Preseason Game No. 3: No pressure

Well Calgary’s rolling out about a 65-percent decent roster up front and a bunch of kids (plus Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich) on the blue line, in front of Kiprusoff. That’s the bad news.

The worse news, though, is that Tampa’s icing what appears to be a full lineup, minus their goaltender. All the big names are there: Gagne, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Malone, and a couple others up front. On the blue line you have Ohlund, Hedman, Clark, Kubina, Lundin and Roy for vets. In net they’re rolling out Cedrick Desjardins, who’s been fairly impressive in camp from all accounts and is highly regarded as the franchise’s Goalie of the Future (absent, of course, a better-than-average Goalie of the Present Or Indeed Since Khabibulin Left Town).

Because of those two rosters, there’s not much reason to expect a decent performance from the team tonight. What you’re really going to want to watch is the guys competing for roster spots.

As Pat noted earlier, there are a couple guys — like Craig Conroy and Greg Nemisz — who probably aren’t guaranteed anything in the way of a roster space on the team for the time being. In Conroy’s case he’s fighting to hold onto to one last chance at the big show. Given that he signed a two-way deal, he knows nothing is guaranteed, and needs to straight-arm a couple young up-and-comers (though admittedly the injury to Matt Stajan all but guarantees him a spot in the near future).

And Nemisz presents an interesting study as well. People thought he’d have a decent shot at developing into a player that could contribute regularly at the NHL level, but here we are two summers after he was drafted and he’s probably headed to the farm after underwhelming rookie and main camp performances.

The only other bubble guy, if you really want to stretch the definition, is Staffan Kronwall, but the window of opportunity for him to make it in Calgary is closing faster than the Lightning power play will need to score for the first time tonight (I mean, really, a top unit of Gagne-Lecavalier-St. Louis with Stamkos-Hedman? That’s not even fair). If he doesn’t do something that would make it worth Darryl Sutter’s while to keep him around, and soon, he’s going straight to Abbotsford, one-way contract or no.

And if you’re really straining for something to keep an eye on tonight, you might wanna monitor Mikael Backlund’s performance against top-quality defenders, since he’ll get a majority of his minutes against guys like Hedman and Ohlund.

But as for the result tonight? Well, I just hope you didn’t buy tickets.

  • Section 216

    It’s preseason so the result doesn’t matter it’s how you cope with that result and how you’ll play that situation if and when you come across it come the big time.

    But it’ll be nice to play an actual preseason game against a worthy opponent unlike Vancouver did.

  • Robert Cleave

    Considering that Tampa dressed their top 6 F and likely top 4 D, that could have turned out much worse. I`d certainly like to see young Mr. Brodie another time or two, but I still think that it’ll take something pretty strange for him to stick. Even if he’s close, he`s waiver-exempt, so the Flames don`t have to worry about losing him on a claim if he heads down to Abby to start.

  • Greg

    I know it’s just preason, but in two games Kotalik has almost matched his entire 20+ games from last year. I’m starting to get optimistic he’s heading for a bounce back season!

  • Michael

    I’ve been waiting for Nemisz to break out, but every time I’ve watched him, I’ve come away disappointed. Big guy with some skills, but his overall skating / positioning let him down.
    Skating is better this year, but he is still to slow for the NHL.
    Maybe we need to reset our expectations for Nemisz, looking less like the potential top six guy, and more like a marginal NHL’er / bottom six guy.

    • I always come away fairly underwhelmed by Nemisz. I have no idea what he’s still doing in camp, frankly.

      His skating is marginal and he also doesn’t seem to exert himself during the game. I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t work hard, but it’s more like he’s tentative and doesn’t have any real influence one way or the other. I mean, it took me two periods to even notice he was playing in the intrasquad game.

      My expectations for Nemisz have always been pretty guarded. He’s done nothing to change my mind in this camp thus far.

  • Greg

    anyone get the feeling that Kotalik wants to play hockey this season? Maybe all that Europe talk woke him up. If he turns out to be good value for his contract, Sutter is going to look brilliant.

    • If he somehow makes the team, Kotalik is a bounce back candidate particularly if he plays with Moss and Glencross against other 3rd lines and gets some PP time.

      There’s no question Kotalik suffered through some rough luck last year. He remains a flawed player with a salary that’s too high, but he’s not altogether useless. He was actually a guy I was hoping the Flames would go after when he was a free agent, alebit at a price at half of what Sutter gave him.

  • PrairieStew

    Hopes for Nemisz have been pretty moderate since he did not make the world jr. team the winter after he was drafted – that’s usually a good indicator. He made the team in his 19 year old year last season, but was unspectacular on that squad. Remember former first round Flames Tzachuk, Fata and Kobasew all were pretty good contributors at WJ level and only Chuck became an NHL regular.

    Here’s hoping Nemisz is a late maturer, otherwise it’s Chucko all over again.

  • Reidja

    A few things I took from the game:
    – Gio was by far the most composed and elite looking Flame on the ice. He was fantastic with the puck and physical without. I can’t wait to see him eat up big minutes this season.
    – Kotalik looked very motivated in the offensive zone (which obviously showed on the score sheet and in both local papers which have run essentially the same articles on him this morning).
    -Keetly made a huge save late in the game on a 2 on 1 one timer, sliding across to stuff the shot with his pad. He was extremely lucky hold onto the win however because there were 2 posts in the shootout including one by Vinny where Keetly was undressed.
    – The PP looked surprisingly competent (especially with Gio as QB). Great movement and smart shots which seemed to result in the puck ending up around the net with Flames there to get some good chances. I can’t recall what the goals to PP numbers looked like but it was a refreshing change from the look of last years PP.