FGD: Regulation Please



The Flames can keep their playoff hopes on life support today by beating the Dallas Stars. A win would be especially useful if it were in regulation time as well.

Calgary has spent a lot of time going to OT over the past month (including an OT loss against these very same Stars) and while that has garnered them points even in losses (never a bad thing), they’re going to have to start ending things in regular time a bit more often if they want to catch those ahead of them. Particularly in a game versus a close rival like the Stars. Of the Flames 17 remaining games, they face the Stars twice (including tonight), the Kings, Colorado twice, Minnesota twice and Anaheim once more. Those are all clubs in the mix and a proliferation of three point matches would make the Flames already murky  post-season aspirations even murkier.

The Lineup

Both Comeau and Cammalleri went down with late game injuries versus Anaheim, but there has been no word of them being hurt long term or someone else being called up, so we can assume they’re good to go for today.

Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Kostopolous – Stajan – Comeau
Bouma – Horak – Jackman

Giordano – Hannan
Smith – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Sarich

Matt Stajan hasn’t looked terrible over the last week or so, resulting in a bit more ice time from Brent Sutter. The coach has been nothing but begrudging when it comes to opportunities for the former Leaf since his big bro left town, so that’s something.

The second line asn’t quite as good at shutting things down in Anaheim as they were in Phoenix, and to be fair they faced a stiffer test from Getzlaf and company. Things shouldn’t be quite as tough this afternoon, although Eriksson, Ribeiro and Benn are all guys the Flames need to respect.

Kipper will be back in net after Leland Irving’s noteworthy outing in Anaheim. The kid was recently returned to the farm (apparently the org wants him seeing as much action as possible), but I would expect him to be recalled at some point this month to give Kipper at least one more game off before the end.

The Opponent

Things are still a bit tight for Dallas when it comes to purse strings are revenue, but it would certainly help new owner Tom Gaglardi if the club could squeeze into the playoffs and garner a few games of bonus home games. It may also have revive the flagging fan interest in Texas.

Eriksson – Ribeiro – Ryder
Ott – Benn – Burish
Nystrom – Fiddler – Dvorak
Garbutt – Wandell – Vincour

Souray – Robidas
Goligoski – Larsen
Fistric – Daley

The Ribeiro unit is the Stars’ top line, but I’d say Jamie Benn is the true future of the club up front. Dafted in the 5th round in 2007, the former Kelowna Rocket had a monster final season in the WHL and then surprised everyone by making the Stars out of camp the very next year. He scored 22 goals and 41 points as a rookie and has steadily improved every year he’s been in the league. He currently boasts a .94 point-per-game pace and has one of the best relative corsi rates on the team (+10.3). He’s a keeper. 

Kari Lehtonen will be in net for Dallas. He has been pretty since being traded from the Atlanta Thrashers with a .928 ES SV% last season and a similar .926 this year. He has also been mostly healthy as well, which was his primary issue in ATL.

The Story

Both teams need the points and neither one wants things to go past regulation. The Stars can put a boot on the Flames throat with a win today, while Calgary can stay in the thick of things by taking the "W". This contest won’t determine things for good for either team, but with only 4 weeks left in the season we’re getting down to brass tacks here.

Get serious or go home boys.

  • jonrmcleod

    I DESPISE these afternoon games, so terrible. Not much to comment Flames wise, I’m losing the playoff faith, still pushing for them to win games, but watching this team game in and game out is getting tough. I’d be able to consistently care about the team if they could forth a consistent effort.

    Good night(s) for the Flames Futures as well, Ferland picks up a couple points, Reinhart got a point last night, Arnold picked up a couple of assists, Gaudreau got a goal last game, but MOST impressive was Bärtschi who again is just making a great case to join the big club next year with 2SH, 1ES and 1PP goals and a +4 rating in last nights game.

  • wawful

    I never really expected this team to pull off a second miracle run. It’s frustrating to see the team (probably) miss the playoffs again, but there are a few good things.

    1. Unlike last year, the rookies have gotten a really good look this year. Some have stepped up and shown they’re ready to be a part of the roster next season. Every proven rookie like Brodie or Horak is one less 4th line UFA that has to be picked up in the off season. Those UFA’s usually have little or no upside and their salaries add up. Backlund has had good stats but has taken a step back in point production, but he may resign at a bargain discount as a result.

    2. Some of the non-rookie acquisitions have turned out pretty well. Jones has been a really pleasant surprise. He could be a really solid 3C or 4C for shut-down duty. Stempniak has been good, and Comeau, while not exactly putting up points, drives possession well. If these players can be signed to good contracts (Comeau in particular needs to resign at a discount) the Flames will at the very least have some decent trade chips.

    3. Leland Irving is looking good, and we’ve got Ramo waiting in the wings. Calgary’s goal-tending picture is looking pretty good right now. I’m not saying we *should* trade Kipper, but we probably could if the price was right. At the very least I’d expect Irving to get more starts next year and hopefully more games where the team shows up to play in front of him.

    4. A lot of contracts come off the books in the summer. Last summer, practically nothing did, and that’s why we wound up with nearly the exact same team this season. If nothing else, we should have a *different* team next season.

    5. If Butter remains the Flames coach, we can expect next season to be one that focuses on offense. We’ve seen, year after year, the flames swing back and forth between having great offensive production and having tight defense (with crummy offense). With the roster the Flames have, focusing on offense seems to work better. Let’s face it, if Kipper had been hot last year the team would have almost certainly made the playoffs.

  • jonrmcleod

    With that out of the way, I think if the Flames are knocked out of the playoff picture in the next week or two, and a coach they like is available, they should make the move and let Sutter go now.

    I thought initially it didnt mean much making the move early, but once the team is building for next season it would be good for the players to know ahead of time what is expected of them.

    The team needs a development coach. Joel Ward is doing well in Abby, but I’d like to see him get a few years down there to work his game plan.

    I personally like Lane Lambert, the Predators assistant coach. He helmed the Milwaukee Admirals to 4 straight 40+ win seasons, four playoff appearances, and is responsible for developing 14 skaters currently in the Predators lineup. He has also been mentored by Trotz over the past season. He is probably ready to take that step.

    I would hate to see the Flames go out and get a guy like Hartley just because he has won a Stanley Cup. I think it is important to have a coach that can grow with our young players.

  • RKD

    A massive must win, if the Flames lose they will be six points out. If we win, we will only be four back. However, I’m more worried about LA with Carter and Brown heating up. The Kings could be the one moving up to even seventh. Please SJ start another slide!!

    You know, without that third column, the Flames are actually 29-36. I know everyone is saying the Flames need to go something like 12-4-1 or something like that to make the playoffs and I agree.

    I broke down the last 17 games into the three game segments and they literally do have to win 2 out of every 3 until the end of the season.

    I am also looking at other scenarios such as the Flames going 9-1-7, which is really 9-8 but it gives them 25 points good for 94. If they go 8-2-7, 8-9 will be good for 23 points but that’s 92. To reverse it, if they go 8-1-8, also 8-9 gives them 24 points good for 93. Right now Dallas is on pace for 92 and SJ is on pace for 93. Anything more than 10 regulation wins is a stretch, if they can go 10-1-6, 10-7 (.588 hockey) that’s 26 points enough for 95.

  • beloch

    I have to admit, yet even more injuries is just a slap in the face. When a team has a season like this you have to wonder if they’re doing something wrong.