FGD: Winging It With Kipper

We’re down to the nitty-gritty, folks, as the Flames (16-22-4) can mathematically be eliminated from the post-season (and get a little closer to a high draft pick) with a loss tonight against the Detroit Red Wings (20-15-7).

Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 on TSN and your radio friends at Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The kids will continue to be the item of interest down the stretch, but the top story tonight may be Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. Suiting up for the 574th time as a Calgary Flame, he may be playing one of his last contests in the Scotiabank Saddledome. Flames coach Bob Hartley noted after practice that Kiprusoff will play tonight and Friday, as well.

THE LINE-UP

Besides Kiprusoff making his first start in awhile, the other big story is the return of Matt Stajan to the Flames line-up. Before his upper-body injury, Stajan was one of Calgary’s best, most consistent players. He’ll replace Roman Cervenka in the line-up which, all due respect to the Czech player, is probably an upgrade.

Here’s how the lines look according to Pat Steinberg:

  • Baertschi – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Glencross – Backlund – Hudler
  • Cammalleri – Horak – Hanowski
  • Begin – Reinhart – Jackman
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Giordano – Sarich
  • Butler – Carson
  • Kiprusoff

Wunderkind Ben Hanowski has cut his hair, so please remember that he’s wearing #58 for your hockey heroes. He joins a few good group of young players with ridiculously high numbers: Sven Baertschi (#47), Roman Horak (#51) and Max “Power” Reinhart (#59) are the others. 

THE OPPOSITION

The Red Wings are a pretty good hockey team and have been for awhile. However, they’re in a fight for their playoff lives lately and may actually miss the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90.

However, the Wings have been helping out their own cause lately, going 2-1-2 in their last five and finding ways to get points any which way they can. They most recently blanked the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Sunday night, so they’re rested.

Here’s how their lines may look:

  • Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
  • Franzen – Filippula – Cleary
  • Nyquist – Andersson – Brunner
  • Miller – Emmerton – Tootoo
  • Kronwall – Ericsson
  • DeKeyser – Kindl
  • White – Smith
  • Howard

The Wings have some strong top-six players. The Flames beat them handily during their last visit to the ‘Dome, but that was primarily due to some terrifying defensive zone play and some awful goaltending from Jonas Gustavsson, who won’t play tonight.

Detroit’s in desperation mode, needing a win to give them breathing room – they’re tied with Columbus (at 47 points) with a game in hand, with Dallas just two points back.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are playing for next year. The Wings are playing for the playoffs. The Flames are in audition mode. The Wings are in desperation mode.

On the other hand, the Saddledome will be filled to the brim with emotion, as the fans prepare to possibly say goodbye to #34. If that emotion spills over to the Flames players, this could be quite the hockey game.

 

  • schevvy

    The top 3 pick is quickly becoming a 5 pick, or higher these other teams step on the ice and roll over. How in the hell is Car, Nsh, TB worse than us…a point behind edm unreal.

    If we pick outside top 3 or more specifically no Barkov or Mckinnon I say it sets us back at least year more likely 2.

    • Derzie

      I see us winning in nashville the last two games could be meaningless for stl and chi, you have to figure hawks will have presidents trophy locked by then. 3 wins, and I had hopes of mckinnon and trying to acquire another top 5 pick .

    • Derzie

      Probably wouldn’t (shouldn’t) take all three. But in the top 7ish, there are still good centers like Lindholm and Monahan. It all depends on how much the Flames like the guys they have ranked in their range.

  • Derzie

    Wow, the Flames can’t even tank properly. This is brutal. Winning games that mean nothing and further hampering the team’s ability to get a draft pick that will meaningfully contribute to a rebuild. Loose a few games and guarantee a top four pick for a potential franchise talent for goodness sakes.

  • Derzie

    If I’m management I don’t dress cammi , wideman, Gio, or Glennx the rest of the season! Tank the he££ out of the last 5. Just say,” the seasons lost so we are all youth. ” no more wins. Either that or sit em big time!

