FGD: Dust It Off

With a five game losing skid punctuated by a 9-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, the Calgary Flames look to pick themselves up tonight against the Minnesota Wild (8 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960).  It’s the first Flames home game since December 22nd and it gives the team an opportunity to erase what has been a really ugly stretch.  With injuries and callups, it’ll be a new look Calgary team tonight.

Having the expectation to see the Flames angry and fired up for this one is fair, as the team says they’re embarrassed and ashamed of their performance in Boston.  Anything less than that would be very, very disappointing tonight and so we’ll see what this beat up group has to offer.  With a fresh injury on the blueline, Calgary is getting more and more depleted, making things even more difficult.

The Lineup

The newest member of the Calgary Flames will make his debut tonight, with Blair Jones set to center the third line this evening just a day after being traded.  I spoke to him yesterday and Jones says the Flames offer him the opportunity for a fresh start after spending his entire NHL career prior with the Tampa Bay organization.  He was drafted by Feaster and coached for two plus years in junior by Sutter.

With Scott Hannan suffering an upper body injury in that debacle Bruins game, the Flames have another defenseman on injured reserve, with Hannan joining Mark Giordano and Derek Smith.  The good news this morning had Giordano skating with the main practice group for the first time, so we’ll see how much significance that has.  It will be Clay Wilson’s Calgary debut tonight, taking Hannan’s spot on the blueline.

Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Lance Bouma-Mikael Backlund-Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau-Blair Jones-Paul Byron
Tom Kostopoulos-Roman Horak-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich
Clay Wilson-Anton Babchuk

The other not-so-familiar face in that group is Bouma, who was recalled by the Flames this morning.  Brendan Morrison did not skate this morning, so you wonder if there’s something going on there.  Looking at those Calgary lines, depth isn’t the word you’d use, as it really drops off as you move further on down.  The same can be said about their group on the blueline.

After playing in relief on Thursday night, Miikka Kiprusoff is back to his usual starting role tonight.

The Opponent

For the final time this season, the Minnesota Wild come to Calgary.  As we’ve all expected them to do, the Wild have come back down to earth, with just one win over a ten game stretch recently, knocking them from their perch on top of the Western Conference down to the number six seed currently.  When you’re allowing the second most shots per game (31.8) and taking the third least shots per game (26.7), things are going to correct themselves eventually.

Devin Setoguchi-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck-Matt Cullen-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Nick Johnson
Colton Gillies-Warren Peter-Casey Wellman

Nick Schultz-Marek Zidlicky
Marco Scandella-Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser

You can pretty much write off the season for Guillaume Latendresse, who is on the sidelines once again with a concussion, his second of the sesaon.  I dare say it, and this is scary, but the Wild may be a deeper team than the Flames right now, which speaks to just how ravaged Calgary’s lineup is.  Minnesota has also gotten healthier of late, getting both Koivu and Setoguchi back in the lineup in recent games.

With wins in his last five trips to Calgary, Niklas Backstrom gets the start in net for the Wild tonight.  Both he and backup Josh Harding have maintained their impressive even strength save percentage numbers, both sitting at .935.  Neither could keep up their ridiculous play through the first months of the season, but the duo is still the biggest reason why Minnesota sits in a top eight spot right now.  Backstrom starts tonight.

The Story

There was a time when this was a "winnable game" for the Calgary Flames.  Well, with the way their lineup is right now, not a lot of those games fall into that category right now.  This is a time when you need your best players to pull their weight and see if the rest can follow, because most NHL teams are deeper than Calgary right now.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      What he said!

      I have hopes Bouma will be NHL ready next season, as he has very good hockey sense and plays a gritty style…though I can’t see him staying on the 2nd line, but who knows.

      It should be…interesting.

      • everton fc

        What he said, times two! Bouma on the 2nd line? Is this not almost worse than an expansion lineup? God help us…

        Our defence is AHL-calibre, minus Brodie. Jones inside Comeau and Byron… Our 3rd line… Inriguing… as mush as it’s frightening.

        I’d like to see Kosto/Horak/Jackman get more minutes. Our best, most consistent line all season. No matter who centres Kosto and Jackman, those two seem to be a perfect pairing on a 4th line.

        The Flames have the weakest looking line-up “on paper” in the league. Don’t they?!

        To Captian Ron – About the Jones post, last thread. See my response. Never been a fan of Feaster. Not even remotely. For the record. I think that’s what you were getting at. I was just trying to point out a positive on Jones.

        I’ll take any positive these days…

        Talk to you on the chat.

  • otto

    Bouwmeester’s gonna play 30+ minutes tonight. I would LOVE to see Brodie and Bouwmeester on the top D pairing, but unfortunately that won’t happen. How has Clay Wilson looked in the AHL this year? Could he play to the level that Derek Smith had been playing at?

  • Ken V.

    I’m pretty sure Smith was pretty close to being our best defencemen as far as points and +/- not sure. However I’m very sure Wilson will not be at par with Smith’s play.

  • ville de champignons

    Well, we all wanted the Flames to get younger. The posted forward lineup now averages 27.6 yrs. Progress. Unfortunately they resemble a middling AHL lineup more than ever. Progress!!?? We talkin’ ’bout Progress???

    Prediction: the number of delusional fans using the other “P” word drops to near zero.

