The Weekly Ignition: December 9 2013



It was a big week for the Calgary Flames, with three games against in-conference opponents, and the long-awaited return of their captain Mark Giordano. All this and more in this week’s Weekly Ignition!


Calgary played three games in four nights this week.

On Wednesday, the Flames skated to a rather impressive 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, one night removed from a 6-2 Coyotes win in Edmonton. It was a fairly complete 60 minutes of ice hockey, as the Flames had goals from T.J. Brodie, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak, some solid net-minding from Karri Ramo and never looked terrified during the game. [Post-Game]

On Friday, the Flames hosted the Colorado Avalanche, one night removed from an 8-2 spanking the Avs received in Edmonton. Despite scoring first (via a Kris Russell power-play marker), the Flames gave up three goals in about five minutes and lost 3-2. Matt Stajan had the other Calgary goal and Karri Ramo got the loss. [Post-Game]

On Saturday, the Flames were back in action against the Oilers, who hadn’t played since spanking the Avalanche 8-2. The Flames scored first (via a Lee Stempniak goal) but Reto Berra’s shutout was snapped with 10.1 seconds left. Then Jiri Hudler scored in OT and the Flames won anyway, evening up this year’s Battle of Alberta at one win apiece (both of them by the road team). [Post-Game]


Justin Azevedo updated everyone on November’s prospect NHLE numbers. Spoiler: Johnny Gaudreau is really, really good.

Some guy that used to play in Calgary is returning to town on Tuesday, as a member of the Boston Bruins. The Sun’s Randy Sportak spoke with Morgan Klimchuk, picked with the first rounder the Flames got from the Penguins for Jarome Iginla, about #12’s return. Eric Francis spoke to Iginla about #12’s exit from Calgary. Meanwhile, the venerable George Johnson of the Herald courts controversy by declaring Iginla the best Flame ever.

Finally, I spoke with Abbotsford Heat coach Troy G. Ward about how the Flames’ farm team are doing so far. Spoiler: They’re doing pretty well.

Also, buy some shirts! If they do well, maybe Uncle Wanye will let us have FlamesNation hoodies. And stickers!


The Flames won two out of three games. In contrast the general theory of "momentum" in sports, the wins came against teams who won the game before and their loss coming against a team that lost the night before. Hockey’s weird like that.

Outside of the third period against Edmonton, you can argue that the return of Mark Giordano took a lot of the lead-blowing late-game panic out of the Flames system. And that’s a great sign if you’re worried about bad habits and a losing culture creeping in. Despite playing generally pretty well so far this season, a combination of the Flames being a tad short on high-end talent and buried in the Pacific Division means they’ll get a pretty good draft pick, tank or no tank.

Down in Abbotsford, the best team in the AHL, the Abbotsford Heat, continued their strong play. They played twice at home and won both games against Florida’s farm club, the San Antonio Rampage. On Friday, the Heat won 4-2 and on Saturday they won 5-2.

The scoring-by-committee approach continues to pay dividends: five different players scored over the weekend (Ben Street, Mark Cundari, Max Reinhart, Markus Granlund and Ben Hanowski), while Michael Ferland, Chad Billins and Brett Olson all had multiple assists. Joni Ortio got two more wins, pushing his record to 11-1-0, with a 2.28 goals against average ad a .924 save percentage. When Berra got called up, he had worse numbers than Ortio over a roughly equivalent period. Just sayin’.

Alaska won two of three games against the Utah Grizzlies, with Olivier Roy starting all three games and winning twice via shutout.

The prospect Three Stars includes five players this week because five players are deserving. Johnny Gaudreau had “just” three points this weekend but remains one of the highest-scoring players in college hockey. After a slow start, Yale’s Kenny Agostino is heating up and had a pair of goals this weekend. Elsewhere, Emile Poirier and Brett Kulak both had four assists and Ryan Culkin managed three helpers.


The Flames are gonna be busy this week. They host Jarome Iginla’s Boston Bruins on Tuesday in a game that’s sure to be full of emotion at the ‘Dome. After that, they host Carolina on Thursday night, then hit the road for a Saturday afternoon game against the lowly Buffalo Sabres and a Sunday night date with the New York Rangers at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

In the minors, the Abbotsford Heat host the Iowa Wild on Wednesday and Thursday, while the Alaska Aces head down to Idaho to play the Steelheads (they’re named after a kind of fish) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

  • Captain Ron

    The Bruins are comin. This could be ugly. This is a true test of the character of the team. I’m not gonna predict a win, I just hope it’s close. Just a quick piece of advise for management. See how this team has been built as opposed to the bunch of muffins baking to the north.

    • The Last Big Bear

      So, sign a perennial All-Star and Norris-calibre defenceman as a free agent, trade a prospect to Brian Burke for multiple lottery-picks, and be a prime destination for free-agents?

      Sounds like a plan to me…

      • mk

        Too bad there aren’t many Norris-calibre defencemen reaching free agency these days.

        That being said, I remember the days of people saying “once 2012 comes around, sign Suter and Parise for big money = victory/rebuild over”.

