FGD: Last Time for a Legend

 

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Tonight, Martin Brodeur will make his last stop in Calgary as an NHLer at 7PM MT when his New Jersey Devils (0-1-3) take on the Flames (2-0-2).

The previous contest between the two underneath the Saddledome roof didn’t end well for Brodeur, as he allowed 3 goals on 4 shots en route to a pull 8 minutes into the first period. I thought that might’ve been the last time we saw Brodeur in Calgary, but then the Devils went to the Stanley Cup, and, well, now we’re here.

The Line-Up

Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Curtis Glencross – Ben Street – T.J. Galiardi
  • Sven Baertschi – Sean Monahan – Lee Stempniak
  • Lance Bouma – Mikael Backlund – Jiri Hudler
  • Tim Jackman – Joe Colborne – Brian McGrattan
  • Mark Giordano – T.J. Brodie
  • Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
  • Chris Butler – Shane O’Brien
  • Joey MacDonald

Ben Street is basically the opposite of Blair Jones, apparently. Street has been fine, but unless Glencross has somehow regressed to a 4th liner Hartley is playing him over his head. We’ll see how long that group lasts. Jones will sit in the press box tonight in favour of Tim Jackman who is a.) playing his first game of the season tonight and b.) better than Brian McGrattan. (Jones shares the latter characteristic with Jackman.)

The Flames don’t exactly have a first line, per se, but it’s a little weird to see Glencross off of it. Switch him with Bouma, possibly? At least that way you’d have two second lines instead of… whatever that is called up there. At least all of the guys are legit NHLers, though – that’s a big part of the reason why I don’t think the Flames will be as bad as everyone thinks. Unlike Edmonton in 09, the entire bottom half of the veteran roster wasn’t in the AHL last year.

Bob Hartley continues to go with Joey MacDonald, even though Karri Ramo is sitting on the bench and there continues to be no legitimate reason to not play him.  MacDonald has played in 3 games thus far and has an EVSV% that’s worse than replacement level, 1 quality start and 0 positional awareness. I just don’t get it.

Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie have been the defensive equivalent of the golden gun thus far, as they are destroying top competition by almost every available metric. At this point, the Flames have 3 legitimate top 3 defensemen and it’s hella fun to watch.

The Opponent 

Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Dainius Zubrus – Patrik Elias – Jaromir Jagr
  • Ryane Clowe – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
  • Rostislav Olesz – Travis Zajac – Damien Brunner
  • Jacob Josefson – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
  • Bryce Salvador – Marek Zidlicky
  • Andy Greene – Adam Larsson
  • Anton Volchenkov – Peter Harrold
  • Martin Brodeur

The forward lineup, at first glance, might seem a wee bit thin. That’s not shocking, as New Jersey has lost two in-their-prime first line wingers in two years. However, there’s actually a lot of quality there, despite how old the team is. They might have trouble in the next couple of seasons but right now they’re still solid. I expect them to be a playoff contender.

The defense is the same way: veteran talent that has defied father time and a couple of young guys. Adam Larsson is basically following the exact same career path as his countrymate, Victor Hedman, has. Both underrated, both playing good comp and doing well and both having a surprising amount of offensive upside. 

The Devils’ top line is 113 years old. To put that in perspective, that takes us back to 1900, when the Titanic was still 12 years away from being sunk and when CEO’s of companies were just starting to become the dictators they are today. Despite that, Elias and Jagr still remain effective #fancystats players and they’re not slouches in the counting department either.

Martin Brodeur’s recent struggles have been well-publicised, but his past effectiveness had given the Devils too much pause when it came to finding a replacement – until this summer. Cory Schneider may not play tonight, but he’s going to be a huge asset for the team in a year or two if they can keep it together. Brodeur, on the other hand, hasn’t really had a good season for 3 years now – but despite that he’s still one of the greatest of all time.

Sum It Up

The Devils, as a team, are pretty good at possessing the puck and controlling the pace of play on any given night. Unfortunately for them, the past few years they’ve also been marred by Martin Brodeur’s sub-par goaltending – much like the Flames in the late oughts and early tens.

Go Flames. Puck drop is at 7:07 on 960 AM and Sportsnet West.

  • Justin, you comment that there really is no reason to be playing MacDonald and I am assuming you are just using certain statistics to base that on. I’m assuming Hartley is really liking the way the team is playing with him in net. As you know from playing high level hockey, there were certain players you just liked having in the line up for either certain little things they did or how the other players fed off them. Often they weren’t the best players and possibly had quite poor advanced statistics but yet were very important players. We called them “Glue” guys. I get the impression that McGratten is another one of those guys and perhaps Street too that Hartley is relying on to exemplify some of the little things he values as a coach. As for Brodeur, he is a shadow of his former self but still somehow led his team to the finals 2 years ago and that can’t be discounted at least in my way of thinking as I believe winning is still the only stat that matters.

    • beloch

      MacDonald isn’t glue but, like an old horse that was never good enough to be put out to stud, he’s due to become glue soon.

      MacBackup’s NHL career Sv% is 0.903. His average last season was 0.902, which was well below the league average that season of 0.912. He has turned in precisely one above average season in his career. In 2011/2012, he played 15 games for Detroit and had a Sv% of 0.917 vs the league average for that year of 0.916. Ramo can be depended on to deliver a Sv% of around 0.900. He’s 0.895 so far this season, so he’s definitely not hot right now. He’s the same ol’ MacBackup he’s been for the majority of his career.

