FGD: FINISH THEM

Taylor McKee
April 01 2014 09:30AM

randy

The Leafs sit on the precipice of a truly epic collapse and the Flames are poised to help them to their untimely demise. Basically, the Flames are Scar and the Leafs are Mufasa ... if everyone enjoyed Mufasa's death because they were constantly bombarded with coverage about Mufasa's every roster move or contemplation...whatever, it's not a perfect analogy. Either way, if the Flames can help take out Toronto, the compartment of my brain that houses my Schadenfreude, which was already quite full (see: Canucks, Vancouver and Oilers, Edmonton), will reach near maximum capacity and produce enough endorphins to make me forget that my team's games haven't really mattered since November.    

The ice-cold Leafs host the Flames tonight and are fighting for their post-season lives while the Flames are content continuing their quest to leave a trail of scorched earth behind them while they finalize their tee-times for May. The Flames have also been auditioning some new faces in the process as they play out the season. As Ryan pointed out on twitter last night, when Bryce van Brabant plays tonight, it will be the 10th rookie that plays for the Flames this season.

Have a look at tonight's lineup and preview after the jump

THE FIGHTIN' FLAMES

The Flames will have another new face in the lineup tonight with the debut of Bryce van Brabant (pronounced BRAH bent according to Roger Millions) from Quinnipiac (pronounced NAMBLA) University. Here is the roster thanks to Daily Faceoff and Roger Millions on twitter:

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

Brodie – Giordano
Butler – Russell
Billins – Wotherspoon

Ramo

The Flames are coming off of a pretty lackluster 6-3 loss to the Senators, a game in which they lead 3-2 after Sean Monahan scored his highly anticipated 20th goal of the season. The loss could explain why the lines have been jumbled quite a bit and I fully expect them to change over the course of tonight's game as well. Man, that McGrattan - Stajan - Hudler line looks bizarre. I just have no idea what to expect from them at all...

Van Brabant starts on the fourth line with Lance Bouma (whom is apparently a centre now?) and Kevin Westgarth. I was kinda hoping that with Van Brabant being a 6'3, 220lb winger who led the NCAA in penalty minutes the Flames would sit down Kevin Westgarth. However, apparently I have forgotten that Kevin Westgarth is the sinew, the very essence of what it means to 'intimidate'  and 'compete' so there is no sense in leaving him out of the lineup. I sincerely hope that Van Brabant isn't being groomed as yet another goon as Lambert has warned because, well, aren't they trying that with Kanzig? The scratches look to be T.J Galiardi, Ben "why am I still up?" Hanowski, and Ken Agostino. 

Chad Billins will play his fourth game of the season tonight after playing 13 minutes on Sunday and finishing minus two. Overall, I kinda liked Billins' game despite finishing a minus I would like to see him a bit more but I am not sure what the Flames have in him yet. His AHL stats indicate that there is some offence in his game and he played 1:29 of PP time on Sunday so it would be good if he could start to generate some offence during his time filling in for Smid. It would help him not get lost in the shuffle this off-season. 

I am intrigued to see how Glencross does on Monahan's line as I could see this as a pretty good third/second line for the Flames moving into next season. That is, as long as Colborne continues to play as decently as he has the past nine games or so. Monahan's numbers haven't been great the last four games, having a sub-50CF% in all four including an abysmal 12.9% (!) in the win against the Rangers. 

However, as BoL pointed out in his post yesterday, these bumps are expected when you have a teenager playing in the best league in the world. I think everyone, Flames brass included, will leave 2013-14 very happy with his 20 goals and for good reason. I don't think there is any reason to panic quite yet about his possession numbers.

Ramo returns to net after a bit of rocky outing against Ottawa numbers-wise, letting in 5 goals on 36 shots. That said, none of the goals were really his fault and the fourth was a really screwy goal, I mean Jared Cowen scored it so that is weird in and of itself. I would like for Ramo to have a really good outing tonight if, for no other reason, to prove to the assembled national media that he is a capable goaltender. 

In fact, I would like for a number of Flames, chiefly Backlund (who finished Sunday's game with nine(!) shots on net), Giordano, and Brodie, to have good nights for that same reason. Not that it matters a great deal what the scribes in the big smoke think of particular Flames players, it would just be nice for them to get wider recognition for the seasons they are having.

