FGD: A Tale of Two Teams

After a stirring, comeback win last night at the dome, the Flames caught the red-eye and arrived in Vancouver late last night, looking for their third straight win. With callups and kids carrying the majority of the weight for the Flames in the last two games, there has been a remarkable amount of enthusiasm and optimism surrounding the team in the past few days, something that has made another losing season a lot more palatable. 

On the flipside. 2014 has been a rough ride for the Canucks so far, going 5-16-3 and falling out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They also traded a bona-fide number one goalie to the East…twice. The fanbase has been calling for the resignation of the coach, GM, pro scouts, equipment managers, and if I was a certain orca, I wouldn’t feel so secure in my current line of work either.

So, it’s times like these where one starts to feel bad for poor, championship-less Canucks fans. The Heritage Classic game was just held to honour a team that won a ‘Stanley Cup’ in a year that the US Congress rejected a proposal to allow women to vote. I mean, it must be hard to want to— 

I’m sorry. I can’t finish this. I can’t muster a single ounce of sympathy at the moment. It’s too delicious. Read about tonight’s HNIC tilt after the jump.

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There are no lineup changes from last night’s win over the Islanders so here’s tonight’s roster from DailyFaceoff.com:

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

  • Ortio
Well, what can be said about these guys after last night’s thrilling come-from-behind win against…well..it’s not important who it was against. It’s important that it happened on Nieuwynight and that fans went home happy. Right now, the kids are flying. Granlund has scored twice and looked very smart with the puck, Ortio has two wins in three starts, Byron (who rules) has looked very good playing on the kid line, Knight has been solid in the circle though played sparingly, Colborne is scoring, and Hanowski is…still kinda sucky. 

Here’s Granlund’s goal from last night if you missed it. Check out the feed from the owner of the NHL’s best hashtag (Lord Byron):

Last night was Tyler Wotherspoon’s NHL debut and by all accounts he was solid, a word that epitomizes what to expect from him as an NHLer. He didn’t play a whole lot last game as Hartley is clearly trying to ease him into the show but hopefully he can continue to get more comfortable and become a steady, reliable defender heading into next season. Also: he seems to have attended the Sean Monahan media training institute, much to the chagrin of local journos. 

There has been a lot of talk about starting the fourth line tonight as homage to the line-brawl that happened the last time Hartley did that in Vancouver. I really, really hope this doesn’t happen, even though the fourth line in this game is far closer to an NHL line than Westgarth-McGrattan-B.Jones that starred in the Goon sequel. For Flames fans, they should want more from their team than mere sideshow and even if they started them and nothing happened, putting McGrattan out to start a game makes no hockey sense whatsoever, no matter who his linemates are. 

Since that fateful January evening, the Flames have seemed to have stolen the mojo of the Canucks (artist’s rendering of what that looked like) and the two franchises have resembled two ships passing in the night. Also: one of those ships has caught fire and the plumbing doesn’t work (Hint).

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Playing on back-to-back nights will be a tough test for Ortio, especially heading to Vancouver for the second leg. He was okay against the Islanders last night but let in a few that ordinarily would have sunk the Flames. He wasn’t too busy in that game as well so hopefully he can stand tall again tonight in a hostile building.    



Here is the cast of tonight’s episode of “How to Break the Heart of Dimitri Fillipovic” from Daily Faceoff:

  • Higgins – Kesler – Jensen
  • Burrows – Sedin – Hansen
  • Sestito – Matthias – Booth
  • Archibald – Schroeder – Dalpe
  • Hamhuis – Tanev
  • Edler – Bieksa
  • Garrison – Weber
  • Lack
The Canucks are currently four points out of a Wild Card playoff spot and are one point back of the Jets and two points behind the Coyotes. Simply put, things are falling apart. Rapidly.  

The downtrodden Canucks recalled Niklas Jensen yesterday and Canucks Army has a good write-up about him on their site. He will play on the Canucks top-line with Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler which is about as good an opportunity as one is likely to get in a call-up situation. Jensen’s call-up was made because Zach Kassian, whom I am certain could quit hockey if Deliverance was ever made into a TV series, got himself suspended for three games after boarding Brendan Dillon.  

