FGD: A Horse With No Name

Well, last night happened. Down 3-1 with 20 minutes to play
against a team fighting for playoff breath, and the Flames grind out a W.
Regardless of your position in the #winningculture vs. #tankmode debate, last
night was a fun night to be a Flames fan. I won’t get into that though, for
it’s a can of worms I’m not intent on opening at the moment.

Tonight, it’ll be a quick turnaround as the squad will play
in the quiet, undisturbed confines of Jobing.com arena against the soon to be
named Arizona Coyotes. In theory, the ‘Yotes, battling for their playoff lives,
should hungrily dismantle a tired, lowly Flames squad. That is theory though,
and Flames have spit in the face of theory all season, so for all we know the
Coyotes could get blown out of the water. What a weird team this Flames group
is. Great fun to watch though, so I guess that’s all you can ask for when
you’re rebuilding.

The Calgary Heat

  • Mike
    Cammalleri – Sean Monahan – Joe Colborne
  • Lance
    Bouma – Mikael Backlund- Paul Byron
  • Curtis
    Glencross – TJ Galiardi – Brian McGrattan
  • Kevin
    Westgarth – Corban Knight – Ben Hanowski
  • Giordano
    – Brodie
  • Russell
    Butler
  • Smid
    – Wotherspoon
  • Ortio

The Flames (and/or Heat) will likely roll with the same
combination of hockey players tonight as they did last night against the Stars.
This line-up looks borderline comical when told it’s used in National Hockey
League games. Imagine if Cammalleri had been dealt too. In all fairness though,
the kids have been excellent. Paul Byron has been a revelation this year,
playing quality minutes in all situations, contributing in on the offense all
while looking less like a 12 year old and easing the pain associated with that
wretched Regher trade. Corban Knight sniped the game winning shootout goal last
night after recording his first NHL goal a game previous. He hasn’t knocked the
doors down by any means but hasn’t looked out of place either. Monahan keeps
doing what he’s doing, working great with Joe Colborne who appears to be
morphing into a legitimate NHL winger. Kudos to Bob Hartley and coaching staff
recognizing a potential fit for Colborne on the wing. Benjamin Hanowski looks
like he’ll probably be a career bottom 6 NHLer at best, but he too has
contributed in a good way during this stint.

TJ Brodie has really come into his own this year, hasn’t he?
Playing with a rock solid talent like Giordano probably hasn’t hurt either, but
Brodie has firmly established himself as the second best defenseman on this
team. Kris Russell has struggled since signing his contract extension, but the
drop off in play could be attributed to a nagging injury or perhaps an
incomplete healing of his sprained knee. Smid and Wotherspoon have presented a
really intriguing pairing going forward for the Flames. Both are effective
shutdown blueliners with average puck moving ability and have been good
together, so far. This could be the birth of a reliable shutdown pairing for Calgary in the future

Joni Ortio has shown me more than Curtis McElhinney, Hernik
Karlsson and Leland Irving ever did and I have confidence that he can become at
least an average starter in the NHL. Right now, every puck he stops is a
valuable learning experience and leading the Heat in the playoffs at seasons
end in Calgary
will further equip him to arrive here in the fall and legitimately compete for
the starting job.

The Wild Dogs

  • Mikkel
    Boedker – Antoine Vermette – Radim Vrbata
  • Brandon
    McMillan – Mike Ribeiro  – Shane
    Doan 
  • Lauri
    Korpikoski – Andy Miele – David Moss
  • Rob
    Klinkhammer – Kyle Chipchura – Jeff Halpern
  • Oliver
    Ekman-Larsson – Zbynek Michalek
  •  Keith Yandle – Derek Morris
  •  Chris Summers – Michael Stone
  • Smitty

The Coyotes have rebuilt their offensive group fairly well
the past few years, currently boasting a very respectable Top 6. Mike Ribeiro
has been a Flame killer to #winningculture supporters hope the Flames can find
a way to shut him down, while #tankmode loyalists won’t mind seeing him run
around and pot a few. Mikkel Boedker has finally come into his own after a few
stale development years and is all kinds of fun to watch with the puck. Calgary will no doubt
have their hands full containing the hardworking, skill saturated Coyote
forward ranks. I hope McGrattan fights Chipchura because it’s always fun when
McGrattan fights someone.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to get better with every
stride and is paired with  impeccably
responsible Zbynek Michalek. Along with the Yandle-Morris pairing, the ‘Yotes
are able to roll two very solid two-way pairings that can contribute at both
ends of the ice. All 4 of the aforementioned blueliners pack solid shots as
well so Joni Ortio can expect to see a clapper or two tonight. Always good to
see former Hitmen captain Michael Stone playing, as well; great guy.

Mike Smith has had an up and down season, failing to recreate
the magic of two seasons ago. Nonetheless, he’s been good of late and can steal
games on any given night. The Flames will need to send bodies to the net and
score early to knock the big netminder off his game.

Sum It Up

The Flames head into the desert with the money against them,
but that’s true of any game the Flames have played this year. The Coyotes are
both the better team, and the most in need of points, but that makes the
outcome of this match up is far from predetermined. The Flames will come out of
the gates bubbling with energy and will put their noses to the grindstone and,
well, grind. If the Coyotes can’t match that work ethic and energy, we’re in
line for another upset special. 

  • beloch

    Re: Uber-Tank-Mode

    It isn’t here yet.

