FGD: Is There a Game?

TORONTO - OCTOBER 26: Dion Phaneuf  of the Toronto Maple Leafs wears Hockey Fights Cancer sticker during action against the Florida Panthers during game action at the Air Canada Centre October 26, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs won 3-1. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

If you haven’t heard, Dion Phaneuf is back in town; and so are the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Well, if you are living in Florida, that’s what’s going on here in Calgary…it’s the Flames and Leafs for the first time this season (7:30 pm, Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960).  The blue and white fans will invade the ‘Dome, and this should be fun tonight.

We know it’ll be a jacked up building, because whenever Toronto (or Montreal, or Vancouver, or Edmonton…sorry Ottawa) visits, it turns into a great night.  On the hockey side of thing…this is a pretty damn important game for both teams, as they both try to stay relevant in their respective conferences.  Obviously, the Flames are a little more relevant right now, but it’s a big game overall.

The Lineup

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 22: Niklas Hagman  of the Calgary Flames attempting to score against Martin Biron  of the New York Rangers during the first period on November 22, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)

Once again, who knows what we’ll see from a Flames standpoint.  We do know that both remaining players from the Phaneuf trade will be on the ice; Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan will both be in the lineup, with the latter getting back in after missing two games as a healthy scratch. 

Who sits out? Your guess is as good as mine…and we’ll find out in pregame skate.  The Flames have seemingly stopped rolling lines during gameday morning skates, and Head Coach Brent Sutter said he’ll decide who isn’t playing closer to game time.  Ales Kotalik, who hasn’t impressed upon returning from injury, is a possibility…he was late coming off the ice this morning, while Curtis Glencross left the ice early, so there’s speculation he might be the guy singled out.  To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with either…Glencross has really taken a step backwards since his very strong opening two months, and he’s the type of guy who might respond to a wake up call like this.  Kotalik…well…he’s Kotalik.

Here are the lines and pairings Calgary went with in Monday’s win over Columbus:

Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Niklas Hagman-Brendan Morrison-Ales Kotalik
Tom Kostopoulos-David Moss-Tim Jackman

Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Adam Pardy-Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net, and will most likely start against Minnesota on Saturday; Henrik Karlsson should get in early next week, either Monday or Tuesday when the Flames play back-to-back on the road.  Speaking of back-to-back…Calgary’s still looking for consecutive wins for the first time since late October.

The Opponent

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: Keith Aulie  of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on December 8, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Penguins defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Dion! Keith! Freddie! Yes, all three players sent to Toronto in January will be on the ice tonight for the Leafs, lead by their captain Dion Phaneuf.  First, a couple links:

Phaneuf has played three games since returning to the Toronto lineup after missing more than a month with a deep leg laceration; he’s put up two points in that time, a goal and an assist.  As much as Dion was maligned in Calgary, it might be at a higher level in Toronto…the scrutiny on him is probably unfair, as he was anointed the saviour by many when he was acquired.  Kinda tough to put really high expectations on a guy who’s still developing as an NHL defenceman…but…waffles!

Keith Aulie will slot in on the Leafs blueline, playing just his 12th game as an NHL defenceman.  I still don’t know why Aulie was part of the deal; if you believe what you read, Leafs GM Brian Burke wasn’t even after but was glad to take him when Darryl Sutter threw him in as part of the deal.  And Fredrik Sjostrom (or as the announcer on NHL 10 says: Fredrik Sha-joss-trom) will play on Toronto’s third line…here are projected lines and pairings:

Clarke MacArthur-Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin
Colby Armstrong-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Kris Verteeg-Nazem Kadri-Fredrik Sjostrom
John Mitchell-Tim Brent-Colton Orr

Dion Phaneuf-Francois Beauchemin
Luke Schenn-Tomas Kaberle
Brett Lebda-Keith Aulie

Both Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Komisarek are nursing injuries right now, which explains a Leafs blueline that is a little thinner than usual.  Jean Sebastien Giguere gets the start in net for the Leafs, another former member of the Flames…albeit, a little less recent.

