FGD: Replicate

Last month’s 2-1 shootout loss in San Jose for the Flames was the first time Calgary’s close-to-the-vest brand of hockey really seemed to pay noticeable dividends against a good team.  The Flames took a lead into the third period and forced a shootout against one of the NHL’s heavy hitters, largely by limiting their potent opponent.  Not much has changed for Calgary, as they’ll try to do something similar tonight against the Sharks (8 pm, TSN and Sportsnet 960).

The Flames lost their 14th straight game in Anaheim on Monday night, a game that a little bit of everything.  Calgary was somewhat listless in the first period, lucky to come out alive in the second, and impressively dominant in the third.  A rollercoaster ride type game like that tonight likely won’t be as close.  The Flames enter tonight in sole possession of 12th in the Western Conference after Colorado and Phoenix wins last night.  The good news?  Dallas and Minnesota lost in regulation.

The Lineup

Nothing much changes for the Flames and their lineup tonight, as everything remains the same from Monday’s loss in Anaheim.  Once the team got their legs uder them, the top end players seemed to do the job once again, with the likes of Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, and Olli Jokinen all very effective and dangerous.  Now, let’s see that right off the hop.  Miikka Kiprusoff starts in net.

Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Mike Cammalleri-Blair Jones-Krys Kolanos
Blake Comeau-Mikael Backlund-Lance Bouma
Tom Kostopoulos-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich

The Flames signed defenseman Derek Smith to a two year contract extension today, rewarding the 27 year old with a one way contract after his nice season thus far.  Smith remains on the shelf with an ankle injury, but prior to his injury he had done a nice job making a case for himself as a full time NHL defender.  I don’t see him being much more than a third pairing guy, but that’s okay on a good value $775,000 annual cap hit.

The Opponent

After a stretch of not-so-good hockey, the Sharks have won three of their last four games heading into tonight, holding a two point edge on the LA Kings for top spot in the Pacific Division.  Again, as has been the case everytime we’ve written up San Jose, their point total is a little deceiving because they still have played the lowest number of games in the Western Conference with just 50.  They could be right there with Detroit and Vancouver for top spot if their games in hand go the way they’d like.

Andrew Desjardins-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau-Logan Couture-Ryane Clowe
Jamie McGinn-Michal Handzus-Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester-John McCarthy-Benn Ferriero

Dan Boyle-Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray-Brent Burns
Colin White-Justin Braun

It doesn’t really matter who you put with Thornton and Pavelski at this point, because those two guys are hammering it right now.  Head Coach Todd McLellan can start them defensively and expect them to get a shot or two on the other net on a regular basis, and they have done just that.  It’s funny to see Thornton’s relatively low 44 points in a season where he could be playing his best all round hockey; sometimes it just works that way.  The scary thing is the prospect of having a healthy Martin Havlat play with San Jose’s top duo.  GM Doug Wilson told me today Havlat is due back in early March.

Antti NIemi is having a solid season in net for the Sharks, and will likely get the start tonight.  He hasn’t put up spectacular numbers, but on a team that has the puck as much as San Jose does, he doesn’t necessarily have to.  Niemi blanked the Flames in their last meeting, his third shutout of the season at that point (he now has four).  Thomas Greiss has done a decent job as the backup as well.

The Story

Calgary has lost five straight games at the HP Pavilion, and while it isn’t quite like the horror story in Anaheim, it’s still a streak that would be nice to snap.  The Flames have shown they can skate and stay competitive with the higher end teams in the conference during a regular season game, but sometimes those high end teams are going to be patient enough to beat you.  That’s what happened eight days ago against Detroit, while Calgary’s gameplan was successful Friday against Chicago.  Let’s see what they’ve got tonight.

  • I’ve been less than impressed with the Sharks top-end players when I’ve viewed them versus the Flames this year, although that’s only a couple of games. They were good on the PP, but I fully expected them to be more forceful at ES.

    We’ll see how they look tonight.

    • I concur with this statement. As does the NHL, when the only Shark to go to the ASG was Logan Couture.

      Just have to hope that Kipper can put the puck away from the net – no more BS catch, drop, score in the crease.

  • Vintage Flame

    If the Flames can pull of two wins on this back to back, coupled with Minny and Dallas losses tomorrow, they could be sitting in a playoff spot come Saturday.


  • Vintage Flame

    Last two games against the Sharks have been close and I think the Flames deserved to win at least one of them. Not to sure how it all shakes out tonight with Ryan Clowe back in the line-up.

    Man I hate that guy…

        • RexLibris

          =) When there were rumours of Corey Perry being traded to Vancouver I thought “hands down, no contest, the Canucks would then become the most-hated team since the Broad Street Bullies”.

          I think this San Jose game is the one in the list of upper-tier teams the Flames face before the deadline that should be marked as a “must-win against a superior team”.

          On another note, your prospect, Max, had a good game against the Oil Kings yesterday afternoon, nabbing an assist on his brother Sam’s goal before his other brother Darryl, I mean, Griffin, got one for the OKs. I guess all three were putting on quite the show. If there are any Flames fans aching for a rebuild then I would highly recommend holding out hope for a tanking next season to draft Sam.

          There is every likelihood that, if the Flames position in the standings doesn’t improve, Griffin will be available for them and Sam is expected to go in the top five next year. As an Oiler fan I think it says enough about them that I am hoping another team nabs at least one of the other brothers if not both.

          The Reinharts could be the new Sutters, but in a good way. 😉

  • The game’s on NBC Sports Network (Versus) down in the States tonight, so hopefully the boys will put on a good show. I’m not expecting too much from this game, but I would like to see a very strong effort and for the team to show some desperation. These next two games are gigantic. If they can win tonight and win tomorrow and get a little luck out of tow, they could be in a playoff spot come Saturday night.

    Also according to Sutter, Irving gets the call in net tomorrow night. You guys surprised? It’s a pretty big game to be playing the back-up goalie in, hopefully Irving will come up big.

  • VF, your criticism of Clowe is a little off base. I’ve always felt that guy plays it straight up and the right way, plus he’s very skilled.

    Kesler has the diving, whining thing to go along with it…I don’t see that with Clowe.

    • Vintage Flame

      Clowe has always been the guy on the ice crossing the line, but not enough to face repercussions. He’s not the cleanest of hockey players and that’s fine, except for the fact that he is the first guy to bitch and moan when something happens to him.

      I don’t see how I’m off base. I said I would take him on my team, but it doesn’t mean i have to like the guy. I like what he could bring hockey-wise to the Flames, but his antics make him a world class ass.

    • Oh I’m not. I’m speaking strictly by eye the couple of times they’ve played the Flames – the Sharks top line has been just okay. Clearly they’re doing more in other games and at some point I expect that dominance to manifest against Calgary.