FGD: Duck Hunting

 

 

After the Flames didn’t fare so well Shark fishing, today they’ll try their luck at Duck hunting.

In four games last year, both teams were 2-1-1 and both winning their games in their own barn.

With the shortened schedule, the Flames will play the Ducks three times, two of which will be here at the Dome. Last time these two team faced off against each other, it was the last game of the regular season. Both teams were out of the playoffs and basically disinterested;. Akim Aliu led the Flames with two goals and the Ducks couldn’t wait to get on the plane to go back to sunny California.

Tonight is a different story all together. The Ducks had the day off yesterday after taking the Canucks to the woodshed, and the Flames skate in their first of many… many, back-to-back games.

THE LINE-UP

It looks like we are going to see a bit of a change tonight, as Blair Jones and T.J. Brodie will make their season debuts.

  • Glencross – Tanguay – Iginla
  • Baertschi – Backlund – Cammalleri
  • Horak – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Comeau – Jones – Jackman
  • Bouwmesster – Giordano
  • Wideman – Butler
  • Sarich – Brodie
  • Kipper

Tonight will be another opportunity for Tanguay to find his rythym at centre. Though they were kept off the scoresheet last night, Iginla did lead the team with six shots. Tanguay is a great puck distributor and much like the coaching staff, I have faith that he will begin to turn it up, creating more chances for Iggy and Glencross. Speaking of the captain, don’t be surprise to see Iginla taking some of the draws for Tangs until he gets a little more seasoned in the face-off circle.

Blair Jones replaces Steve Begin on the 4th line tonight. This shouldn’t be coming as a major surprise as most (myself included) thought Blair should have been dressed last night. Begin did an alright job in his role of getting in the faces of the Sharks players last night, but tonight it will probably benefit to have Jones in the face-off circle, where he will be facing the likes of Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf is a pretty cool cucumber. You’re going to have more success beating him in the circle and along the boards than trying to goad him into taking dumb penalties. Even if that’s the aim, I like Jones better as the agitator anyways.

The defense will also see a slight juggle. T.J. Brodie is suspected to replace Derek Smith in the third pairing. This makes sense as well. It was going to be Smith or Sarich, and in the game last night, Corey was more on the ball than Derek. One of the reasons the Flames were taken to task in the second period last night, was that they stopped moving their feet. Too many times, too many Sharks were between the Flames defense and Kipper. T. J. Brodie has been playing all year in Abby and his conditioning is a lot more up to snuff than Smith. Last year’s combination of Sarich and Brodie is the natural fit to re-unite, and besides, Hartley seems pretty sweet on Sarich already.

THE OPPONENT

Who doesn’t love Selanne? No matter what team you cheer for?

  • Perry – Getzlaf – Ryan
  • Selanne – Bonino – Winnik
  • Koivu – Cogliano – Beleskey
  • Rakell – Smith-Pelley – Holland
  • Allen – Fowler
  • Souray – Sbisa
  • Lydman – Beauchemin
  • Hiller

Selanne is playing his 1,343 career game tonight. He is 42 years old, plus another couple hundred days. In the Ducks season opener he had two goals and two assists for four points; moving him past Dale Hawerchuk into the 18th spot on the NHL all-time scoring list.

Getzlaf’s line is always one the Flames have had troubles with. Perry is always a threat around the net, not just to score, but to cause havoc on the goalie. He’s been getting away with it for so long, that he’s damn near perfected avoiding interference penalties. If you do manage to keep this line out of your zone, well then you have Ryan’s quick hands that are always good for throwing the odd puck out of the net, that managed to get past Hiller.

Souray looked impressive as well in the Ducks opener, scoring once on the power-play and assisting on one of Teemu’s goals. He has a bomb of a shot for the point and with the likes of Selanne, Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan circling like vultures, the Flames defense is going to have to be on their toes tonight.

SUM IT UP

First and foremost, the Flames are going to have to keep the Ducks off the power-play. They have too many weapons and if Calgary starts taking dumb or successive penalties, the Ducks PP is going to make them pay for it.

The Flames know what they have to do tonight because it’s pretty much the same game plan as yesterday. Shut down the top six and play a smart agressive game. 

Game time is 7:00 pm on Sportsnet West.