FGD: Minus Two

The Calgary Flames play their second to last preseason game tonight when they welcome the New York Islanders to the Scotiabank Saddledome (7 pm, TSN and Sportsnet Radio FAN 960).  Calgary got some positive injury news yesterday, and as they move towards a healthier lineup, it looks to be pretty close to an NHL lineup tonight.

The Lineup

The Flames look to get back on the winning side of things after dropping their last three exhibition contests.  Tonight they’ll go with a fairly veteran lineup, with a couple players in there still fighting for a potential job.  The two guys in that category most right now are Roman Horak and Lance Bouma, who have both been solid in camp to this point, and who both have a very realistic shot to crack the opening day lineup.

A couple notes from the morning skate: Jarome Iginla didn’t skate once again, however there’s a chance he may be back on the ice tomorrow as he continues to recover from back spasms.  I’d be surprised if Iginla played a preseason game, but there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be in the lineup to start the regular season on October 8th.

Cory Sarich donned a regular practice jersey for the first time this morning, as he was a full participant in the skate.  He won’t play tonight, and may not play any preseason action either, but it’s very likely he’ll start the season.  That’s a good thing in my eyes, as Sarich is still an NHL defender, and can give you some value on your third pairing.  He was matched up with Jordan Henry today, and they will serve as the healthy blueline scratches.

Finally, Raitis Ivanans was back on the ice practicing with the team for the first time since November 2010, as major concussion issues have kept him on the sidelines for nearly a year.  He was the extra forward and won’t play tonight, but looks ready to return.  Here are lines and pairings tonight:

Lee Stempniak-Roman Horak-Alex Tanguay
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-David Moss
Niklas Hagman-Paul Byron-Tom Kostopoulos
Lance Bouma-Matt Stajan-Guillaume Desbiens

Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Anton Babchuk-Derek Smith

Henrik Karlsson looks to get the start in net tonight after he played half of Sunday’s game at home to the Oilers.  Karlsson was pretty solid, however made one error playing the puck which ended up in the back of the net.

The Opponent

While the Flames go with a fairly veteran looking lineup, the New York Islanders go with a much less experienced group.  A couple interesting forwards to watch, including fifth overall pick Ryan Strome from Niagra of the Ontario Hockey League.  He’s still around in camp and could very likely start the regular season with the team after a 106 point season.  Kirill Kabanov will also play in this one, the Russian forward who many debated at last year’s draft in Los Angeles.  No lines as the Isles didn’t skate.

  • Blake Comeau
  • Justin DiBenedetto
  • Trevor Frischmon
  • Trevor Gillies
  • Michael Haley
  • Kirill Kabanov
  • Jay Pandolfo
  • Rhett Rakhashani
  • Marty Reasoner
  • Ryan Strome
  • David Ullstrom
  • Tim Wallace

The blueline has a couple guys with NHL experience, and one guy with significant NHL experience.  You’re going to love his Staios tonight, as Steve will suit up for New York as he continues his tryout with the team.  Apparently the Islanders came after him fairly heavily, as there is space available, so the former Flames blueliner has a chance to make the team.

  • Calvin de Haan
  • Matt Donovan
  • Milan Jurcina
  • Dylan Reese
  • Steve Staios
  • Ty Wishart

It looks like Evgeni Nabokov will get the start in net for the Islanders, as he’s decided to join the team after not reporting to them last year after being claimed off waivers.  Mikko Koskinen is the other goaltender with New York.

The Story

This is a game the Flames should win, as their lineup is far superior to the one being brought by the Isles.  On top of that, both the coach and the GM have openly challenged their team to show a little more in the intensity department.  I’d be a little disappointed if Calgary didn’t walk away with this one.

    • GermanFlame

      PL3 is suspended and I don’t see Desbiens dropping em.

      Wow if we are playing this bad against an Islanders C team(at best), I can wait an extra month or two(or June) for the season to start.

  • Sadly I don’t know if the Flames will crush the baby Isles, no one has shown any try at all thus far, especially the veterans. Other than Bouma or Horak there really isn’t much to this game.

    The most interesting thing to me is whats going on with Iginla. Someone on another forum informed me there is a rumor going around that Iginla has a herniated disc in his back, which would just be another nail to this already bad season(with what Kent said earlier about Morrison being the number one).

    Should everyone be healthy to start the season, I think myself and everyone would agree that Backlund would start the season and prefereably finish the season as the number 1 and see if he has what it takes.

    Tanguay-Backlund-Iginla.
    Glenncross-Jokinen-Moss.

    And then whatever Sutter wants to do with the 3rd and 4th lines, there is a bunch of options for those lines as well.

