Post-Game: Grand Theft Bernier

(photo courtesy In Goal Magazine)

Visits from the Toronto Maple Leafs are weird. There’s more Toronto media around than Calgary media, it seems, and the same phenomenon extends to the crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Potentially even more than visits from the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto games in Calgary turn the C of Red into an ocean of blue Leafs jerseys. Despite this, the Flames have had some success in such circumstances, although they must be a bit odd for the players.

Toronto visited Calgary for their only trip to the ‘Dome this season. The game began rather oddly, with the news that Mikael Backlund was a healthy scratch. The game only got more wacky from there, with the Flames playing perhaps their best 60 minutes of the year but walking away disappointed, primarily due to the efforts of Toronto’s goaltender.


The Flames came out flying in the first period, whooshing past the Leafs here and then and everywhere. Heck, Brian McGrattan even dropped the mitts and put a punchin’ on Frazer McLaren. The Leafs looked tentative five-on-five, but thankfully for them the Flames took a penalty. With Dennis Wideman in the box, the Leafs had two minutes to figure out their passing rhythm. The penalty expired, a shot went wide and Joffrey Lupul knocked in a rebound to put the Buds up 1-0 – a mere five seconds after Wideman stepped out of the box.

The remainder of the first frame was a bit more even, although the Flames kept carrying the play. Despite out-shooting the Maple Leafs, the hometown club couldn’t solve Jonathan Bernier. Then late in the period, with the Leafs’ Dave Bolland off for slashing, Jay McClement and James Van Riemsdyk came down on a two-on-two rush and Van Riemsdyk scored far glove-side on Karri Ramo. On a Flames power-play. With four seconds left in the period. Giving up goals late in close periods has been a habit of this Flames club, and not a good one. The first period ended with Calgary down 2-0, despite out-shooting Toronto 15-7, out-Corsi-ing them 27-13 and out-chancing them 12-7.. The Leafs had the edge in face-offs 15-10.

The Flames owned the second. Almost every minute of it, in fact. The period began with some really nice passing on the power-play, but they seemed to hesitate on shooting a bit and that hesitation killed some of ther chances. The rest of the period was essentially a loop – Calgary gets into the zone, gets a few shots off, Toronto clears it out. Rinse and repeat. But momentum shifted late in the second, as Carter Ashton hit Derek Smith right in the numbers, putting #27 on his face and prompting some fist-punching from Shane O’Brien. Oddly, Ashton got a boarding penalty (and a broken nose) while O’Brien got an instigator penalty. Nevertheless, off the face-off, Curtis Glencross fed a beautiful pass to Matt Stajan, and the Franchise didn’t hesitate in putting the puck past Bernier to bring Calgary within one goal. Overall in the second, Calgary out-shot Toronto 20-8, out-Corsied them 31-18 and out-chanced them 9-3. The Leafs had a slight edge in face-offs 13-12, which – along with Bernier’s brilliance – probably kept the period from being a total bloodbath.

There was considerably less pressure from Flames early, and the Leafs showed a bit more defensive structure. Mid-way through the period, Brodie pinched and David Clarkson stole the puck, going in on Chris Butler all alone. Clarkson’s shot attempt was blocked, but Mason Raymond jammed in the rebound to put the Leafs back up by two. That’s the kind of play that Mark Giordano probably would’ve handled differently than Butler did – Giordano would probably stand up and attempt to block the lane, Butler went for a sliding shot block.

With five minutes left in the period, Calgary’s tenacity paid off. Stajan’s board-work kept the puck in Toronto’s zone. Wideman passed it to Russell, whose point shot got through traffic and went in off David Jones’ leg and past Bernier to bring the Flames back within one. David Clarkson took a boarding penalty with three minutes left to set up a dramatic finish. Unfortunately, the Flames pulled their goalie, Hudler coughed up the puck at the blueline and Paul Ranger scored a long empty-netter to put the Maple Leafs up two once again, and that was all she wrote for the Flames on this evening.

In the third, Calgary out-shot Toronto 8-7, out-Corsied them 16-12. Toronto out-chanced the Flames 5-3 in the final frame and had the edge in face-offs 15-12.


