The Weekly Ignition: November 4 2013



We’re into November now, gang. The NHL’s into the second month of its schedule, most of the minor league teams have played a couple weeks and conference play has begun for college teams. Things are getting real now.


The Calgary Flames played three times in the past week. All three games were against Original Six teams. All three games were pretty entertaining. They came away with two points, although the team played well enough to win all three games.

On Wednesday, the Flames lost 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Karri Ramo started in goal and the Flames out-shot the Leafs by a wide margin, but just couldn’t capitalize on their chances. Matt Stajan and David Jones scored. [Post-Game]

On Friday, the Flames lost 4-3 to the Detroit Red Wings. Again, the team out-shot their opponent, but they were undone by some soft goals given up by Joey MacDonald. Chris Butler, Sean Monahan and Curtis Glencross scored, but the Flames just couldn’t tie things up late. [Post-Game]

And the week closed out with the beginning of a four-game road trip in Chicago. With Reto Berra making his NHL debut, the Flames beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. Mike Cammalleri, Curtis Glencross and Kris Russell (with the OT winner) scored. [Post-Game]

In terms of roster moves, the Flames recalled Berra and defenseman Chad Billins from the Heat this week and assigned MacDonald to the AHL. Lee Stempniak and Chris Breen were also put on injured reserve, although they’re eligible to be activated whenever they’re fully cleared for action based on their retroactive injury dates.



In addition to three Flames games, there was a lot of hockey played this week all around the organization.

The Abbotsford Heat went out east this week for three games. They ended up doing pretty well, beating the Utica Comets on Wednesday in overtime and Friday in regulation. They ended their sweep with a shootout win in Hamilton on Saturday. Markus Granlund scored twice, Max Reinhart scored twice, Blair Jones had four points (including three goals) and Corban Knight also had four points. Joni Ortio earned the win in all three games.

Up in Anchorage, Laurent Brossoit had an excellent weekend for the Alaska Aces. He spent Friday on the bench as the Aces beat the Bakersfield Condors 6-3. Then he shut out the Condors on Saturday night. And then again on Sunday. The Aces are off to a 7-1-0 start and have won seven straight since their opening-night loss to the San Francisco Bulls.

I know I usually have three or four Three Stars, but this week five guys had great performances. Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau had three goals and Bill Arnold had three assists. Gatineau forward Emile Poirier had two goals and an assist. Swift Current’s Coda Gordon had one goal and four assists. Vancouver’s Brett Kulak had one goal and three assists.

In short: it was a good week for Flames hockey.


The Flames continue their midwest trek, visiting Minnesota on Tuesday, St. Louis on Thursday and Colorado on Friday. After that, they have a few days off at home before playing San Jose next Tuesday.

The Heat head home for four games this week. The San Antonio Rampage visit on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the Toronto Marlies on Saturday and Sunday. Up in Alaska, the Aces head south to Boise this week for three games against the Idaho Steelheads (on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday).

Elsewhere, Providence College has a home-and-home with Merrimack, Boston College plays Boston University and Army, Yale plays Princeton and Quinnipac and there’s the usual buffet of major-junior games.

Oh, and if anyone’s curious about Coda Gordon, Swift Current visits the Saddledome next Friday (November 15) to play the Calgary Hitmen. I have it on good authority that tickets are available.

      • SmellOfVictory

        And really, his handling of Backlund is just par for the course, unfortunately. It’s not like anyone has ever given Backlund any rope to play with.

      • SoCalFlamesFan

        I can’t create a logical reason for Backlund’s ice time either. I just hope the “lesson”, (or officially the lack there of) is considered learned and his time increases. I personally think Backlund has a place in this rebuild.

        • SoCalFlamesFan

          I too have been mostly impressed with what Hartley is doing especially in regards to teaching play in all 3 zones and accountability. I sure don’t want us to turn into that team up North where all players feel entitled to ice time no matter what. I think the Backlund issue will eventually sort itself out. I think that Monahan has been given a top 3 center slot to ensure he develops during his first year. That leaves Backlund competing against Colborne and Stajan for one of 2 spots. We want Stajan playing big minutes to enhance his value in a trade and Colborne is looking like he may have potential as a good top 9 forward. Right now, Backlund is the odd man out but I don’t think it is permanent by any means. A Stajan trade and/or injury will/should move him back up. It would be nice to see a 4rth line of Bouma-Backlund-Knight/Horak with McGratten slotting back in when Hartley feels the team needs the muscle.

        • everton fc

          Anyone see a possibility Backlund’s moved to the Leafs to help them down the middle? Of course, Stajan’s always mentioned here, but I doubt the Leafs would bring him back. Then, there’s also Cammy, who can play centre.

          The Leafs appear desperate, accoring to Dreger at TSN. Nonis is not as patient as Burke. Thoughts?