    • SmellOfVictory

      You need a legitimate reason. They have been very generous with time off for the vets if they need a rest, but if they were to go overboard they could end up with substantial fines from the NHL.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Did anyone notice if Hartley was line matching or how he was giving out icetime last night? I know thats one thing the Oilers did 2 years ago. They basically paid zero attention to the other team, and played all players equal ice time regardless of who they were against. They aren’t doing that now and still suck, so maybe it didn’t make that much of a difference, but you’d think it would.

        It might help the kids to get some more ice time and experience in roles they aren’t accustomed to. I’d think it would cause a goal or two per night if Begin/Jackman were sent out vs the other teams stars over and over.

        • RexLibris

          The Oilers did a fair bit of line matching, mostly in sheltering Hall, Eberle and then Nugent-Hopkins while Tom Renney was running the bench.

          This year Krueger committed to running four lines, partially to test the ability of the kids against competition, but primarily due to the condensed schedule.

          If I recall, Sutter tended to put Iginla’s line against the better lines (power v power), and the stats suggested that Iginla was getting his hat handed to him as a result.

          I would also add that, while this draft is considered deep, the latest the Flames could reasonably draft and still get one of the upper echelon prospects in this class is approximately 8th. This draft is not 2003 all over again.

  • RKD

    if kipper is going to play like that ya gotta keep him on bench, get babchuck and alui in the lineup. no winnin for mackinnon! the only way this season is worse is if we dont get a top three pick

  • supra steve

    All of a sudden, beating EDM on Saturday night is looking like it was not quite as glorious an achievement as a lot of posts claimed it to be (those Oil have a thing or two to teach us about TANKING). This team is notorious for winning games at the end of the year when it can only hurt them. Still a possibility to finish in the bottom three, but I’m betting we end up passing the Oil and draft 8th. Will still be good players for the taking, but what a squandered opportunity if we end up outside the top/bottom four.

  • Scary Gary

    I blame the Kipper-Kid! Seriously though, we did the same thing last year and screwed ourselves out of a Forsberg/Grigorenko/Faksa type player.

    Ducks, Wild, Preds, Blues, Blackhawks; we need to lose them all (sorry Loob)! We’re slipping out of the bottom six, ugh.

    Bring every kid with a two way up and play 25 min of Babchuck/Sarich! Where’s Irving!

  • supra steve

    I’ve been a proponent of the tank job all year. I’ve argued that once we trade Iggy and Jbo the wheels would fall off and we’d slip nicely into McKinnon/drouin land.. Well…. Sh1t. We can’t even lose properly!

    There is nothing we can do if the players win games. At least mgmt tried to get a top 3 pick. The rest at this point is up to the hockey gods. Watching Begin’s goal last night I get the feeling the hockey gods may be laughing down on us. If we endure this mess and still pass the Coilers and draft 7-8 ill be devastated. Make no mistake, the quality of player at 1-3 is immensely different than a few spots lower. Franchise player vs 2nd liner.

    We need the boys to watch some tape of the Oilers. They are world class at losing. Nobody will remember these last 10 games in a year from now. But we will remember if we have an elite superstar, or just another Sven.

    I didn’t watch too closely all game but were we line matching?? That’s one thing I know the Coilers did during their ‘accidentally get last year after year’. They rolled 4 lines no matter what. No line matching, 4th vs 1st etc. Maybe that will help.

    Sigh…. Never thought a win would hurt so bad.

  • McRib

    You guys sound like a bunch of Oilers fans!!! You want to draft first overall every year and never convince a top player to waive their no trade or let alone come in free agency then go ahead start cheering for them to loose…. As Edmonton and Colorado have shown rebuilding is more than just drafting!!! Look at Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal’s turnarounds. Do you think Ottawa gets Kyle Turris, Jakob Silfverberg, etc to play for them if they gave up…

    The Flames younger players have stepped up in a big way and this is a huge off season in terms of the trade/free agency market with teams needing to get under the cap. I personally think the Flames have a good chance to add few solid players if we show that we are not going to roll over. The young guys stepping up is nothing but good.

    Also the great thing about this being the strongest draft since ’03 is guys like Sean Monahan, Lindholm and Nurse would be Top. 4 Talents any other year.