Toronto’s goalie was much, much better than Calgary’s. Jonathan Bernier stood on his head, stopping 41 pucks and making a lot of saves that he probably had no business making. Put an average goalie in there and Calgary wins easily. On the flip-side, Karri Ramo had a very shaky game, occasionally it seemed like he couldn’t track the puck that well at all. His rebound control was also, at times, frightening.

Beyond that, the Flames had lapses that the Leafs capitalized on – the break-down on the first period power-play and the Brodie give-away in the third – while the Flames failed to do the same on the many, many chances the Leafs gave them. It should be noted that the Flames were missing three of their best two-way players in Backlund, Stempniak and Giordano, but they still seemed like the better team for much of the game. They just couldn’t execute as well as the Leafs did, and it cost them.


Curtis Glencross had a very strong game. He played a ton, set up Stajan’s goal and generally had a bee in his bonnet all night. Honourable mention to Kris Russell, who had another excellent game and moved the puck very well on the power-play.


# Player EV     PP     SH    
4 RUSSELL, KRIS 19:31 6 6 08:13 5 0 01:29 0 1
6 WIDEMAN, DENNIS 20:30 7 8 08:55 5 0 00:00 0 0
7 BRODIE, TJ 20:00 11 4 01:05 0 1 00:40 0 0
8 COLBORNE, JOE 17:30 3 9 04:37 4 1 01:47 0 1
13 CAMMALLERI, MIKE 16:37 2 7 06:01 4 1 00:00 0 0
15 JACKMAN, TIM 03:06 0 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
16 MCGRATTAN, BRIAN 02:41 0 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
17 BOUMA, LANCE 02:49 0 1 00:00 0 0 01:47 0 1
18 STAJAN, MATT 15:48 10 4 00:00 0 0 00:13 0 0
20 GLENCROSS, CURTIS 15:23 10 3 05:13 4 1 00:00 0 0
23 MONAHAN, SEAN 13:12 6 0 03:59 1 0 00:00 0 0
24 HUDLER, JIRI 13:34 8 1 05:38 1 0 00:00 0 0
27 SMITH, DEREK 09:58 2 3 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
31 RAMO, KARRI   19 13   5 1   0 1
39 GALIARDI, TJ 17:29 3 7 00:27 0 0 00:13 0 0
44 BUTLER, CHRIS 18:30 11 5 01:07 0 1 01:51 0 1
47 BAERTSCHI, SVEN 12:40 6 0 00:43 0 0 00:00 0 0
54 JONES, DAVID 14:54 9 4 04:39 1 0 00:00 0 0
55 O’BRIEN, SHANE 06:55 1 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 12 7 8 5 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
2 9 3 8 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 3 5 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


The Flames suffered their first regulation loss at the Saddledome this year. They’ll get back in action on Friday night when they welcome another Original Six opponent to Calgary in the form of the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop is at 7pm MT and you can catch the game via the usual Sportsnet TV and radio venues, as well as via all your FlamesNation friends (and enemies) on Twitter.

    • Parallex

      I think Backlund should be in the line-up with both Giordano and Stempniak on the injured list. Defence is not slacking as much; but the man between the pipes need supplementary back-up in terms of blocking shots…..Backlund and Bouma are good at it…

    • RedMan

      The Stupid Pointless STAGED McGrattan- McLAREN fight is one of the main reasons Backlund-a good hockey player was out of the lineup! Do these two moronic meatheads realize that these staged fights draw tremendous NEGATIVE attention towards GOONS and will eventually result in fighting being taken out of this game – I had no problem with the O’Brien fight! It has a place! Still very pissed we only rolled 3 lines and lost!

      • DoubleDIon

        I am sorry I did not mean to attack McG personally! I shouldn’t have referred to him and McLaren as moronic meatheads in my venting. I’ve heard that McG is a very intelligent, giving, solid citizen off of the ice. He is an improving hockey player on the ice, who offers much more inside and outside the dressing room than staged fights! Maybe I don’t understand the game as well as I thought. I am just upset we lost! Sorry McG! My keyboard was moving before my brain was engaged! I would never have the guts to call you anything but sir to your face. Sorry!I realize how harsh my words were after I re-read them!