I also just thought I would include this highlight pack in here as well. Why? because Paul Byron rules and he scored on a penalty shot in this game:

THE (SHRIVELED) LEAFS

Here is their roster for tonight's tilt thanks to Daily Faceoff and literally a thousand Leaf reporters on twitter:

van Riemsdyk - Bozak - Kessel

Raymond - Kadri - Lupul 

Kulemin - Bolland - Clarkson 

Bodie - McClement - D'Amigo


Gunnarsson - Phaneuf

Franson - Gardiner

Rielly - Gleason


Bernier

If roughly 30% of the internet is porn, than I would venture a guess that 50% of the non-porn websites are devoted to the most recent collapse of the Maple Leafs. Our buddies at Leafs Nation have been writing some fantastic stuff all year and these past weeks have been no exception as they have detailed the destruction of a season that looked almost certainly bound for the post season.

I won't get into the tensions between the established mainstream media and the advanced stats community this season (and past seasons as well) in Toronto but suffice to say that observing the whole thing from a distance has made for compelling reading if nothing else. 

I literally cannot add any more to this discussion myself but the Coles notes of the situation this season reads as follows the Leafs started off really well, some stats guys (presumably from their mother's basement, their Hanes crew-neck shirts besmirched with the remnants of this afternoon's Cheetos) suggested that their success was unsustainable due to their possession numbers being god awful. Well, I suppose if you have looked at the standings lately you know how it turned out. 

I am curious to know what you guys thought the biggest contributing factor was to the Leafs nose dive this season, so let me know in the comments and we can all bask in the glory of their fall from playoff relevancy.  

Lineup wise, the Leafs look pretty solid and at times this year, this team has looked like they are, at worst, a playoff team that could be a headache. Their top-line is dynamite, with JvR and Kessel having great seasons and Bozak playing pretty decently as well. However, after the top line things have gone a bit sideways for the Leafs of late. 

The Leafs have gone their longest stretch without a point since Bob Dole ran for President and are looking to avoid their longest losing streak since 1985. Most recently, In a must-win game (well, the Leafs have had quite a few of those lately), the Leafs couldn't beat the Datsyukless and Zetterbergless Wings on home ice, which places their playoff hopes from critical condition to the ICU. The Flames could essentially pull the plug.    

STANDINGS TALK

Here's how things look for the Leafs' wild card hopes heading into tonight's action at the ACC:

standings

The Capitals are a point up on the Leafs with a game at hand and play Dallas at home tonight as well. The Leafs will start to need some help from some teams if they are going to make this happen to say the least. Hell, the Senators are two points back of the Leafs with a game at hand. If the Sens were to catch the Leafs, we would be be able to hear the screams from the Bow river.

Lottery

If you didn't know already, I hate to be the one to break it to you but the Flames have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Sorry kid, it's all over after these seven games. However, the Flames are within striking distance of 27th overall as the Islanders are one point back and playing the Panthers (who are in full pursuit of the Oilers for the number two spot)    

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?

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The Flames have an opportunity to essentially end the Leafs playoff hopes tonight and by golly wouldn't that feel good for us here in Cowtown? These two teams have had remarkably different seasons this year with the Leafs crumbling under the expectations placed on them from a scorching hot start to the season and the Flames winning a helluva lot more than a lot of people expected and generally making this season a lot of fun for fans. 

It will also be a chance to get a glimpse at another college standout whom is auditioning for a full time spot in pro hockey. I am not expecting a natural hat-trick or anything, but there isn't a lot else to look for this time of year roster wise. Hopefully there is some offense and some skating ability to go with his size. 

It's an early start tonight as the puck drops at 5pm MT on SNET - West.

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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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#1 britt rebuild
April 01 2014, 12:45PM
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McRib wrote:

This is the "we must lose so the Islanders pass us and we have an outside chance at Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart drafting 4th" lineup.

Or Connor Mcdavid

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#2 MontanaMan
April 01 2014, 07:13PM
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This might be the worst hockey game I've watched all year. Both teams. No flow. Scrambly play. Whistles galor. Awful to watch. Here's an idea Hartley - use your time out, call the players in and tear a strip off of them. Light a fire under these guys.

