2014, 08:29PM
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@McRib

Interesting insights on the last 5 teams motivation going forward. My thoughts were a lot less thoughtful. I just expected all the home teams would want to provide their fans a few more wins before the season ends.

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#19 beloch
March 30 2014, 08:31PM
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I was only able to watch the first half of the 2nd period, so I was a little surprised by the final score. How often have the Flames put 18 shots on net in just over 10 minutes?

Thanks to a much less dominant finish to the second and a fairly anemic third period, the Flames finished slightly behind with a team corsi for percentage of 47.7%[1]. That was propped up a bit by power plays too. The team was just 44.5% at even strength. Overall, the Senators earned this one.

Tyler Wotherspoon and Chad Billins were two of the most sheltered players this game, but they both managed CF%'s of 52.2% and 51.9% respectively with over 11 minutes TOI each. They were both -2 on the evening unfortunately. Billins could certainly have done worse given that this was his 3rd NHL game. Giordano and Brodie really struggled tonight, with CF%'s of 40.0% and 32.5% respectively. Russel and Butler cruised along in the mediocre mid-forties, as usual.

The only forwards to finish on the right side of 50% were Jiri Hudler, Matt Stajan and... Brian McGrattan, although McG faced similar competition to Billins and Wotherspoon. Monahan, Colborne, and Bouma in particular got clobbered tonight, although Monahan did finally pot #20.

Overall, this wasn't a great game for the Flames. The bad and mediocre players were bad and mediocre, as usual. The Flames possession superstars mostly had mediocre nights too unfortunately, aside from the first half of the second period. When they fell behind in the third there just wasn't enough push-back. This was far from an embarrassment, but Hartley's probably going to be a touch prickly at tomorrow's practice.

[1]http://www.extraskater.com/game/2014-03-30-flames-senators

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#20 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
March 30 2014, 10:21PM
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beloch wrote:

I was only able to watch the first half of the 2nd period, so I was a little surprised by the final score. How often have the Flames put 18 shots on net in just over 10 minutes?

Thanks to a much less dominant finish to the second and a fairly anemic third period, the Flames finished slightly behind with a team corsi for percentage of 47.7%[1]. That was propped up a bit by power plays too. The team was just 44.5% at even strength. Overall, the Senators earned this one.

Tyler Wotherspoon and Chad Billins were two of the most sheltered players this game, but they both managed CF%'s of 52.2% and 51.9% respectively with over 11 minutes TOI each. They were both -2 on the evening unfortunately. Billins could certainly have done worse given that this was his 3rd NHL game. Giordano and Brodie really struggled tonight, with CF%'s of 40.0% and 32.5% respectively. Russel and Butler cruised along in the mediocre mid-forties, as usual.

The only forwards to finish on the right side of 50% were Jiri Hudler, Matt Stajan and... Brian McGrattan, although McG faced similar competition to Billins and Wotherspoon. Monahan, Colborne, and Bouma in particular got clobbered tonight, although Monahan did finally pot #20.

Overall, this wasn't a great game for the Flames. The bad and mediocre players were bad and mediocre, as usual. The Flames possession superstars mostly had mediocre nights too unfortunately, aside from the first half of the second period. When they fell behind in the third there just wasn't enough push-back. This was far from an embarrassment, but Hartley's probably going to be a touch prickly at tomorrow's practice.

[1]http://www.extraskater.com/game/2014-03-30-flames-senators

It is always helpful to cite O/D st% to give context to Corsi, as where you start on the ice has a huge impact on that particular figure. Monahan, Colborne, and Bouma got `clobbered` tonight because all three of them had the lowest offensive zone starts on the squad (which is an odd deployment strategy from Hartley as two of them are rookies; he`s done it multiple times this year in the last half, so it must be in the hopes of accelerating their development curves).

Conversely, it is no coincidence that Hudler and Stajan have the strongest corsi on the team, as they also had the highest offensive zone starts on the team with 75% and 63.6% respectively.

I`m not throwing these stats out there to harp like a pedagogue but to highlight that too many people on this site are just throwing out corsi stats without taking into consideration the context within which those corsi events occur. Quality of competition and teammates, in addition to zone starts, are absolutely integral to any discussion regarding corsi.

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#21 beloch
March 30 2014, 10:49PM
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@If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin

Good catch. As I said, I was only able to watch part of the 2nd. That's actually a pretty striking reversal to how Hartley usually deploys these players! Although the rookie line had few offensive starts, they were still pretty sheltered in terms of QoC. I wonder if Hartley will continue to deploy them this way or even increase their QoC.

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#22 loudogYYC
March 30 2014, 11:38PM
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@If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin

Thanks for that. I agree Corsi gets tossed around a lot too. Without context, Corsi can end up being as useful as +/-

Hope Hartley doesn't do too much experimenting on Tuesday, this season will be a total win if we put the nail in the Leafs coffin.

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#23 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
March 31 2014, 12:39AM
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beloch wrote:

Good catch. As I said, I was only able to watch part of the 2nd. That's actually a pretty striking reversal to how Hartley usually deploys these players! Although the rookie line had few offensive starts, they were still pretty sheltered in terms of QoC. I wonder if Hartley will continue to deploy them this way or even increase their QoC.

As far as QOC is concerned, he might not be able to do anything for the next four games, since they are on the road and don`t have last change. Given where we are in the season, I wish he would just throw them to the wolves to give them a taste of what true, top-tier competition feels like in the NHL.

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#24 If Only HIs Name Was Olli Postandin
March 31 2014, 12:41AM
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loudogYYC wrote:

Thanks for that. I agree Corsi gets tossed around a lot too. Without context, Corsi can end up being as useful as +/-

Hope Hartley doesn't do too much experimenting on Tuesday, this season will be a total win if we put the nail in the Leafs coffin.

As much as I sometimes despise the leafs, I just can`t take any pleasure in eliminating a Canadian team. There are only seven of us, and it seems like only one will enjoy the playoffs at all this year.

Sad times.

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