    • Look, he’s just not truculent enough for this team. #GRITCHART, bro, seriously. That’s why he got benched. And besides, our goons beat up their goons, so message sent, right? Moral victory.


      It certainly seems like this ‘regime’ will soon be purging the last of Darryl’s traces from the organization. Or Hartley is hating him for some unknown reason.

      Backlund seems like a good guy. Is he doing a bunch of blow and sleeping with Hartley’s wife or something? Hard to fathom why he’d be sitting in favour of the dancing bears.

    • SmellOfVictory

      He’s still an RFA when this contract is up. And who knows? He may like the Flames organization despite the fact that the coaches keep screwing him over.

  • Colin.S

    Can we have a contest as to what Backlund brings back in a trade(or nothing in case of waivers)? Cause at this point it is happening. If the guy you had playing #1 center for a while is now being sat in favour of Brian McGratton or Tim Jackman he’s not long for the Flames I imagine.

    Also, I’m sure glad that those bears we dressed sure stopped guys from boarder our other players, because they are there to be tough and scare the other team right….. right?? So things like that wouldn’t happen when we dress them, that’s the theory right……


  • everton fc

    Let’s Get Real on Benching

    Benching young players is a very conscious organizational strategy of Hartley and perhaps the Flames’ brain trust. It is a test of “character.”

    If the benchee pouts the test has been failed. Hartley very explicitly stated to the press to Backlund he needs more from him. Backlund at least publically agreed. Hopefully Backlund is a more potent offensive threat when he reenters the lineup. It’s a teaching tool…not a punishment.

    When the same “calling out” strategy was used one Baertschi he responded with his best game of the year against Washington.

    On another anlle, so far the Flames early post-rebuild games have been impressive to me. They have played hard and do not quit. A committed, hardworking, lunch-bucket, work boot culture is definitely shaped.

    The veteran leadership seems on board with the coachand this style: Gio, Glencross, Cammy, Stajan, Hudler, Wideman, Stemp. The Flames have a LOT of veteran talent.

    Russell is rounding into form. Galliardi. is a great addition. Jones is solid. The kids will make mistakes but Colborne played 24 minutes tonight.

    Maybe they are not a playoff caliber team this year. Goaltending is shaky so far. Without Gio the defense has lost its anchor. The kids — including Brodie — get their pockets picked by wily vets.

    But the Flames show a passion which has been absent from the Dome for a while and although many of their “fans” may count them out of the playoffs, they themselves haven’t,don’t, and neither do I. And Feaster/Burke still have millions in cap room if they do decide to make a serious run at the playoffs for 13-14.

    • While I agree with you, Hartley is setting a double standard with his benchings.

      Backlund has consistently been one of the top Flames players last season and this season. Yet he ends up getting demoted from 1C to 4C and then being scratched because “management/coaching needs to see more from him”. Sure, it teaches him a lesson, but it seems somewhat unwarranted given that it’s Hartley’s line combos & matching that put Backlund at a disadvantage (in terms of scoring and succeeding).

      GlenX, on the other hand, has been a horrible pile of fiery garbage for most of the season. But, you don’t see him being demoted to play with Jackman and McGrattan, or being scratched. If anything, I would think the message is clearer when you bench a supposed “leader” on the team for his very visible poor play early on.

      Double standard set. Hopefully Backlund responds strongly, and that the brain trust doesn’t jettison him for Tyler Bozak.

    • Craig

      RE: Backlund You can’t perform if you’re being played less than ten minutes on the fourth line, and not getting a second of power play time. Also getting thrown out against the heavies with all D-zone starts. Hartley needs to wake up, I was starting to like Hartley but this move was just so stupid.

  • prendrefeu

    We need a consistently strong, solid goalie.
    Rambo is better than the Fillet’ o’ Fish (McDonald), but Bernier… wtf, man?

    EDIT: Totally agree with @calgarycandle. Good post.

    • McRib

      “We need a consistently strong, solid goalie.”