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#3 Jeremy
April 01 2014, 01:18PM
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britt rebuild wrote:

Or Connor Mcdavid

Huh? Connor McDavid's not until 2015

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#4 The Last Big Bear
April 01 2014, 12:16PM
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Wait, are we dressing McGrattan AND Bouma AND Westgarth AND van Brabant?

Is this an April Fools Day 'truculence' lineup gag?

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#5 prendrefeu
April 01 2014, 06:18PM
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@mk

If you paid attention to the sequence of events (read: other trades, or lack thereof) both leading up to and on trade deadline day, you would have realized that moving Cammi for anything even remotely worthwhile would have been impossible or a bad move.

A lot of people blame Burke for not trading Cammi, but in reality his otherwise manipulative hands were tied and he was unable to play his cards the way he would have liked.

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#6 Bean-counting cowboy
April 01 2014, 10:49AM
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CutterMcAwesome wrote:

If we win this game and lose every other game for the rest of the season i will be a happy camper.

I was thinking the exact same thing.

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#7 A Rye Morning
April 01 2014, 11:05AM
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'Artley should like you know start de game wit de goon squad

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#8 dlesnipecelly
April 01 2014, 11:34AM
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Keegan Kanzig is NOT a goon. Because of his size he gets called on to fight a bit - because of that BigErn gave him a few tips in camp. He's not a goon by association.

He has 9 fights this season which ties him for 34th in the WHL. He has 99 PIM which is 2nd on his team. He's a top 4 Dman on a team that allowed the 2nd fewest goals in the WHL this year (181 is only 2nd to Edmonton's 179)

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#9 The Sultan
April 01 2014, 12:48PM
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I don't hate Toronto. I was cheering for them last year in the playoffs because a) they were a Canadian team and b) it was the first time in a long time that the club had seen any post-season action. And then, their epic collapse happened, snapping defeat from the jaws of victory, and I got my first taste of what it was like to be a Toronto fan.

I don't like Phaneuf wearing the C. From most accounts that I've heard he was a douchebag here in Calgary and a cancer in the locker room, forcing him to be traded for bits and pieces. And the Maple Leafs made this guy their captain? The captain of a defensive corps that, despite boasting some great young stud talent, allow somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40+ shots a game? That's almost Oilers bad. Last time we played them we put 41 shots on net.

Bernier is a stud and is the only reason the Leafs had as much success early on as they did. I feel sorry for Reimer, the way he has been treated, and hope he finds a new home in the summer. Man, it's like Toronto is a combination of Edmonton and Vancouver. Yuck.

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#10 danglesnipecelly
April 01 2014, 02:40PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Wait, are we dressing McGrattan AND Bouma AND Westgarth AND van Brabant?

Is this an April Fools Day 'truculence' lineup gag?

Not sure why you include Bouma in that? Cus he hits and blocks shots he's a goon now to?

And while I'm at it is Van Brabant (who admittedly I know nothing about) also a goon because he's big and leads his team in PIM?

- Goon Police

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#11 mk
April 01 2014, 05:52PM
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Sounds like Cammalleri will at least test the waters in free agency. Burke just said on the air that they made an offer which wasn't accepted - that Cammalleri thinks he can do better on the open market. That doesn't sound good...maybe should've traded him?

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#12 CutterMcAwesome
April 01 2014, 10:34AM
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If we win this game and lose every other game for the rest of the season i will be a happy camper.

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#13 redricardo
April 01 2014, 11:12AM
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I'm trying to rank these from most, to least likely.

Stajan gets a hat trick, including the Game Winner.

Phaneuf breaks down and actually cries on the ice.

After an amazing victory Burke is caught on camera doing the D-X crotch chop at the Maple Leafs Upper Management.

I'd be good with any of those.

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#14 The Last Big Bear
April 01 2014, 12:25PM
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Also, the Leafs came crashing down because:

a) they were never any good to start with, despite sneaking into the playoffs in a shortened season, something they would never have ever done in a full season

b) their management is stupid. They bought out their best centerman so they could offer the worst contract in the NHL to David Clarkson.

c) Ranydy Carylyle (I can't spell his name)has seemingly forgotten how to coach hockey.

but most importantly

d) they score few goals, while their opponents score many.

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#15 McRib
April 01 2014, 12:31PM
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@The Last Big Bear

This is the "we must lose so the Islanders pass us and we have an outside chance at Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart drafting 4th" lineup.