  • thymebalm

    Wilson DID make the all-star game, but he also is one of the softer Heat defensemen. I hope he does well, but I expect him to underwhelm in the physical department. He’s listed at 6″ 200lbs.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    If there is a silver lining here, it may be that Feaster can use one or more of these AHL call ups as trade bait at the deadline. Who knows just maybe one or more of them will make hey while the sun shines on them. Then again, it’s hard to impress anyone when you are on an underwhelming team getting blasted 9-0.

    Well, at least I have beer to get me through the rest of the season. How do you non- drinkers do it?

  • thymebalm

    I’m glad to see Brodie get a chance at top 4 minutes even though he likely got that time in Boston. See if he can go even again tonight. Babchuk and Wilson!!!!! OH MY! I never thought I’d see Bouma be on the Flames’ second line either.

  • RKD

    What is it with Alberta. It’s funny, we make a miraculous Stanley Cup run to a 7th game in the finals, the next year Edmonton does too, right to the 7th & final game. What are the odds of that. Now, we look at that injury riddled year that accelerated the infamous Oil rebuild & we seem to be the very next team to have injuries push our stubborn management into an all out rebuild. Bettman should parlay this into an outdoor Classic game between Edmonton & Calgary & call it the Battle for the Alberta Outhouse.

  • ville de champignons

    Agreed CA and Kevin. Silver lining = a chance to evaluate a lot of young guys for skill, learning ability and heart. I also like the Jones move for the same reason. (Too bad it comes at the price of injuries. And to more young guys, too.)

    All of this, including tonights loss(9-0 for Minny anyone? haha), has finally got to force the ownership/management group to abandon all hope of plugging holes. You can’t plug that many. Not enough “plugs”, literally.

    Let the future begin now. Flames priorities should be, highest to lowest:

    1. Improved scouting, drafting and development.
    2. Cutting the floaters loose. We all know who they are, move any current roster player for the maximum return possible.
    3. Allowing this team to sink in the standings to where they really rate: ie 24th or lower.(If you’re not in the playoffs, at least maximize your draft potential.)
    4. For Fans – a couple thousand more empty seats at the Dome would reinforce the seriousness of the situation to management. (See Kents article – Jan 02) No harm in sitting one out now and then. Do it for the team.

    Everyone, me included, has dumped on Darryl for his bad trades but far greater long-term damage was done by the poor drafting and development done for all those years. It will be much easier to put a more competitive team on the ice next year than to correct the cumulative damage done to the depth on the farm and Flame prospect pool.

    The good news is this is starting to happen. But, man, its gonna get ugly before it gets better. Losing 9-0 to Boston isn’t bad when you contemplate losing 9-0 to the Oilers – something that I think is likely to happen before this even starts to turn around in 2-3 years.

    The other day I got into a religious argument with a guy who came to the door. He said I was going to go to Hell. Wasn’t I concerned about that? I said, “Hell doesn’t scare me. I’m a Flames fan”. He walked away.

    Thats a lot of words just to say stuff I think most of us agree with. Anyway, I feel better now. Thanks 🙂

  • RKD

    Hope the team bounces back after that debacle on Thursday night.

    Bouma and Jones will provide some energy. Like Cherry says the call up kids have nothing to lose and play the game like it is their last.

    I’m more intrigued by Wilson, it’s only one game but if he can develop anything like a Smith or Brodie that would be good. My guess he’s along the lines of Mikkelson, Carson, Piskula, mould.

    Hope Iggy gets 500 tonight, no better way than on national coverage and at home.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I don’t think the forwards look much worse than normal. Moss is always injured, so he doesn’t really count, and then there’s Tanguay (who actually has some value), BMo, Stajan, and Bourque. None of those last three is anything to write home about, and replacing Bourque with Bouma might actually improve the team, given the way that idiot has played lately.

    The D is somewhat terrifying, however. I saw Brodie paired with Babs on the Flames website and thought “oh god, why don’t they put him with someone better?”

    Then I saw the other two possibilities. No clue about Wilson, but choosing between Babchuk and Sarich is like deciding between a punch to the face and a kick in the nuts.

  • flamesburn89

    The Flames may be hurting up front, but the backend has been absoleutley depleted. Brodie playing top 4 minutes worries me slightly but I think he can handle it. The thing that terrifies me is that he’s going to be playing alongside Sarich. And the 5-6 pairing…… Bouwmeester and Butler look like they’ll be busy tonight.

  • Ken V.

    I don’t know about some of you but I’d take Sarich of Butler 10 times out of 10. -7 against boston…. really? I personally liked the game where he scored twice. It was for the other team of course, but hell put him in the first pairing what do I know? If our roster stays this thin, I will finally admit we need to blow this mother up!

    • everton fc

      I have Butler personally flagged as a 5-6 d-man at best, or a d-man that travels up and down at some point, AHL to NHL.

      But that my opinion. Worth nil. Proves we did get smoked, though, with regards to the Regher trade. Did I mention Byron is listed at 5’7″, 153 lbs on the Flames website? Scotty Nicol’s bigger! Really!!

  • xis10ce

    ill be at Shanks South tonight after the game. Pilsner will ease the pain, i’ll bring you over a pitcher when I get there Pat, even if you are on the air at the time, the booze will make the morons tolerable.