FGD: An Anniversary With the Canucks

 

 

Well, gang, we’re down to brass tacks. The Calgary Flames will not make the playoffs. If they win every single game, chances are slim. But hey, the season is almost over and the Flames are in full-on audition mode for younger players.

Tonight, with 10 games remaining in the borderline-disastrous 2013 season, the Flames (14-20-4) and the Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6) in the 250th meeting between the two clubs. Since their first epic clash (back when the Flames were in Atlanta) on October 28, 1972, the Flames hold a 123-83-33-10 edge, earning 58% of available points against the Canucks all-time. Expect that record to take a small hit tonight, however.

This year the Flames have gone 1-2-1 against Vancouver, with their single win being in Vancouver’s lone visit to Calgary – a convincing 4-2 home victory against a travel-haggard Canucks club that played the night before. Calgary won’t have that advantage tonight, but they do have a roster half-filled with plucky youngsters with something to prove.

Game-time is 7:30pm on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames won in Denver, breaking both a five-game losing skid overall and a franchise record 13-game road winless streak. The win places Calgary in 28th spot in the NHL standings, three points up on Colorado in the battle for the league basement.

Matt Stajan is the latest addition to Calgary’s walking wounded, as he’s out (at least for tonight) with an upper-body injury. He joins Brian McGrattan, Derek Smith, Jiri Hudler and Paul Byron on the sidelines.

And no Matt Stajan equals a fairly substantial line shuffle at the morning skate.

  • Tanguay – Backlund – Stempniak
  • Baertschi – Horak – Cammalleri
  • Glencross – Reinhart – Jackman
  • Cervenka – Jones – Begin
  • Giordano – Wideman
  • Brodie – Sarich
  • Carson – Butler
  • Kiprusoff

Blair Jones returns to the line-up, being recalled on an emergency basis. He joins fellow Abbotsford exiles Brett Carson, Max Reinhart, Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak. After today’s skate, Flames coach Bob Hartley indicated that he was happy with how the young’uns have been playing, so hopefully that continues tonight.

THE OPPOSITION

Vancouver last played on Monday night, when they beat Phoenix 2-0. The Canucks are a very good hockey club who defeated the Flames last weekend in a shockingly competitive, but ultimately one-sided, affair. That night they needed Cory Schneider to win them the game, but this time around they are playing the glorified Abbotsford Heat, so don’t expect Calgary to be quite so present. 

Here’s how Vancouver’s lines ended up on Monday night.

  • Sedin – Sedin – Burrows
  • Higgins – Roy – Hansen
  • Raymond – Kesler – Kassian
  • Ebbett – Lapierre – Weise
  • Bieksa – Edler
  • Hamhuis – Garrison
  • Ballard – Alberts
  • Schneider

The Canucks are attempting to round themselves into playoff form, but they’re continuing to be bitten by the injury bug, most recently losing Chris Tanev and Chris Higgins to the infirmary. They’re also without Manny Maholtra and David Booth. I’d expect Tom Sestito to replace Higgins, but that’s just a guess. On the other hand, Ryan Kesler finally returned to the linepu recently and his addition plus with Derek Roy from the deadline gives the Canucks a decent 1-2-3 punch down the middle again.

SUM IT UP

After 250 editions, you’d expect that we would’ve come up with a clever name for the Vancouver/Calgary rivalry. So far, nobody has.

Vancouver’s a team poised to make noise in the post-season, while the Flames are dreaming of the off-season and a brighter tomorrow. The result of this game should be predictable, but the Flames youngsters may be full of piss and vinegar, so if the Canucks snooze on this team, they may be in for a surprise.

Either way, this could be a very interesting measuring-stick game for both clubs.

Related

 

  • beloch

    Vancouver is going to be a very different team next year.

    Derek, Malhotra, Mason, Lapierre, Pinizzotto, Alberts and Barker are going to be UFA’s and, if they were all resigned for the same cap-hit as this year, would collectively be worth $12.3M. The Canucks also have three RFA’s to resign, although none of them look like big fish.

    Vancouver could still resign some of these guys, but they’d probably have to use both their compliance buyouts and hang a sign around Luongo’s neck that says “Free to a good home”.

    Vancouver isn’t going to be alone in their predicament either. The Flyer’s might be even worse off! I’m starting to appreciate Feaster’s salary-dumping moves a little bit more now. Cap-space is going to be a *great* asset to have this summer.

