FGD: Touchdown

282/365: The Winnipeg Jets are ready for takeoff!

Via Salvador Maniquiz

The Flames will play their first game in Winnipeg in .78 Justins when they visit tonight to take on the Jets. It’s already been quite the day in the Saddlesphere.

The Line-Up

Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Mike Cammalleri-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak
  • TJ Galiardi-Mikael Backlund-David Jones
  • Sven Baertschi-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler
  • Lance Bouma-Joe Colborne-Brian McGrattan
  • Chris Butler-TJ Brodie
  • Kris Russell-Dennis Wideman
  • Ladislav Smid-Shane O’Brien
  • Reto Berra

Bob Hartley’s odd infatuation with Reto Berra continues. I’m not totally sure what Berra has to do to lose his “starting” job, but man, if he hasn’t done it by now… Berra’s .888 EVSV% is just .004 points higher than Joey MacDonald (.884%). I don’t think that should mean Berra gets sent down, but he shouldn’t be first in the pecking order anymore. The most important thing for the Flames to do this year with respect to the goaltending position is to try and get Rämö and Berra close to 1000 ES shots each so we can get closer to determining their respective talent levels. As of right now, the Flames are -11 in expected ES goal differential (Rämö -2, MacDonald -5, Berra -4), which is essentially 4 standings points.  

Earlier in the day, it looked as though Sven Baertschi might be a healthy scratch – thankfully, someone gave ol’ Bob a call and he came to his senses. There is exactly zero wrong with the way Baertschi is playing right now, and I find it confusing how little lenience people give to a guy who just turned 21 years old. If you’re concerned about his lack of scoring, right now he’s 9th among Flames forwards in PP time per game. Basically, that means he isn’t getting PP time, which can make up as much as 40% of a good player’s scoring. If you’re concerned about his lack of defensive ability, you should be more concerned with the goalies behind him more than anything else. Get over it.

If the point of having guys like Brian McGrattan is to protect players, why was Lee Stempniak allowed to be essentially assaulted by Andrew Ference on Saturday? Shouldn’t McGrattan’s presence prevent other teams from taking cheap shots on a top-3 forward? He should be sitting and someone in Abbotsford should have that spot. 

Tim Jackman will sit. There was a day when he was a legit NHLer. No longer. Colborne is where he needs to be right now.

The Opposition

Via Daily Faceoff:

  • Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
  • Evander Kane-Olli Jokinen-Devin Setoguchi
  • Michael Frolik-Mark Scheifele-Matt Halischuk
  • Eric Tangradi-James Wright-Chris Thorburn
  • Grant Clitsome-Dustin Byfuglien
  • Tobias Enstrom-Keaton Ellerby
  • Zach Redmond-Adam Pardy
  • Al Montoya

Yeah, that defensive set up is pretty horrible. However, it’s not exactly by design: Jacob Trouba (4), Zach Bogosian (2) and Paul Postma (5) are all out long-term, meaning that Grant Clitsome is now playing the toughest the league has to offer. Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien are legit top-pairing guys. They’re also basically the polar opposites of each other size-wise. Keaton Ellerby and Adam Pardy are, at best, replacement-level players right now.  

Alex Burmistrov would look mighty good playing C on that third line instead of Mark Scheifele. The latter former first-rounder has looked overwhelmed every time I’ve seen him this year and the underlying numbers back it up. He may yet be an impact forward at the NHL-level, but right now there’s nothing positive at the NHL level for him. Ideally, Scheifele would be playing first line minutes in… well, wherever the Jets’ farm team is located and Burmistrov would be helping the Jets have a third line that could actually produce.

Al Montoya will likely get the start tonight. He’s looked good this season thus far (.917 EVSV%) but is being buoyed by a perfect 1.000 (12 for 12) when down a man. As a result, look for his overall SV% come down a little. I’m a little sad that Ondrej Pavelec isn’t playing in this game, because thus far he’s having the best season of his career. Previous to this, he’s been toying with replacement level in every season he’s played. Hopefully for the sake of the Jets and their fans his start is a legit improvement.

Also, you know, Olli Jokinen.

Via Colin Stuart

Sum It Up

The Jets, even though they’re decimated by injuries, are likely a better team right now than the Flames are. That might not be true later in the season (depending on Pavelec) but who knows! Game time is 6PM on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The FAN.