FGD: Duck Sauce

 

It took me longer to make that image than it really should have. Shut up.

Well friends, brothers, sisters, Citizens, after what seemed like an eternity, but was really only 5 nights, which in a hockey season is an eternity, your Calgary Flames are back at it tonight, in the frozen barren hinterland of Southern California, to take on long time Pacific Division rival, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones Ducks of Anaheim. This game kicks off a 5 game swing through the Left Coast, and I’m going to go ahead and unofficially dub this road trip as "Sean Watch". 4 of these 5 games, assuming Sean Monahan plays them all, will ring up the game tally to nine games and ultimately decide if his short term future will be spent donning the silks of the Flaming C, or rocking a Team Canada jersey this holiday season and hopefully getting traded away from the abysmal Ottawa 67’s and off to greener, more Memorial Cup-ey pastures in the OHL.

It’s quite the test ahead. 3 of these 4 "Monahan" games present significant challenges to the upstart young punk Calgary Flames and their surprising but nonetheless tenuous grasp of 4th place in the Western Conference.

The other one is against Phoenix.

Fight Card

As usual, lineups provided by Daily Faceoff, who rule a lot and we love them and they’re terrific.

  • Glencross – Street – Stempniak
  • Galiardi – Backlund – Bouma
  • Sven – Svean – Hudler
  • McGrattan – Colborne – Jackman
  • Jyordano – Brodie
  • Russell – Wideman
  • #ChristButler – O’Brien
  • Ramo 

LANCE BOUMA ON THE SECOND LINE ALERT!

Once again, I’ll read that back to you: LANCE BOUM wait Ben Street is still the top line center, which is even more shocking. Come back soon, Stajan/Cammi/Jones. Yikes.

This is the lineup of a 3-0-2 hockey team, just in case you’re one of those "hockey experts" out there who like to cry fowl (Duck joke) about advanced stats and don’t realize sample size really makes a big difference.

Daily Faceoff has Ramo getting the start in this one, but I’m writing this the night before the game, and fully expect Joey MacDonald to get the nod again, because of course he will. If you read Kent’s breakdown of the numbers in the early going so far this year, you’ll see that the Flames have been winning more or less in spite of Joey Joe Joe’s Fuhrian performances, and at some point this whole experiment is going to come to a head. With any luck, it’s not going to be tonight, but if it is, well we can’t say we didn’t tell you so.

McGrattan still in the lineup. No words. No words.

This is, suffice to say, not an intimidating offensive juggernaut, but through the budding newness of this campaign they’ve shown signs of success, so let’s hope that prevails tonight. There was some less than accurate reporting yesterday from an unnamed local Calgary newspaper scribe who suggested, quite, er, fallaciously, that young Mr. Monahan was going to have his toughest "can he play?" moments on this road trip because of the matchups against the Getzlafs and Thorntons of the West Coast NHL teams, and that is laughable. Sean is not going to see time against any of these teams’ top lines, as the numbers clearly show (again, check Kent’s piece) that that is just not Bob Hartley’s MO.

Quack Quack Quack, Mister Ducksworth

The Ducks just came off a game where they wore their original purple jerseys and threw "Mighty" back into the ol’ moniker for a night, so that absolutely gives me license to make as many Mighty Ducks trilogy jokes as I damn well please.

  • Banks – Conway – Moreau
  • Hall – Germaine – Hall
  • Averman – Duncan – Robertson
  • Wu – Mendoza – Selanne (I needed one more forward)
  • Reed – Portman
  • Karp – Tyler
  • Duncan – Mark
  • Gafney – Goldberg

Actual lineups here. If you thought the lineup above was serious, I must ask you, do you know what sarcasm is?

Let’s move on.