The lines for the Canucks are a bit…confusing. I am not sure what to make of a third line of Tom “Fantasy Camp” Sestito, and two exiles from the Panthers. It has the potential to be a productive third line but is hampered by the presence of a facepuncer. The roster is clearly hampered by an injury to Daniel Sedin suffered at the Heritage Classic. This leaves Henrik, whom is also recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Olympics, without someone to communicate with via blinking or click sounds or whatever weirdo twins do.  

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The Canucks just cannot score right now and currently have scored only two goals more than the Flames despite having played two more games. Alex Burrows has NO GOALS IN 33 GAMES. That is unbelievable considering he averages almost 18 minutes a game. Burrows is also sporting a career low in CF%. David Booth has continued to struggle this season, a symptom of his larger scoring problem as a Canuck with 44 points in 117 games as a Canuck.

Even with all of that working against them, the Canucks are still a pretty good team and absolutely still have enough talent to handily beat the Flames if Calgary doesn’t continue their strong play.       


Tonight also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident which still feels like it was only a couple seasons ago to me. Since this, Bertuzzi has played over 500 NHL games (66 of them for the Flames) and Steve Moore never played again. TSN’s three-part series on the upcoming Bertuzzi-Moore trial has hinted that there is likely to be an ugly, public examination of the culture that led to Bertuzzi’s sucker-punch and the attempts to belittle Moore’s injury after the fact. So, I have no doubt that this incident will become a hot-topic again later on this year. 

I know the general consensus has been to try and let Bertuzzi move on from this horrific act and I understand why. In many instances, no good comes from dwelling on the 10-year old transgressions of a player, especially when the vast majority of those involved are no longer in the league. However, Steve Moore’s career was ended by a culture of thuggery and vengeance just as much as it was by the fist of Bertuzzi. I fear that this culture still exists today in the league despite the widespread abhorrence to Bertuzzi’s actions in 2004.  

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Sorry to be a downer, I just though it was a prescient topic with all the reminder of January’s line-brawl swirling around tonight’s game. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.      



If the Flames can keep drastically outworking their opponents, they will likely continue to be in close games as they have been for the majority of the season. The difference of late has been that the Flames are winning some of those games. It is great to see the Flames able to let the sun shine down to the forest floor and not only dress their kids, but give them significant ice-time. Granlund finished with over 16 minutes, Monahan and Reinhart finished with 14 minutes, and Colborne played 15 minutes as well.

This game is a case study of two teams who are currently enjoying two very different reactions from their respective fanbases. Kent mentioned on twitter the other day that the Flames were having an objectively terrible season and some were indignant towards the assessment that this season hasn’t been good.Many seem uncomfortable with this but it remains true. Despite all the optimism and youth that have sparked this excitement around the Flames lately, the truth is, Kent’s right, it’s still been a losing season. But man, does it sure feel different than the season Vancouver is going through right now. It is just curious how the weight of expectation can colour a season.    

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If nothing else, this season has been very enjoyable so far and hopefully tonight’s game is no exception. On a partisan note, I hope the Flames win 18-0 and cause Tortorella to travel into the press box to fight Peter Loubardias. A man can dream… 

Puck drop is at 8pm on HNIC

  • Mort

    I haven’t been watching many games, but did I miss the part where the stupid cowboy third jerseys were abandoned and the retro jerseys were back? God they look good against those classic looking Isles jerseys.

  • Mort

    That was a great play for Granlund’s goal against the Islanders. Just after the goal, it looks like Granlund said to Byron, “that pass! Yeah!”

    Seeing players like Granlund, Reinhart and Byron (among others) playing as well as they are in the NHL, I think, really speaks volumes about Troy Ward’s performance. He seems to have done a really good job developing the kids in Abbotsford.

    It seems almost doubtless to me that he’ll be getting an NHL job one day. I just hope it will be with the Flames.

    • etianap

      Granlund is classy. He is indeed a hockey player. Reinhart sould be good, Knight seems intelligent, Colborne has flashes. For Granlund playing hockey seems like a second nature.

