FGD: Dome Sweet Dome

 

Saddledome Night
– pic via Brian Woychuk

 

The Calgary Flames return home from a season-opening two-game road trip out trying to dig themselves out of…
 
Wait, they got three points?! Calgary? No kidding? Okay, then…
 
The Calgary Flames return home to the Scotiabank Saddledome after a pretty impressive road trip, surprising the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets and returning to the Stampede City with three of a possible four points. Now they hope to continue last season’s home success when they begin their home calendar against the hated Vancouver Canucks, who they got three of a possible 10 points out of last season.
 
The Flames home record was one of a handful of bright spots from last season and, after the season-threatening flood and the Herculean effort undertaken to keep the doors open at the Dome, the club undoubtedly wants to maintain a solid home record – rebuild or no rebuild. The puck drops a bit after 6pm and there’s a bunch of stuff happening outside the ‘Dome beginning around 4pm, including a tailgate party and Theoren Fleury signing autographs. Sportsnet has the TV broadcast, while the Fan 960 has the game on the old squawk-box.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames are without Mike Cammalleri (hand), Chris Breen (shoulder) and Matt Stajan (leg contusion). However, they’re likely coming home with a spring in their collective step, and Flames coach Bob Hartley has to be happy that two games of buy-in from his hockey club resulted in two games where they walked away with points. Especially on the road, where the Flames don’t have last change and generally weren’t that good last season. (They were awful on the road last year.)
 
From our pals at DailyFaceoff, the projected Flames line-up:
 
Galiardi – Backlund – Hudler
Glencross – Colborne – Jones
Baertschi – Monahan – Stempniak
Bouma – Street – McGrattan
 
Brodie – Giordano
Wideman – Russell
Butler – O’Brien
 
MacDonald
Ramo
 
Jiri Hudler has scored two bullet goals to start the year (see above) and Mikael Backlund has a couple of points as well. Backs has been tentative in the offensive zone so far, but started to look a lot more comfortable in the latter half of the Blue Jackets game. He’s by far Calgary’sbest pivot with Stajan out, so they’ll need him to continue to improve.

Because Joey MacDonald got the win and Karri Ramo didn’t, MacDonald starts the home-opener. As much as people probably wanted to see Ramo at home, it’s pretty typical NHL coaches logic to go with the hot hand when there’s no clear cut starter on the team.

After two games, there’s a lot to like about the Flames line-up, particularly the balance between youth and vets on each line. Dennis Wideman has also been excellent, allowing the coaching staff to lean on the top two pairings and shield the O’Butler pairing a bit, although Wideman and Russell are getting the lions share of offensive zone faceoffs at 5on5, which helps.
 
Sean Monahan makes his home NHL debut tonight, while Colborne and Galiardi play their first game at home for their hometown team.

THE OPPOSITION

The Canucks played last night at home and demolished the Oilers, so they didn’t practice this morning. Presuming there’s no line-up changes from last night – and there’s no reason to expect there will be, given their success – here’s probable lines via DailyFaceoff:
 
D.Sedin – H.Sedin – Hansen
Booth – Kesler – Higgins
Weise – Richardson – Santorelli
Sestito – Dalpe – Alberts
 
Hamhuis – Bieksa
Edler – Garrison
Tanev – Stanton
 
Lack
Luongo
 
Eddie Lack gets the start as per Daily Faceoff after Luongo played in the late game on Hockey Night In Canada last night. The Canucks were full value at home, swarming and basically embarrassing an over-matched Oilers club. In other words, after a disappointing effort against the Sharks on the road, the Canucks did what they had to do to regain some much-needed confidence.
 
The Canucks top-six is pretty strong, particularly the insane passing prowess of the Sedins. Ryan Kesler doesn’t appear to be hampered by injuries this year, and seems to be playing a lot more like the dominant Selke winner we saw a few yers ago. He had a goal, a fight and nine shots on net against the Oil last night.