      Ramo achieved roughly the same Sv% (0.897) as MacDonald’s less than sterling standard in his lone start against Washington. Washington has some pretty good shooters (e.g. Ovechkin) and it was Ramo’s first real game back on NHL ice in 5 years. He obviously didn’t wow anyone with that start, but he’s clearly no worse than MacDonald and, based on his KHL performance, might prove better if given the chance to play. So why isn’t Ramo being played?

      He did make some pretty bad blunders playing the puck, so one reason he might be playing second fiddle is so he can get some remedial puck-playing lessons from Malarchuk. He might also be injured, or he might be showing bad attitude, ego problems, etc. that make playing him unwise.

      Bottom line, this is either strategic tanking or something must be wrong with Ramo.

      • I was just thinking out loud on the MacDonald thing as I can’t see why we haven’t gone back to Ramo. I think it could very easily be one of the things you write abot and I hope it is lessons with Malarchuk as opposed to the other possibilities.

  • Big Ell

    Is it really necessary to dress McGratten when you are already dressing SOB, Bouma and Jackman. I thought he was terrible tonight and feel bad for those who have to play with him. SOB was bad too, he has problems skating with the puck, passing the puck etc.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    When ‘Mack’ makes a great save at the dome they play Return of the Mack. Haha!

    That is my all time, ‘never appear on my ipod but if I hear it I crank it up’, tunes.

    GFG
    -Stick it to your critics Monahan!!!

      • ChinookArchYYC

        So will mine.

        As I write this the Monahan thread is at 89 posts, so to call this a hot topic is an understatement. Bring on the trashes, because there is no way in hell the Flames should bring this kid up. Burning that ELC would be a mistake.

        Go back to the OHL kid, kill it and work on your leg strength.

        See you next year!

        • beloch

          You may be right but we can no longer look at how things have traditionally been done in regards to bringing up young players. Look at how many 2012 and 2013 draft picks are currently in the NHL. I was talking with a former Oiler and Tampa Bay defenseman who was in the AHL last year and is done at 31 because the cap dropped and teams are going younger.

        • beloch

          The decision to keep Monahan or send him back to Ottawa should prioritize one thing above all else: maximizing his ceiling as a NHL player. Contract concerns should be subordinate to this.

          I honestly don’t know enough about player development to say if staying or going is better for his development and/or eventual ceiling. I’m not sure anyone does, but I’m willing to admit Flames staff probably know more than me.

          • I can agree with this. I don’t know enough either. I guess I am relying on common sense in that it won’t hurt a guy this young to go one more year in the minors. Plus it seems to make sense for a rebuilding team to wait a bit for draft picks to catch up and have them all together. I also don’t see that he is dominant in that this is a no brainer. I would think that if you are not sure then you err on the side of caution.

            I guess we’ll see.

    • piscera.infada

      Call me crazy, but I don’t think he’s been that bad (I mean relative to last year). I saw him make two bad plays tonight – trying to break out of the zone on the strong side (which I have no idea why). But he also seems to be gaining some confidence. He’s been skating the puck really well and helping generate a rush – which was what he was advertised as coming out of Buffalo.

      I’ve been impressed with Russel as well. Not fantastic defensively, but his poise in the offensive zone is something I haven’t seen on the Flames blueline in years.

  • jeremywilhelm

    You guys kill me. Really.
    You have an undefeated team that is playing their asses off and, instead of enjoying the run they are on, you still look for things to be negative about.
    Just enjoy the game and the team for crying out loud. Will they be good enough for the playoffs? Probably not. But I will support them and cheer them if they do not win a game from here on in.
    Kent, you write an article, based on sound reasoning mind you, about how the fans and Flames need to temper their expectations about Monahan. Why? Tonight he scores the winning goal. And tonight you post a comment stating you are “okay” with the organization keeping him up. Well, bully for you! I guess if you were writing in ’77, you would have told folks with the Isles to “temper” their expectations for Mike Bossy.

    Sometimes players, especially young players, don’t know enough to know they are not supposed to be good.

    Perhaps the Flames sink to the bottom this year. Perhaps not. Either way, they win. The rebuild is in full mode, there are a ton of good, young players in the system and the future could be bright.

    Enjoy it! Turn off your advanced stats and enjoy the game and the team for what it is.

    Or continue to be miserable.

    You guys kill me.

  • RedMan

    there is a possibility that Monahan scores 60 points this season… and wins whatever that award is called for rookie of the year.

    Oh, and MacDonald on the farm, e-i-e-i-ohhh

  • Topic at hand: Brodeur looked awful against Edmonton. Very much like a 40+ year old goalie. If the Flames can generate chances tonight and get him moving around the net, they should be able to extend their point streak at least one more game.

  • prendrefeu

    @Justin

    Thanks. I haven’t been to a game in the Dome for a long, long time. I’m in Los Angeles now. Maybe it’s my age showing, but back then it was loud and active. Harvey the Hound was pretty active in getting the crowd chanting at every opportunity. It would be great to see it MTL loud.

  • Parallex

    Well… that was a boring frame of hockey. Not a lot of zip in their steps in that one. Liked the look of Glencross – Backlund – Hudler at the end there.

    Anyone know what the injury status of Cammy/Stajan is at? Are they at practice/skating yet?