FGD: Here We Go Again…

There used to be a time when games against the Colorado Avalanche were exciting.  They boasted names like Sakic, Forsberg, Roy, and Blake.  They were high flying, high scoring, and high octane.  However, they always beat the Calgary Flames.  Well, this current incarnation of the Avalanche is nowhere near as good, and as of late, they sure as heck don’t beat the Flames.  Tonight in Denver, they meet for the third time this season (8 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960).

Seven consecutive wins for Calgary over Colorado dating back to last season, including two this year.  Less than a week ago, the Flames took a 2-1 win in Denver adding on tot their 4-2 October win over the Avs at the Saddledome.  Calgary is coming off a 4-1 loss in Chicago last night, a game that sparked some heated debate in the postgame article and on my always interesting call-in program on Sportsnet 960.  The Flames are now two games below .500, so an eighth straight win over the Avalanche couldn’t come at a better time.

PS…if anyone gets my picture reference today, or the first one to do so and explain how it applies, will win some sort of prize.  And not a super lame one either.

The Lineup

Because the Flames got into Denver early on this morning, no morning skate for the team except for the likely-to-be-scratched members of the team.  Brendan Morrison, Matt Stajan, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Cory Sarich all skated with Henrik Karlsson this morning, meaning it’s likely the exact same lineup will be ice tonight.  We don’t know whether the lines stay the same or not, but here’s what they were last night:

Alex Tanguay-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-David Moss-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
Derek Smith-T.J. Brodie

Overall, not bad season debuts for the new guys.  Backlund was probably Calgary’s most dangerous player and was certainly the best player on the top line.  With 14 games missed to start the season, plus a good chunk of training camp, he really didn’t look to miss a beat at all.  I know he got beat on the third Chicago goal, but overall I liked his game and it was promising to see.

We didn’t see anything special from Paul Byron, but I think we can give that a little time as he plays just his second NHL game with the Flames tonight (and tenth overall).  Yeah, he flubbed a two-on-one in the second period, but to judge his impact on the team in one game would be criminally silly.  I did like the game of Brodie though.  He was very steady in his 15+ minutes of ice time, which is exactly what you need from him in his first game.  If he plays more games with the big club, we’ll likely see him jump up into the rush a little more, but good stuff in his first game.

With Karlsson skating this morning, it’s a good bet what we speculated on yesterday is going to happen: Miikka Kiprusoff plays in the back-to-back scenario while the backup may very well play against Ottawa on Tuesday.

The Opponent

The 8-7-1 Avalanche snapped a losing skid this week by coming from behind to beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime.  Hovering around or just over .500 is kind of where I see Colorado this year, which is a step forward from the team they were last year.  That said, the Avalanche are very dangerous offensively, and particularly so with their number one ranked powerplay.  Calgary gave Chicago four chances on the PP last night, which is likely too many in Denver tonight.

Joakim Lindstrom-Paul Stastny-Milan Hejduk
T.J. Galiardi-Matt Duchene-David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod-Jay McClement-Kevin Porter

Jan Hejda-Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey-Shane O’Brien
Ryan Wilson-Ryan O’Byrne

Colorado’s third line is still by far their most effective, as they’re absolutely murdering possession right now with sub 50% offesnive zone starts.  If they’re matched against the Horak trio tonight, I fear they might have some really good success.  However, Head Coach Joe Sacco has liked to use the O’Reilly unit against one of Calgary’s top two lines in the previous games this season.

After Jean-Sebastien Giguere got the start against the Islanders earlier this week, it’ll be Semyon Varlamov back between the pipes for the Avalanche tonight.

The Story

While probability might suggest Colorado is due for a win over Calgary, that really doesn’t matter for tonight’s game.  I believe if the Flames play the same type of hockey they did against Chicago last night, they’ll have a decent chance at winning.  That said, second halves of back-to-back games haven’t been kind to Calgary, and that whole consistency this has been kind of an issue too…

  • Colorado has probably made the leap to lesser light to the middle tier. If they had someone playing with Stastny who wasn’t Joakim Lindstrom, they could probably make some real noise because Paul is back on the horse this year and Landeskog seems to be the real deal.

    For the first time in years, I am going to take the Avs seriously again.

  • everton fc

    Does the other roster spot find PL3 finally being demoted? Or will Stajan be the next on on re-entry waivers?

