FGD: Going to Denver (6pm MT)

The Calgary Flames have cut down their roster significantly and now, it’s back to action. And what better way to kick off the back half of their pre-season schedule than with Jarome Iginla’s first game with the Avalanche against the team he represented for the better part of a decade and a half? In the pre-season, with no TV and fanfare.

The Flames (2-3-0) now boast a sub-.500 record in the pre-season, but they have gotten some nice performances. The Avalanche (0-3-1) haven’t won a pre-season game yet, and seem to be icing a roster that pushes hard for one.

Game time is 6pm. No TV, but your pals at Sportsnet 960 The Fan have the call, as always.

THE FLAMES

Now down to 45 bodies in camp – 9 of them injured – the Calgary Flames are getting down to brass tacks here in the pre-season. While their roster isn’t quite NHL-ready in Denver, particularly that defense, they’re a lot closer.

Lines, via Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun:

Gaudreau – Stajan – Byron
Jooris – Colborne – McGrattan
Bouma – Reinhart – Bollig
Ferland – Arnold – Knight

Russell – Diaz
Sieloff – Brookbank
Culkin – Yonkman

Ramo
Hiller

I vote we call the top line “Stajan and the Shrimps.” Once again, as in Vancouver, that defensive group is a bit of a tire fire, but that’s probably the point: you need to see what your lesser lights are made of. Each pairing has a guy with an NHL deal and a try-out guy, which again is probably by design. I do like the forward group, though the future AHLers stick out rather prominently.

Ramo gets the start. Presumably he gets a period or two and then Hiller mops up. Ramo was good in Vancouver, and he’ll be tested again tonight.

Russell, Diaz, Culkin, McGrattan, Bollig and Reinhart will all be playing their fourth pre-season games this year.

THE AVALANCHE

The Avs have some high expectations this season after being quite good last year. They even added future Hall of Famer and all-around nice guy Jarome Iginla to their roster of young studs and Erik Johnson. They have about 40 guys left in camp right now.

No lines were available from Avs practice via Twitter (or Daily Faceoff, which has these things in the regular season on a stunning consistent basis), but the Avs did post their line-up on their website.

Up front are Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Nathan MacKinnon, Andrew Agozzino, Joey Hishon, Alex Tanguay, Samuel Henley, Michael Schumacher, Borna Rendulic, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog. On defense are Nick Holden, Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Jan Hejda, Stefan Elliott, Brad Stuart and Daniel Maggio. In net are Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard. They seem to be rolling with 7 D and 11 forwards for some reason that escapes me.

Obviously, that forward group is downright nasty compared to Calgary’s, but there’s also a big drop-off from their scary top-six to the rest of the line-up. My guess is we get a sprinkling of the MacKinnons and Iginlas throughout the lines.

SUM IT UP

Calgary’s AHL defense (plus Russell and Diaz) are gonna be in tough against Colorado’s elite top six. But we do get the chance to see Johnny Gaudreau match up with Jarome Iginla, so this may not be a complete loss.

Plus, Karri Ramo has shown the ability to keep Calgary in games in the past. Why not tonight? (Devil’s advocate: because it’s the pre-season.)