FGD: Things To Do In Denver (When You’re Dying To Be Above .500)



Your Calgary Flames have a bit of a problem, gang. They’re seemingly allergic to getting over that hump at the .500 mark. They’re 0-3-1 this year in games that could’ve put them over the top, and have arguably put out their four worst games of the year in those four outings. Heck, the same thing happened early last season and the Flames were only 3-4-2 when entering a game with a .500 record and the “horrible effort” train chugs back to that point last year, most notably the 9-0 mauling by the Bruins.

But the Flames get a second chance tonight, as they head into snowy Denver to tangle with the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams did battle in Calgary earlier this season, with the Flames blowing a third period tie in rather spectacular fashion and losing 6-3. They’re hoping to put together a strong effort tonight.


To say the Flames were “flat” on Tuesday against Minnesota would be charitable. The entire team is probably thankful that Joey MacDonald was there to keep them in the game. Through the first 18 games, MacDonald is the only Flames goalkeeper with a respectable save percentage. His start tonight will see him pass Miikka Kiprusoff for the most time in a Flames net this season.

It’s been a weird year. Here’s the probable lines for tonight, courtesy of Sportsnet’s Roger Millions (@rogmillions):

  • Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
  • Glencross – Cammalleri – Stempniak
  • Baertschi – Hudler – Comeau
  • Aliu – Begin – Jackman
  • Giordano – Bouwmeester
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Butler – Sarich
  • MacDonald

Aliu’s back, at the expense of (likely) Roman Cervenka. Cervenka has been “fine” this year. If you’re asking why Blake Comeau is (a) still in the top-nine and (b) has played 17 of the 18 games this year, I have no idea. He’s the Anton Babchuk of Flames forwards – he seemed like a decent low-risk pick-up at the time but I have no idea why you re-sign him or retain him in your line-up when the results have been so middling to poor. Particularly in the top-9 rotation.

On the other hand, Matt Stajan continues to be awesome.


The Avalanche are missing a ton of bodies and are riding a three-game winless streak (all of which took place on the same terrible road trip to California). Now back home, they’re hoping to get healthy and get back on track. Like the Flames, Colorado hasn’t been above the .500 mark all year, but can get back to the black with a win against the Flames.

Courtesy of the Herald’s Scott Cruickshank, here are the probable lines:

  • McGinn – Stastny – Parenteau
  • Landeskog – Mitchell – Jones
  • McLeod – Olver – Hejduk
  • Bordeleau – Kobasew – Palushaj
  • Hejda – Barrie
  • Hunwick – O’Byrne
  • O’Brien – Zanon
  • Varlamov

Matt Duchene didn’t practice at Wednesday’s optional session, but could slot in for the Avs. He’s been out day-to-day with a groin issue. Also out for the Avalanche are Ryan Wilson, Erik Johnson, Steve Downie and the un-signed Ryan O’Reilly.

Despite their mediocre record, the Avalanche aren’t a bad team – although that blueline is a tad thin (a product of injuries). Their two top lines are respectable and former Flames pick Chuck Kobasew has carved out a fairly distinguished career for himself. Thursday will be his 548th NHL contest, which makes him noteworthy amongst a string of awful, awful Flames first rounders.


With a fully healthy (and signed) roster, the Avalanche are every bit Calgary’s equal talent-wise. However, the Flames largely out-played Colorado for 40 minutes at home when they played last month. Sadly, that was followed by a weird, wacky third period where bad luck and inconsistency burned the Flames and gave them a loss.

Life’s not full of second chances, but the Flames have a shot to get above .500 once more. Their four previous opportunities to do so were, to be blunt, horrible. Let’s hope that’s not repeated in Denver.


  • ChinookArchYYC

    I know I’m going to sound negative here, but did anyone believe 3-0 was enough of a lead? You can’t put it on MacDonald, but a better goalie would have won this game.

  • RKD

    These games are worse than those San Jose and Boston massacres, reminds me of the meltdown in Chicago.

    The Avs have a plethora of proven talent, Duchene, Landeskog, Stastny and of course our friend O’Reilly.

      • schevvy

        It was like getting the hot girl at the bar, having her taken away by her abusive ex-boyfriend, and then getting beaten up and put in intensive care. And that’s putting it mildly

        • RexLibris

          Wow, that bad.

          You know, I wouldn’t usually do this, but for you Schev, I almost (almost) hope the Flames win the draft lottery.

          Here’s hoping the Flames can tear a strip off the Canucks.

          • schevvy

            Thanks Rex! Means a lot…

            We all know what’s going to happen. Kipper comes back either Sunday or Wednesday, team goes on a streak, stands pat at the deadline as they sit in 8th, fall off at the end and pick 14th.


          • RexLibris

            I’d love to see the Flames and Oilers battle for the 8th playoff spot. It’s the closest we can get to a BoA this season.

            Not going to happen though. As much as you seem to think the Flames will find another of their perennial hot streaks, I believe the Oilers will run into their usual “top 6 forwards injured” cliche they like to run every year.

            Sleep it off, you’ll feel better in the morning. I hear O’Reilly goes to bed with a teddy bear and only orders Shirley Temples at the bar. =)

  • schevvy

    I commenced drinking midway thru the second (well, technically, before the game even started, but who’s counting).

    Now the trick is to have small goals – I’ll be at the game in Anaheim next weekend and just once I want them to win a game there in front of me! Is that too much to ask? (Please, noone answer that).

      • jeremywilhelm

        That’s why I didn’t want an answer! I’ve been there for most of those losses, and they’ve all been painful in their own way. They’d usually make it up with a win in LA, but that’s far from guaranteed this year.

        Ah well, better to have passion in a losing cause than no passion at all. I think.

  • Scary Gary

    What a rollercoaster…At least we get Van on a back to back so it won’t be a total blowout, bah!

    We’re just not very good, brutal PP (give Sven a shot), terrible goaltending (how slow did MacDonald look?) and the D stand around (come on Gio).


  • jeremywilhelm

    Dogsh!t day. Ends the way it should. What an embarrassment piled on disappointment. A bad terrible franchise stays the same and loses an easy game.

    Words do not express my true dissapointment.

  • RKD

    If Sven is so highly regarded let him flourish on the top line or even the second line. He’s not going to be impactful on the third and fourth line. He would be better off on the top line back in the AHL.

    If I ran a team at least one line every season would be kids, playing them gets them experience. How did Brodie get to where he is now, yes he did take a step forward but played 58 games last season. Experience pay dividends!

    • Stockley

      Honestly aren’t many I’d consider untouchable on this team right now. Keep the youth (Sven and TJ). Keep a few veterans who are actually performing (Hudler, JayBo, maybe Wideman since he is what he is and no one will take that contract right now). As for everyone else? Sell them to the highest bidder. The team can’t do much worse with a bunch of AHL rejects, can they? We should almost be paying other teams to take some of these ineffective veterans off our hands. Hard to believe they even give a crap when there is no obvious effort shown.

  • mk

    I want to stop caring and not both watching/following this team; they’re performing terribly this season (mediocre other recent seasons). But I can’t. Ugh. You guys know what I mean.

    • Stockley

      I wish I didn’t know what you mean but I have to agree. I want to toss my Flames merch in the corner and forget about it. Start following a team with players that play like they care. Hell, even follow a team like the Isles or Jackets who can’t help but get better because they’re just too inept to get much worse.

      To see such a lack of effort from the Flames year after to year, to see a team with so many veterans and so close to the cap play to the level of their competition…I can’t think of words to express my frustration without delving into profanity that would make a sailor blush.