    • supra steve

      “You guys sound like a bunch of Oilers fans!!! You want to draft first overall every year”

      What??

      Flames have never drafted first overall, now you have us all pegged as wanting to draft there every year? Kind of an overstatement, don’t you think?

      It wouldn’t take a huge tank job to stay in the bottom three this one year. Just lose to the teams you should be outmatched by, I don’t think that is asking a lot.

      You are correct that a top eight pick this year should be a contributor, but a top four could be great.

      And is Toronto really a team to emulate?

      MTL, where did they draft LAST YEAR?

    • SmellOfVictory

      rolls eyes…. oh brother.

      UFAs don’t want to go to Edmonton for the EXACT reason they won’t want to come here. No UFA player picks a loser. They don’t pick potential. They don’t pick “a team on the upswing”. They pick a contender. This summer we will likely sign some 2nd tier cast off UFAs. The Parise, Suter, Richards class of UFAs will never, I repeat NEVER pick the Flames until we become a good team.

      Anyways, as Suba Steve pointed out, its hardly becoming like Edmonton to cheer for 1 year of top 3 draft pick…. This year has the potential to compeltely reshape our organization for 10 years. And it hangs in the balance because top 3 is NOT even remotely like drafting 5-6-7.

      And enough of the Ottawa/Montreal comparisons. Its completely delusional to suggest we are like them. Ottawa has prospect depth, not to mention the best d man in the league (perhaps the best player in the league). They drafted him 4 years ago. Montreal has arguably the best goalie in the league, and several young developing and already established stars, not to mention Markov. Comparing our team to the Sens and Canadians is a joke.

      Also, I wouldn’t call either of those teams something you strive to become. The Habs are overacheiving in my estimation and will be spanked hard in the playoffs by a team like Pittsburgh (unless Price steals the entire series). Ottawa is lucky to make the playoffs, and still might miss. With their injuries they are lacking depth.

      My point is, are you happy to become a middling marginal playoff team? because that appears to be your aspirations at this point by longing to be like Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto (really?). Personally I want to be like Chicago or Pittsburgh. A powerhouse. To be a powerhouse we need a top 3 pick (or 2). Everything else is pure delusion.

      • McRib

        What were Wideman and Hudler…. If we are in the same boat as Edmonton for free agents?? Edmonton has not signed ANYONE in a decade except a cople of college free agents, we roll over we are not getting anyone but “hopes and dreams” of maybe a few young guys panning out for a decade.

        You also do understand that Crosby, Toews and Malkin are GENERATIONAL PLAYERS. Its very unlikley that anyone that skilled will come along in any draft until Connor McDavid in 2015.

        “Ottawa has prospect depth”

        OTTAWA DID NOT HAVE PROSPECT DEPTH TWO YEARS AGO!!! Zibanejad, Turris, Noesen, Puempel, Pageau, Prince, Ceci, Da Costa were all acquired 2011-2012.

        ” To be a powerhouse we need a top 3 pick (or 2). Everything else is pure delusion.”

        Hahahah, Don’t tell Ryan Suter, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Zach Parise, Corey Perry, Shea Weber, Pavel Datsyuk, Martin St. Louis, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidström, Claude Giroux, etc that. Your in pure delusion if you think someone as good as Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin are available in this draft!!

        Darrnell Nurse or Sean Monahan could end up being as good as or better than Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon anyway. I think the value of not quitting is a lot more important to this franchise, than the difference between drafting third or seventh. KEEP DRINKING THE OILER KOOL-AID!!

        • piscera.infada

          Big ups!

          This is 100% correct! I don’t see a generational talent in this draft.
          I also see the number 1 factor in any draft being drafting well. Not necessarily drafting top three versus 4 through 7.

          Would I like to see Drouin, Mackinnon, Barkov, or Jones wearing the flaming C? Of course! However, as long as we get a good prospect (and don’t reach, again) I’m happy with that.

          Winning games with our young kids in the lineup, no matter how ‘ugly’ the win, is not a doomsday situation.

        • McRib

          Wideman and Hudler are EXACTLY what we get. 2nd tier overpay castoffs. Good players yes, but not stars. They will help is stay 8th place for another decade.

