FGD: Keep Rollin…

You know, Fred Durst was kinda lame, but that song wasn’t awful.  The video on the other hand is awful, so I refused to post it on here.  Anyway, rolling is exactly what the Calgary Flames are looking to do tonight, as they get set to take on the St. Louis Blues tonight at the ‘Dome (8 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Radio Fan 960).

Calgary is currently on a bit of a roll with three straight wins over some pretty good opposition, including an impressive 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday.  Calgary remains in 12th place in the Western Conference, still four points back of Colorado for the final playoff spot.  What’s even more interesting is how significant games between the Flames and Blues could be from here on out, with four games between them still to go, and seperated by just one point heading in.

The Lineup

It looks to be all systems normal for the Calgary Flames, as they went with an optional skate this morning.  The main topic was Craig Conroy who cleared waivers this morning at 10, and according to Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun, he is now very close to retirement.  I went for beers with Kent last night and we got to talking about how good Conroy was during that 08-09 season, and I know that I counted myself a fan of his even last year when he was playing big minutes with the Daymond Langkow injury.

Conroy has meant much to this team, as was witnessed during his 1000th game celebration earlier this season.  Off the ice, his contributions have been huge, and everyone is well aware of that.  However, it’s not like he didn’t have some high value on the ice, so it’s a shame to see him most likely call it a career.  If he does, it’ll be tomorrow, as he’d rather not take away from the spotlight on game day.

Hearing from Jarome Iginla inside the room today, he was very quick to say "I don’t wanna talk as if it’s already happened" numerous times, while Brent Sutter did acknowledge that it frees up a roster spot, a spot they could use to activate Steve Staios or bring up a player from the Abbotsford Heat.  Here are lines and pairings tonight:

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

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

Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net, his 500th game in the NHL.  It’s a pretty cool milestone for a guy who has turned into a legit number one goaltender since lighting the league on fire upon his arrival in Calgary.  Kiprusoff has meant an immense amount to this franchise over his time here, and he deserves some recognition for his tenure even if this season hasn’t been a banner year.

The Opponent

The Blues enter in much the same spot as the Flames, near the bottom of the conference, but still very much in the playoff race.  However, unlike Calgary, St. Louis is reeling and they’ve fallen to 13th in the West.  The Blues have played 11 games in January with just two wins, and they’re hoping to snap a three game skid tonight.

The Blues made the biggest splash in the off season trade market, acquiring goaltender and playoff hero Jaroslav Halak from Montreal.  They’d sign him to a contract shortly thereafter, and he’s been respectable with a .914 ES save percentage.  Somehow, with brutal numbers, Ty Conklin has managed to rack up five wins in eight starts as their backup, but Halak is the guy they’ll give the lions share of work to.  It’ll be Conklin starting tonight, which might be considered good news for the Flames!

On the blueline, St. Louis is without Barret Jackman (lower body) and Carlo Colaiacovo (eye) on a short term basis; neither will play tonight.  Jackman is more of a loss, as he logs some key defensive minutes while Colaiacovo is used in a much more protected role.  Captain Eric Brewer sees a fairly large amoung of difficult minutes, starting in the offensive zone 46.9% of the time.  He, Jackman and Roman Polak are the three Blues defencemen with an O zone start under 50%, with Polak being buried on a regular basis.

Up front, the losses of Andy McDonald (concussion) and David Perron (concussion) are being felt, however the news is getting better on the former.  While McDonald won’t play tonight, he could be back in the lineup shortly after the All Star break, which would be helpful to a sometimes impotent Blues attack.  As for Perron, he’s been out since November 4th and hasn’t resumed skating, so it seems like the road back remains lengthy.

Perron and David Backes are both pretty important players for St. Louis, and when on a line together, they do a nice job of affecting the play in a positive direction.  With both Perron and McDonald out, Backes has been elevated to the unquestioned number one centre, and has done a decent job, leading the team in scoring with 37 points in 48 games. The return of T.J. Oshie has also been important, as he’s slotted right back into the top six after missing 31 games with an ankle injury.  Here are lines and pairings tonight:

Alex Steen-David Backes-B.J. Crombeen
Vladimir Sobotka-Patrik Berglund-T.J. Oshie
Brad Winchester-Jay McClement-Brad Boyes
Steffan Della Rovere-Matt D’Agostini-Cam Jannsen

Eric Brewer-Roman Polak
Erik Johnson-Alex Pietrangelo
Nikita Nikitin-Tyson Strachan

The Story

Players for both Calgary and St. Louis are well aware how important the four remaining meetings between the clubs will be.  Is there a chance the teams split the series and nothing really is accomplished?  Sure.  But winning three of four for either team would be pretty darn significant.  However, with the Flames back in the conversation, they can’t really afford to think too big picture at this point.

  • The fact that “Rollin'” made it to radio stations all around the world makes me think that I still have a chance to make it.

    Seriously, google the lyrics to it and tell me that first verse makes a lick of sense.

    And really, whats the rush to open up a roster spot for Staios?

    • Seriously, google the lyrics to it and tell me that first verse makes a lick of sense.

      Now I know ya’ll be lovin this @$&@ right here
      L.I.M.P Bizkit is right here
      People in the house with them hands in the air
      Cause if you don’t care then we don’t care
      One two three time zoom to the 6
      Jonesin for you picks of the Limp Bizkit mix

      Yep…no sense.

      And really, whats the rush to open up a roster spot for Staios?

      I really don’t know. I don’t see a logical place to put him back in.

  • This move really p*sses me off and makes me want feaster fired…

    This team talks forever and a day about good locker room guys, and now the team needs someone like Conroy in the room more than ever, and they kick him out the door. I could tell during the player interviews that they aren’t happy. So now this one move could potentially disrupt the lockerroom atmosphere and cause them to slide back into losing. Who’s gonna do those interviews in place of Conroy now? Kotalik? 🙂

  • Steady Steve needs to go the way of Wharrener – stay on LTIR, then eventually get cast off to the AHL, Europe, or the freakin’ acid mines. We don’t need him, and if anything, he is an Edmonton double agent in our locker room.

    As for Conroy, it’s been great having his services. The only way I could see his demotion making sense would be if we actually had roster players that were of such quality as to push him down the depth chart. As is, players such as Kotalik (a lookalike clone of Miroslav Satan)and Staios are allowed to remain.

    Waive Conroy, bench Backlund but the coach refuses to bench and/or waive players such as Kotalik, Jokinen, and Bourque? Boourns on that.

  • Oyo

    what happened to brad boyes???

    didnt he used to be really good haha

    PS with this whole calgary “winning” idea, i used to be in the boat of tank it and tank it hard. trade for future youngstars and decent talent. BUT now it that it seems they have their heart set on winning i cant help but get excited about playoffs as for off as it may seem. the absolute worst thing that could happen tho is that they finish 9th. best case scenario is finish 7 or 8 and either make some miracle happen or take detriot or vancouver to 7 games and make it very difficult for them. that way our players trade value will go up and might get some teams to overpay for good but old players.

    i guess the big issue here is the trade deadline. decision time

  • palooza

    @Kent

    I’m eagerly awaiting some more #simmerisms, I threw a couple more up there after your initial one last game. The hard part is trying to remember the awkward delivery whilst trying to get it down, laughing, and still watch the game without missing anything.

  • FlamesNation (London ed.)

    When the Flames play in Atlanta next week, please post a photo of those Georgia rap sensations, the Icy Hot Stuntaz.

    Thanks in advance, Pat!