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#16 suba steve
April 01 2014, 02:16PM
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CutterMcAwesome wrote:

If we win this game and lose every other game for the rest of the season i will be a happy camper.

That would be great, but barring that, I would be just as happy with a loss tonight. Still 1 point up on the Isles for 27th, and they have a game-in-hand.

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#17 negrilcowboy
April 01 2014, 02:27PM
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celine dion fangoof is public enemy number one in the big smoke, overwhelming the fan base are ready to run the pylon out of town.

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#19 dotfras
April 01 2014, 02:47PM
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@The Last Big Bear

The only problem with your theory is that Toronto is actually a top 10 team in terms of GF.

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#20 Jeff In Lethbridge
April 01 2014, 03:13PM
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@The Last Big Bear

I think they have Bouma and V-Bant out there to protect our two new snipers, Wesgarth and McGrattan

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#21 Baalzamon
April 01 2014, 04:43PM
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@danglesnipecelly

Take a moment to compare Van Brabant's college results to, say, David Eddy's.

Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it?

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#22 EugeneV
April 01 2014, 06:04PM
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I would suggest that Monahan has that low Corsi because he is so patient and usually looking to make a play.

As he gets better linemates and more experience he will become a player we will love.

He has 18 even strength goals.

That is more than: Patrick Kane, JVR, Zack Parise, Blake Wheeler, David Backes, Claude Giroux, and on and on and on.

Give him some PP time and some players who can score on his line and his stats will all improve.

You can see his thoughtful type of play will only help make others better once he gets more experience.

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#23 McRib
April 01 2014, 07:44PM
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The Flames lose and the Islanders win perfect scenario!!! I appreciate the effort boys all season now its time to go on a loosing streak to secure fourth and get our pick at Leon Draisaitl or Michael Dal Colle with an outside chance at a Sam Bennett! Next year all people will remember is how hard we fought all season not loosing the last six games.

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#24 Jeff In Lethbridge
April 01 2014, 09:54AM
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the only thing better than a win tonight would be to see funoof sliding way out of place or otherwise making highlight reel mistakes that lead to the collapse. then, in dramatic fashion the GM takes the "C" away from him in a presser.

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#25 Colin.S
April 01 2014, 10:47AM
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CutterMcAwesome wrote:

If we win this game and lose every other game for the rest of the season i will be a happy camper.

I said that in another posting. This team is playing really good to watch hockey lately, regardless of wins/losses, so don't care if they lose all the games as long as they are exciting. Except this one, they have to win this one.

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#26 CutterMcAwesome
April 01 2014, 11:08AM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

I honestly hope "neon dion" stays the captain... that way we can continue to berate him, for his ghastly mistakes and general meatheadedness.

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#27 redricardo
April 01 2014, 11:14AM
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CutterMcAwesome wrote:

I honestly hope "neon dion" stays the captain... that way we can continue to berate him, for his ghastly mistakes and general meatheadedness.

Kinda like how as Flames fans, we're all rooting for the Canucks to keep Torts around as long as possible?

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#28 dotfras
April 01 2014, 11:34AM
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Glad they moved GlenX to the MONO/COLBS line. I've been thinking those two would benefit from a more capable player on their line.

I'll be at the game tonight, and as many have already voiced, I would be very happy to see the Flames take it to the Leafs to put an end to their playoff hopes. (Also hoping for a NYI win).

Over/Under on Van Brabant dropping the mitts tonight?

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#29 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 01 2014, 12:24PM
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Playing great and losing a close one in regulation tonight, along with a NYI win would really make my day.

Being the team that officially (or almost officially, whatevs) eliminates TO from the playoffs might just make this whole season for me.

GFG.

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#30 Monaertchi Gaudnett
April 01 2014, 12:27PM
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@The Last Big Bear

You forgot:

e) their goalies went from "Vezina Candidates" to "Goalies"

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#31 redricardo
April 01 2014, 02:18PM
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@The Sultan

Umm... You must have missed the report from when Dion was first traded to Toronto.

He turned up the music on the radio. Probably in an awesome manner.

Clearly this is Captain material. Unless you're looking for a guy who's good at hockey, and a character guy and a decent human being.

But obviously in Toronto, the ability to captain a hockey team and DJ a wedding are one and the same.