The Story

Yeah, all the Flames stuff is the same…win some games, win more than one in a row, don’t make mistakes, play a full 60, yep, we get it.  Let’s just enjoy this game…it’s way easier to stop looking at the big picture and just enjoy some hockey, and maybe tonight we’ll be treated to an all right game.  Maybe tonight we’ll be treated to a game between two teams that aren’t very good, and maybe it’ll be close for the majority.  We can hope right?

  • TSN has a great story today comparing us and Toronto, lets be glad we don’t have Brian Burke. The Sutters are true geniuses (although it is a little hidden right now). We have got a great team when our chemistry starts clicking…..Growing pains of a newer group.

    Go Flames Go

    • icedawg_42

      There’s actually been a lot of talk today about who is better/worse, or who you would rather be, the Flames of the Leafs….personally I would rather the Flames not even be in the same conversation as the Leafs. There are entirely too many similarities (for obvious reasons). My beloved Flames can’t get much lower.

      • icedawg_42

        …despite what some journalists/”experts” would like you to buy into, there are positives to look at in regards to the Flames and this season.

        …I know many people would like to live in fear and think the world is coming to an end 1/3 of the way through the Flames season, but it’s not the case at all.

        …Sure, the Flames won’t win the division, but NOBODY thought they would. There are only 9 points between 4th (Nashville) and 11th (Flames position).

        …injuries, losing streaks, hot/cold streaks, team chemistry/sense of urgency, many things come into play as the season moves along.

        …the Flames have a winning record at home and a goal differential of only -7. THING’S AREN’T THAT BAD. THINGS WILL ONLY GET BETTER.

        • …Sure, the Flames won’t win the division, but NOBODY thought they would. There are only 9 points between 4th (Nashville) and 11th (Flames position).

          Flames are in 14th. That means they have a 6 point gap AND 6 teams in front of them for a playoff spot. So making up 6 points is fine on one team, but you have to make up the points on EVERY team.

          Not impossible, no. Not easy at all.

        • icedawg_42

          @B The only part of my post that had anything to do with media was that there was a lot of talk about it today – but the part about the Flames and Leafs having too many similarities as fully my own opinion, formed in my own wittle head. Bloated contracts and too many NMC’s. I don’t need anyone to tell me that. – Tonight I see Dion getting about 5 shots (being generous here), maybe a PP goal, 7 hits, 2 of which see him in the box, and -1. I dont think he fights, but maybe a scuffle or 2.

    • reluctantcitizen

      Please tell me you this is tongue in cheek. Did you really just say that the Sutters are true geniuses??? You do realize that you are at the top of the league in money already committed to next year and the most no-trade clauses, right? And not a lot of young players coming up in the system? Darryl Sutter is far from a genius. He has had very limited success in the post-lockout NHL and to say he is a genius is laughable.

      Burke needs time to prove himself in Toronto. He inherited a big mess and it will take a while to fix it. Sure the Kessel trade was questionable but it still may work out. Time will tell.

  • icedawg_42

    …in regards to the state of the Leafs, Burke did a great job with Vancouver and Anahiem, I have no doubt he will do a good job with Toronto. It sucks that he basically traded Seguin and another 1st rounder for Kessel, but Kessel is a 24 year old that has scored 30 goals twice and is on pace for another 30 goal year. IMO, the trade wasn’t as lop-sided as some make it out to be. Seguin has tons of potential, and the Bruins next pick could be “Rico Fata”.

  • hey teddy step away from the koolaid. the only enius displayed by darryll was to appoint the majority of his kinfolk lofty employment with the flames organization. honestly, can you really and truly support such claims.

  • T&A4Flames

    Knowing how cocky Phaneuf is, my guess is that he spends most of the time trying to make an impression by trying to knock some ones block off. This will no doubt result in him being a -(how many goals the Flames score). He will take a lot of shots but none will be on net.