FGD: Round 3

With the brother vs. brother series tied at one win a piece, the Brent Sutter coached Calgary Flames roll into Los Angeles for their third meeting this season with Darryl Sutter’s Kings (8 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960).  As the Flames look to extend their point streak to eight games, they’ll also try to reel in their conference rivals who currently hold the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

Calgary was fortunate to come away with a point Thursday night in Dallas, as they spent far too much time in their own zone and relied far too much on the all-world goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff.  That said, they got the single point and were in a position to maybe steal two, and they enter the evening just two points back of the postseason.  The only bad news out of town last night came in the form of a Colorado win on the road in Edmonton.

The Lineup

Doesn’t look like much changes whatsoever for the Flames tonight, as really, not a whole lot can right now.  Calgary is struggling with depth already and have done a good job of patch-working together a lineup that has done the job over the last few weeks.  Mike Cammalleri’s move to centre has been pretty solid while the top line has continued to put up points, so there isn’t much reason to make any large changes.

Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
Krys Kolanos-Roman Horak-Lance Bouma
Paul Byron-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman

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

Some good news came yesterday morning when Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh let us know both Curtis Glencross and Derek Smith have resumed skating.  It’s not groundbreaking news or anything, but it’s another step in their recovery process, as both are hoped to be back sometime in early March.  Both will be a large help to the lineup, and Smith’s return specifically leads to some interesting discussions about the future of certain Calgary blueliners.

Miikka Kiprusoff gets his fourth straight start in net.

The Opponent

There’s not a whole lot of guessing anymore when it comes to the LA Kings.  While it remains a mystery as to why the Kings are the NHL’s lowest scoring team (124 goals), but it’s no longer a surprise.  We’re talking about almost two full seasons of this team having decent-to-strong possession numbers coupled with staggeringly low goal totals.  Sometimes it’s an anomaly over a full season, and sometimes it’s what you are.  It’s clearly the latter at this point, and there’s next to no excuse for it knowing some of the quality talent LA boasts.

Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford-Andrei Loktionov-Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson-Colin Fraser-Kevin Westgarth

Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell-Jack Johnson
Davis Drewiski-Matt Greene

Injuries have eaten up LA’s depth of late, with Simon Gagne sidelined indefinetely with a concussion; Jarret Stoll’s lower body injury will likely keep him out for this game tonight.

One area where the Kings aren’t lacking is in net, as Jonathan Quick is putting together a Vezina quality season as a workhorse goalie.  Quick’s impressive 1.89 goals against is as much a team stat as anything else, with LA typically hard to score against with the way they play.  However his .937 even strength save percentage (.934 overall) tells you that Quick is as big a part of that low goals against as well.  Quick has allowed two goals or less in 17 of his last 19 games, yet LA’s record over that time is just 9-5-5, showing you how little run support they’ve given their netminder.  Quick gets the start tonight.

The Story

Neither team is overly gifted offensively right now, and both lineups are kind of slapped together with duct tape.  How Kopitar et al do against Calgary’s top unit will likely tell much of the story of this game, if Darryl ends up using that matchup.  The other interesting storyline is the two struggling "number four" forwards on each team, as neither Calgary’s Cammalleri nor LA’s Richards has done the job totally as hoped since joining their new teams.

  • To Cheap to spring for some photoshop, we using MS Paint now?

    To whats going around on Twitter(and Trade Deadline in general). I’m mostly thinking this team stands pat or gets one forward at least. I WANT WANT WANT Babchuk to be traded, but I don’t see it, we’ve been REALLY fortunate on the back end, only injury of BIG note has be Giordano, but for the most part we’ve been healthy. And with Smith not coming back till after the deadline I think Sarich and Hannan are both staying cause if Babchuk can’t get in on a regular night(even now where they could go with 11F and 7D with so many injured forwards) why would they run with him after trading one of Hannan or Sarich. I think they keep Babchuk around cause at least he is an NHL defender and well the Farm is good, but I don’t see anyone making the jump.

    As for the game tonight, I hope you all have some aderal or something, cause it’s gonna be snoozer, with LA having the least amount of goals scored and Calgary easily in the bottom half don’t expect a barn burner.

  • RKD

    The Flames will need a better effort tonight than they had against Dallas on Thursday.

    Very glad to hear Glencross and Smith are skating again. Hope all the injured players are quick healers, but we won’t see the so called ‘regular lineup’ until mid or late March.

    I think it will be tough to trade Babchuk, he hasn’t played for a long time. Also, just saw that Babchuck has a NTC.

  • In completely unrelated news: the reporter for Fox Sports Ohio, the network who does the Blue Jackets games, is TERRIBLE.

    I’m sorry, it’s a slow day. I’m in Whitefish and you can’t see a thing on the ski hill so I’m stuck at the cabin watching the Hawks and Blue Jackets. So in case you didn’t know: EVERYTHING INVOLVING THE BLUE JACKETS IS TERRIBLE!

      • MC Hockey

        Big Mountain is a great ski hill, but they do require some new snow. They got a couple inches of snow last night so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. The fog is brutal today though, can’t see a thing.

        As for Alpinglow, that got demolished a few years ago, some problems withthe structure of the building or something like that. Too bad, it was a nice place for lunch on the ski hill.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    It could be a snoozer, but what if this happened?

    Postgame headline:

    “Brothers Darryl and Brent Sutter leave bench to join bench-clearing brawl – Players manage to keep them separated”

  • everton fc

    Dwight King certainly doesn’t have the PLMs his brother D.J. has. Amazing difference.

    Nolan’s a tough kid, as well. And we all know Clifford and Jackman will dance once again. Add Westgarth… The Kings have some tough guys on the ice this evening.

    I wonder if Bouma goes with one of these guys? Seems a recipe for some scraps… But I thought the same vs. the Stars and it was a rather peaceful evening.

    Should be a good, tough, hard-fought battle. As it should be.

  • everton fc

    Dwight King is on the Kings 2nd line???? Great kid, played very well in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. I’ll always remember him for beating up Matt McCue during a brawl in a Med Hat- Lethbridge game. But anyways, back to the point, are the Kings that beat up that they have a guy who has played very little in the NHL on their 2nd line? Yikes

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    So I just did a quick look at the stats for WHL, OHL & QMJHL:

    Sven Baertschi has a higher point per game average than any other player in the CHL right now (at least those that find themselves on the 1st page of scoring leaders in each of the respective leagues)

    We may just have a gem here. Someone please curb my enthusiasm before I start to believe the Flames actually made a good draft choice.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Scoring in junior and scoring the pros are two very different things. Some guys can translate their game, some guys can’t. That said, I think it’s safe to be excited about Baertschi; however, we should engage only in cautious optimism given that we’re Flames fans.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Thank-you, my enthusiasm was curbed by just the right amount. “cautious optimism” should be the word of the day.

        I sure hope Feaster doesn’t get desparate and trade him – however I fear the worst, since yes… we are Flames fans.

      • Agree, we may have to play Babchuk in March & April. Wonder if Feaster has the cajones to trade both Sarich & Hannan right at the deadline. Who knows, as these dmen get picked off, the price may go up to a late 1st rounder. I see Feaster rounding a bit after that, because that is definitely getting your cake & eating it too. If Smith is ready & sighh Babchuk, a few of the other kids serviced well when they had brief stints.