FGD: Return of the Mark



Now that the Flames have returned from a back-to-back  road trip that saw them get obliterated in Anaheim and snatch two points in tinsel-town, the local heroes return home, all of them just finishing their friending of Mr. Cammalleri on their myspaces and Calgaryplanets.

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Tonight’s game features the Pacific Division’s most inexpensive team to purchase, the Glendale Coyotes. The ‘Yotes are just coming off of laying a conversion-less touchdown on our dear northern kinfolk and if the Flames aren’t careful, a similar fate could await them.

I know you are all absolutely dreading being subjected to another Flames home-game against the Coyotes and frankly, I don’t blame you. The past 4000 of these games have been Godfather III. However, tonight’s game features the return of Captain Gio, so it will be worth it just to watch for that.


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Somehow, this Coyotes team is tied for fourth in NHL scoring. Huh. I had to check that a few times but it’s true. Perhaps this isn’t the same team that we have become so accustomed to seeing over the years. The ‘Yotes are also a point up on the Canucks with three games at hand, one of which being made up tonight.

Here’s their roster thanks to Daily Faceoff!

  • Doan – Ribeiro – Moss
  • Kennedy – Hanzal – Vrbata
  • Klinkhammer- Vermette – Boedker
  • Chipchura – Halpern – Szwarz
  • Stone – OEL
  • Yandle – Morris
  • Murphy – Schlemko  
  • Greiss

Their roster features Flame extinguisher Mike Ribeiro, who will likely score four goals and touch the puck four times. The rest of their forward roster, outside of Boedker, Vrbata, Vermette, and Hanzal, consists of a lot of guys you would swear are made up. One of them is named Jordan Szwarz (yeah. six letters,one vowel). However, this plucky team continues to score a bunch by committee and do their best to work you to death. 

The back-end of the Coyotes is sneaky good. Featuring noted underwear tycoon Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, ex young-gun Derek Morris, and ex Calgary Hitmen Michael Stone.

Mike Smith played last night in Edmonton so it’s a good bet that we will see ex San Jose backup Thomas Greiss tonight between the pipes. 


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As previously mentioned, tonight marks the return of Mark Giordano whom left the team at 4-2-2 and in he fight for the Pacific Division Crown. Now, Giordano no longer trusts them with his stuff. Giordano’s return is a much needed boon to a fledgling Flames’ back-end that was being held together with duct tape and Chris Breen during that last road trip.

Here is the roster! Thanks, as always to Daily Faceoff for it.

  • Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
  • D. Jones – Backlund – Hudler
  • Baertschi – Colborne – B. Jones
  • Bouma – Byron – McGrattan
  • Giordano – Butler
  • Russell – Brodie
  • Smid – O’Brien
  • Ramo

It is good to see Backlund start to get rewarded with some competent linemates and hoepfully some top-six minutes, especially after that nice feed to Cammalleri for the game winner against the Kings. This is a great opportunity for Backlund and hopefully he can start showing more confidence with the puck and maybe even a little bit of the scoring touch we began to see last season. 

Sadly, and demonstrated by his 2:36 of ice-time last game (!), Max Reinhart was recalled for a VIP exclusive look at Flames hockey. So close, he can even talk to the players! Not Backlund though. Mikael doesn’t get to speak during games. It is too bad that he is being weighed down by a goon, this season is supposed to be about evaluating the talent in the system and I cannot imagine how that is being accomplished by playing Reinhart for, like, 150 seconds.

Sven enters the game tonight for Reinhart which is obviously a much smarter move. However, he will be playing on a line with Colborne and B.Jones so it will be tough sledding as far as generating scoring chances. Hopefully, Sven can have some jump in his step tonight and use the energy that B.Jones has been bringing to create some offense. It will be interesting to see how the skating fairs on that third line though as both Sven and B. Jones are quick and Colborne is, well, not. 

Karri Ramo is starting between the pipes after a rock-solid performance in LA, freeing us from the Swiss tyranny of Reto Berra whom had started basically the entire month of November, for basically, no good reason. Hopefully, Ramo can put a couple quality starts together and force his way into the net on a regular basis. 

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This lineup, especially with no Glencross, Monahan,  or Wideman, is likely one of the worst in the NHL. However! Fear Not! These lovable little munchkins scraped out a win in LA here’s hoping they can do it again, this time with Gio.


Flames need to pick up a few big wins so that they can put themselves into the race for the.. ha haa haahha…

Folks, I kid.

The Coyotes could use the points to get further ahead of Vancouver though.


The Flames gutted out a win in LA last game which certainly must have felt good in front of their papas and those kinds of efforts will make this doomed season a lot more bearable. I am of the opinion that as long as they don’t stink the joint out at home, then I am fine with this team losing more than its fair share of games this year.

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Captain Giordano is back tonight, six weeks and two days since this broken ankle. Because he’s a man.

