via Michael Cummo Photography

Tonight, the Calgary Flames (24-31-7) host the New York Islanders (24-32-9) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The game is an important one in the reverse standings.  If the Flames win in regulation, they leap frog the Islanders into 25th overall (no good).  If the Flames lose in regulation and Florida beats the Sabres , the Flames end up tied for the 28th spot overall (excellent).  The night will no doubt be special as former Flame great, Joe Nieuwendyk, will be honored in the Flames ‘Forever a Flame’ program.  Puck drops at 7 pm MT (or whenever the ceremony ends).



-via hockeymedia

Nieuwendyk, one of my favorites since I could walk, was a significant contributor to the Calgary Flames for the better part of eight years.  Joe was drafted in the 2nd round (27th overall) in the 1985 draft by the Flames after putting up 45 points in 29 games his first year at Cornell University.  He would play two more years at Cornell, putting up significant points in his time there, while playing a few games with the Flames in the 1986-97 season as well.  His official rookie campaign was the 1987-88 season.  Joe scored 51 goals, 41 assists and 92 points (all club rookie records).  At the time, Joe became only the second rookie in NHL history to score at least 50 goals in a season.  Mike Boss was the first with 53 in 1977-78. Nieuwendyk went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s best rookie in 1987-88. 

Joe scored another 51 goals in his second year, to go along with 82 points and was a significant piece of the 1989 Cup Winning team.  Joe continued on with the Flames for five and a half years.  In total, he amassed 610 points (1.07 ppg) with the Flames.  

Joe entered the 1995-96 season very unhappy with his contract status.  After refusing a three-year, $6 million dollar offer from the Flames, he was traded.  Ironically, Nieuwendyk was traded for the young up and coming Jarome Iginla who would go on to be, not so arguably, the greatest player in Flames franchise history.  A fair trade if ever there was.

Tonight, contract issues that persisted 18 years ago will be put to rest and Joe Niewendyk’s #25 will be honored.  Although it’s not being retired, it’s assumed unless you’ve got an NHLE over 70 coming into the league, you better not think of touching that #25 these days … that’s Joe’s.


The Flames have been playing pretty decent of late.  They are 8-4-0 in their last 12.  Last time out, the Flames dominated the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (trade deadline day).  The Islanders, well, they’re in a way.  John Tavares, the heart and soul and 50% of the talent, went down at the Olympics and he’s out for the rest of the season.  Thomas Vanek, unwilling to re-sign with Islanders, was traded to Montreal at the deadline.  The Islanders are 3-6-1 in their last ten.  Last night, the Islanders gave up a late two-goal lead to the Oilers, one of only four teams worst than them, and went on to lose in OT.  A trainwreck of a season for the Islanders to say the least.  


Via the always awesome www.dailyfaceoffs.com

  • Cammalleri – Backlund – Bouma
  • Galiardi – Monahan – Colborne
  • Byron – Granlund – Reinhart
  • Hanowski – Knight – McGrattan
  • Giordano – Brodie
  • Smid – Wotherspoon
  • Russell – Butler

  • Ortio

Those are some different looking lines from even a week ago.  Hudler and Wideman both went down with injuries on Wednesday against the Flames.  Stajan appears to still be out with personal reasons (hopefully positive personal reasons there) and the Flames had a couple bodies go down earlier in the week.  As a result, the line-up features half of the Abbottsford Heat’s line-up.

Granlund will center Reinhart and Byron today.  I really like the looks of that line.  Granlund, who has looked very good since being called up three games ago, has some chemistry with Reinhart and when you add in Byron’s speed and tenacity they could be surprisingly dangerous.

Corban Knight has been touted as a very reliable guy in his own end which, from what I saw on Wednesday, he seemed to be just that.  As well, he was absolutely superb on draws in his first game out (61%).  He’ll need to win a lot of draws tonight to keep that 4th line above water but I really liked what I saw from him in his first game.  I’d say he’s the third or fourth center on this club come Fall.

Wotherspoon will get his first taste of the NHL tonight.  By all accounts, he earned the call-up with some pretty reliable play in his own end down at the farm. If you don’t notice him unless consciously looking for him that’s probably a good thing.

Ortio, who was great on Wednesday, should be in the pipes again tonight.


  • Grabner – Nielsen – Okposo
  • Bailey – Nelson – Clutterbuck
  • Lee – Strome – McDonald
  • Martin – Cizikas – Halmo

  • de Haan – Hamonic
  • Hickey – Visnovsky
  • Strait – Donovan

  • Nabokov
Take out Moulson/Vanek and Tavares and that is not a great line-up.  Yikes!


Tonight is the second and final match-up between these two teams this year.  The Nieuwendyk celebration will certainly give some importance to the game as the celebration will be a memorable one. The only importance of the actual game however is how it affects the 2014 draft, three months from now.  With the amount of kids the Flames have up, this could go either way.  The Flames have been on a hot role of late so I’ll give them the edge.  Win or lose, it’s all gravy when you’re nowhere near playoff contention and instead vying for draft position. 

