One night after some bad luck, bad personnel decisions, and a solid young hockey team dealt your Calgary Flames their second loss out of three games on their current road swing, the boys in white will do it all over again 24 hours later as they sled into Denver for a date with the equally young and equally good Colorado Avalanche.
While this may not be the division rival it once was, it’s still a contest with some intrigue, which I’m sure I will mention at some point over the course of this FGD, and thusly convince you in the end that it is a hockey game you should watch.
Because that’s what we’re here for in the end, isn’t it? How else are you going to spend your Friday night? In the company of your friends and loved ones in delightful social situations that one day you’ll look back upon fondly? YEAH RIGHT BUDDY. It’s hockey night, and that’s all that matters in your otherwise devoid of meaning "life".
The Flames of Calgary and Certainly not Atlanta
Lineups, as always, provided to us by our besties over at Daily Faceoff. Catch the fever!
- Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
- Reinhart – Stajan – Jones
- Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
- (sigh) Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan
- Butler – Brodie
- Wideman – Russell
- Smith – O’Brien
So, I mean obviously the thing to talk about is Sven being back in the lineup, which is a weird thing to have to be a topic seeing as the fact that he was out of the lineup was a dumb thing, and you’d figure at this level teams would stop doing dumb things, but Bob Hartley seems to love doing dumb things so here we are.
It is definitely good that the Sven and the Svean get reunited tonight, as Sven gets to check back in after being healthy scratch’d TWICE SOMEHOW, and Monahan just doesn’t seem to have the same jump when Baertschi isn’t on his wing. But I feel like Sven is going to be under somewhat of a microscope tonight, from the fans but also his idiot coaching staff, and if he doesn’t perform at some nominal level that may be almost unrealistic to expect out of him, and if Tim Jackman keeps scoring at the clip he’s doing it (glacially), it could mean more time over in yonder pressbox for the Svensational one.
Speaking of dumb, 4th line. Goddamn, how many times are they going to go back to that well? There are no longer any words for it, just exaseperrated noises, which I won’t transcribe to you here yet, but maybe later depending on how this game goes.
Reinhart on the second line. I really don’t understand what the fans and the coaches see in this guy (kinda think the name has something to do with it because that never happens…). He’s not a bad player and he’s certainly a better option than the facepunch twins, but even on this team I don’t see him as a Top 6 forward, yet here we are. This is, however, a player I believe is more than capable of proving me wrong, so let’s see if he does that tonight. If not, hey, let’s call up Corban Knight sometime real soon, okey doke?
Karri Ramo checks back in, and that’s good, because he gets to prove one more time that this team hates him for no good reason. True he’s rocking an .888 sv% this year, and that’s not great, but it seems like he has less leash on this team than Reto Berra and also somehow Joey MacDonald, neither of whom have been very good themselves. A good start tonight would get him trending back towards being the starting goalie maybe some of us believed he could have been, sorta, before the season began.
The Avalanche of Colorado and Certainly Not Quebec
Again, lineup courtesy of Daily Faceoff, who you can follow on twitter, and should.
- Landeskog – Statsny – McGinn
- O’Reilly – Duchene – Parenteau
- Mitchell – MacKinnon – Talbot
- McLeod – Cliche – Bordeleau
- Johnson – Hejda
- Benoit – Sarich
- Holden – Guenin
- Varlamov (!)
Funny how success can let your team get away with doing some of the exact same things a less, uh, good team gets criticized for without anyone really knowing they’re actually doing it.
For example, with all the talk in Calgary this year surrounding Sean Monahan and whether or not he should have gone back to the OHL instead of burning a year of his ELC (the answer is still yes), the same approach could have been taken for Nathan MacKinnon. Granted, that was never a discussion, and it was very evident that the first overall pick was good enough to play in the NHL even before camp broke. But here we see Patrick Roy playing him on the third line with some VERY underwhelming linemates, and you have to wonder how much he’s gaining experience wise out of this first season in Denver. But The Avs are 12-2, so no one really seems to be asking that question.
You can also get away with dressing two facepunchers on your fourth line and no one seems to notice. Cody McLeod DOES bring a degree more to the Avs than say Top 6 forward Tim Jackman does to the Flames, but he knows his role. He wears an A for it.
If there’s a weakness to the Avs, it is on the back end, where as you can see, Cory Sarich is in the Top 4, and no one knows who the rest of these guys are outside of Erik Johnson, who is a clown, and Jan Hejda, who, okay, I know nothing about Jan Hejda. How are these guys winning games??? Oh right, all the talent on the forward lines, that’s a nice thing to have.
Semyon Varlamov gets another start for the Avs tonight, and I think we can all agree that’s coocoo bananapants right now, even though he is netting them wins.
Players to Watch
I was going to have Alex Tanguay in this list, but seeing as the former Flames winger and guy we all at least kinda liked is out for two weeks with a sprained knee, so I’m going to assume he’s going to be invisible tonight.
If you like the narrative of former players playing against their former clubs – and who doesn’t? – boy have we got you covered tonight. David Jones, TJ Galiardi, and Shane O’Brien all once used to don those classic purple and blue nightmares of a jersey, while Cory Sarich and sorta Ryan O’Reilly are ex-Flames.
I just remembered the Ryan O’Reilly fiasco and got too angry to think about anything else.
Watch Sven. Everyone else will be. I predict he will be good because he is a good hockey player and it’s funny how that works out, isn’t it?
The Avs are good. They’re proof that the Edmonton Oilers style rebuild works as long as you’re not the Edmonton Oilers. And that means Calgary is in tough tonight, but hey, if they can beat the Chicago Blackhawks on the road, they can certainly beat the Avalanche.
Remember that the game is at 7 even with those damn time zones, which reminds us, hey, the team returns to the friendly confines of the Saddledome soon enough.
Cheer hard. Cheer for Sven. Cheer for Backlund. Do it hard because the team is doing everything it can to drive them out of twon and it’s only a matter of time before we see them on good teams making Bob Hartley look (more) foolish.