      • beloch

        I really like how Hartley has developed rookies like Monahan and Colborne. He’s found ways to give them lots of sheltered minutes so they can develop, but is also gradually giving them tougher minutes. If Colborne continues to develop, Hartley will deserve special credit because Toronto basically gave up on him. Obviously, giving these two kids lots of easy time means that the other two centers necessarily play shut-down roles. Perhaps this cuts some of the team’s offensive output, but it’s probably good to be prioritizing player development this season.

        So, why is Stajan still getting decent TOI while Backlund isn’t?

        ————————– QoC Rel Corsi – On-Ice Corsi – TOI/60 ——–
        Stajan (2012-2013) ….. 1.072 ….. -3.13 …… 13.13
        Stajan (2013-2014) ….. 1.408 …… 4.85 …… 14.83
        Backlund (2012-2013) … 0.234 …… 2.14 …… 14.69
        Backlund (2013-2014) … 0.834 ….. -5.83 …… 13.02

        Both Stajan and Backlund have faced tougher competition this season than they did last season, with Stajan still facing substantially tougher competition. Stajan has improved his on-ice corsi significantly this season in spite of facing tougher competition. Backlund’s has taken a big step in the wrong direction. Note that Backlund was getting plenty of TOI until a few games ago.

        Stajan’s improvement has been noticeable to the eye. In last nights game Stajan did take a stupid glove-on-the-puck penalty late in the game, but he was a puck-stealing monster all night. Backlund has been occasionally noticeable for good play to my eye too, but not as frequently, and that’s an impression I had before he wound up in the dog house.

        Backlund isn’t a development project like Monahan or Colborne and Stajan has done a better job with shut-down minutes so far this season. Ergo, Backlund is getting the least play. This makes perfect sense if Hartley is playing to develop talent, but not if he’s playing to win games. Were winning the priority, it would make sense to play Backlund more than Colborne, at the very least. I’m actually okay with prioritizing player development, if that truly is the reason.

        If Stajan is traded, Backlund’s TOI and QoC will both likely spike bigtime. Given that Stajan is probably a top trade candidate this season I think Backlund will finish the season with more work than he could possibly want! Of course, Burke and Feaster might easily decide to trade Backlund. That would be a shame, since I think he’s going to be undervalued for most of this season.

        [1] Stats are 5v5 from

  • MattyFranchise

    With the speed of the game and the propensity for injuries in a player’s daily duty, I don’t understand why players refuse to wear all of the protective equipment that they can be they visors, kevlar wrist and ankle guards, or these plastic protectors for their skates.

    It take a couple practices to get used to wearing them and they can potentially save your career in a worst case scenario situation.

    Hockey is dangerous enough as it is, the players don’t need to put themselves at further risk of serious injury by not wearing all of the NHL legal protective equipment available to them.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Part of it’s a comfort thing; some guys hate the feeling of kevlar and whatnot. Comfort with equipment is a big thing when you’re talking pro athletes, who can be incredibly fickle (and superstitious).

    • beloch

      Gear often adds impediment that no amount of practice or experience will fully eliminate. A helmet with a full cage undeniably impedes vision and hearing compared to going bare-headed, but the protection is easily worth the price. The, now mandatory, visors are a compromise vs a full cage, but still impede vision slightly and are still more than worth wearing.

      Shot blocking used to be something regarded as exceptionally courageous when done in critical playoff games. Today it’s expected of players in regular season games. It’s not surprising that this is having an impact on gear. Skates offer pretty good protection against slashes from sticks and other skates, which have always been a risk. However, they lack the ability to absorb the blunt trauma from a speeding puck, which is a risk greatly increased by the new attitude towards shot-blocking. They’re clearly necessary now, and kudos to the Flames for making players wear them. Hopefully this will not be temporary.

      There is probably room for improvement in the guards being used though. Hard plastic guards are definitely going to make it harder for players to control the puck with their skates. Hopefully equally protective guards that deaden puck impacts similarly to skates will show up. Even with this improvement, players are undeniably going to lose at least some sensitivity when playing the puck with their skates. This isn’t nothing, but it’s a price worth paying.

  • loudogYYC

    I’d sure like to see Backlund off that face puncher line. I guess this is what happens when you have Centre depth, something I’m not used to as a Flames fan.

    Probably just a matter of time before Stajan is traded and either Knight, Horak or Reinhart make the jump.

    It’s funny that now Stajan is probably the best available Centre for the Leafs. I doubt any of us would be happy with the return though.

  • beloch

    Anyone think putting a huge package with Glenx & Backlund & going after Giroux would be a good idea? You gotta think Philly wants to shuffle the deck. Giroux, Monahan, Sven, Gaudreau & Brodie isn’t too bad of a start to rebuild a new core around. Food for thought.