      Love the effort the Flames are putting in, however considering the rebuild and all an average goalie is just fine thanks you!! We don’t need another Kipper from keeping us out of the Top. 10 pecking order of the draft for the next couple. Plus John Gillies will be ready once we need a goalie anyway in two years after we have snagged an Ekblad and Barzal.

  • Craig

    Top 3 best things about Halloween:
    1. Oilers are last in the West. (5 years in a row).
    2. Eskimos are last in the West. (5 years in a row).

  • RedMan

    re: Backlund – where and when, exactly, was the lack of effort?

    From the start, Hartley has used him in a purely defensive shutdown role, but now he “needs more.” But, as pointed out already, Glencross does zip for the better part of 10 games and is never benched and the dancing bears, man, Hartley just loves those guys. You know, the guys who do absolutely nothing to contribute towards the team’s success. Stajan has been brutal at times this year as well. Sending a “message?” That’s just plain wrong. Benching a guy is a last resort.

    It seems as though some things with the Flames never change. Or maybe every team goes through this? Where, it’s not about performance, but rather a personality contest and if the coach thinks you’re a swell guy you’re in, but if you don’t click with his personality then you quickly become an outsider, contributions on the ice be damned.

    I really don’t get it. It’s like some guys get a free ride no matter what and other guys are expected to pot 40 goals while getting 8 minutes on the 4th line playing with goons or in pure shutdown role. And, when they don’t, “we need more” is trotted out as the excuse.

    Wonder if Brodie gets benched for his play on that 3rd goal. It’ not pond hockey Brodie. And, as much as I like Brodie overall, lets face it, he’s been largely average this year, his play is way down from last year.

    Seriously, who contributes more to the team winning? Backlund or McGratton? Benching Backlund was the last straw for me. Hartley needs to go. Bring in Troy Ward.

    • piscera.infada

      I don’t entirely disagree with what you’re saying regarding guys like Glencross needing to sit. The argument, from my perspective at least, is how much longer are you around a guy like Backlund than Hartley is. It seems conveniently easy to me to say “oh Hartley doesn’t like him – thus sitting”. How many practices have you run with this team? How much effort have you seen outside of game action?

      I’m not saying you’re wrong about messaging, but sometimes you have to defer to the guys that see what kind of effort these players put in everyday – not just what they do in games. Is it at all possible that Backlund has been dogging it in practices all week – leading him to be “demoted” to the fourth line, and then not “responding” in practice after that? It’s entirely within the realm of possibility.

      I said something similar regarding Baertschi’s benching. If it proves to be a recurring scenario, then yes, we need to question what’s going on here, but I’m not losing sleep over a player (that I admittedly like watching) being benched for one game.

      • RedMan

        I agree with your reasoning, but given what we do know about the player’s history, that just seems unlikely to me. Though admittedly, sure, Backlund could’ve caught doing who-knows-what or not doing who-knows-what.

        However, in that case, we can never really ever comment on a coach’s actions towards a player. “You don’t see him all the time” just becomes a convenient catch-all so that actions cannot be questioned.

        As well, there are certain player issues on every team in the league. Rarely does it lead to benching, as winning is paramount over everything else.

        In other words, Hartley’s motives, which are never explained to the fans (for good reason, sure) take priority over his actions. “He’s making the wrong personnel decisions to help the team win on the ice, but he’s doing it for a good reason.”

        All we can go on is what’s generally known about the player’s history, how the player performs on the ice and how he’s deployed on the ice. Based on all of that, I don’t get what Hartley’s doing although, admittedly, calling for him to be fired is over-reactionary, I get that.

        • piscera.infada

          “However, in that case, we can never really ever comment on a coach’s actions towards a player. “You don’t see him all the time” just becomes a convenient catch-all so that actions cannot be questioned.”

          I agree with you, and obviously that statement is not meant to be used as a crutch to defend the coach. However, look at what has been used on this site to call Hartley “stupid”: a) sitting Baertschi, b) not giving Baertschi a tonne of ice-time, c) sitting Backlund, d) not giving Backlund enough ice time, e) not playing Backlund in cushy situations (although, we all admit he’s probably our best defensive forward), f) starting McBackup over Ramo, and g) playing Backlund with the heavies.

