FGD: Hockey Day in Canada

                                                      via: CBC

Happy Hockey Day in Canada! Although it may not be so happy at around 8:30 MST when the Flames will have already started playing the Vancouver Canucks, but for now, the mood is jolly and hockey-ey.

The Canucks are reeling, having lost three in a row including a shattering at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, 9 to 1. Vancouver, however, have been strong at Rogers Arena this year and will also receive a jolt in the lineup tonight with the return of Alex Burrows from a broken jaw. It’s really no matter for the Flames though, who are just thankful to be out of the Scotiabank Sattledome, where they’ve been setting all sorts of records you don’t want to set. We’ll find out soon enough just how much of a difference being on the road makes for this weary group.

The Calgary Flames

  • Jiri Hudler – Mikael Backlund – Lee Stempniak
  • Lance Bouma – Sean Monahan – Joe Colborne
  • Blair Jones – Matt Stajan – Paul Byron
  • Kevin Westgarth – Ben Street – Brian McGrattan
  • T.J. Brodie – Mark Giordano
  • Ladislav Smid – Chris Butler
  • Dennis Wideman – Shane O’Brien
  • Karri Ramo

The roster appears more and more unimpressive with every passing game, doesn’t it? To me, it also raises the interesting question of: At the end of this rebuild, who do you expect to still be here? Monahan and Gio are locks, Backlund and Brodie are also strong possibilities, but after that there doesn’t seem to be anyone who is untouchable. That’s a good thing I suppose, because this not a team you’re going to win with. And by win, I don’t even mean championships, I mean games.

Anyways, the forward group looks very thin – as usual. The Sedin’s will see a lot of the Backlund line which is the only unit that has a legitimate argument to being considered a Top 6 NHL forward line. They’ll also need to be the ones who score because short of Sean Monahan, there’s a significant lack of offense in this line up.

The blueline actually looks half decent, with the staple Gio and Brodie unit leading the pack. They’ve been quite good relative to the rest of the team and they’ll need to put on another stellar performance tonight if the Flames hope to keep it close. Smid and Butler were praised by Peter Loubardias on the Fan960 the other day, a series of compliments I didn’t really feel were warranted, but who am I to contradict Loubardias? Wideman will probably try and carry O’Brien, but won’t do it particularly well and they’ll both end up with poor fancy stats at the end of the game.

Karri Ramo has been the only positive through this rebuilding year – his play has suggested him being a potential future puckstopper for this organization in the future – and will rightfully get the start tonight. He’ll see plenty of Canuck rubber so hopefully he’s come to play tonight.

The Vancouver Canucks

  • Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alexandre Burrows
  • Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Jannik Hansen
  • Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Zack Kassian
  • David Booth – Brad Richardson – Dale Weise
  • Chris Tanev Dan Hamhuis
  • Alexander Edler Kevin Bieksa
  • Jason Garrison Yannick Weber
  • Eddie Lack Roberto Luongo

The Canucks top line is finally whole again as Burrows has been out on two separate occasions resulting in just 13 games played this year for the winger. Henrik Sedin was questionable for tonight but is now expected to play. The Canucks, too dress goons and I’m sure we’ll be treated to a scrap or two (McGrattan’s nightly beatdowns have become the highlight of most my Flame viewing experiences) to enlighten what could be another long night for the visiting squad. David Booth is another topic I wanted to touch on. He just has really not worked out in Vancouver, has he? Playing on the fourth unit tonight really epitomizes his tumultuous time in Vancouver, where he was expected to be a Top 6 scoring threat and instead flopped big time into a big money fourth liner. Ouch.

That Top 4 on D looks real good, doesn’t it? Two Olympians, a guy 29 other NHL teams would love to have and an up and coming youngster. All of them can score goals and I wouldn’t be half surprised if all of them actually do, tonight. The third pairing isn’t great but it’s an area that will be likely be exploited by other teams’ bottom six, not the Flames’ goon line and AHL compliment. Oh well, it’ll be fun to watch them lose in the playoffs at least, right?


Eddie Lack has been quite good, for the most part, in relief of an injured Roberto Luongo and will get the start again,  tonight. He already as a pair of wins under his belt against the Flames – including a shutout – and will look to make it three straight tonight. As per CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, it’ll be Luongo returning from injury tonight to start for the Canucks.


Sum It Up

At the beginning of the year, I would end all my FGD’s with the phrase "you can’t guarantee a win, but what you can guarantee is that it’ll be an entertaining game". That is no longer valid, because lately the games haven’t even been all that entertaining. So let’s put this way: you can’t guarantee a win, but what you can guarantee is two teams playing hockey and one of them not named the Calgary Flames probably winning. I don’t like the rebuild either.

Happy Hockey Day in Canada to you all.