FGD: Blues Travelers

After splitting the first two games of their four-game trip through the Central Division, the Calgary Flames (6-7-2) try to get back to .500 tonight. They face a tough test in the St. Louis Blues (9-2-2). The Blues have been strong of late, winning four of their last five – including their last outing on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens. The Flames are in a bit of a slide, having lost three of their last four games – their only victory being Sunday in Chicago.

The Blues have been one of the NHL’s best teams this year, bolstered by a strong offensive attack led by Alex Steen. With the Blues’ size and speed, the Flames may have their hands full. The puck drops at 6pm MT on Sportsnet Flames and the Fan 960.

THE LINE-UP

Deep breaths everyone. Here are the projected lines via DailyFaceoff.

Bouma – Stajan – Jones
Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
Jackman – Monahan – Hudler
Reinhart – Backlund – McGrattan

Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Billins – O’Brien

Berra
Ramo

So, no Sven Baertschi. In addition, Tim Jackman and Brian McGrattan slot in, with the “grit” players sprinkled throughout the line-up. Baertschi’s parked in the press box for the third straight game. Calgary lost the first two games he sat by identical 5-1 scores. And it’s a bit odd considering that Reinhart/Backlund/Baertschi would be a decent line, albeit not a checking line.

The Flames announced earlier today that Curtis Glencross is out with an MCL injury for six weeks, so the Flames are without Breen, Giordano, Stempniak and Glencross. As a result, the lines look a bit lean. The Cammalleri/Colborne/Galiardi line is probably the top line by default and will get leaned on heavily.

Reto Berra starts after giving up five goals in Minnesota. He was drafted by the Blues and they traded him to Calgary, so he may be motivated. After the loss on Tuesday, Bob Hartley noted that the team wasn’t that good, so it makes sense to throw Berra back in there. I’d guess Karri Ramo starts in Denver on Friday.

THE OPPOSITION

Via our best pals at DailyFaceoff:

Steen – Backes – Stewart
Roy – Sobotka – Oshie
Schwartz – Berglund – Tarasenko
Cracknell – Lapierre – Reaves

Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo
Jackman – Shattenkirk
Leopold – Polak

Elliott
Halak

St. Louis’ top six is really great, full-stop. Alex Steen is the hottest thing in hockey right now, boasting 13 goals and a disgustingly strong 30.2 shooting percentage. The top line has 45 points between the three of them. The third line is also fairly strong, and it’s not until the friggin’ fourth line that you find some rough spots. This is a blueprint on how to build a hockey team in 2013, gang.

Tons of ex-Flames here. Aside from Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, Adam Cracknell was a late, late round pick that worked his tail off and made it to the NHL on a regular basis. I’m resisting the urge to call him an everyday NHLer, but he’s close.

SUM IT UP

The Flames need a win tonight to guarantee a .500 record on this road trip. They’ll be in tough against the Blues, who have two regulation losses this season and play a very structured game. That said, the Flames have the tools to win, as they showed in Chicago. The key to their success will be out-working the Blues and beating them to loose pucks, something they utterly failed to do in the third period against Minnesota.

  • Toofun

    This Baertschi and Backlund situation is incredibly frustrating. I was really enjoying the Flames this year. They were skating and passing and working hard every game. I feel like both players were part of the rebuild solution and were contributing to the new character of the team. I’m not even watching tonight. Very disappointing.

  • redricardo

    Stajan is not having a good game. Play has died on his stick a few times.

    So I can assume, if we want to see more, Stajan will sit next game? I think that’s how the Flames run things now, yes?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Colburne jumping out of the box on a partial break, then getting creamed without taking a shot is a metaphor for the Flames play so far tonight. I hope the Blues fall asleep for period 2 & 3.

  • So uh. Yeah.

    How those line combos working, Bob?

    Really, we have to expect this team to be dominated by the top teams in the league. But scratching Baertschi and plugging Bouma onto the top line (and Jackman into the top 9)? That’s like rolling over, blindfolded, with a bull’s eye on your chest.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    In regards to this Sven debate: to my eye, Hartley has to see or know something that the rest of us are not privy too.

    Whether that be conversations he’s had with Sven, things Sven has said, attitude etc.

    It’s the only explanation that makes sense in my mind. Unless there is pressure from Burke and he’s worried about job security.

    There’s more to the story than we know methinks.

    • MichaelD

      I agree, I would imagine it has something to how Sven approaches the game. He might not have a level of professionalism that Hartley expects I’ve seen him wear toques in pre-game interviews where Russell has on a nice shirt, I know it’s a little thing, but coaches expect those things. And those things can make a difference.

    • Rockmorton65

      Sven was applauded for his attitude before we drafted him, after we drafted him, and all of last season. So if he somehow all of a sudden has a bad attitude it is probably more to do with the fact that he is seeing the same thing everyone else is seeing.

      Hopefully he ends up like Kadri. Tough love equaling good performance. Hopefully he doesn’t end up like Turris. Poor opportunity equals a hold out and trade to another team that is benefiting from a great player.

  • Derzie

    If you think the treatment of Sven is a good thing, you’re part of the problem. Before Hartley starting messing things up the lines were solid, teamwork was strong and Hudler/Monahan/Sven were the top line. Injuries aside, now it is just a gritchart/worker-bee world where ice time is given out with pats on the heads to the hardworking dullards. Skill need not apply. The drastic change has to be Burke pulling strings. It just doesn’t make any sense. I hope every dumbass lineup Hartley puts forward results in a loss. So far, that’s been the case. Trash away if you please but it is a vote for Gritchart.

    • loudogYYC

      Relax, man. Just cuz the coach is being tough on an underachieving player doesn’t mean Burke is making on-ice decisions.

      If Baertschi-Monahan-Hudler is the first line then Sven is weighing them down. He has 5 pts compared to Monahan’s 11 and Hudler’s 17. Granted he’s played 3 less games but still. He could and should be a lot better, he’s just not showing it yet.

      • piscera.infada

        “He could and should be a lot better, he’s just not showing it yet.”

        Can he? Or are we just expecting too much too early?

        Food for thought.

        Also, people seem to willfully forget this, but Hudler started the season playing with Backlund. He didn’t start playing with Monahan until I believe the middle of the third period in game 5.

        • piscera.infada

          “…Or are we just expecting too much too early?”

          In short, yes.

          That said, I don’t think he’s been great – which is entirely reasonable for a player given his age and build. So, I don’t see a problem with some tough love, but I agree it has to have it’s limits. I’m just not a fan of the “set it and forget it” (Ron Popeil would be proud) method of development. Baertschi will be back, and he’ll get it.

  • Derzie

    If you think the treatment of Sven is a good thing, you’re part of the problem. Before Hartley starting messing things up the lines were solid, teamwork was strong and Hudler/Monahan/Sven were the top line. Injuries aside, now it is just a gritchart/worker-bee world where ice time is given out with pats on the heads to the hardworking dullards. Skill need not apply. The drastic change has to be Burke pulling strings. It just doesn’t make any sense. I hope every dumbass lineup Hartley puts forward results in a loss. So far, that’s been the case. Trash away if you please but it is a vote for Gritchart.