FGD: Lunchtime Affair


Buffalo Sabres
– pic via Caroline King


In case you were wondering, the scheduled start time is not a typo. This game really does start at 12 PM Mountain Standard Time. Funny enough, this isn’t even the earliest start time for the Flames this season, as the puck is scheduled to drop at 11 AM MST in Pittsburgh next Saturday. Weird stuff.

Anyway, today we’ll see a battle of the bottom feeders as the 7-23-2 Buffalo Sabres tangle with the 12-15-4 Calgary Flames, ranked 30th and 26th overall in the NHL respectively.

The two squads in fact share many similarities besides that of not being particularly good. Both are in an admitted rebuild, both are without a General Manager and both will battle for two points today. Make no mistake, the Buffalo Sabres have pride and especially in front of their home crowd, will throw everything they have at the Flames. Luckily, that’s not much. This is a very winnable game for the Flames, but it’s no guarantee.

The Flaming Calgarians

  • Cammalleri –Stajan –Stempniak
  • Monahan Galiardi –Backlund – D. Jones
  • Glencross – Colborne – Hudler
  • B.Jones Bouma – Byron – McGrattan

  • Smid –Giordano
  • Russell – Brodie
  • Butler – O’Brien

  • Ramo

Same line-up as the other night, it looks like. (UPDATE: Roger Millions suggests on Twitter that Monahan is IN and Galiardi is OUT.)

The top line has been excellent of late, creating opportunities on almost every shift and it’s only a matter of time until they breakout for a few goals. I didn’t really like Galiardi they other night but he’s coming off an injury so I’ll give him a few games to readjust before I really criticize him.

Backlund’s better but I still find him to be way to predictable in the offensive zone. The third unit was solid the other night, mostly because of Jiri Hudler. I’m really looking forward to Monahan returning and the eventual call up of Sven Baertschi so Hartley can reunite the Jiri Svenahan line. They were my favourite. McGrattan’s line has been all kinds of fun to watch, as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing Big Ern toss a few today, while Bouma is just a workhorse. Wouldn’t having him AND Prust be the ultimate energy duo? Paul Byron has impressed me in his short time with the team, keeping things simple and making the occasional play – all while being feisty. He also makes his triumphant return to the team that dealt him. Yeah, let’s not talk about that trade.

This defense group is pretty "what you is what you get". Smid will block shots and #GRITCHART, O’Brien will block shots and #GRITCHART, Butler will block some shots and #WHATAREYOUDOINGCHART. To be fair his game winning floater was a beauty last game so I won’t rip into Butler – who is also returning to the city where he started his illustrious career – too hard today. Giordano and Brodie I find play similar games, in that they move the puck well and are sound on defence, but won’t overwhelm anyone in the offensive zone. Kris Russell is the only natural offensive guy on the blueline for Calgary and he’ll be relied upon again today to quarterback the powerplay.

Ramo rightfully get’s the start tonight, and I expect another solid performance from him. He’s been excellent of late and now should be his turn to attempt establishing himself as the starting goaltender of this team. Although Hartley’s odd and unusual infatuation with Berra guarantees nothing.

The Team That Traded Us The Pick To Draft Jankowski

  • Matt Moulson – Tyler Ennis – Zemgus Girgensons
  • Brian Flynn – Ville Leino – Matt D’Agostini
  • Steve Ott – Marcus Foligno – Drew Stafford
  • Matt Ellis – Cody McCormick – Luke Adam
  • Henrik Tallinder – Tyler Myers
  • Christian Ehrhoff  – Jamie McBain
  • Mark Pysyk – Mike Weber

  • Ryan Miller

Yeah. Doesn’t exactly make you recoil in fear at the thought what this forward group could do to the Flames. Nonetheless, it’s still a group of NHL calibre hockey players and John Scott (who’s possibly sitting today) and they’ll keep you honest if you take them too lightly. I’m particularly interested to see Girgensons play, he was drafted with the 14th overall pick traded by the Flames to Buffalo in the deal that saw the 21st and 42nd overall picks come to Calgary. They’d be turned into Mark "The Big" Jankowski and Pat Sieloff.

The defense is fairly young and it’s shown early in the year. Giveaways and poor reads seem to be a common theme on a nightly basis for the blueline of the Buffalo Sabres. Let’s hope the Flames can capitalize.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that opportunity will result in a goal because the one thing that the Sabres do have going for them this year, is goaltending. While the team;s been awful, they are still getting quality goaltending from Ryan Miller, who’s playing his best hockey since the Olympic year in 2010. His .921 SV% ranks 15 in the NHL which is very impressive for a team that surrenders quality shot on quality shot, against.

Sum It Up

Don’t expect a barnburner folks because this thing will more than likely end up being a slow paced, unorganized hockey game. Neither team will have a sniff at the playoffs this year and will be jockeying for draft position instead. For a Flames team preaching hard work and a "winning mentality" however, coming out with two points against the worst team in the NHL is a must. Whether or not they play like it is to be seen, but the odds are looking pretty good.