          None of these themselves call out to me as gross mismanagement, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend that people seem to want to point to. I get the putting Backlund with goons argument, but I stop short of saying Hartley has a clear disdain for the Beartschi’s and Backlund’s of the world.

          It’s curious, don’t get me wrong. But there is undoubtedly a trend to overreact to something as simple as sitting Backlund, without the full scope of evidence.

    • RedMan

      you use glencross’ situation to judge Backlunds treatment… this is not the way I’d do it. each are treated according to their own circumstances… this iznt about being “fair”.

      the reasons for treating glenny a certain way are for sure completely different set of issues then those considered when managing backlnd. that in itself is fine.

  • Parallex

    It’s horrifically bad roster management.

    Fire. Hartley. NOW.

    Although I have a sneaking suspician that Burke may be behind this… I mean his twice coveted pet Colborne get’s promoted, best two-way center is demoted (ala Grabovski) and now Backlund is sat in favor of “truculance” guys. It reeks of him.

  • piscera.infada

    The flames lost the game because of the goal tending. Ramo looked like a lost duck in net. I do not understand why the Flames does not call Ortio up form the farm. Since, he has better saving % and have been around the north america game longer than Ramo. If Ramo was the best goalie in the KHL. What doers hat say about the KHL?????

  • Willi P

    People need to calm down about firing Hartly. The guy has the team playing extremely hard, has complete buy in and they are playing above expectation. Just because he sits the flamesnation / advanced stat golden boy Backlund does not mean he needs to be fired. Most every player, Backland included, needs a kick in the pants here or there. He doesn’t sit Glencross because he is a core veteran player and team leader and Glencross would be offended and possibly become cancerous. You can bench a backland because hes young and not part of the leadership group. This move puts everyone else on watch, drop your work ethic and you will sit too. He will come back next game and play great, just watch. Nothing wrong with it.

    • piscera.infada

      Thinking the same thing myself…

      I’m actually surprised with the amount of buy-in he has from a team that has been a three-ring circus for so long. But I guess, like Feaster or Burke, there’s no way you can give the guy the benefit of the doubt – pick your poison.

    • Parallex

      So then the lesson here is that the Flames players should make it known that they would be offended and possibly become cancerous if they’re benched/demoted. Got it.

      • piscera.infada

        Or, perhaps you’ve completely missed the point. That being, benching Backlund isn’t the end of the world. He’s still a young player, he still needs to learn responsibility if he’s to be part of the solution here – and that’s not an issue. Young players need to be taught lessons throughout their career, and as good as Backlund’s been and as much as we like him, he hasn’t been so mind-blowingly good that he’s untouchable – so stop treating him as though he is.

        • Parallex

          No one has been so mind-blowingly good that they’re untouchable, to be frank I don’t think “mind-blowingly good” is the bar to set benchings at. The point for me is that Backlund plays significantly better then most of the line-up. If you’re “teaching people a lesson” then you shoud start in reverse order of quality of play… and Hartley is not doing that.

          What he is doing is dressing an (obviously) inferior players over a superior one. And that’s just mind-bogglingly bad decision making.

          • piscera.infada

            I get that, and the argument is entirely reasonable. I just think it’s a tad unrealistic to assume that sitting Backlund is done out of some vein dislike from the coaching staff, or discount that fact that he may have something to learn from it. But I realize I’m now just arguing semantics, so go Flames go?

          • Parallex

            But I don’t assume to know why it’s been done, but here is what I do know, Backlund is one of the best players on this team by performance. Given that I beleive that to be true I can only think of two reasons to bench him…

            A: Sitting Backlund IS done out of some vein dislike from the coaching staff, or

            B: The coaching staff has a massive asset valuation problem,

            Either way it doesn’t speak to their competance. IMO the only way the coachng staff isn’t screwing up in a major way is if it’s the front office has a massive asset valuation problem and they’re dictating actions to the coaching staff (and that’s an even worse situation).

          • piscera.infada

            I just can’t call one game “screwing up in a major way”. Two, three, and so on, I’ll be right there with you, but one of eighty-two riding the pine and one of eighty-two on the fourth line isn’t really indicative of much, IMO.

