FGD: One Can of RAID

The Flames followed up a tough loss on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks with a, well, easier win on Tuesday in Detroit. While Calgary didn’t dominate the Wings like they did the Hawks, they nevertheless still finished close to even in scoring chances and shots despite the fact Detroit was chasing the majority of the game. Some guy also got hurt, but that’s not important…

For as bad of a team the Columbus Blue Jackets are supposed to be, the Calgary Flames somehow always struggle when the two meet. It’s not even that the Flames have been bad: I distinctly remember a 5-0 drubbing of the Flames back in January of 2009, when the teams were second (Calgary) and thirteenth (Columbus) in the conference. Indeed, dating back to that season the Flames have a record of 8-6-2 against the Blue Jackets.

None of that matters, though, so the above paragraph was just a waste of your time. No, tonight two very different teams will play in the Buckeye state.

The Line-Up

  • Cammalleri (?) – Tanguay – Iginla
  • Cervenka – Stajan – Hudler
  • Glencross – Backlund – Stempniak
  • Begin – Jones – Comeau
  • Giordano – Bouwmeester
  • Wideman – Brodie
  • Smith – Butler
  • Irving

Obviously the key name missing here is Miikka Kiprusoff. However, for as much as been made regarding his injury, it seems to be relatively minor (I’m hearing MCL strain) since he’s listed Day-To-Day and the team didn’t trade for a backup, instead signing the Heat’s Danny Taylor to a pro contract. There’s also the fact that Kiprusoff has been really poor thus far this year: an .897 EVSV% puts him 30th out of 33 in the group of guys I consider “starters”. That’s obviously not good, especially when you consider threshold level goaltending is about a .914 EVSV% – about 2 goals. Now, that might not sound like a lot but when a guy’s cap hit is 5 million plus, he’s gotta be providing better than ECHL-level goaltending. If Irving can come in and post a .910 EVSV%, I think the Flames are fine.

Jarome Iginla scored his first of the season (finally) against the Red Wings, and now has 5 points on the season. Once his shooting percentage corrects (adjusted for his career SH%, he’d have 4 goals), we’ll see a big burst. We’ve all been quite impressed with Jarome thus far, as he no longer looks or tallies like a huge liability defensively. Nice to see.

Mike Cammalleri is apparently batling some bumps and may not be in the line-up tonight. He’s listed as a “game time decision”, so expect Jackman to pull back in and one of Glencross or Stempniak to move up to the top unit in Cammalleri’s absence.

TJ Brodie continues to kill it out there, averaging about 19:20 per game since being moved up to the second paring with Dennis Wideman. He’s not looking out of place there either, and his scoring chance numbers look pretty solid for a 22 year old facing some stiff comp. 

The Opponent

  • Umberger – Anisimov – Dorsett
  • Brassard – Dubinsky – Foligno
  • Calvert – Letestu – Prospal
  • Gillies – MacKenzie- Boll
  • Jonhson – Erixon
  • Nikitin – Tyutin
  • Holden – Savard
  • Bobrovsky

It’s a little hard not to feel bad for Steve Mason, who has had frankly unrealistic expectations placed upon him since the second he walked up the stage to receive the Calder Trophy in 2009. I’m one of the people who doesn’t believe Mason was ever really that good – he just had a pretty great run of luck in his rookie season and since then he’s had a ton of pressure on him to be a number one goalie. I don’t think there’s any question that he can play ~55 games a season, he hasn’t really been able to do it effectively on a regular basis. Don’t be shocked to see Sergei Bobrovsky take over as the number one permanently around the 15 game mark.

There’s obviously no Rick Nash up there, but the package received from the Rangers – albeit a little disappointing in comparison to the rumoured deadline deal – is still quite solid. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are both legitimate top-6 players, and Dubinsky is a bit of a lifter: he was one of only 3 New York Rangers forwards to have a positive Corsi rating last year, even though he was hampered with a 41.8% ZS while playing the third-toughest competition among forwards.

Dubinsky is only 26 and Anisimov only 24 – both should be good players for the Jackets for the next half-decade at least. I’m a little more bullish on Tim Erixon than most, especially since I no longer fault him for anything that happened when he was Flames property. All the things I’ve heard and read about his starting the season in the AHL was due to a lack of strength, not skill – and it makes sense, as the kid is just 21. First round picks are always a good thing to have as well, but I’m not convinced the use of the Rangers’ will be optimized in the hands of Scott Howson.

