FGD: The Granlund Bowl



Yes, it will be another nostalgic Northwest division showdown in Minny tonight, with the Flames welcoming back some familiar faces and trying out some new lines against the Wild, who are firmly seated in the first wildcard position in the Western Conference. 

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Perhaps one of the most intriguing story lines is the fact that Markus Granlund will be taking on his older brother Mikael for the first time (hopefully of many) in the NHL. Mikael was a top-ten pick (Markus was taken 45th in 2011) for the Wild in the 2010 NHL draft and has had a difficult time adjusting to being a full-time NHLer. But after a strong Olympics he seems to be settling in and is having easily his best season as a pro in North America. 

Have a look at the rosters after the jump


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There are quite a few roster switches for this evening’s tilt. Matt Stajan is out of the lineup for personal reasons (seems like it’s baby season in Flamesland), while Brian McGrattan and Lee Stempniak return to the lineup after missing the first two games after the Olympic break. Here are the lines from DailyFaceoff.com

Cammalleri – Backlund – D. Jones 

Hudler – Monahan – Stempniak 

Byron – Granlund – Colborne

Bouma – Galiardi – McGrattan

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Giordano – Brodie

Russell – Butler

Smid – Wideman


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The Matt Stajan casualty likely brought about the splitting up of the kid line from last game (Colborne – Monahan – Granlund) but in it’s place is another pretty interesting line with #LordByron, Granlund, and Colborne all playing together. This one is especially interesting because we will get to see what Granlund, a natural centreman, can do in the middle with some halfway decent linemates. 

I have been pretty impressed with Colborne’s play of late, as he is starting to show that he is able to use his frame along the wall. I am still not sure if he is an NHL calibre skater yet though.  Byron, whom I love, has played well in any role given to him by the club this season and set up Monahan’s OT winner on Saturday against our pitiful northern kinfolk. 

Stempniak will return after being away from the team for an extended period of time to welcome the birth of his new twin girls which is awesome. He’ll play tonight with Monahan and Hudler and will hopefully be able to hit the ground running. I, and everyone else here, think that it is exceedingly likely that this could be one of Stempniak’s final games as a Flame as he figures to be one of the Flames dealt in the next 48 hours. As to what his return would be? I would have to speculate that it would be marginal, a mid-rounder perhaps. But I am sure there are others here at the nation that have more learned opinions when it comes to this sort of thing.

During the 2-1 defeat of that lovable arctic cannon fodder, Kevin Westgarth squared off with Luke Gadzic and it didn’t end well for the former Princeton Tiger:

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Right off the bat, Hughson nails it: “Well, this was very predictable.” 

I know I have said this a million times but these kinds of things get harder and harder to watch. If fighting has a place in the game, and I have become exceedingly skeptical of this premise in the past few seasons, this is most certainly not it. In my view, staged fighting has no place in the game and accomplishes exactly nothing as far as the playing of the game is concerned. This fight took place after the 1-0 Monahan goal and galvanized both teams to not score for the remainder of the first and the entire second. After the game, players were quick to sympathize with Westgarth, the recipient of a concussion and could barely skate to the bench (which was stomach turning to watch). However, it just seems anachronistic to have Sean Monahan extolling the virtues of Westgarth “going to war” when it has zero impact on the game itself. If the act of fighting itself is what is praiseworthy, then in theory a staged fight should produce the same effect for both teams. I just don’t see the point of it anymore. 

So, with no Westgarth in the lineup tonight, the Flames rectify this by replacing him with McGrattan. Perhaps this isn’t the place to start an anti-fighting rant, but it is getting more and more difficult to watch this bafoonery and know that your favourite team is a major contributor to its continued existence.

On to happier topics! Reto Berra has sucked a lot less these past few games! His SV% in his last four starts read as follows: .962, .933, .913, and .955. Small sample size yes, but he has played very well of late and has given the Flames a chance to win most nights. However, his last sub .900 outing was against the Wild, the exact game that Ramo was injured. The Flames won that game 4-3 in overtime but Berra allowed three goals on 17 shots. 


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“A minor league player” – Zach Parise on T.J Brodie.