          • Parallex

            But it’s not “1 out of 82”. It’s only that If you consider each only in isolation and only in context to a full season. I don’t. It was the same thing with Baertschi earlier so it’s been 4 out of 12… that’s 33% of the season so far.

          • piscera.infada

            Alright I agree. I’m just not jumping down the throat of the coaching staff this early in the season. Like I said, if it remains 33% through a decent part of the season, then I’ll be panicking with you.

          • DoubleDIon

            I often disagree with you parallex, but you’re bang on here. Those are the only two logical reasons to sit Backlund. It means our coaching staff is either incompetent or petty. Either way it’s troubling. I lean toward incompetent since Jackman continues to play in the NHL despite sucking at punching faces and hockey. Honestly, so tired of this. I’m all for team toughness, but you need to at least be replacement level IMO for your toughness to be valuable. I’ve got no issues with SOB and Bouma. Those guys bring toughness while playing at a replacement level. McGratton and Jackman are a waste of a roster spot. I’d like to see Stajan moved at some point, just so the BS with Backlund stops. Any coach who is playing him outside of a top 9 role has issues.

      • Parallex

        Huh? Did Glencross let him know that? I haven’t been in the dressing room or been privy to their conversations so I can’t really say.

        My point is that good coaches treat every individual differently in order to get the most out of them. I’m guessing that scratching the assistant captain and one of the only over 30 year old players on the team could have a bad effect on him. Glencross has proved himself and probably just needs time to get his game. Backlund has been slipping. Hes young he’ll get over it. Will probably play better the next game he’s in.

        • DoubleDIon

          In what way has Backlund’s game been slipping? He gets the toughest competition and absolutely buried with zone starts. Then he plays with no-talent hacks and we expect him to somehow single handedly carry the puck up the ice against the other teams best line and score regularly? Crosby couldn’t do that. Backlund is one of our top 3-4 forwards all around game in and game out. If I was him I’d high tail it out of our organization as soon as I could. I’m a huge Glencross fan, but if anyone’s game has been slipping it’s him. Yes Glencross has proved himself, but so has Backlund. Scoring at a 40 point pace without PP time while being one of the top possession players in the game is proving yourself by any definition.

  • RedMan

    Backlund has a wide range of tools and is a very good player when he is competing but, as noted by rhett this morning, his play has been sliding and he has been shying away and his battle willingness slipping.

    Ezpecially losing, these guys need to be accountable to bring it at top level every night.

    In the scheme of things this is good for the young guys.

    And I know – Glenncross has struggled and not benched… but that isnt relavent to the Backlund issue.

    Backland is a very good two way NHL’er who will benefit from being pushed.

  • jonahgo

    sitting backlund is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

    it is supposedly meant to teach the player a lesson, but its only tangible effect is to put the team at a disadvantage. baertschi played well before he was benched, and he has played well since.

    backlund has been the team’s best forward for significant stretches this season, and he played very well (relative to the rest of the team) against the flames’ stronger opponents during the road trip.

    if hartley wants more offense from him, he could give him offensive zone starts and get him away from the opposition’s top players. benching him will not suddenly turn him into a 60 point a year player. as far as line up construction goes, hartley’s decision making has been erratic at times, to the detriment of the team.

  • Kumon Iwannasing

    I have to hand it to the Flames. They are an entertaining, hard working team. They were robbed last night. But Leaf fans deserve to be rewarded with some good fortune after having been witness to the worst team management and ownership in pro sports for 40 years.

  • DoubleDIon

    Backlund sitting last night did not likely cost us the game, the goalie at the other allowed the Leafs to win. The team played very well last night except for a couple of moments. Yes Ramo should have made the save at the end of the first but the error on the play occurred up ice on the PP.

    Although I promised myself that I would not watch the Leafs because of Mr k golfs swing. However I did watch the two Alberta games and our team is way ahead of where the Oilers’ are at this point. This team plays hard every night unlike the team up north.