At first glance, the forward units on the Ducks might look, let’s say less thin than Ryan Getzlaf’s hairline, and while it is a very good corp, they’re not as deep as one would think. Let’s go wading into the lines here (Duck joke). First of all, what the hell is a Patrick Maroon, save for a name that’s a built in excuse if he ever screws up, which I’m assuming he does. And why is he on a line with Getzlaf and Perry? Looking at his numbers, the thing that really stands out about him is, uh…

Jakob Silfverberg (come on, how is that possibly the way to spell that name?) has started off the season well, playing on the opposite wing of old balls Teemu Selanne, who is the greatest, but must be made to pay in this one. His bones should pretty much be dust at this point, so maybe if McGrattan is lucky, he can fall over in the right direction by accident and take Teemu out of the play, but man I doubt it.

The Ducks might have the best 4th line in hockey with Palmieri – Bonino – Etem, even though Emerson Etem is going to be a total bust in this league and be a Swiss League star in 2016. Still, that’s decent depth on the bottom 6, although the Top units are not all that spectacular outside of Getzlaf and Perry going full ham on the league once again.

The only real notable thing about the Ducks is that Hampus Lindholm is probably the greatest  name in the league this year, and Jonas Hiller no longer has that badass matte black mask anymore, so there is officially no longer any reason to care about Jonas Hiller anymore, who is slated to start this game and probably be awful.

Playoff Race Implications

Like, 9 of them.

Players to watch

Obviously Monahan, because if the team does the right thing you won’t be seeing him again for the rest of the year after this road trip. (Troll face)

Bouma might be an interesting Flame to keep tabs on. I suspect that he’s not up to the challenge of Top 6 minutes, quite likely facing off against either the Perry line or the Selanne line (The Teemu line would be a better matchup, for sure, but damn it, someone has to be on the ice when Perry and Getzlaf are, and we already know it won’t be the third line, and IT HAD BETTER NOT BE THE FOURTH), but he might surprise us and show some adept defensive play skating alongside Backlund (who quite obviously will have to be up to his usual task of taking on the opposition’s best players. My God, he’s great)

Conclusion

The Ducks are still better than Duck Sauce, who conjured forth that unspeakable chant that haunted the Saddledome for two and a half seasons, but man, there is absolutely no reason to not hate this team. For one, Guy Hebert. didn’t everyone hate that guy? Two, Corey Perry is a great player but also a bit of a Cody, and if bad things happened to him (maybe after the Olympic break), you can admit it, you wouldn’t feel too bad about it.

This is, I may have mentioned, a HUGE test for our boys in red. The Flames need to see how they stack up against a decent team, and Anaheim fits the bill (Duck joke). If they’re not up to the test, well…actually, well I guess nothing, this season is a free pass, but because the Ducks are a collection of noted jerks and the Mighty Ducks movies only fall into maybe #6-8 of the greatest hockey movies ever made, it would be really swell to see the Flames muscle out a victory in this one.

I’ll leave you with this, if you need to find yourself suitably angry and motivated to cheer: 

 

(hey, check it out, the coaches of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)

    • BitGeek

      Lets start several rumours and see which one sticks and gets passed around…

      I think it has something to do with Hartley’s gambling penchant…

      Or maybe it is linked to the fact that Joe Mac is somehow related to Hartley…

      or possibly to do with the “missing photos” out of Hartley’s desk…

      If asked, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about….

    • SmellOfVictory

      Indeed. The idea is to give Ortio more starts, and get Brossoit some time with the Heat’s goalie coach.

      As it stands, Berra is guaranteed to get the vast majority of the Heat’s starts, so whichever guy is with the Heat between Brossoit and Ortio is warming the bench for the most part.

        • beloch

          I’ve previously said there are two possible reasons for not giving Ramo the chance to improve upon MacBackups sterling-polished-turd standard in net:

          1. There’s something wrong with Ramo. Either he’s injured or a huge locker-room problem.
          2. Deliberate tanking.

          I would now like to propose a third possibility:

          3. The new team identity involves slogans like “EXTREME!!!” or “DO THE DEW!!!” and playing without a safety net, such as a competent net-minder, is somehow bringing out the best two-way play in the kids.

          • beloch

            Maybe they have been working on his lateral movement, or looking for signs it’s getting better. He didn’t look great (even considering the talent he faced) in the shootout in Washington as a result.

