FGD: Still Stuff to Care About



The Flames are in San Jose taking on the Sharks tonight, but the opponent is all but immaterial. Calgary’s not making the playoffs, so their competitiveness and the quality of their foes is more or less irrelevant for the duration.

That said, there are still reasons to care about outcomes and watch the scoreboard. First, of course, is the race to the bottom. There are currently 3 horses battling for 30th overall: the Flames, the Avalanche and the Panthers. Calgary is tied with Florida at 30 points, but has two games in hand. The Avalanche are bottom of the league with 28 points and have played one more game than Calgary. The only other clubs within hailing distance of the top-3 lottery are Buffalo and Tampa Bay, each with 34 points so far.

Of the dive for five combatants, only Calgary and Buffalo sold hard at the deadline. The Sabres shed Jason Pominville and Robyn Regehr while the Flames, of course, nixed Iginla, Bouwmeester, Comeau and, for all intents and purposes, Kiprusoff. Of the teams hoping to choose first overal, Calgary might be the worst (certainly the most gutted) which improves their chances of picking in the top-3 for the first time franchise history this coming June.

In addition, Flames fans should also be cheering for the St. Louis Blues, who currently hold down the 8th seed in the West. Calgary’s 2013 first rounder from the Bouwmeester deal is conditional on the Blues making the dance and having three bullets in what is roundly considered one of the best drafts in recent memory is a really good way to start out the new era. St. Louis beat the Blackhawks last night while the Oilers fell to Vancouver, increasing the Blues’ playoff odds favorably to about 83%.

Losing to the Sharks this evening helps the Flames cause #1 (which is frankly more important) but only marginally hinders cause #2 (San Jose is already 4 points clear of the Blues). For from a strictly pragmatic point of view, then, losing is optimal this evening.

The Line-up

Suffering a road record 12th (I think?) straight defeat shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. The team is mediocre on paper to begin with and the skaters have collectively played like some strangled their puppy before their eyes the last few days. In addition, the dreadful goaltending that has submarined the Flames season continues unabated.

  • Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Horak – Cammalleri – Tanguay
  • Cervenka – Backlund – Hudler
  • Jackman – Begin – McGrattan
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Sarich – Butler
  • Babchuk – Carson
  • Kiprusoff

On top of all that, Mark Giordano is out of the line-up celebrating the birth of his first child, meaning the number of capable NHLers on the Flames blueline gets whittled down to about two.

The Stajan line had an okay game despite the score vs Edmonton and the Flames surprising 4th unit with checkers and ruffians has been the only one to really outplay the opponent consistently the last week or so. You can tell the shifting gears of the organization and club hasn’t really altered their lives or focus on the ice – they keep plugging away in the same fashion as always. Kudos to them all.

The Opponent

It’s the Sharks. They have Thornton and Pavelski and Marleau and Boyle and Burns and…well you get the idea. They’re a much better team than the Flames are currently. If they don’t win tonight they should be ashamed.

Sum It up

The season is over. What’s left on the ice is this evening perfunctory. Keep your eyes on the out of town scorebaord, though.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Interesting tweet from CapGeek today:

    “Fourteen NHL teams have less than$1.8M to spend per open roster spot next season. Average salary is $2.45M”

    This is an unusual situation coming up next year. The RFA list is packed with good players and there’s going to be a few that teams just can’t jam in under the cap.

    Say what you will about our current situation but at least we have some shopping money!

  • DieHard

    I was looking for strong leadership signs from Jones in the World Junior’s.Did’nt see it.He came on strong in the end,but other teamate’s led the charge

        • I haven’t decided quite yet. I’ve only given the players a cursory glance to tell you the truth.

          My rule of thumb is not to go with a defenseman. Like goalies, they are harder to project than forwards. A high-end defender can have the greatest impact on the team (if he is a Pronger or Lidstrom guy), but very often even high draft picks turn out to be Bogosians, Johnsons and Bouwmeesters.

          Those aren’t bad consolation prizes, of course, but the difference is profound: if Jones is Pronger-esque, I pick him. Otherwise, go with one of the forwards.

          • BurningSensation

            I’m with you on the ‘unless it’s Pronger/Lidstrom’ bus as far as taking a D-man 1st overall, but that is sort of the problem here. Jones is now regarded in that class (though more Pronger than Lidstrom I would think).

            The other risk is Drouin. I adore the kids game, but I would be VERY hesitant to make him our top choice, especially given who else might be on the board.

            My own top 5;

            1. MacKinnon
            2. Barkov
            3. Lindholm
            4. Nichushkin (though I flip back and forth between him and Lindholm at #4)
            5. Drouin
            6. Jones

            Wny? Because even if Drouin is super-elite, he’s still a winger, and even if Jones is super-elite, he’s a defenseman.

            The opportunity exists for the Flames to do the classic ‘build down the middle’, and what’s more they may even get the chance to pick two guys at center to solidify the position for a decade or more (I could see Nichushkin falling ala Grigorenko, the Flames moving up to snag a 2nd center, or even drafting another pivot later on who ends up being a high-ender),

            My worst fear? We pick at #5 and the top four pivots all go off the board and we HAVE to take Jones or Drouin.

          • DieHard

            I was going to ask a similar question… given the standings we should get a crack at either McKinnon or Barkov but if Drouin is on the board can we pass him up? I know we need a left wing prospect like we need a hole in the head but they’re starting to compare this guy to Datsyuk!

          • DieHard

            Yes, it will be a tough decision for the Flames if they have the first pick). You (re)build from the back-end out and/or down the middle. If the Flames pick a winger they may be sorry. Hard to say though.

          • First Name Unidentified

            I just may be biased about this whole issue, but you HAVE to go with a centre. There is a decent possibility of that C turning into a Toews or Stamkos or Tavares or Kessler or Spezza or Kopitar or even Malking or Crosby.

            Vs a possibility of Bogosians, Johnsons, Phaneufs or Bouwmeesters (as Kent pointed out).

            You have to go with a Centre!

  • GermanFlame

    I might be the only one but I am more afraid of the Blues making the playoffs and drawing Anaheim in the first round than the Blues not making the playoffs.

  • beloch

    I honestly can’t bring myself to watch the Flames play while cheering against them. I think I’ll tune into the Iginla game and go to bed early. Hey, there’s still snow on the slopes!