Share some thoughts and memories about Nieuwendyk in the comments if you got ‘um.

  • BurningSensation

    McGrattan looks terrible tonight- a give away machine! Please don’t play him 10 min Hartley! He can’t keep up with the play! Send him to the ECHL and bring up Trevor Gillies!

  • BurningSensation

    Is it just me? Or is Stempniak a really useful player to have during the rebuild? He’s small in stature but plays like he’s 6’2, 200 lbs. His cycle game is fantastic for his size, and his shot is really underrated. I’m not happy he got traded at all…

    • Aussie Flame

      Yes, it’s just you. I think Stempniak is a dime a dozen and a role that could be filled by an AHLer. And just when you thought Backlund was on his way, he lays an egg tonight. Brutal.

      • MattyFranchise

        Yeah, but it’s a classic case of being the oilers. No one in the AHL has the so called “old-man” strength that stempniak possesses. Having useful veterans during a transition period will keep the progression as opposed to an infini-build. I guess I’d like to have seen him traded in the future until someone from the AHL proves they’re capable.

  • beloch

    Colborne’s crease-presence is worlds apart from what it was at the beginning of the season. The islanders just couldn’t get him outta there, and eventually his monster reach came in handy!

    And… Monahan! Damn. I’m starting to have trouble picturing the Flames without Monahan. I have a feeling this might last for… a decade or so.

    • beloch

      Hacking is an overly generous term for what he’s doing. If various fan-blogs pooled their data they’d probably find that a lot of troll accounts are created by this guy’s IP right before the associated team plays Vancouver. I’m sure a few demonstrations of real hacking could be arranged if a site admin were to accidentally leak that IP…

  • prendrefeu

    I’m occassionally glancing at the stream (yes, I have to stream the game… in Los Angeles) and some reason I keep hoping to see a #14 jersey hovering out there on the ice.


  • Aussie Flame

    The Maple Leafs will receive a fourth-round pick from the Flames; however, that pick will become a third-rounder if Colborne scores 10 goals or 35 points in the 2013-14 regular season and Calgary qualifies for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    So do we pay a 3rd if colborne hits 10, or if he hits 10 AND we make playoffs?

    He’s looking dangerous out there. Wing seems to have taken some load off his shoulders and let him focus on improving offence

    • beloch

      “conditional round pick (third round if Colborne scores 10 goals or 35 points during 2013–14 season and if Flames qualify for 2014 playoffs, else fourth round)”

      That’s as close as I could find to official wording of the Colborne trade condition. If it had said “or if” instead of “and if”, then I think the Flames would be out a third if Colborne gets 3 more goals. However, “and if” means he’d need 3 more goals and the Flames would have to make the playoffs, which is almost a mathematical impossibility at this point (The Flames would have a 50/50 chance of making the playoffs if they lost just 1 game in regulation over the remainder of the season according to sportsclubstats).

      Regardless, even a 3rd round pick is starting to look like a steal for this kid. He did not belong in the NHL at the start of this season. The only reason he wasn’t sent down to Abby was because he’d have had to clear waivers. As a 24 year old, the window on his prospect status had nearly closed. Trading for Colborne was definitely a gamble on Burke’s part. He had a great set of tools but just never put them all together as a center. As a winger he’s finally looking like a NHL’er. Really, the way he loitered in the Islanders crease this game was just awesome. If he keeps playing like this he’s going to score a lot of dirty goals. He’s also great at using his size and reach to protect the puck along the boards. I really like this kid as a winger.

      • T&A4Flames

        On a night when the best puck tipper ever was honoured for his time as a Flame, Joe Co gets the winning goal by going to the net and getting a beautiful tip. Perfect.

      • Aussie Flame

        I agree with your reading.

        Now, while it was most likely a Burke influenced decision. flying Jay Feaster was still at the helm when this went down, so credit goes to him I think.

  • Burnward

    I’m so damn proud of this team. T

    he heart, the battle, the young players buying into a winning system. Even the confidence, putting the grandlund line out there with a minute to go. Gaudreau, Poirier, Klimchuck, Baertschi, and another high draft pick this year – and with this competitive work ethic?… Something tells me we’ll be a team to be reckoned with very,very soon.

  • beloch

    Monahan likely to score twenty. I wonder if there are still guys that are outraged that he wastnt sent down. If I remember correctly lambert was leading that charge. For my money he is part of what has made this year fun to watch.

    Which of the flames small young forwards won’t find a home here. Grandlund, Sven, Byron, Johnny G, Stajan, Cammy Reinhart, all smaller skilled guys and Burke has made it cleared will get bigger. Shame that ferland’s good start was derailed. My bet is he is well regarded.

    Fun game to watch. A glimpse into the future.

    • MattyFranchise

      As someone who shares the same last name, there is no ‘D’ in Granlund. Also, Granlund doesn’t look like he plays small. Also Burke said that he recognizes the importance of small skilled guys but that he also wants to surround them with beef.

  • T&A4Flames

    Fenland was creating maybe the most buzz of any prospect early on this yr. Would be interesting to have seen how he developed if he stayed healthy. Lots to be excited about!