FGD: Not This Again

 

Mike Keenan being in the news reminded me of when the Flames and Canucks passed each other on their divergent paths a few years ago. For those who don’t remember, the two club’s roles were reversed back in 2007-08: Vancouver was stumbling to an 11th place finish and were playing out the string against the playoff bound Flames in the final contest of the year. Iginla scored his 50th goal of the season against a weary and crestfallen Canucks club to end things off. It’s somehow appropriate that 07-08 will likely prove to be Iginla’s final 50-goal campaign, I think.

 

That was the last gasp of the Naslund/Bertuzzi/Morrison era in Vancouver. The next season, with Gillis in charge and the Sedins ensconced as the new big guns, the two clubs battled for the NW division crown. Calgary seemed to be in the drivers seat come March with a 13-point bulge over their chief rivals. And then, disaster: the Jokinen trade, a rash of injuries, the salary cap debacle and a power play that went as cold as Baffin Island for the last two weeks of the year.

The Canucks, in contrast, surged through the final quarter and finished third in the conference, two-points up on the Flames. Calgary hobbled into the post-season and fell to the Blackhawks. Keenan was fired that summer, Brent Sutter hired and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Since then, the Canucks have become one the league’s juggernauts on the back of the Sedins, Kesler and Luongo. All of their executive decisions have proven prescient, particularly the hiring of Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault. Now, the organization is well known to be a pioneer in various areas of player relations, development and procurement. The Flames, on the other hand, face an increasingly uncertain future with steadily eroding results and major stars rapidly approaching obsolesce with few options to step in and take their place.

Vancouver will battling for the Stanley Cup again this spring. Calgary will be battling a different, albeit familiar foe in frustration and doubt instead.

The Lineup

Akim Aliu was recalled by the team yesterday. I was somewhat confused by the news until it was announced today that both David Moss and Alex Tanguay will miss the final two games due to injury.

Glencross – Jokinen – Iginla
Cammalleri – Stajan – Aliu
Comeau – Jones – Stempniak
Kostopolous – Bouma – Jackman

Butler – Bouwmeester
Giordano – Sarich
Hannan – Babchuk

It’s looking more and more like neither brodie nor Backlund will make it back before the season ends, which is too bad. Their absence gives an opportunity to Babchuk, Bouma and yes, Stajan, to make some sort of impression in these final few contests.

The Opponent

Tanev, Baallard and Malhotra are out tonight, meaning Kassian, Bitz and Bieksa will be playing instead.

Lapierre – Sedin – Burrows
Booth – Kesler – Ryamond
Higgins – Pahlsson – Hansen
Kassian – Bitz – Ebbett

Hamhuis – Bieksa
Edler – Salo
Alberts – Gragnani

Max Lapierre has been living the high life since joing the Canucks top line – he has six points in his last five games, including five in the last three. The last time he managed more than 50 points in a season was in his last season in junior, so don’t expect him to stick as a scoring option forever. That said, clearly playing with a Sedin with almost nothing but offensive zone starts at ES certainly hasn’t hurt him.

Cory Schenider goes in net tonight. Facing a back-up is usually an advantage, but not this evening. As mentioned in the Canucks Army preview today:

While Schneider doesn’t exactly have a repertoire against the Flames to use as a reference, he does have a strong body of work when playing on the road, as he’ll do tonight. In the 16 games that Schneider has started on the road this year, Schneider is a monstrous 11-4-1 with an absurd 1.89 GAA and a .939 Sv%. GOOD LORD.

Sigh.

The Story

I got nuthin’. Flames are out on their feet and are simply awaiting the finishing blow.

 

  • Graham

    It’ll be interesting to see how Aliu translates his game to the AHL level. It has to be some sort of a good sign to see him skating with Cammalleri. Thoughts?

    • My guess is he doesn’t last on that line.

      Apparently Aliu has been pretty good for the Heat, but the truth is his pro career has been entirely unimpressive up to this point and he’s already 23 year old. I’d say AHL lifer is his ceiling.

  • Stunner

    I had a chance to watch Aliu play in London for a season and a half. He was a head-case off the ice but on it when he was motivated, he was a handful. He has solid speed for a big man and is very good down low on the boards and has a decent shot from in close.

    I know he’s 23 years old now but I think he could be a solid 4th liner with a possibility to be a 3rd liner if his scoring transfers to the bigs.

    Atleast, if he makes the Flames next season the first game against Steve Downie and the Avs should be interesting.

    • Yeah I read a lot about Aliu during his draft season, particularly in the book Future Greats and Heartbreaks. I think the reason he went as high as 56th overall is his build and ability to physically dominate opponents form time to time.

      My issue with him is he has no scoring, not even at the AHL level. His career season as a pro so far is…17 points in 48 games. He’s also a career minus players in the pros.

      There’s some tools there for sure, but I remain very skeptical Aliu will put them together to form an NHL caliber package.