            Having said that, I agree that we need to see more of him because one game is not much of a sample size. And because McDonald sucks.

  • BitGeek

    So here’s minor request for whomever is doing the recap tonight after the game…

    Let’s stop using “Flame of the Game” and bring back “Red Warrior”.

    Red Warrior sounds a lot mightier than Flame of the Game.

    Who’s with me?

  • beloch

    Hartley has, so far, gradually increased Monahan’s TOI every game, but raising it more would put him into defender territory! If the goal is to see if Monahan is truly ready, the next step is to gradually make his minutes tougher. I’m betting his QoC will ramp up over his last four games by design.

  • T&A4Flames

    Good for Bouma getting a chance with some skill. Who knows, maybe he becomes the Lucic type player we thought Ferland might become. Hey, maybe in a game or 2, Bouma joins Street and GlenX on line #1.

    Good times.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    If the Flames send Sean back to the OHL, can they gently request (i.e. force) the 67’s to trade him to a decent team? Perhaps even broker a deal so that he goes where the Flames want him to?

    • MichaelD

      I would imagine not, I feel like the CHL would have rules preventing that sort of thing from happening. Because although many consider it a development league, its not a development league like the AHL is. The CHL is independent from the NHL.

      Besides the 67s are still a business who will what to sell tickets and win games. But there’s still a very good chance they would trade their star player so they don’t lose him for nothing, but it would be out of Calgarys hands.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    It appears that Seans ice time has gone up every game, while his ZS and QualComp has not.

    What I would like to see out of his next 4 games is his ZS and QualComp get tougher each game.

    He’s handled the increase in TOI very well, but can he handle an increase in difficulty? I’d like to find out.

    • Avalain

      Not sure about the ZS, but I have a feeling that his QualComp is going to increase simply as a result of being on the road and not having last change advantage.

  • The Backs line will be a third unit in terms of offensive assignments, but my guess if Backlund ends with the most ice time of any center on the team. They’ll be deployed largely in the defensive end and against good player. That’s how I assume the chess game will play out. Obviously Boudreau will target the kids or Ben Street as much as possible.

  • I’m sure there’s lots of chatter on Calgary sports radio today about the Flames’ terrible record at the Honda Center. The team has lost most of its games there for over a decade. I can imagine just about any scenario playing out in the game tonight: a blowout, a close regulation game, or a game that goes to overtime.

    • Robear

      Agreed!

      I remember kind of lolling around the house only sort of watching the game while the Flames were getting it handed to them.

      Happened to be watching when the Duck player run over Vernon. A TOTALLY disrespectful act when a team is up 4-0. But the response was awesome. Reggie and Iggie went right after them and then 3 line brawls in a row.

      The capper for me was when Berube was let out of the box and was waved to stay on (i think there was only 2 or 3 Flames players left on the bench). I’ve never seen a player turtle as fast as Friesen did. Skating away from Berube like a scared little girl! I remember laughing until I was crying.

      Call me a knuckle dragger, but that jacked me up. I loved it. Buuuut I dont expect to see anything similar… ever again.

  • Sanintarious

    I think Bouma could draw Perry in to a fight and get him off the Ice. Bouma looks to be able to get under people’s skin very easily, so it would be great to see him get under Perry’s.

    Its scary looking down the middle, that is for sure….I heard the 3 injured guys all skated yesterday before practice, so hopefully they are back sooner, then later!

  • everton fc

    Do you really project Etem to be a bust in this league? I don’t. I see Colborne as a bust. I’d take Etem, over Colborne. Etem will never put up big #’s, but I think he’ll do more than Colborne.

    Bouma on the ice against Perry. I see that being a battle. Perhaps pone where the mitts may be discarded.

    Our 4th line. Not even expansion-level. Colborne needs to get more minutes where he can be adequately and properly assessed. What a waste.

    • beloch

      Colborne is in limbo until the decision is made on Monahan. If Monahan goes down, Colborne will get a lot more TOI with far better line-mates. If Monahan stays, he’s pretty much going to have to switch to the wing.