FGD: Juggling Act

As the Calgary Flames strive for some consistency, they’ve made some lineup changes going into a game with the Phoenix Coyotes in the desert (7:30 pm, TSN and The FAN 960).  It looks like Brendan Morrison will pop up to the first line to centre Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, while Stefan Meyer returns to the lineup in place of Craig Conroy.

Regardless, the Flames are looking to get on some sort of a roll, following a 4-2 Tuesday win over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.  Calgary snapped a four game losing skid thanks to a strong third period, but they’re overall play left some to be desired in the opening 40 minutes, especially against a rather weak Avalanche D.

The Lineup

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff  of the Calgary Flames looks on during a break in the action against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Flames defeated the Avalanche 4-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Some interesting shifts at morning skate in Phoenix, with Morrison getting a bump up the depth chart, after being benched for the majority of Tuesday’s win in Denver.  Matt Stajan looks to take quite the step down, while Meyer gets back in seeing time on the fourth line.  Brett Sutter was on the ice as well, after his arrest early on Thursday morning…he won’t play tonight and the team isn’t commenting currently.  Here are probable lines and pairings:

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

Robyn Regehr-Ian White
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Jay Bouwmeester-Steve Staios

Miikka Kiprusoff

The Kiprusoff start seems to signal some back-to-back action, as it’s likely he’d play against the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night.  I like Brent Sutter’s move to keep the second and third lines together, as they were both very strong in the final frame on Tuesday.  Morrison’s move to the top line is interesting after his benching, but more interesting is the message sent to Matt Stajan.  To me, Stajan has been far too soft on pucks and far too many plays have died on his stick, along with far too many turnovers at both bluelines.  Perhaps this will be a wake up call.

The Opponent

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov  of the Phoenix Coyotes makes a pad save during the NHL game against the Nashville Predators at Jobing.com Arena on November 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Coyotes enter tonight with one of the odder records in the NHL, sitting a cool 5-5-5.  They’re a team that really does look similar to the playoff team from one year ago.  They are without a true "superstar" but boast depth in their lineup, and of course are coached extremely well by Dave Tippett.  The ‘Yotes are without captain Shane Doan, who missed Wednesday’s game and is considered week-to-week with a lower body injury.  Here are lines and pairings tonight:

Wojtek Wolski-Eric Belanger-Lee Stempniak
Petr Prucha-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Taylor Pyatt-Vernon Fiddler-Lauri Korpikoski
Scottie Upshall-Kyle Turris-Ray Whitney

Derek Morris-Keith Yandle
Ed Jovanovski-Sami Lepisto
Adrian Aucoin-Garrett Stafford

Ilya Bryzgalov

The Coyotes sent defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the American Hockey League today.

The Story

It’s one of those games where the Flames are looking to carry some good things over, and that’s probably a big reason why Kiprusoff gets the start.  Both Kent and I share the opinion that we’d go with Henrik Karlsson in this game, but you can understand Calgary’s thinking here.  They just snapped a four game skid and Karlsson wasn’t great in his last start on October 28th…you really don’t want to set yourself back with another loss because the backup wasn’t up to par.  Add in the fact that you had two days off prior to this game, and you have three more days off before Wednesday’s game against Chicago, and you can understand the argument.  I just think if you want Karlsson to play once or twice on that road trip coming up at the end of this month, you should probably get him in before then…this seemed like a good time.

Of Note

The season series was split at two wins a piece last season, with the Coyotes winning both games at home and the Flames doing the same at the ‘Dome.  All four of those games last season were decided by one goal, with the last meeting going to a shootout.

  • BobB

    I guess that answers my question: “How long do we stick with the most recent interation of the “Iginla line” (Tang-Staj-Iggy), which had been terrible.

    Re: Karlsson. I said it last year with McL. Being a back-up in the NHL is pretty unforgiving, but if Karlsson cannot play when he should play, we have a problem.

    If we are to believe that Karlsson’s previous performance falls under the “it was only ONE game” (which I fully believe) then SHOULDN’t he be playing? But he’s not…so with that in mind, some things to consider.

    1. The last three years EVSV% we’ve seen this:
    ’11 … Kipper .917, Karlsson .837

    ’10 … Kipper .928, McL .874

    ’09 … Kipper .907, McL .897

    This year, so early, sv% is pretty meaningless, but it’s all we’ve got. ex. a 27evsa shutout and Karlsson is at .900 a .063% jump.

    Point is, Calgary, again, has too vast a distinction between the #1 and #2, whether it’s really there or more likely imagined by the Sutter(s)

    2. Other teams in the conf. Pho, Van and Col for example look like this:

    ’11 Bryz .925 Labarb .923

    ’10 Bryz .928 Labarb .932

    ’11 Andy .935 Budaj .936

    ’10 Andy .926 Budaj .935

    ’11 Lou .922 Schn .961

    ’10 Lou .925 Raycroft .913

    So, either 1. Kipper is that much better than #2 (which is possible, but not the point) 2. We play in front of/ ‘manage’ our #2 guys poorly (which I doubt) or 3. We’re not putting enough importance on acquiring a cheap veteran back-up in a saturated market (likely) 4. There is no way we should be babying the back-up, especially after one ‘bad’ game. (ding ding ding).

    Maybe Phoenix does a great job in front of both their guys, but I doubt the coach is ever hesitating about putting Labarbara in the net. He’s a solid #2 guy, back to when he was a number 1. We haven’t had that in years.

    Say what you will, cause I don’t believe there is a problem there, at least not after one game, but if management thinks there is a problem, like with McL the last two years, then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and then there IS a problem.

    Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing and Karlsson goes tomorrow, but I doubt it, and maybe he plays 20 games at seasons end. But…I doubt it. End of rant.

    EDIT: Why? WHY? Hiller .923% McL .926 I doubt Curtis became a great goalie overnight, so what’s the deal? We have the 4th most expensive defense in the league, we should have more parity in goal.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Steinberg: perhaps you can ask the coaches some real questions about why Conroy is not playing tonight, let alone not higher up the depth chart, when reasonable people everywhere know he’s well within the best 9 forwards on this team.