  • flamesburn89

    When I heard Stajan had worked real hard in the off season trying to get in better shape, in an effort to have a better season, I was fairly optimistic. I thought he might be able to crack between 40-50 points. From what I’ve seen so far in the pre-season, the guy looks exactly the same as he did last year, and that’s not good.

  • thymebalm

    Stajan’s skillset is beyond what Bouma, Horak, or Byron could hope to bring to the table this season. Seems silly to think he won’t be playing on the lineup next month. Heck, I put him ahead of Morrison on my depth chart.

    • Stajan is definitely an NHLer still. The question at this point is if he has any place on this roster. If Brent Sutter doesn’t rate him above the 4th line, then the team needs to do something about that contract. It’s a terrible waste of cap space otherwise.

  • Michael

    Stajan is under contract for this year (2011-12) plus 2012/2013 and 2013/14… so I have no idea who want to take the chance on a $10.50 million contract. His play, his salary and length of contract should make him impossible to move (look at what it cost us to move Kotalik and his one year). We are stuck with this mountain sized boat anchor for three more seasons.

    I don’t think Bryon is ready yet, Horak hasn’t looked out of place, but the competition has been honestly AHL + calibre. Not sure that we need two enforcers… Ivanans might be ready to come back, but is probably surplus.

    The Flames compete level hasn’t looked good enough… some of the kids had a chance but seemed flat / uninspired / not ready.

    Not a great pre season to date.

  • Super_Gio

    How does the process go if the Flames decide to buyout Stajan’s contract down the line? (despite that scenario not happening)
    Something like half the salary for 3 years?

  • everton fc

    I still say we are thin at centre. We have bodies… But reamin thin.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moss centering Bourque and Hagman on the 3rd line. Or Tanguay and Iginla on the first, if Backlund fails…

    • That’s fair. Flames have a lot of capable-to-semi-capable NHL centerman, but zero excellent to elite players in either direction (be it offense or defense). Which is why it’s so hard to decide who is going to play where.

  • xis10ce

    While I’m glad to hear that there is a very good chance Iginla will be ready for Oct.8th I’m concerned that he most likely won’t get in any preseason action. He has often come out of the gates slow at the start of a new season and with no real warm up this year I hope that trend doesn’t continue.

  • joel

    Sure hope to see Backlund on Thursday. I don’t see any room for Horak, even if Stajan is sent to the AHL. As happy as I am to see Ivanans healthy, I hope he doesn’t dress for a Flames game this year.

    • I think you’re being overly cynicaly my friend. I think there’s a real possibility Horak or Byron or whomever will start the season over Matt Stajan. He has shown next to nothing and trying to get him claimed on re-entry waivers could very well happen.

      • Fair enough. If we were to guess on Stajan being usurped by someone, I’d put it up around 30% at this point. I just don’t think it will necessarily be either of the two guys mentioned in the article (Byron is my horse in that race).

        That said, I am still dubious the ownership would allow Feaster to bury $4.5M in real dollars in the AHL – even with the re-entry waivers possibility in mind.

        Sutter sure isn’t giving Stajan much of a look in the preseason though. He’s been 4th line with pluggers and fringe guys the whole time. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

        • Stajan doesn’t really warrant a whole lot of a look, though, does he? Quite honestly, they watch him every day in practice which determines if he deserves a certain spot in game action. He hasn’t.

          As for Byron, I haven’t been overly impressed Kent. He’s struggled against NHL caliber competition. I think he’ll be good, but I don’t know if he’d be my choice for this season.

          • everton fc

            Good point. Stajan’s been in the league some time. I think the organization may have already decided he does not fit into their future plans. They know what they have in Stajan. That’s how it seems…

            Sure, everyone gets a chance at redemption. But the organization seems jazzed about Byron and Horak. Not good for Stajan.

            And the comment Kent made in a prior thread about Kostopolous perhaps being on the bubble, having to prove his worth… He’ll get a chance, on a line w/Hagman and Byron.

          • icedawg_42

            Do you think anyone (im talking Eastern Conference) would even have any appetite to claim Stajan off waivers? He might be “more” out East, but still…Darryl sure made that contract hard for anyone to stomach, considering his play ever since.

  • everton fc

    Wow – Stajan centering the fourth line, Byron the 3rd. Shows you who has the edge in that battle for a roster spot.

    Or so it seems…

    Horak has two solid line mates, and should show if he’s capable of making the roster.

    Hagman with Byron will also be interesting.

    Bouma with Desbiens – if Stajan can actually centre these two, they might score a goal this evening…

  • Roman Horak and Lance Bouma, who have both been solid in camp to this point, and who both have a very realistic shot to crack the opening day lineup.

    I’d re-word that to say “a better chance than their peers on the farm but still one south of 10%.