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

  • McRib

    After watching most of last nights game I can see why Hartley wants to play Stajin, Stemp and Glencross; they create offensively, they create offensive zone time for the next line and are defensively responsible and while I am generally opposed to playing three vets together in a rebuild year I have come around to seeing the value of this line. Now comes the hard part how do you create three sound other lines with the remaining forwards. Assuming everyone is healthy here is how I would go; Monahan/Cammi/TJG, Backs/Sven( I’m still a believer that it would be better for him to start the season here even if he has not earned it)/one of DJones,Jackman, Bouma or Ferland, and finally Horak/Hudler and one of the above other the forwards with the other two being the extra. I doubt they will all get to stay as I think Hartley,Feaster and Burke are all McGrattan supporters. Again my goal would be to roll 4 lines as much as possible.

    I suspect the 6 dmen we saw last night will be the starters at the beginning of the season which begs the question who would be the 7 dman. In many ways I would prefer it to be one of Ramage,Spoon or Sieloff but sitting as the 7 at the start of the season will not be good for their development (although Ramage as an older kid might be suited for this)I suspect the coaches will go with a vet like Butler to start the season as the 7th.

    In net I believe that Ramo won the starting job to begin the season with his performance last night and his play in Regina. I think the back up position will decided by how Berra plays Wednesday; if he plays well he is the back up if not then it’s McBackup.

    What I was most impressed with last night was how hard the whole team worked. No parades it’s only exhibition but at least it was interesting to watch.

  • I liked Monahan for the first 10 minutes last night, but he was skating against the tide for much of the remainder of the game.

    I like the way he plays overall – he’s strong for a teen and he plays a well developed game. A lot of the time when you see kids taking their first few steps in the show they are either completely overwhelmed or frenetic and chaotic (trying to do too much). Monahan looked mostly calm and controlled.

    That said, he certainly wasn’t dominant, which should be the bar he needs to clear to stick around the whole year. The worst thing that could happen is a Roman Horak – where he plays about 40 games into the year before everyone realizes he isn’t quite there and needs to spend some time developing elsewhere.

  • McRib

    Interesting reports out of Windsor say that Pat Sieloff is not expected back there this season, which means it’s either Calgary or Abbotsford for him, no surprise for me a physical mature shutdown defender is better suited developing with the pros, rather than in the much less structured Major Junior ranks.

    Frankly all three of Sieloff, Wotherspoon and Ramage have looked more than ready for some pro duty or even NHL Duty. I wish the Flames would trade a Chirs Butler and even a Derek Smith to open up a spot for some of these young defenders on the back end. It is one thing to say “we are getting younger”, it’s another thing to start clearing out dead space so that these kids actually get into games and we do get younger.