FGD: “B” for Svendetta



A week ago this game was all about the Jets return to Calgary. Now, for Flames fans at least, the feature is the debut of the most anticipated prospect ’round these parts since Dion Phaneuf – 19-year old Sven Baerstchi.

Selected 13th overall by Calgary last June, we’ve charted Baertschi’s mind-blowing season here at FN throughout the year, including periodic updates on his progress as well as look a list of comparables. The news have been consistently good, which explains why Flames fans are so charged to see him in action tonight.

Oh yeah, and there’s the new look Winnipeg Jets and that whole race for the playoffs thing too.

The Lineup

Jarome hasn’t been practicing the last couple of days due to a cut on his ankle. It shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup tonight though.

Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Baertschi – Nemisz – Kosotpolous
Kolanos – Horak – Desbiens

Giordano – Hannan
Smith – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Sarich

SVEN will start on a unit with Nemisz and Kostopolous. That’s right – Greg Nemisz is currently the Flames third line center (even though he mostly plays wing). When they say Baertschi’s recall was on an emergency basis, they aren’t kidding.

Kipper to go in net.

The Opponent

It’s been an up-and-down return to the NHL for the new look Winnipeg Jets. In part because of the volatile standings in the SE division. Thanks to the Captials precipitous drop from the top, the SE has once again become the worst division in hockey – meaning the SE division leader gets automaitcally elevated to third in conference…while everyone else drops below the post-season cut-off. As a result, it’s possible to go from 3rd in the East to 8th in a single day if you’re the Jets, Capitals or Panthers. 

Ladd – Little – Wheeler
Kane – Burmistrov – Wellwood
Glass – Slater – Coburn
Stapleton – Antropov – Miettinen

Byfuglien – Enstrom
Hainsey – Clitsome
Jones – Stuart

Blake Wheeler struggled through some tough percentages to start the season, including a 5% personal shooting percentage. Things have turned around for the big winger in the second half though and he currently leads the Jets in points with 55 in 66 games. It took Wheeler a while to really hit his stride in the NHL, but he has looked legit this season by eye. He’s very fast despite his big frame and can control the puck. He, Ladd and Kane are guys the Flames will have to fear this evening.

Of note is how Claude Noel uses his third line: the trio of Slater, Coburn and Glass is a straight-up shut down unit, facing the other team’s best lines and starting way more in the defensive zone. That frees up both scoring units to do a bit more damage. Slater in particular gets absolutely buried with a o-zone start ratio of just 28.5%. For contrast, the lowest zone start amongst regular Flames forwards is 43.4% (Tom Kostopolous).

Ondrej Pavalec should be the starter.

The Story

Although expectations for the teenaged Baertschi in his first NHL game should be tempered, it will nevertheless be very interesting to see how he manages against the big boys after tearing up the WHL this year. Add in the Jets back in the Dome for the first time in decades and a pressing playoff battle for both clubs and you have what might be the most compelling Flames game storyline in the last couple of years.

  • T&A4Flames

    “SVENNY and the Jets” ranks right up there with the return of Darryl/Cammy for overhyped games. Whether Sven scores the winner or plays 5 minutes, he’ll be entertaining to watch with his skillset… Especially when we’ve been watching guys like Desbiens & Kostopoulos flop around out there. Should be a fun one!

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Is Nemisz really the best option at center?

    Doesn’t Kolanos play center?

    Or why not put Moss as 3rd line center with Baertschi & put Kosto up with GlenX & joker? I know you hate to break up OMG, but Greg Nemiz as 3rd line center?

    I’m also curious how Sven compares to other forwards in his draft class selected ahead of him (besides those in the NHL obviously). At this (early) stage is it starting to look like Calgary picked the right guy?

    • Baertschi has the best second PPG pace of anyone drafted last year. We can’t compare him to RNH and Landeskog because they are in the big leagues, but he’s miles ahead of, say, Mark Scheifele who was picked by WPG and has managed 59 points in 45 games.

      The one guy ahead of him is Jon Huberdeau (2.03 PPG). He was picked 3rd overall and plays on perhaps an even more dominant team than the Winterhawks.

    • everton fc

      Baertschi has chemistry w/Tanguay pre-season, didn’t he?

      I’m surprised at Nemisz in the middle, as well, but what can you do, hey?! We have limited options…

      Has Desbiens hurt us at all? Has he added anything?? (Waiting for Schevvy’s reply!)

      I wonder how the 4th line will perform. Lines 3 & 4 are pretty “expansion”. As are our defencive pairings…

      Gotta give the coaching staff some credit here, keeping this bunch of also-rans in the playoff race. My hope is an OT win for the Flames, so the Jets get a point, as I am pulling for them to win their division. The best for both teams… and hockey in Canada.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        I’m here efc!

        Desbiens has definately been quite the difference maker haha. Seriously though he hasn’t hurt us at all. He is what he is, a 4th line guy who can provide some grit. That’s what he is.

        I predict that Sven will score tonight, or at least get a point. That and the Flames will win 4-3. Should be a fun night at the Dome!

    • T&A4Flames

      Wasn’t Nemo the center for Taylor Hall in their Junior championship days? Maybe putting a skilled guy with Nemo is a way to get him going as well. Why not have an early look at those 2 as a potential unit for Abby next year?

      • Emperor Crayons

        When Nemisz was on the top line in Windsor it was Adam Henrique centering him and Hall. They used him as a 2nd line centre for a while in his last year after he got injured and lost his spot on the top line. Both Ward and Playfair have used him as a centre for stretches over the last 2 years as well so it’s not entirely foreign to him I suppose.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Yeah they should put Bartschi with some offensive guys like Kolanos and Horak.

    Niemsz is not an offensive player at this level. Let him and Desbesiens use their size to make a contributions.

    At least give Bartschi a chance to succeed.

    • everton fc

      Thankfully… we’ve got Desbiens back there on the 4th line! 🙂

      I think Iggy has a big night here. I feel he may be ready to have another March explosion.

  • Emperor Crayons

    REALLY looking forward to tonights game, so many implications. Here’s to hoping we can get some fortuitous bounces!

    Also Kent, I know the agreement between FN and SN is at an impasse, by why has Steinberg just started taking his FN post game and copying and pasting it to his FAN960 blog? Is nothing Sacred?

  • Malikai76

    I just want to thank all you guys for always giving me a great 20 minutes or so of reading each and every night when I get home. I value the comments every bit as much as the articles. Missing Steinberg though, I hope you guys work something out there.

    4-2 Flames including an empty net, which I think will be Baertschi’s 1st.

    I’m concerned that some of ours injured guys coming back may interrupt the flow that’s (inconsistently?) being built up here. I know it’s not moral or likely to happen at all, but is it possible that, if Baertschi does work out really well, they could just tell the forwards to “stay injured” and keep him up for a while to give him a good taste? Obviously don’t want him burning his first year on what will likely be a first round knock out punch Vancouver (hate those guys), but could we squeeze 9 games?