          Nice cherry picking stars drafted outside the top 3. My point is you named 15 over the past 10 years and you didn’t name the 300-400 busts. Outside the top few picks its like spinning the roulette wheel.

          I guess fans around here are just happy with perpetual mediocrity. Sad

          • piscera.infada

            No one is happy with perpetual mediocrity. But, I’m not sure it’s the end of the world, aka a monumental bust of a season, aka the collapse of the rebuild, aka the death of the franchise, if we fall out of a top 4 pick.

            (And yes, I know the season is a monumental bust – I’m simply stating that calling it a bust because we may end up out of a top four pick, is not necessarily the case).

          • McRib

            You seem to understand very little about the history of the NHL!!! Your short sightedness is astounding… WE CANNOT BE GOOD WITHOUT A COUPLE TOP THREE PICKS because thats Chicago and Pittburgh for YA!!!! How did every other dynasty (Edmonton, NYI, Detroit, Colorado, etc) build there teams?!?!? Honestly Chicago/Pittsburgh hit the draft lotto jackpot both getting two generation leaders in the Top. 3 and you think thats happening every year?!?! HAHAHAHAH.

            “My point is you named 15 over the past 10 years and you didn’t name the 300-400 busts”

            WRONG AGAIN!!! Most of the Guys were from the 2003 NHL DRAFT!!!! You know the draft that this years draft is being compared to?!?!?

          • supra steve

            “My point is you named 15 over the past 10 years and you didn’t name the 300-400 busts”

            WRONG AGAIN!!! Most of the Guys were from the 2003 NHL DRAFT!!!! You know the draft that this years draft is being compared to?!?!?”

            Pretty sure the point was that any dolt can go through a list of drafted players from 10 years ago and pick out the gems. Picking those gems in real time is the hard part. Ten teams passed on Iggy before Dallas took him.

            I’m guessing Toews is your fav., cause I’m not sure how many others would name him a “GENERATIONAL PLAYER”, as you have.

  • supra steve

    The weird thing is I don’t think management cares.

    I get the feeling they really want Lindholm and chances are he will be available outside of the top 5.

    I’d rather have MacKinnon personally.

    The worst thing is we win off of two abosolute garbage Begin goals. At least Sven made a great pass of the first goal.

    If we are winning I sure don’t want it to be on the back of Begin thats for sure….

    Last night was the definition of worst case scenario: win and an old grinder who wont be on our team next year pots two..

    🙁

  • McRib

    Its interesting the Chicago/Pittsburgh rebuilds are currently “ALL THE RAG” because they are the top two teams in the league right NOW!!! You cannot win and be “a powerhouse without a top 3 pick” because that’s how they are GREAT!!! But 5 years ago everyone wanted to be like… Ahhh Detroit!!

    How did they build that team by having solid drafts from their first pick to their last pick, taking guys flying under the radar, every year gradually improving the club… If you ask me Gaudreau is someone the Wings would have drafted in that era!!

    Also under John Weisbrod the Flames had two of our deepest drafts EVER (Baertschi, Gaudreau, Wotherspoon, Brossoit, Gillies, Kulak, Jankowski and DeBlouw all look to be Pros) where almost every player could pan out.

    If we keep on having drafts where 4-5 players could play in the NHL, I frankly don’t care for a Top. 3!!! Because we will have assets in trades and creating a winning culture is everything for prospects to push each other up the ranks!! !!

    • supra steve

      The Flames have had only one draft under Weisbrod. It’s a commonly made mistake, but he was still working for the Bruins for the 2011 draft.

      Which means he had nothing at all to do with Baertschi, Wotherspoon, Granlund, Gaudreau, or Brossoit. That was 100% Tod Button.

      Go figure.

        • supra steve

          Um… I’m not certain I know what you’re asking, but Gaudreau was drafted in 2011. Weisbrod didn’t join the Flames until the 2011/2012 season. Because of that, Weisbrod’s first draft with the Flames was 2012; thus, he had nothing to do with the selection of Gaudreau (or anyone else from the 2011 draft).

          Does that clear my previous comment up?