    I think the 4th line above will be our 4th line for a while. Moss has seen his stock drop. Or so it appears.

    Very strong 4th line, though. Stempniak w/Horak is smart. Byron – here’s hoping.

  • OK Pat. Here is my take on your picture. At first I wanted to do a Godfather spin on this but how I see it, The two guys with the guns are Feaster & King & they have B Sutter as the victim. They are waiting for the clock to tick down for they pull the trigger on the poor guy.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Pat,

    If the team loses tonight, you’re going to hear it on the post game show. You may want to add some negativity, and protect yourself a bit from the on-slaught. How does the old line go . . . Find the parade and get in front of it.

  • ville de champignons

    Lifelong Flames fan since I was a kid in Atlanta and my dad took me to a game. Dad got transferred to Calgary (Oil Co) and we started going to games regularly at the old Corral.

    The preceeding paragraph is irrelevant, I know. Sorry. Just trying to establish a little credibility.

    The problem with the Flames is really very simple. Hard to fix, hell ya, but simple to identify. The problem with the Flames is that NOBODY KNOWS what the problem is. Everybody is without a clue so they’re shooting in the dark or shooting blanks. Here’s probably the quickest way to get some upward trajectory by next season:

    Ok, being an American I don’t know as much about hockey as you all but you gotta find out where the problem is. Here’s what I’d do: Can Brent tomorrow (win or lose tonight) and put Conroy behind the bench. Why? Glad you asked.

    Because you got nothing to lose. Nothing. The upside is you will find out if the coach is the problem or not and if it really is a Sutter curse issue or not. From the posts and recent callers to Pat I am starting to believe it is a Sutter thing.

    Put Conroy behind the bench on a 68 game contract and look for improvement in the players enthusiasm and motivation. If there is none, THEN blow the hell out of the team, sign up a new roster and get moving. But you gotta do it sooner rather than later. Its been 6 years of the same old same old and the natives are getting restless.

    If it is a Sutter hangover and I think it is, then the first thing you gotta do is stop drinking the hootch.

    Ok. Jump all over me if you want. But we got NOTHING to lose. Thanks for your time. And thanks,Pat, for an outstanding show.

  • supra steve

    I think the Flames will win tonight. They are a better team than Colorado and seem to have their number. Will be interested to see how the team plays on the 2nd night of a back to back. It’s a decently long flight I think from Chicago to Denver, so the Flames need a good start as naturally they will become fatigued near the end. 3-2 Flames.

  • Flames had better damn well win tonight. I will be at this game, most likely the one being hauled off by security for heckling Stajan until he cries. He plays bad, and he should feel bad.

    That is all.

  • Hagman’s got a very raw deal in Calgary. His fate was determined before the season began. I expect he will be picked up on re-entry. A former 30-goal winger, potential top-6 that isn’t over the hill (age 31) with decent speed, in a contract year at 1.5mill. At least he moves his feet and gets involved. He’s just not a great fit for a bottom-6 role. Yet Stajan is still with the big club. Sigh

  • Vintage Flame

    The character is Deja Vu

    Does the pic reference Calgary facing Colorado once again under .500 and being in a must win situation over a team they should beat.

  • RexLibris

    Pat, kudos for referencing one of the best (juvenile) movies of the last 30 years. I loved that film (when I was twelve and still love it when I’m with the appropriate friends). The puns were hilarious, the corny jokes awesome, and the visual one-liners absolutely terrific.

    As for the characters, well there was Nick (as in nick of time) and of course Deja Vu (have we met before), but I’m not sure how Chocolate Mousse (gasoline) enters into it, so I’ll have to agree with the guesses made in earlier posts.

    The game tonight seemed like it came along just when you needed it, and the win will certainly take some heat off, but in the long run it might almost have been better if they had lost. A close win with an almost 2-1 shot differential isn’t a good sign, and the results may only serve to camouflage the underlying issue.

    If the Flames do crash and burn this year then it had better be a complete failure, being a doormat only to the extent of finishing 24th overall isn’t going to help this club long-term.

  • RexLibris

    Hey, anyone know what’s going on with Krys Kolanos? Noticed he is no longer on the Heat Roster or in the game tonight? Am I blind? Also why was Moss out of the last part of the game toinight as well? Trade? Injured?