The Jackets have two very interesting young players in Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson. While Atkinson is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury, he’s a pretty exciting, if diminutive (I’d say 5’6, 160 at best) player. Johansen was recently assigned to the Jackets’ AHL affiliate in Springfield. He’s projected to be a first line center at some point, but the development hasn’t been there at the NHL level yet (he’s about a PPG player on the farm). However hard it is to believe, though, he’s only 20 years old, so he has lots of time. I see a future in Columbus (or Seattle or Quebec City or whatever) that has both of these guys playing on the top line.

Sum It Up

Even given the fact that the Flames are starting a goalie who has had some, ahem, underwhelming results in the pros, this should be a win for the Flames, just like the Colorado game was (supposed to be). Hopefully the Flames can get luck on their side this time.

The Blue Jackets are a team in turmoil, and while they have some nice parts, it won’t come together until the development of guys like Johansen, Atkinson and Erixon catches up to that of Callahan et al. The Blue Jackets are one of the most dysfunctional teams in the league, and they play like it.

Go Flames.

    • Subversive

      I hope so, would like to see how he looks. Irving was ok, but still doesn’t inspire confidence.

      I listened to the 1st on the radio, watched the 2nd and 3rd. Seemed to me like the Flames were the better team for 2 of 3 periods tonight, well earned win.

      • McRib

        If it was any other team I would totally agree, but Irving played great against the Canucks last season. His history playing them makes me think he gets the start. He looked nervous in this one but pulling out the win is big for confidence. Do want to see Taylor get a start soon though, he deserves it. Something positive about this situation is that if these two young goalies perform well, then Kipper can take his time getting back to 100%.

  • McRib

    Get behind this team Calgary.

    With each outing, this team will gain confidence and poise. Saturday will tell much. Hurt and tired and at the end of a road trip, we will see how they respond. I think well. This team is skilled, well-coached and gritty.

    Get behind this team Calgary.

    Go Flames!

    • Franko J

      @ FlamesinATL

      100% in agreement!!!

      The passion for the majority of Flames fans in this city runs pretty deep. While the team has missed the playoffs for the past 3 seasons has made the most ardent fan skeptical like myself, I am quite impressed how this team has been far and above more entertaining to watch then the past 3 seasons. For the past three seasons I would watch the Flames games with little interest and switch off the games sporadically, now I am more interested in watching this team.

      I was most curious to see how Hartley was going to handle the current core of players on this team, win or lose there seems to be more chemistry with the team. Although the the start to this season hasn’t been that great for the Flames, I’m under the impression the players right now are buying into
      Hartley’s message and system. Keep the push going Flames.

      While this statement has no relevance to this blog, but if the Flames had a song as a mantra or message when they step on the ice listen to a new song from Fall out Boy called:

      “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light em Up)” – the chorus rocks and while this is about inspiration and positives I think this song would pump any Flames’ fan.

      Just sayin’

  • RKD

    Big win for Calgary to get back to .500, beating CBJ helps the team to get over that mental roadblock.

    I don’t like the fact that Backs left with an injury, Cammy was out and Kipper is out. This team can ill-afford injuries especially in a compressed schedule but I guess that is the nature of the beast.

  • McRib

    Franco J,

    Gotcha. Not ripping the fans or the city. Following my team from 2500 miles away, I have actually grown quite fond of Calgary and hope to visit and see a game or two. I grew accustomed to the, ahem, sights of the Red Mile during the 04 run and consider Calgary my favorite city in our neighbors to the north. I have only been to your great country once; as a child I rode The Canadian across country with my folks, from Vancouver (I was a child…my only excuse!) to Montreal.

    I understand the frustration of the last few years with BS, some of the contracts and some of the play. Disheartening at times. But, my god, we would have killed for a 90 point season during the 70s…only had one.

    I sometimes detect a note of defeatism amongst Flames fans on the blogs and don’t really get it. Getting your heart broken is part of the bargain of being a sports fan; makes the uplifting moments that much sweeter. Over-analyzing, corsi ratings, cynical swipes at every mistake made…just seems sometimes that some do not enjoy their team or the game as much as they could. I am all for constructive criticism and I understand disgruntled fandom, but I will love this team until the day I die, win or lose.

    And we have a good team this year…can just feel it in my bones.

    Blah, blah, blah…sorry…Go Flames!

  • Scary Gary

    “Everyone has the green light,” said Hartley. “It’s all about common sense. We don’t want to play on our heels. We promised the fans that we could give them an uptempo team. We’re far from perfect . . . but we’re certainly exciting.”

    What a breath of fresh air! Sutter hockey aged me, especially in the third periods…

  • Canucks Suck

    I grew accustomed to the, ahem, sights of the Red Mile during the 04 run”

    Shirts off for Kipprusoff was the best definitely could use a repeat of that