FGD: A Pre-Season Tilt With the Rangers

(you can thank ESPN for the pic)

 

We’re eight days prior to the start of the NHL’s regular season and inching closer and closer to final cuts. With 38 guys left in camp, there are still roster decisions to be made at more or less every position.

The Flames face the New York Rangers tonight at the Saddledome in their sixth of seven pre-season outings. The Rangers are almost on the opposite trajectory as the Flames – they’re coming off a playoff year, they’re poised for a strong season, and they’re playing the third of six pre-season games.

THE LINE-UP

Calgary is enjoying a fairly productive pre-season, having posted a 3-2-0 record over their first five games. Now that things are getting serious in terms of roster decisions, they’re putting together a line-up that is getting closer to being their opening day roster.

Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Galiardi – Monahan – Reinhart
Ferland – Backlund – Knight
Bouma – Horak – McGrattan
 
Russell – Wideman
Giordano – Brodie
Smith – O’Brien
 
Ramo
MacDonald

In terms of guys battling to stay on the big team, it’s notable that Ferland, Knight and Reinhart are dressing, as they’re probably on the outside looking in for final roster spots. With Reto Berra playing on Wednesday, we see Ramo tonight, as well as a defensive group devoid of young’uns. I’d expect we’ll see two or three of Ramage, Sieloff and Wotherspoon on Wednesday, as well as perhaps Baertschi, David Jones and Jackman. Hudler and Cammalleri are nursing injuries, but should be ready for opening day.
 
In terms of battles, pay particular attention to how Derek Smith fares, as he may be competing with Chris Butler and the afroementioned kid trio, as well as the guys in the bottom two lines. Oh, and the guy in goal. But he should be noticeable either way.

The Flames complete their pre-season schedule on Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Coyotes.

THE OPPOSITION

The Rangers have 39 bodies in camp – they’re without Derek Stepan, who is still embroiled in a contract dispute with the cap strapped Rags – and have been holding camp in Banff since last week. They lost to the Devils last Monday and beat the Flyers on Tuesday in their first two pre-season games.
 
Here are the Blueshirts line combos via Pat Steinberg:
 
Rick Nash – Brad Richards – Chris Kreider
Marek Hrivik – Brian Boyle – Danny Kristo
Taylor Pyatt – Oscar Lindberg – Jesper Fast
Brandon Mashinter – Darroll Powe – Arron Asham

Marc Staal – Michael Del Zotto
John Moore – Anton Stralman
Justin Falk – Stu Bickel

Martin Biron
Cam Talbot
 
The Rangers are beginning a span of four games in five days, including meetings with the Oilers, Canucks and Kings. So expect them to rotate through basically all of their available bodies in short order. Tonight they are boasting a fairly veteran laden roster, including Richards, Nash, Boyle, Del Zotto, Stralman and Staal. Going to be a stiff test for the Flames kids.

SUM IT UP

Five pre-season games down, two to go for the Flames. With 15 cuts left to make for the hometown team, tonight’s game should prove very interesting, perhaps winning somebody a job – or banishing them to the minors.
 
Sometimes pre-season games are low-stakes. For some of the guys involved wearing red tonight, the stakes may never be higher this season.

Around FlamesNation

  • Cammy had better get healing. The Flames are going to need him at the deadline to pick up another 1st or some 2nds.

    Saw on Twitter that Flames MGMT is unimpressed with Joey MacDonald. Leaning towards Ramo/Berra. This was in the same time as saying that if they chose today, Monahan would stay on the team.

    One can only hope Monahan plays like crap in his first couple games so they have to send him down.

    • McRib

      Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down. But everyone is begging for Sean Monahan to go down after he nets two goals?!?!?! Huh. Who’s more ready?

      Nathan Mackinnon had (1.70 PPG for 75 Total) last season on the deepest club in the CHL. Sean Monahan had (1.35 PPG for 78 Total) on the second worst club in the CHL (No one was worse than Cape Breton)…. Monahan has much better size (3+ inches and 10+ pounds on Mackinnon) and from my viewings has shown a better Hockey IQ… Who’s more ready again?

      I think if anything Nathan MacKinnon needs another year in Junior, but because he dominated the CHL the Hockey World has written his name in pen for this NHL season. That’s where in lies the biggest rub. Its not necessarily rushing guys like Sean Monhan who have the Size/Hockey IQ and have shown in preseason that they can play. The biggest issue is rushing guys like Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who are “too good for Junior”. Sean Monahan would have lit it up last year with even some adequate help on the 67s, but because he didn’t he needs to go back to Junior to do so? Just don’t understand what he is left to do in OHL?