    I would prefer to see Hartley roll 4 solid lines than play the McG and Jackman but that would mean bringing someone up. Knight, Hankowski are playing well and would be the best options. I line with Backs, Bouma and Knight would be better for development and be a solid D unit that could also drive possession, plus the current 3 lines.

    • piscera.infada

      Unless they were willing to take Jackman…

      But I mean, seriously, we didn’t have anything to give up, especially since they would have been trading the kid in their division. Apparently Edmonton inquired and their asking price from the Oilers was Yak and their #7 overall pick. So we’d be giving up Monahan, and a prospect of the ilk we don’t have. So no, no one wonders that.

  • I love Backlund…

    But he’s still young and with the amount of puck possession time he has had he should be contributing more.

    When he scored that breakaway goal I thought he was finally going to breakout and be consistent offensively.

    He hasn’t been.

    He has been extremely effective at driving the puck up the ice. He has also excelled at anticipating plays defensively and stealing the puck.

    Hartley sitting him does not mean he is the 13th forward on this team. It means he expects more out of him and is trying to jump start him.

    He is an important player for us moving forward.

    It is highly likely we will trade some of our pending Free Agents at the trade deadline. This group includes Stajan, Stempniak, Cammalleri, Butler, Jackman, Smith and MacDonald.

    But if we don’t have proper replacements for these player then we cant trade them without throwing our youth to the wolves.

    Hartley is trying to test Backlund to see what he truly is because, as much as I love him, Stajan has outplayed him.

    As a rebuilding team we need to trade our expiring contracts who are not deemed part of the future for other assets. But if Backlund can’t provide the team with a veteran center who can relied upon, defensively and offensively, then how can you trade Stajan when your center depth behind them has little NHL experience.

    With Monahan, Colborne, Knight and Reinhart at center we need a vet in there to stabilize the group.

    If Backlund can’t fulfil the task its better to find out now.

    I haven’t been the biggest Stajan supporter, mostly because I hated the trade, and with Monahan, Colborne and Backlund here I feel like we don’t need him.

    But then you see how none of centers can win a FO consistently except him. He is also good at making plays that result in goals.

    Backlund has been good but most of his plays don’t result in goals. Granted he prevents a lot against, but we need a leader at center who can alleviate some of the offensive burden off the young centers.

    He will play tomorrow so we will see how he responds.

    Consistency is the key, as much as I hate admitting it Stajan has it and he doesn’t.


    …Here’s hoping Backs steps up and Stajan is traded for a 2nd rounder!

  • The game is what it is much to the chagrin of the Keyboard Warriors. Take a look at the nightly rosters the top teams roll out before throwing out all the Dancing Bear/Grit Chart nonsense.
    San Jose- Brown ( gave up a 4rth for him, the same round we selected Gaudreau in plus Pelech
    Colorado – Bordeleau and Mcleod
    Chicago – Bollig, Brookbank
    Vancouver – Sesito, Weiss
    Pittsburgh – Engelland, Bortuzzo, Glass
    Phoenix – Bissonnette, Brown
    La – Carcillo, Clifford, Nolan
    St Lou – Reaves, Lapierre
    Bos – Thornton, Mquaid, Campbell
    TB – Laprie, Gudas
    Mtl – Tinordi, White, Prust, Moen, Murray
    Tor – Mclaren, Orr, Broll, Fraser.

    Looks like Grit and the Dancing Bears still have value to even the very best.

    • everton fc

      A lot of the guys on this list are more the dancing bears.

      The staged fights are entertaining. That’s it. They are not worthy of roster spots. I actually think Thronton and McQuaid offer more than a guy like McGrattan/Jackman. Ditto McLeod, Engelland (I know he’s a defenceman), Clifford, Carcillo, Nolan, Tinordi, Prust, Moen…. Fraser in TO… and so on. Our grit guys can score. They add no offencive side to the game. Even Thornton can put more pucks in the net than our “grit guys.

      That’s how I see it.

      If you’re going to have a guy or two on the roster who’ll defend his teammates, he has to be able to add an offencive and defencive dimension.

      • everton fc

        The point here is that like Hartley, these coaches are all employing the same style of player over a more skilled player because of the role they play. Thornton and Clifford have the same number of points as Mcgratten.