    • supra steve

      And this (I think) is the reason why JBo’s return seemed so bad. To Feaster’s credit, he bit the bullet and took what he could get, rather then the Nuck method…hold on to your “poison” asset insisting it is worth more than anyone wants to give you for it until the summer when it is actually worth…LESS.

    • RexLibris

      Don’t forget once they trade Luongo for Gardiner, Kadri and a 1st round pick.

      😉

      Hating the Canucks and Leafs. There are some things that bring Oilers and Flames fans together.

  • RedMan

    one thing I’ve learned from my Oiler-fan friends (I know, eh?) is that all you have to do is start to “rebuild” and instantly you can talk about how good you are… (i.e. how good you’re going to be)… as if you already are.

    Damn,are we ever looking good! I mean, um, for a team in the midst, er, beginning of a rebuild! this is awesome… and the “kid-line” wow wow wow!

    Now granted, some of our wow-factor prospects still have curfews, but still! we rock!

  • BitGeek

    Why does Hartley still consider Jackman a better top 9 option than Cervenka?

    Switch those two and I like the line-up.

    I get the treatment earlier in the year, but I think he has been getting stronger on the puck, more involved physically and his conditioning seems to be better as his speed has greatly improved.

    Not to mention he is contributing offensively..maybe thats why? haha. Win=Loss nowadays…

    • beloch

      Jackman is one of the Flames’ older players and is signed to a dirt-cheap contract with one more year left on it. He’s definitely worthy of the fourth line, but if a little more ice-time with better linemates can make him look good, he might be an okay trade asset in the off-season. A lot of teams are going to be ready to pay for “dirt-cheap”.

      • beloch

        I guess that makes some sense…

        But going into draft/offseason I doubt Jackman has the trade value that would sway a deal either way, even if he did put up great numbers in last 10 games..

        Im more wondering if Cervenka is gonna even want to re-sign here with all the difficulty he has had from falling in the depth charts this year?

        I think hes gotten better and would like him back next year…

        • beloch

          I’ve seen a few flashes of talent from Cervenka but have been underwhelmed by his overall performance. There have been a lot of mitigating circumstances though. The language barrier, his health problems, adapting to north american hockey at a much older age than is typical, etc.. I agree that he might have some upside and he’s young enough to be a part of the rebuild.

          I’d love to see him sign a similar contract to the one he just had: short, cheap, with lots of performance based incentives. (His base salary this year was $925,000, and his take-home was probably close to that since I doubt he qualified for many of his bonuses.) I’d rather see him walk if he’s determined to get either big-money or a long contract.

          Pro hockey may be different. but it’s been my personal experience that, no matter how brilliant or how well-compensated someone is here, if they don’t put in the effort to overcome the language barrier they usually wind up lonely and isolated, and almost always wind up going home. Cervenka could easily wind up going back to the KHL.

    • SmellOfVictory

      He’s got a good sense of humour; he probably thinks it’s funny as hell.

      Also, who here thinks the Canucks are on the back end of their cup window? I think they’ve got one more season after this one where they’re serious contenders, and then they’re pretty much on the downswing.

      • Purple Hazze

        Actually I think this is the last season they’ll be considered serious contenders. They’ll still make the playoffs next year as a 7th or 8th seed, but I think its all downhill from here for them especially when you look at their cap situation for next season … probably one of the worst in NHL.

        • Scary Gary

          Agreed “post-apex”, the Canucks go as the Sedins go and they’re into their production decline at 32; peaking in 2009-2011.

          I’d love to see the Canucks miss the playoffs next year, it’s not likely to happen though.

        • beloch

          I have to agree. They have few young guys in the system but not much quality. Hockey’s future ranks them as #26 in the league in prospect depth, so you know they can’t rely on guys coming up to fill these wholes. Especially on the cheap, they’ll have to get lucky in the UFA market, and we all know that’s getting stingier every year. I’d give them another year or 2 of competitiveness, because they’ll get SOMETHING for Luongo, just not what they were looking for, and the Sedin’s, while not producing right now, are fairly cheap. There’s the possibility Kesler gets better as he may be healthier next season, but overall this team is on a downward slope. It’s not going to happen too quickly, because if that was the case Detroit wouldn’t be in the hunt for a playoff spot, but they will eventually be looking to trade assets for draft picks too.