FGD: Lookin for a Spark

DALLAS - NOVEMBER 04:  Right wing David Moss #25 of the Calgary Flames at American Airlines Center on November 4, 2009 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

17 goals against in three games isn’t sitting well with the Calgary Flames.  So, the team has made a few changes in advance of Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 pm, TSN and The FAN 960), the second meeting between the teams this year.  David Moss makes his Flames debut, with a number of shuffles to the lines.

It’s F’in Game Day as the Flames look to snap a two game losing skid, coming off Saturday’s 7-2 debacle against the Washington Capitals.  Calgary fell 4-2 in Detroit back on October 21st, a game where Calgary got off to a good start, but couldn’t hold off the hard charging Wings.

The Lineup

As mentioned, David Moss returns to the lineup, and will skate on a line with Mikael Backlund and Rene Bourque, which could be viewed as the second or third line in this case.  The return of Moss sends Stefan Meyer to the press box, and brings about a number of tweaks to Calgary’s combinations.

Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Rene Bourque-Mikael Backlund-David Moss
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Brendan Morrison
Curtis Glencross-Craig Conroy-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Robyn Regehr
Mark Giordano-Ian White
Cory Sarich-Brendan Mikkelson

Miikka Kiprusoff

The addition of Morrison to Jokinen’s unit could be interesting, with Morrison showing a keen ability to distribute the puck early on this season.  To this point, Jokinen and his linemates have been the main unit matched up against top opposition lines…we’ll see if the swap of Bourque for Morrison changes that tactic.

It’s too bad for Glencross, who had been one of Calgary’s most consistent forwards, as he is demoted to fourth line duty.  Regardless of how much his unit is utilized, there’s no question it’ll be viewed as the bottom trio, which likely means his ice time will be decreased.  I had advocated a combo of Glencross-Moss-Morrison as I felt they could really do damage, but that’s not the direction the coaching staff has gone.

It’s important to point out that Head Coach Brent Sutter hinted that these line combinations may not be a permanent thing, saying it is something they’ve done for this game against Detroit, and they’ll see what fits going forward.

The Opponent

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 5: Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red Wings controls the puck during the second period against the New Jersey Devils on December 5, 2009 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Detroit enters action tonight 6-2-1, placing them fourth in the Central Divison.  Kent’s Red Wings preview is already up on the site, and offers a good look at some of their finer points.  They’re coming off a 5-2 win over Nashville on Saturday night, and are boasting some fairly impressive numbers thus far.  Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with 12 points, while both Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk have 11 points in nine games.

The Wings do make one change, as Jonathan Ericsson returns to the lineup, which means a bit of a shuffle in their defensive pairings.  Ericsson has missed eight games with back spasms.

Pavel Datsyuk-Henrik Zetterberg-Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Todd Bertuzzi
Justin Abdelkader-Mike Modano-Dan Cleary
Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Patrick Eaves

Niklas Lidstrom-Jonathan Ericsson
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Jakum Kindl-Ruslan Salei

Jimmy Howard

Howard gets the start in net with Joey MacDonald backing him up.  Chris Osgood will sit out with a groin injury suffered in practice earlier this week.

The Story

Plain and simple, we’re trying to see if the Flames can play a full game of how they want to play hockey.  The last time that happened, we were all raving at the type of hockey Calgary is able to play.  We all remember that, right?  Nine days ago?  That win over the San Jose Sharks?  It was pretty impressive, and even the most cynical of Flames fans were nodding their heads and saying "damn, they just won’t give up the puck."  And then the Edmonton game.  And then the Colorado game.  And then Washington.  And now we’re back to the same old story with this team, heading into a game…what team will show up?  Until we are no longer asking that question, we won’t know what exactly this Calgary Flames team is.

Of Note

Detroit won both games in Calgary last season, including a heart breaker later on in the season…the game that first sunk in, to me anyway, that the Flames may actually miss the postseason.  Calgary hasn’t won at home over the Wings since March of 2009.  The Flames hope to continue their trend of outshooting opponents, as they’ve done in ten games so far this season.

  • These lines are designed for Detroit eh?

    The only logic I can see is that Sutter has moved Morrison to go with Jokinen and Hagman in order to run that line against Detroits top six (along with the Iginla unit) in the hopes that the BBM line along with a 4th line boosted by Glencross will have enough punch to offset anything given back by the top two lines. If he is planning on matching a Backlund led group, even with Bourque, against Detroit’s top six…I hope Kipper is well rested.

    I think that Franzen-Filpulla-Bertuzzi line could also be taken advantage of by the Iginla unit if Sutter can get that match up. That Bertuzzi goal last game really smarted.

    Also, let us hope the defence looks like $20 million bucks or so tonight. I think in the recent collapses they have been very culpable. I am specifically looking at you Ian White. Bring the mustache back for Movember or something.

    • These lines are designed for Detroit eh?

      That’s kind of the impression I got from the Head Coach…we’ll see if they carry through to Minnesota on Friday.

      I think that Franzen-Filpulla-Bertuzzi line could also be taken advantage of by the Iginla unit if Sutter can get that match up. That Bertuzzi goal last game really smarted.

      I think that could be the matchup…and I guess you’d put Jokinen’s unit out against Datsyuk’s, which would let Backlund’s group go against Modano et al.

  • My day was spent polling the flames fans opinions on a hypothetical query.
    Would the flames be better with Babcock coaching them.

    It was a revealing exercise. The people who dont like BS are unanimous…others more resigned to their belief that nothing would help.
    The sway vote on the fence sitters was GlenX is on the 4th line tonight….. an outcry of WTF is that moron thinking. GlenX is much loved fwiw.

    Personally I waffle on how much impact Babcock would have on this roster although I view him as a superior coach.. I guess Im undecided.