  • RedMan

    Apparently Hartley is starting Berra against the Bruins on Tuesday… so much for giving Ramo a string of games to see how he does. I mean, he only allowed 5 TOTAL goals over 3 games against teams ranked fifth, tenth, and twelfth, winning 2 of those games in regulation in the process. Meanwhile Berra Ramo allows 1 LATE goal (due to losing his net AGAIN) that almost cost us a game against a team ranked 27…

    The choice is clear. Starting Berra just makes sense, am I right or am I right? smfh.

    • jeremywilhelm

      Not sure why all the hate on for Berra. He played great last game, nearly our first shutout in a year and lost that with a wide-open tap-in for the tying goal playing a man short in a mad scramble at the end. Overall he was improved from his previous starts and the team played well in front of him. Its still a long season. Both goalies will get lots of work. The way I see it both are much-improved from the start of the season and I for one am very glad to see that. Why don’t we get behind ALL of our youngsters and let them develop with support instead of hating on them because we supposedly know better than the coaches or would do things differently…?

      • Burnward

        I’m surprised Toronto has not picked him up with their situation at center, especially at that low salary….or those douchebag Canucks or Oilers for that matter.

        Unrelated: Only 9 trades since the start of the season (the Flames being involved in 3 of them), mostly really minor trades at that, seems very low……maybe similar to years past? due to the low salary cap?


        • Burnward

          I watched an interesting interview on Sportsnet Pacific today with Brian Burke, listening for any word on potential trades, and where the Flames stood this year, and with the cap going up next year. He was asked those questions by Kypreos. Burke replied by saying that “Yes, the organization has cap room, but that they are not going to go out and spend money for the sake of spending money, until closer to the trade deadline.” Of those 3 trades made this year, Smid is the only one of any relevance.

          • jeremywilhelm

            WOW are we short-sighted or what? I certainly liked the Smid trade but to say that is the only one of relevance? Really. All three of the others also good trades. Cleared a roster spot by trading out an aging warrior (Jackman), brought in size and youth for Abby/Flames (McDermid) and got a big young 3C centre who battles hard on the boards, back-checks pretty good, is great at face-offs and chips in with key goals now and then (Colbourne).

            I’d agree these are all of the “minor” type but all good moves that are improving the Flames. If coaching staff can continue to teach and bring them along I say we’re doing pretty good…

        • Burnward

          “I’m surprised Toronto has not picked him up with their situation at center, especially at that low salary”

          Maybe it’s because Bouchard is a winger.

          • McRib

            They are all wrong. 28 games played, 5 faceoffs taken. He’s a winger. Always has been.

            The most draws he’s ever taken was 43 back in 2010-2011–in 59 games. For comparison sake, Mikael Backlund usually gets to 43 draws in less than 20 games.

            Maybe you should look things up before you start calling people morons. Just a thought.

    • McRib

      The Flames would never go for Pierre-Marc Bouchard he is a head case doesn’t fit into the mould of the team they are building.

      Still remember when I was 13-14 and asked PMB for an autograph at the World Juniors in Halifax just prior to receiving Marc Andre Fleury’s signature. PMB said he only signs for money…. He was only 19 years old at the time (It was a group of kids that were asking all of the Canadian players grouped together after the game and you could see NHL GMs / Scouts in earshot, who’s mouths all hit the ground when he said it, he was lucky he was already drafted). What a bust sure 356 Points seems alright for an 8th overall pick, but not when you consider he would have been a Top. 3 if it weren’t for draft day interviews.

      Why do you think he has had so many injuries throughout his career it is not even Karma everyone in the league absolutely hates him. No thanks wouldn’t even want to have to watch him in Edmonton regularly (seems like a typical player the Canucks might sign, Derek Roy 2.0 lite). Any team that signs him is going to regret it, injuries aside he is the laziest player in the league and would have been a star if he even broke a sweat. I predict he will be playing in the KHL by next season. Sven Baertschi is already more valuable than him at this point just play him more!!

  • aloudoun

    Edmonton is at 49 contracts. Adding Bouchard would put them at the max.
    I always have to laugh when I hear rumours that Edmonton is trading a player of theirs for 2 or 3 coming back. They can’t do that.

  • aloudoun

    The projected lines have Berra starting in goal vs Boston. This reminds me of the last time that Calgary played Boston, in Boston when Leland Irving started, all Flames fans know how that ended.

  • Burnward

    I know I’m in the minority here..but I gots no Berra hate.

    I see a huge, athletic goaltender adjusting to playing in the best league in the world. If he can figure it out he might be scary. He’s definitely impressed me quite a bit at times.

    I would rather be playing in front of him than Joey Mac, that’s for sure. Although, that’s not exactly saying much! Ha!

    • RedMan

      I think in principle most of the guys here agree with your sentiment; it isn’t so much that there is no hope for Reto, but instead that Ramo looks as good or better, and we would like to see him get a chance to play.

      Reto has really struggled to keep his net, sliding way out of position on quite a few occasions and flopping around like a fish out of water. He has also given up a number of goals from behind the goal line where he was either really cheating or positionally unsound. He himself mentioned that in Europe, nobody shoots from back there, which leads me to think he needs a lot of work positionally.

      Ramo is not near as flashy, but neither is he way out of position, and has looked markedly better his last three starts.

      I don’t think anyone cares who emerges as a legit NHL goalie…. we just want to see Ramo get his starts as well.

      In fact, I’d like to see Ortio get at least 10-15 starts also.

      I think the final word is that we, as fans, are confused with why Hartley keeps going back to Reto so often.