    The total man-games played this season by tonight’s Flames is 814. That means the average player has played 42.8 games this season, which is 63.9% of possible ammount. Late last season, that average dipped to 27.6 games or 40.1%! That was what we then called uber-tank-mode.

    For comparison, tonight’s coyotes have played a total of 979 games this season, which is 51.5 games per player or 76.9% of the season on average.

    Compared to the Coyotes, the Flames look like they’re trying to tank a little even if they’re a long ways from being in uber-tank-mode. You could argue that the Flames are in normal tank-mode, but only if you ignored the fact that the rookies called up from the AHL actually appear to be improving the team.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “Paul Byron . . .easing the pain associated with that wretched Regher trade.”

    Thank you for saying so. I agree on both fronts. Mighty Mouse is awesome and the Regher trade, like most all of Feasters trades were down right bad.

    Feaster Trades – 2 thumbs down.

    Feaster drafting – 2 thumbs up.

  • Lordmork

    Looking at the current strength on RW on the Flames, I sort of wish they’d held on to David Moss. No clue how he’s played this year, though.

    It’ll be good to see if the Flames can keep the energy on. Presumably the gas tank will run out sooner or later, but if the team is relishing their role as playoff spoiler, they could pour it on tonight.

    • RexLibris

      Flames should trade David Jones for Moss. They could sell it on Jones being younger and having scored 20 goals twice.

      C’Mon Ortio! We wanna see the puck stoppin talent that made you one of the top goalies in the ahl!

  • RexLibris

    I see where Carolina and Nashville are starting to throw games and playing for draft position. Much like the Oilers did during the TH and RNH draft years.

    Look for the Flames to finish 24th.

    • RexLibris

      Out of curiosity, where do you see evidence of the teams “throwing games”?

      I had a look at the rosters and, while they are certainly lackluster, I don’t see any obvious replacements that would imply this is anything but the result of poor teams entering a difficult time of the year against more motivated opponents.

      There certainly is the chance that the Flames could draft 5th or higher. We’ll likely have to wait until at least the beginning of April before this picture clears even a little, outside of the Sabres.

  • RexLibris

    brody continues to lose puck battles against the boards and in the corners. In front of our own net, he is lost. There’s more to playing defence than passing the puck, especially in this conference.

  • beloch

    Can’t say I’m sold on Brody but not because he’s “too soft to play in the Western Conference.” I actually like his battle and his compete level but the big offensive upside hasn’t really developed. Acknowledging his age, I thought he’d be further along as the power play quarterback but that clearly hasn’t happened. A guy like Fowler has really taken that step and is impressive on the Ducks blueline. I think he has a big upside and he’s young but judging him in the present, my opinion is “jury’s out.”

    • jeremywilhelm

      You seem to be operating under the assumption that Brodie is an offensive defenseman. Don’t feel bad; everyone suffered from that misconception at one point.

      He isn’t though. Looking back, I’m actually not convinced he ever was one. I don’t think he scored so much in junior because he was that offensive, I think he scored that much simply because he was that good.

    • beloch

      Brodie has 24 points this season, which is good for second place on the Flames’ blueline. That might not be huge offense, but it’s very respectable production for a 23 year old defender playing in any circumstances. It’s actually quite impressive when you consider that Brodie is being played on the top pair in a shut-down role during a rebuilding year when there often isn’t a lot of offensive talent in front of him to bury those assists. He’s also gotten visibly better this year… again.

      Give Brodie a couple more years and some better forwards and I think his offense will become very respectable.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Troy Jordan you don’t need to be tough to be d-man in the West. Nick Lidstrom did it for 22 years in Detroit. Brodie is tougher than Jay-Bo and Butler combined. Do I want the Flames to have a tough d-man, yes but is that Brodie’s game no. There are a lot of other d-man in the NHL let alone in the Western Conference who are doing just fine thank you very much.

  • loudogYYC

    Calgary is surely lacks structure, but I think it is this unstructureness that put the well structured team off balance. It may be the reason flames have pretty good success with good teams.

      • beloch

        I should have been more clear on my comment, I mean Calgary is a young team that doesn’t employ complicated and “traditional” plays. They sometimes do look lost. That surely is a result of being young and many of the players being rookies. But I think this also sometimes benefits as many “structured” teams like coyotes and kings sometimes put off guards from Calgary’s untraditional plays. This may be the reason why they were able to get many short handed goals. it is only my opinion and observation.

  • beloch

    “The Coyotes are both the better team, and the most in need of points, but that makes the outcome of this match up is far from predetermined.”

    What does that mean?

    PS: match up = match-up

    • beloch

      I’m not a big fan of lazy (holding, hooking) and undisciplined (boarding, crosschecking, roughing, unsportsnmanlike conduct) play. Besides maybe even the refs know that the Flames should be tanking – not winning – meaningless games.

  • beloch

    That 3rd period was an absolute railroad job. As mentioned in a previous post, even the refs knew that Phoenix was supposed to win. At that moment,Five straight penalties against Calgary, Ortio gets run over, no call, 20 seconds later, Dinosaur Doan deflection. Mark Lee was mentioning an argument that Hartley was having with one of the jerkass refs during a tv timeout, and from that point forward, 6 straight penalties. Frustration set in because that was the proverbial uphill battle, Calgary vs the desert puppies, as well ad those dickheads in stripes.

  • cgyokgn

    Unbelievable that we were assessed six penalties in a row. Backlund with two in a row? If it hadn’t been for all those penalties I think we could have tied up; as it was we pushed hard until the end. I’m not upset with the effort at all.