Beyond that, though, the Canucks have okay depth, with nobody that’s going to be a huge threat to light the lamp, but a lot of guys who work hard every shift. On the back end, the tendency is towards offensively-mobile but occasionally defensive wonky blueliners, which makes the Canucks a tremendously potent offensive team when they’re clicking.

SUM IT UP

It’s the home-opener! A mere three months after the Saddledome was full of murky water, the Calgary Flames open their home schedule (after a very strong roadie) against arguably their most bitter rival. It should be an emotional night either way down at Stampede Park.
 
What’s not to like?

For a view from the other side, check out Canucks Army.

  • mattyc

    effff. On the bright side, Hartley has Baertschi on the ice with the game on the line with a minute left – that’s a positive that they’re not going to demote him, right?

      • RKD

        Purpose, of course! It’s frustrating to blow leads and lose. At least we got a point, 4/6 is better than being 0-3. I wish we had all six points. At least the Flames so far appear to be competitive. Anyone know if scoring 4 in the first 3 games of a Flames season a record?

  • Brent G.

    So monahan is putting up points and looking good while doing it… But he is also -2 on this game and I assume not looking great in the scoring chance stats. Does he stick in the nhl?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I dislike Jones a lot, but I’m happy he was able to Henri Richard the puck into the net. He and the team shouldn’t be punished for MaxDonald’s incompetence.

  • For the love of god Kris Russell…stop sliding across the ice on your belly when you get in trouble.

    A pretty good game from the Flames. Probably deserved better. Three awful mistakes in the final 25 minutes and all three resulted in goals against.

  • Lober

    How many times am I going to have to see Russel look like a complete idiot sliding all over the ice!? Sucks to blow the lead in the third but did end up with a point not bad.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Well the boys eked out a point, which is more than I expected. It was said before, but at least they work hard and are entertaining to watch. Much like 2003 – 2004 teams.

    No, I don’t expect they get to the cup, let alone make the play offs, but I’m satisfied that the games are watchable.

  • beloch

    It hurts to lose a game that the Flames played so well in. Excellent effort. Backlund stepped up. Stempniak had 5 shots. Monahan had 13:42 TOI, 5 shots, and a goal! Somehow a team that was supposed to be devoid of offense (especially with Cammalleri and Stajan out) is still finding ways to put the puck in the net! I bet the Canucks will give Luongo the start the next time these two teams play. The one downside to playing like this is that the Flames are likely going to see fewer backup goalies in the future.

    • Willi P

      That’s not a downside. We get a better idea of how the Flames really measure up. 4 out of 6 points is more than anyone expected and you have to know there are people out there planning the after parties on the Red mile already.

  • Burnward

    This team deserves a real NHL goaltender to see what they actually have and can be. Not sure if Ramo can be that guy…but by now it’s obvious MacDonald isn’t.

    • MattyFranchise

      I don’t get it. Macdonald is a known commodity & a career replacement level goalie. This team is in rebuild, cut the friggin crap & play @#*#@ Ramo. I committed to this rebuild, I sure hope a few points in these first few games aren’t giving them visions of playoffs dancing through their heads. This defence is not capable of shutting too many teams down when the game is on the line. Lets play the kids, win or lose are not as important as playing hard & having the young talented players step up and get confidence in the NHL.

      • Willi P

        Totally agree (see post #1). Having MacD on the team pushes every goalie in the system down a notch. Brossoit doesn’t get AHL minutes, he is in the ECHL. Everybody worries about John Gaudreau not signing, what about another college player in Gillies? If the Flames won’t play their young goalies, he may consider not signing instead of playing in the ECHL (!). Didn’t see the logic in signing MacD before they signed Ramo. Now that Ramo is signed, play him, see what you have. Bring up Berra, send down MacD, nobody’s claiming Joey MacDonald on waivers.

  • MattyFranchise

    So… I thought this team was supposed to suck this year. Looking pretty good so far. Canucks were a huge test and while the Flames didn’t get the win I think they passed. I know it’s only three games in but the Flames don’t look like easy points so far.