      • the forgotten man

        What’s your point though? Nischuskin has 2 goals and team leading 13 SOG in the preseason for Dallas Stars – do you really think Jim Nill is going to decide his fate this year based on how Mackinnon or Drouin are doing? I couldn’t care less what Drouin or MacKinnon do or have done – they don’t play for the Flames. All I care about is this Franchise legitimately (not circa 2004 lightning in a bottle) challenging for the Stanley Cup, if there is a God, in the next 5-10 years. If the Flames want Monahan to stay with them, then clear out veteran body space in the top 2 lines and have at it. If not, then send him back to Junior. Just please God, not this straddling the fence stuff that this Franchise has perfected for the last 25 years – have a strict plan and go with it. Put it this way, if as you argue, he is truly NHL ready, then he better be 100% ready. If not, send him back for one more year + World Juniors…he will be one more year older, more mature and hungrier to destroy next season. This Franchise is going nowhere for another 3-4 seasons anyways assuming everything swings our way.

      • Parallex

        “Nathan MacKinnon & Jonathin Drouin combined are pointless in three preseason games, yet no one else is saying send them back down.”

        I’d say it if I gave a rat’s behind about the Aves or the Lightning. But I don’t so…

    • Avalain

      Maybe it’s unrealistic, but I hope Monahan plays amazing and improves in leaps and bounds every game.

      Despite all of the debate between giving the kid shot in the NHL or being sent back down for a year, I don’t think anyone really wants to see Monahan turn out to be a bad player.

      I’m not sure about the statistics, exactly, but I would imagine that the players who come into the NHL and play really well tend to turn out better than the players who come into the NHL and fall flat on their faces.

    • RexLibris

      Re; Cammalleri’s hand

      That’s what I was thinking. The last thing the Flames need is a shooter with a bad hand at the trade deadline. The asking price immediately drops.

      Suspect they are simply resting him because, frankly, everyone knows what Cammalleri can do. He has nothing left to prove in these final few games.

  • RexLibris

    Re: Cammalleri – That should also give them some much-needed cap space…

    I kid.

    Also, the Oilers claimed MacIntyre off waivers. Again.

    The circus continues.

    I suspect it is primarily for the pre-season, with the Toront-Buffalo brouhaha still fresh in everyone’s minds, but this is not an area of dire need.

      • RexLibris

        I’m wondering if he isn’t a pickup until the Oilers see which way the Supplementary Discipline winds are blowing this season.

        If it looks like the league is going to enforce their rules, he’ll be dropped by the end of November at the latest because suspensions may start to have an effect.

        If not, then he’ll probably be around until the end of the season.

        That being said, I wonder what McGrattan feels about MacIntyre’s being brought on? The Ivanans fight is still fresh in many people’s memory and I would hope, for everyone’s sake, that neither team decides on a re-bout.

        • McRib

          I’m sure he understands as there are a lot of tough guys to deal with He was brought in to the Flames the first time in part to counter macyntire a few years ago and if you google their fight you will see he did very well. In fact macyntire didn’t play another shift that game while mcgratten kept trying to get stortini to go the rest of the night.

        • RexLibris

          But which half? 😉

          Suggestion from media is that the John Scott fiasco was the reason for the move.

          He’s apparently down to about 245 lbs, and his skating hasn’t improved.

          What worries me more about this move is that there is talk that the Oilers will keep Eager over someone like Omark.

          Eager does not provide any of the above: secondary (or even tertiary) scoring, toughness, physical disincentive to opponents, or the ability to play intelligently without the puck.

          Omark can play a possession style game, cycles the puck effectively in the corners, can draw a penalty on the occasion that referees see past their own bias, and is a useful powerplay tool on a team that is going to be leaning heavily on Taylor Hall as a 1st line center and penalty kill option for the beginning of the season.

          Nope, definitely have to give the nod to Eager there. *grumbles something about gritchart*

          • RexLibris

            Funny, because I’ve actually preferred Brown’s game thus far. He’s aggressive on the forecheck, drawing a penalty or two, and has actually created scoring chances…for his own team!

            Eager seems to get the puck and then completely forget what to do with it. The plays die on his stick and the timing of his hitting has looked off.

            Brown doesn’t belong any higher than the 4th line, but Eager seems to tempt coaches with the promise of effective 3rd line speed, size and skill every year. And every year he falls short.

            His career was hanging by a shoestring when he came to the Oilers and then the Tulupov hit sent him careening into nowhere. Here we are, three years after signing on as a free-agent, and he’s a debatable AHL demotion. I feel for him, but the team needs to do far better on the LW.

  • schevvy

    According to Millions, Cammalleri may be out for an extended period of time because of his hand injury. That’s not good, but it may allow Ferland or Reinhart to stick around for a bit