Seeing Ramo in consecutive starts will be interesting also, hopefully he can gain some confidence moving forward and be the starting goalie that he is being paid to be. 

But, above all, it would be nice, if this game could be interesting to watch. Which, because Paul Byron is in out there playing his tiny heart out, it will be I am sure!

    • RedMan

      I have enjoyed all but a few games this years, wins and losses not withstanding.

      I’m liking the way things are going overall, and am waiting for the next chapter in the rebuild to unfold, whatever that may be. in the meantime – all i ask is that they play with the same grit and tenacity they showed against the kings. if they do, I’ll subscribe to another year of cable.

      I’ve actually booked a trip to Phoenix in January to see them play – so hopefully they get some wins and create a little drama to make it all interesting.

  • RedMan

    daily faceoff lists the second powerplay unit as

    Sven, Colborne, D. Jones, Giordano and Brodie.

    What would it take to get Backlund on this unit in place of Jones? Then all my Christmas wishes will have come true

  • EducatedHockeyFan

    Gio back is a good thing? I love how Gio played at the start of the season and yes the Flames really need him but I’m concerned that he might be back to soon(yes the bone is likely healed, yes he says he is pain free; but is he really ready) I hope Hartley does not overplay him and cause a relapse. As fans we should expect a little regression in his game and his coach should know this. They will really need his leadership and play much more after the trade deadline than in December game against the Coyotes.

    Comments about Rhino sitting as VIP are right on. As long as the message is that you need McG as a threat this what you will see. McG presence means that his linemates play less. hopefully Hartley allows them to play the PK.

    Ramo please play well tonight so that you can get a 4/5 stretch as a starter so we can see if you can be a starter in this league.

    Comments on why the Coyotes are in the top 5 scoring without superstars. Depth and a coach who is not afraid to roll 4 lines and a very good d core.

    • Parallex

      Bah, even if he does pick up two points on his first three touches (while Colborne just picks his nose) Hartley will just give all the credit to Colborne and demote him anyways.

  • Burnward

    The more I think about the whole Backs vs Colborne debate the more I question Hartley’s treatment of them. Backs was drafted 24th overall in 2007 having never played in NA, Colborne 16th overall in 2008. Backs was rushed into the NHL by a team without a lot of depth at center and has had a number of injuries, Colborne went to college for a couple of years and then spent his first couple of years in AHL also dealing with injuries. The big difference is one has more NHL experience and the other has more size. One has been with our system his whole pro career (much was expected and this was overblown me thinks) the other is with his third pro organization (did the other two overvalue his potential?). In my books they should both be treated relatively the same, the difference might be that Hartley knows which buttons on Backs to push better than Colborne. What I wish is that by the end of the season one if not both have stepped up their games.

  • MC Hockey

    Nice article, funny guy! So need to jump in of theses items:
    – Berra – agree he is overrated and Ramo more consistent, fancy saves by Berra don’t make him better
    – Backlund vs Colborne, agree Joe getting more opportunities which seems inequitable, I think the “play bigger guy when unsure” rule is in effect
    – McGrattan is taking minutes from others, but I do understand the intimidation and protection angle, so maybe lobby NHL for “designated tough guy” role to dress 21 players?

  • The Last Big Bear

    When can we stop pretending that Paul Byron has a future in the NHL?

    Nothing personal against the guy, he skates around really fast and stuff, but its just not going to happen.

    Watch me list 5 guys who should be in that spot ahead of him:

    Bouma (with a winger called up instead),

    And that’s not even me being a smart-ass, that’s actually FIVE guys who should legitimately be in that spot ahead of him.

    • BurningSensation

      Paul Byron;s career has a name for it; ‘veteran call-up’. He’s the guy you bring up from the farm to reward him for being a good soldier in the AHL, or to soak up 4th line/mop up duties – or more – when injuries hit..

      He lets the kids stay on the farm to develop in a winning atmosphere. It ain’t a pretty job, but thats what he is for.

      • Skuehler

        Sounds a little like Crash Davis. You are right. He is in a good spot. He will get the odd call up on a non contending team for a little while longer before heading to a good European career and some Spengler Cups.

      • Skuehler

        And Butler on the top pairing – how interesting is that development. Guess Ramo’s taking this opportunity and running with it. Nice to see some wins over a couple of good teams.

    • RedMan

      2 starts with about a .96 save percentage in the two… if he can go another five games anywhere even close to this, he will be have officially won the race.

      I mean, seriously, his contract alone speaks of the hopes and dreams bestowed upon him.

      Reto got his chances, proved he needs either a much longer adjustment period or to go home.

      Now it’s Ramo’s turn. So far he is off and running like a pro. if he even posts an average sv% of .915-.925, we won’t see Bera again.

      My BOLD prediction: Kari Ramo gets most of the starts and plays above average for the month of December, Reto is sent to Abby to “adjust” and Joni Ortio gets the call up to see if he can translate his .922 to the big show and fight it out against Ramo.