Never forget those prophetic words from the then New Jersey Devil, Zach Parise. He nailed that one.Here is the roster of the the Wild from Dailyfaceoff.com

Parise – Granlund – Pominville 

Heatley – Koivu – Coyle 

Cooke – Brodziak – Neiderreiter 

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Fontaine – Haula – Mitchell

Suter – Spurgeon  

Brodin – Prosser  

Scandella – Ballard  

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Yes, this will be the Granlundbowl, with older brother Mikael facing off against younger brother Markus for this first time in the NHL. Older brother had a great Olympics and is playing some of his best hockey as an NHL right now. He’s centering a very dangerous top-line with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville.

The Wild have a very solid top-six, and Dany Heatley. I kid, even Heatley’s play has improved drastically since the start of the season when he was relegated to the fourth line. The Wild are also getting Mikko Koivu back tonight after missing 17 games with a broken ankle and he always saves some of his best work for the Flames. 

The Wild defence seems to spread around their talent, with studs Suter and Brodin paired with Spurgeon and Prosser, whom are ‘meh’ NHL defenders. The defensive corps just leaves one thinking, “not bad” though they would surely like to improve their bottom pairing, perhaps at the deadline?    

Darcy Kuemper is playing in net. According to wikipedia, HockeyDB, and Dailyfaceoff, Kuemper is, in fact, an NHL goalie.



For Flames fans, this game is interesting for line combos, development of youngsters, sibling rivalry, etc. The Wild are in the midst of a fight for a playoff spot. Entering tonight’s action, the Wild sit seven points up on Dallas, Phoenix, and John Tortorella for first in the wildcard standings. The Wild are looking to remain above that dog’s breakfast and take care of their own business for the remaining 21 games of the season. The wildcard is basically their only shot at the playoffs as the Wild also sit 10 points out of third (Colorado w/ 83 pts).

Basically, tonight is a win-win for Flames fans. If the Flames can continue their improved play over the past 10 games (7-3-0) and sneak out a win, praise be to Vernon. If not, the Flames circuitously screw the Canucks further out of playoff spot, so really we’re going home happy either way. 

Puck drops at 6pm MT on SNET West  

  • SmellOfVictory

    “in it’s place is another pretty interesting line with #LordByron, Granlund, and Colborne all playing together. This one is especially interesting because we will get to see what Granlund, a natural centreman, can do in the middle with some halfway decent linemates.”

    “Halfway decent” is the perfect term to use, because Byron and Colborne are definitely not the ideal guys to pair a newbie with, despite the fact that they’re a very clear step up from Westgarth or McGrattan.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Agreed on Cammalleri. At this point we should change his nickname from Squid to Cthulu, because he can single-handedly drag a line down quicker than anyone would expect, these days.

  • beloch

    Re: Fighting

    You practically have to be a Princeton graduate to figure out how to sort out the penalties for fighting in the NHL these days.

    e.g. It doesn’t seem fair for one player in a fight to have a visor on, does it? Well, there’s a rule for that!


    46.6 Face Protection – If a player penalized as an instigator of an altercation is wearing a face shield (including a goalkeeper), he shall be assessed an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

    Should the player (including a goalkeeper) who instigates the fight be wearing a face shield, but removes it before instigating the altercation, the additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty shall not apply.


    Note, this did not apply to Gazdic last night because he was not the “instigator”. Westgarth clearly handed his opponent a big advantage by agreeing to a mutual drop of the gloves after the faceoff. Let’s look at how this fight could have gone down differently…

    Let’s say Westgarth backed off after the puck drop and let Gazdic come to him. Gazdic would immediately receive an instigator minor and, if he didn’t remove his helmet, an unsportsmanlike minor too. Westgarth would have had to fight at a disadvantage, but he would have bought his team a double-minor advantage in the box! Obviously Gazdic would have to be stupid to allow this. He could remove his helmet, negating the visor rule, and “the code” would compel Westgarth to reciprocate. Then you’d have a fair fight sans helmets with the Flames finishing up by just one minor. Of course, if Gazdic could back off and cancel the whole affair without drawing a penalty, that’d be the only way out that wouldn’t put the Oilers at a disadvantage.