  • etianap

    We’re ruining our chances in the draft. Only a 2nd and 3rd in the deadline and the Flames keep winning just away to the top 4 draft picks.
    1st 25% chances for the 1st pick, 2nd 18.8%, 3rd 14.2%, 4th 10.7%, 5th 8.1%. So, instead of being 2nd or 3rd with good odds for 1st pick and no less than a 3rd or 4th (if someone else from bottom three wins lottery, less than 48%), we’re going to the 4th or 5th with almost no chance to the 1st. That means bye, bye Reinhart, Ekblad, Bennett, maybe even Dal Colle. That leave us with Draisatl, but someone in the management will say that is ‘too risky’ and perhaps will end up picking Ritchie.
    On the other hand, Colborne start scoring. He’s jut 3 goals away of loosing for us the 3rd pick.
    So, let’s resume the expectation of the fans at the beginning of the season: 2nd or 3rd overall pick, a mid or late 1st round pick for Cammalleri, three seconds CGY and two others for Stajan and Stempniak, and a third.
    Something like 3rd, 24th, 32th, 44th, 50th, 62th.
    After the deadline – since we failed on Cammalleri, kept Stajan and the market did not allow more than a 3rd for Stemps – if we stop winning and Colborne stop scoring, we’ll have something like 3rd, 32th, 50th (thank you Berra), 62th, 87th.
    If we keep winning and Colborne pass 10th goal limit, our draft picks will look more like 5th, 34th, 50th, 87th, 94th.
    Good luck with that. I admit that to scratch Colborne healthy would be unfair for Toronto, and to loose on purpose wwould be despicable. But I’m still concerned that will finish ahead NY Islanders and Florida.
    5th is risky enough so that all Reinhart, Ekblad, Bennett and Dal Colle to be taken from the table. Sad to loose all of them in a season we sucked anyway.

    • T&A4Flames

      Don’t worry about the Colborne pick. I’m pretty sure the conditions were:

      10 goals or 35 pnts AND Flames make the playoffs. Colborne could score 70 goals and it wouldn’t matter because we aren’t making the PO’s.

    • RedMan

      Maybe some clarification is required….I thought that Flames gave up a 4th rounder for Colbourne and changes to a 3rd rounder only if he scores at least 10 goals AND the Flames make the playoffs. Of course the playoffs are not happening so worst case is 4th rounder.

    • The Last Big Bear

      If you are cheering for my team to lose games, you can **** right off back to Edmonton, where losing on purpose and cheering for losses is acceptable.

  • FlamesRule

    A prescient topic? Bertuzzi-Moore incident was 10 years ago…let it die!

    NHL hockey has become what Don Cherry presciently feared it would – a league where the soft players would be comfortable.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Marcus Granlund is an everyday NHLer. He’s playing like he belongs, and should stay the rest of the season. The kid is just plain good, with an above average shot.

      • RedMan

        just like Oiler fans these days…. die hard nucks fans tend to drink (or smoke) a little too much lately. hopefully you feel better this morning and make it to church.

        • RedMan

          What’s with all the Oiler envy ? You sure like talking about the Oilers. Are you sure that you’re not a secret Oilers fan ?
          Still in the Oiler closet Jeffy boy ? I find it extremely amusing how much people down here like talking about Edmonton. Give it a rest, it makes you look insecure and inadequate. Kind of like a dumped teenage girl. A couple of years ago it was the same with the Canucks. What’s with the infiriority complex going on down here ? Is there something in the water ?

      • MattyFranchise

        Timing was horrible, pinned in their zone for what seemed like 2 minutes, Galiardi no stick, they dont get a deep clear and you send out the 4th line. Makes no sense.

  • cgyokgn

    Really enjoyed the game last night but tonight the kids look really young and inexperienced… hope they can tie up but they haven’t been able to take advantage of the PPs.

    • RedMan

      Yes…it was an incredible shot. I would estimate the velocity to be in excess of 120mph! It was a rising shot. Grats appeared to put a bit of a knuckle ball on the shot just like a pitcher on professional baseball. The replay cameras could barely capture the shot due to the high speed. I doubt Lack even seen the shot but he did feel it just above his left shoulder as it grazed the crossbar.

      Grats is a keeper!