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#32 beloch
April 01 2014, 03:58PM
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This is pretty awesome:

http://olympic.ca/2014/04/01/canada-politely-declines-american-beer-after-winning-olympic-hockey-bet/

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#33 Dion Pahneuf
April 01 2014, 04:32PM
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Ug, me Dion!

I KICK CALGARY ASS TONIGHT! YOU KNOW STOP THE DOIN!

I SCORE FIV GOOLS! AND TEN ASIST! YOU FANS ARE MEEN!

AFTER GAME I SMOKE AND DRINK AND MAKE LOVE WIFE! SHE TELL ME I AM BEST MEN IN WORLD!

BOW TO DION!

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#34 Purple Hazze
April 01 2014, 04:59PM
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"I am curious to know what you guys thought the biggest contributing factor was to the Leafs nose dive this season"

That's easy, having Phaneuf as their captain. No team with him as the captain is going anywhere. He's probably fine as a 2nd pairing guy but play him as your #1 shutdown guy and you get: bottom 5 in goals against, last in shots against/game, and bottom 3 in PK%.

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#35 ChinookArch
April 01 2014, 05:10PM
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beloch wrote:

This is pretty awesome:

http://olympic.ca/2014/04/01/canada-politely-declines-american-beer-after-winning-olympic-hockey-bet/

That is a great April fools gag!

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#36 dotfras
April 01 2014, 05:46PM
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Apparently the Leafs don't want to make the playoffs. Both teams super tentative in the first. Calgary working hard to win the puck battles.

Hoping for a more entertaining 2nd.

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#37 prendrefeu
April 01 2014, 06:33PM
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Stajan. Nice.

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#38 prendrefeu
April 01 2014, 07:08PM
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As much as I'd love the Flames to beat Toronto into the ground...

I don't mind the team getting closer to a high draft pick.

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#39 ChinookArch
April 01 2014, 07:12PM
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3-1 Queue up the collapse music.

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#40 mattyc
April 01 2014, 07:15PM
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what a pass by Colborne, what a shot by Russell

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#41 RKD
April 01 2014, 07:23PM
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I would like to see Princess Phaneuf score on his own net, that would be very gratifying.

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#42 Rockmorton65
April 01 2014, 07:23PM
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Woo hoo! 4-1 Isles in the third!!!

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#43 ChinookArch
April 01 2014, 07:23PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

3-1 Queue up the collapse music.

3-2 Leafs. They have us right where we want them.

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#44 RKD
April 01 2014, 07:40PM
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Wow, leafs hit the post with an empty net and I thought Edmonton was bad!

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#45 ChinookArch
April 01 2014, 07:42PM
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Please let them tie it up with Dion in the box!

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#46 Brent G.
April 01 2014, 07:42PM
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Omg here is how Dion screws the team lol

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#47 dotfras
April 01 2014, 08:00PM
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Pretty lousy game to be at. Feel sorry for Brodie kicking one in his own net.

Gio & Brodie with some noticeable mental errors out there.

Thought Russel & Colborne really elevated their games tonight - they really stood out.

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#48 Baalzamon
April 01 2014, 10:45PM
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Irrelevant fact of the day: Bryce Van Brabrant is listed in ALL CAPS on extra skater. Veiled nickname suggestion?

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#49 McRib
April 02 2014, 09:38AM
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@dotfras

Joe Colborne has really impressed me all season, never thought he should have been a first rounder draft year, as his father bought the Camrose Kodiaks so he could get 30+ minutes a night, but regardless has shown a lot more potential than he has with stops in Boston & Toronto.

Brian Burke says he needs to add 15 Pounds in the offseason, which I completely agree with if he can add that weight he will be much more effective in traffic a major weakness of his game. Stickhandling for size is outstanding although he just doesn’t get to the front of the net often enough to show off those skills he flashes in the shootout. If he gains that weight he can easily become an everyday second liner for me if he doesn't he will be a streaky third liner for career. Great underrated pickup by Brain Burke nonetheless would like to see us take chances again this offseason on former top prospects from other teams that have given up on them again like both Russell & Colborne.

This is something that the Edmonton Oilers (Kevin Lowe/Craig MacTavish) have completely failed at they are always looking to make the big splash in free agency or a huge trade that never gets done while other teams quietly add a few pieces from teams with a plenthora of players in a certain position which allows them to let someone go for signifcantly less than they should. (i.e. St. Louis Defenders)

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