    It might seem to go against “the code” for Westgarth to agree to go with Gazdic off the faceoff but then back off. However, look at the context of the fight. The Flames had just scored. Edmonton wanted the fight to steal some momentum, get the crowd going, etc.. This fight was entirely for Edmonton’s benefit. Westgarth should not have agreed to a mutual drop of the gloves both because it wasn’t beneficial for his team and also because doing so negated the visor rule and made him fight at a disadvantage without drawing a penalty.

    Like it or not, enforcers are currently a part of the game. Their job is to employ thuggery to the advantage of their team. Westgarth failed to do that last night. He got his block knocked off for less than nothing. Not smart.

    • “Like it or not, enforcers are currently a part of the game. Their job is to employ thuggery to the advantage of their team. Westgarth failed to do that last night. He got his block knocked off for less than nothing. Not smart.”

      Great post first off, but I still feel like this is a waste of brain power for an act that has outlived its usefulness in the game itself. It’s these staged fights that I feel by definition are not possible to provide an advantage for either team and are only permitted because it entertains the masses.

      • beloch

        Gazdic had taken a big run at Wideman that actually had left him a little dazed. This was Westgarth’s first opportunity to try and settle him down and it was not a staged fight but rather a disciplined retaliation. There has been a lot of talk about Gazdic’s helmet rarely coming off in a fight. He can apparently undo his chin strap which would allow the helmet to come off as is often seen in the AHL but he doesn’t. Is the rule different in the NHL? He is at a significant advantage with the visor and has instigated fights this year including against McGratten but not called yet. The odd time it does come off, he becomes a different fighter and is not nearly as aggressive.

      • beloch

        Whatever rules the league makes that don’t outright kill goon-fights only makes them stranger. The “code”‘s protocol is getting pretty freakin’ arcane as a result.

        At this point, I tend to think the only way goon-fights will ever be eliminated is for every coach and GM in the league to simultaneously buy into the spirit of the rules instead of treating them like constraints to be worked around. It would probably take something absolutely gruesome and tragic for that buy-in to happen.

        Alternatively, the league could change tactics, embrace goonery, but try to subvert it somehow. e.g. To promote player safety, prevent concussions, etc., when two players drop the gloves the refs would, rather than allowing them to go at it, immediately restrain both players and take them to center ice. The players would then be required to don giant inflatable Gordie Howe sweaters and extra-poofy boxing gloves before entering the face-off circle to settle their grievance. Arena’s are encouraged to play the good ol’ Kirk vs Spock fight music at this point. A victor is declared if he succeeds in knocking/rolling the opposing Gordie Howe out of the circle. If the fight goes on for longer than a minute, the combatants are issued giant inflatable hockey sticks to club each other with. After two minutes the match is settled via trivial pursuit questions.

    • Slash

      McGrattan said that face shields make no difference-.he can pop them off in a second. Westgarth has been destroyed by other NHL heavies- McGrattan and Scott! McGrattan has been Koed by Sugden and destroyed by Colten Orr! Fighting is STUPID and should be banned from hockey! Nobody enjoys watching people get hurt in fights! The NHL doesn’t need lunkheads like GAZDIC et al in this beautiful, high paced, skill game!

  • Burnward

    I thought the additions of Parise and Suter would improve the Wild but they still strike me as a ho-hum team. Granted they have had both goalies injured but I guess they maybe middle of the pack until some of the younger players develop it may take a couple of years. It would be interesting to see if they bring in a guy like Vanek. This would allow them to shift down a guy like Heatley or Coyle on their third line.

    • mk

      I think they’re miles more exciting than before. But still nearly as bad as watching paint dry. Maybe their new cohort of players (Granlund, Brodin, Coyle, Dumba, etc.) will spice that up a bit.

  • beloch

    Commentator to Cammy: The flames are known for their “undying work ethic”.

    Hmm… What else is slow, not very skilled, but never quits, never dies, and ultimately loses anyways? Zombies. The Flames are the zombies of the NHL. PuuuuUUUUuuuucks!

  • So I take it that since Cammi is playing tonight, that a trade isn’t even close? If the demand for him isn’t there, do you settle for less just to at least get something for him, or do you just say the hell with all the poor offers and keep him, risking losing him for nothing. Or I guess you could resign him since cap space won’t be an issue. I’d rather get something, anything, that is remotely reasonable in a trade.