FGD: Stop It

Calgary Flames Jay Bouwmeester (C) is trapped between Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene (L) and Cody Mueller during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta October 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

The Calgary Flames are saying all the right things, riding a four game losing streak into Denver tonight for their second meeting with the Colorado Avalanche (7:30 pm, Sportsnet West (JIP), Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960).  Curtis Glencross returns to the lineup for the Flames, as the team seems motivated to make sure this skid ends now.

It’s F’in Game Day, and for the second time this season, it’s against the Colorado Avalanche.  The Avs were able to take a 6-5 win at the ‘Dome on October 28th.  For the Flames, not only is this a divisional game, it’s also time to snap a four game losing skid.  That was the feeling yesterday prior to the team departing for Denver…everyone was talking about how things need to get turned around now, when the season is still relatively early.  The main message: don’t put yourself behind the eight ball two months into the season.

The Lineup

Calgary Flames' Brendan Morrison (R) celebrates his second goal of the night with teammate Curtis Glencross during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Alberta, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)
 

As mentioned, Curtis Glencross returns to the Flames lineup after missing Friday’s loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild.  He’ll slot into the same spot he was in before, on a line with Craig Conroy and Tim Jackman.  Steve Staios will play once again, after getting back into game action Friday against the Wild.  Here are lines and pairings:

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

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

Miikka Kiprusoff

Will be interesting to see how the matchups go tonight, but this seems like a game where names like Jokinen, Morrison and Bourque need to carry the offensive load.

The Opposition

Yep, that above is a thin blue line.  Colorado is straight up ravaged by injuries, especially on the blueline.  The Avalanche will go with a starting six defenceman, four of whom will be playing with under ten games of experience.  Wow. The starting six tonight look like this for the Avs, minus pairings:

Scott Hannan, John Michael Liles, Colby Cohen, Jonos Holos, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Liffiton

As for lines, they’re projected like this, with a whole lot less in terms of injuries:

Chris Stewart-Paul Stastny-T.J. Galiardi
Brandon Yip-Matt Duchene-Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnick-Ryan O’Reilly-Cody McLeod
David van der Gulik-Phillipe Dupuis-Kevin Porter

Peter Budaj looks to get the start in net, coming off a shutout.  To me, it’s on the Flames to make sure they exploit the injuries affecting the Avalanche.  With that blueline, Calgary better get that forecheck going early, and start forcing turnovers right off the bat.

The Story

Calgary is below the .500 mark for the first time since the first few games of the season, and the frustration is mounting from the loyal fans of this club.  It’s true, the team has got to stop the bleeding now, and not let this thing get out of control, and I’m glad the team is saying all the right things heading in…but doing the right things has been the real issue at times this season.

Yes, the Flames played pretty good in Friday’s loss to Minnesota, and probably deserved a better fate in a lot of ways.  So, what’s important is to take those good things and carry them over to this game.  Frustration over a loss like that can be a good thing, but they can also be a bad thing and breed more bad habits.

Of Note

It doesn’t look to be a special teams display, with the Avalanche boasting the second worst penalty kill in the NHL, sitting at 71.7%.  Their PK at home is even worse, at 63.0%, placing them dead last in the league.  Ha, but then there is Calgary’s road powerplay, which is second worst at 4.5%.

Calgary has now scored the first goal in 10 of their 13 games, yet sit just 5-5 when doing that.  You’ve got to do a better job when opening the scoring.

    • Not to mention that Budaj is a .905 save pct. on the season.

      Oh, what’s that, Kipper is a .906. Just pretend I wasn’t here.

      PS: I am noting that the .906 seems to be fitting a trend that we had all hoped he bucked last year.

      2003-2004: .933
      2005-2006: .923
      2006-2007: .917
      2007-2008: .906
      2008-2009: .903
      2009-2010: .920
      2010-2011: .906

      Dare we even consider what the Flames chances are this season if Kipper is a .906 goaltender or worse…

      • Indeed. All I’ve heard through the first month is that Kipper is again the team’s MVP. When in fact he’s been fairly mediocre thus far.

        Certainly not terrible…but nowhere at the same level as, say, Tim Thomas.

        That said, a month is a really short time span to judge a goalie. We’ll see if he gets back up eventually. I won’t get on him until we’re at least half way through the season.

        • BobB

          @ Tach

          We all know that 11 games is a pretty small sample.

          What other things can we take from that sample?

          Certainly Thomas is going to continue having a .980 sv% while Boston is on the PK.

          Obviously Ryan Miller is a sieve with a .903 sv%

          Maybe we should be playing the Tower instead? .837ev sv%

          Kipper is totally being outclassed by his peers:

          Luongo .909, Giguere .909, Vokoun .907, Anderson .907,

          oh right… sv% means nothing after 11 games.

          • Except I’m guessing you’d be crowing about how great Kipper has been if he was sporting Thomas’ numbers, Lawrence. In fact, you climbed up on a cross with him after one of his shut-outs this year when you thought he wasn’t getting his due credit.

            I fully expect his numbers to improve, personally. I was the first one to point out one month is pretty much useless in evaluating a goaltender.

          • BobB

            If anything, if you READ my comments, I’ve been critical of Kipper up to date, or as much as is sensible after 11 games.

            I also think being disrespectful with comments is not very classy.

            Look, I’d be happier if the Flames could actually play team hockey right now.

            If you think Kiprusoff has been the reason we’ve lost any of the games he’s played, you understand hockey different than I do.

            Loses:
            4-0 Edmonton,
            3-0 Florida,
            7-2 Washington,
            4-2 Detroit (maybe this one),
            2-1 Detroit,
            2-1 Minnesota

            6 Goals For in his 6 loses. It must be Kipper who was holding us back. The Flames weren’t even competitive in half those losses.

  • Kipper needs to work on his glove side, seriously.

    As for the Avs, I wish it were easy to say “let’s exploit such and such line”, except for the fact that they seem to have some gems on each line. That 4th line tore it up against Dallas (granted it was Raycroft in net), and Chris Stewart seems to be a Flame killer.

    That said, if we can get Iginla/Bourque or ANY of our scorers out there against, say, Holos or Shattenkirk, we might score.

  • GermanFlame

    Heard a comment last year on overtime, ‘I have stopped watching the Flames with expectations, Just watch the hockey’ I dont think I have gotten quite that far, I still expect them to make the playoffs and such, But is it bad of me to say that if they lose anymore I dont mind that much anymore?

    I mean I think they have proven they wont be an elite team anytime soon, (Or top 6 in the west, Safe to assume so?) so im done with being average. Its gotten the flames nowhere lately, our best player’s just getting older.

    Im still gonna cheer this team on till the end, Hope they win lots of games, and just watch some good hockey.
    p.s. Everytime I watch hockey anywhere, especially the Flames, I just want it to start getting cold out and play some hockey, Its that time of year again!