Flames Game Day(s): Prelude


UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 25: Forward Rene Bourque #17 of the Calgary Flames waits for a face off against the New York Islanders during an NHL game at the Nassau Coliseum on March 25, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)



The Flames begin the preliminary phase of the season with a pair of encounters against the Canucks, and while the pre-season has merely been a place for the veterans to ease in to things for past clubs, this fall might actually see an expensive player have a meeting with the Turk. That decision is still a few weeks out, though, so this evening will mostly act as a last chance for a few marginal types to get a game in the Flaming C before being sent away.



With the home-and-home split squad format, the team has divvied up the likely suspects into two more or less even groups. The Calgary side will include the Tanguay-Jokinen-Iginla line, as well as Kiprusoff, Regehr, White, and Bouwmeester. The Tanguay group is going to get a chance to prove itself for the whole pre-season unless something quite odd occurs, and I did note with some interest Alex Tanguay’s positive response to the premise that he might end up, in practical terms, as the center of that line. Having watched Olli Jokinen’s defensive work below the hashmarks over the last couple of seasons, I won’t object to the Flames experimenting in that manner if they feel determined to play the three of them as a unit. I’m cognizant of the difference between "good" and "better than the alternative", of course.


Speaking of the Sex Panther, another interview that I found very interesting was the one conducted with him yesterday afternoon. A media member asked him if he’d played the point on the PP before, and he mentioned that he’d routinely done so with some success during his stay in Florida. I don’t think I’m engaging in over-analysis when I say that the Finn was hinting quite strongly that he’d welcome that sort of arrangement. He did offer the usual boiler-plate about doing whatever he was asked, but the inference seemed fairly blatant. I suspect that sort of PP deployment will feature in the preparation games as well.


Out in Vancouver, the Stajan-Hagman-Bourque line will be the lead hands, with Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich and Steve Staios manning the blue. Two of the club’s better prospects will head to the coast as well. T.J. Brodie, who seemed a cut above most at the prospect tournament, will get a game alongside Cory Sarich if yesterday’s pairs hold, and Mitch Wahl will join the roster headed to Rogers Arena as well. The Flames’ next contestant in the eternal game of "who will open the gate 72 times a season", Henrik Karlsson, is also slated to have his first chance to play against the faux-Nucks. 


It is slightly unfortunate that neither line-up will see anything remotely resembling the final Vancouver squad. With the Canucks having a home game against Edmonton Wednesday evening, they’ve decided to rest virtually every player of note, and certainly every forward. Raffi Torres is possibly the most accomplished player headed to Calgary, and Keith Ballard will anchor the roster that will host the Vancouver end of things. Both Canuck line-ups are pretty thin gruel. 


With the depleted state of both Vancouver rosters, there won’t really be that much to glean from this pair of matches, but Karlsson’s work, the ongoing chemistry experiment for the Big Three and Joker’s work on the PP are the main items of potential interest. Game times are 7 MT at the Dome and 8 MT in Vancouver, with the home tilt on Sportsnet One, if one can believe the Flames’ website. If you see any line-up changes of note, feel free to post them in comments.

    • Ideally the Flames should, and likely would, do this in a normal year. I imagine the reason why they are playing the big boys is because at least of the vets is going to lose their job and this is a good opportunity to see who (I would wager Staios and Kotalik giving lots of salary cap).

      Obviously the top line isnt going anywhere either but I would suspect they are playing to see what they are made of and build chemistry. It also builds hope within a fan base that has been displeased to say the least as I would suspect this line should absolutely dominate the kids (imagine if they dont…) Its stupid to get excited about preseason because it is not an indicator of anything at all.

      Hopefully Kipper doesn’t play. His job is not up for grabs at all and they need to keep the games played somewhere in that low 60’s mark leading up to the post season (assuming they make it).

      As a side note, I appreciate that Kotalik is a capable player and am intrigued by the potential for this year. It has been made pretty clear by management he is not a top 6 player on this team. He can add some scoring punch to a third line, but does anyone else question how he even fits on this roster considering that a) the 4th line is likely to be a combination of Conroy, Sutter, Jackman, Ivanans, and Stone. With Langkow injured that leaves Moss, Glencross, Backlund, and Kotalik for the 3rd line duty b) he has a really high salary for that role.

      I’m just repeating whats said here but I genuinely dont see how he fits. Hes not a 4th liner, he wont be in the top 6, and Glencross and Moss are better players (particularly in a 3rd line role). Looking beyond salary I would rather have Glenx and Moss in that role anyways (hopefully neither are going anywhere). I just dont know how anyone, Sutter included, can say he has a shot at making the team. It just doesnt fit (he fits worse than Dawes would have). Why wasnt he shipped to Europe? Maybe thats coming and they were giving Kotalik a shot to see how he responds knowing hes worthless in the NHL.

      How was Kotalik in the game yesterday? There were no comments on him or White.

  • Sorry to keep rambling but there is no way they could get rid of Moss and/or Glencross. Right now the suspected forwards on the PK should be: Moss, Glencross, Bourque, Conroy, Stone(?), Langkow (when he returns). After that the options arent great. Tanguay and Iggy wouldnt do it, Hagman wont do it, Jackman maybe…Stajan might be an option. I would rather have Jackman and Stone while we are on the subject.

    This just helps amplify why he doesnt fit the role and needs to go.

    • With any luck the Sutters felt the same way and didn’t notice him much. I kinda believed Kotalik when he said he had something to prove but now I’m pretty sure that was all talk and he’ll be just as useless and overpaid.

      Given Sutters recent trade history/moves I am a little concerned he may move somebody like Sarich or Moss instead of the obvious choice of Kotalik. He has a tendency to over compensate on the previous years mistakes so maybe he’ll try to go overboard on offensive “depth” overlooking good sound defensive players forming a solid 3rd line.

      There is definite knocks on Sarich and Moss after last year but they both contribute more than Kotalik ever will; I like Moss and appreciate his usefulness on this team, he and Glencross are needed really.

      Sarich is expendable but not so they can keep someone like Kotalik. I think everyone will agree Staios needs to go train the kids in Abbotsford, Kotalik needs to go to Europe (its not too late), Kronwall needs to go back to Europe and Sarich should be traded (he doesnt have great value but Washington really should look at acquiring him). Sarich isn’t that bad really I just would rather see Pelech and Pardy fill that 5/6 role giving a defensive line up of:

      Buow – Gio

      Regher – White

      Pardy – Pelech