FGD: The Home Stretch Begins (7pm MT)

We begin the next seven days with 40 players on the Calgary Flames active roster. By the end of, there will be just 23 and we’ll be ready for the season’s kick-off.

The beginning of the end of camp kicks off tonight with a return pre-season engagement between the Flames (3-2-0) and the Colorado Avalanche (0-4-1) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

The Calgary Flames are coming off a really nice effort on Sunday in Denver, bolstered by some strong goaltending by Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio as well as some nice goal-scoring from a seemingly unlikely source, Michael Ferland. He’s back in the line-up, anchoring the fourth line for the locals.

Lines, via Pat Steinberg:

Gaudreau
– Monahan – Baertschi
Glencross – Colborne – Hudler
Bouma
– Arnold – Bollig
Reinhart
– Jooris – Ferland

Giordano
– Brodie
Wideman- Diaz
Kulak
– Acolatse

Hiller
Ramo

Potentially three NHL lines and two NHL pairings, and the NHL goalies. The bottom six is entirely guys fighting for jobs. No Sam Bennett this evening – he’s nursing some soreness but he did practice with the non-game group. But hey, Baertschi and Gaudreau continue their auditions, and Bill Arnold joins them as “rookies playing on NHL ones.”

Likely AHLers Brett Kulak and Sena Acolatse get third pairing work, and Jonas Hiller will be given the full 60 minutes tonight (we’ll see Ramo do the same on Thursday).

Injured players include (deep breath): Backlund, Smid, Raymond, Setoguchi, Wotherspoon, Potter, Engelland, Klimchuk and Granlund.

THE AVALANCHE

Colorado’s lines, via the Avs website:

Tanguay – Winchester – Briere
Agozzino – Hishon – Rendulic
Talbot – Cliche – Everberg
Schumacher – Henley – Maggio

Hejda – Guenin
Wilson – Redmond
Siemins – Noreau

Berra
Pickard

To paraphrase the sarcastic executive from Major League: “I haven’t heard of half of these guys.”

But hey, Alex Tanguay, Daniel Briere, Max Talbot, Jan Hejda and Reto Berra are all here. And future AHLer Michael Schumacher and Croatian sensation Borna Rendulic. Let’s presume that expectations for an Avalanche win are relatively low, and they’re giving their fringe guys one last kick at the can before sending them back to Cleveland to play with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are icing an NHL-ready roster against Colorado’s B-team. The expectations for the established veterans are probably already set, but keep an eye on the fourth line, the third defense pairing and the trio of Arnold, Gaudreau and Baertschi. These are the guys trying to win jobs – or at least get on the radar for call-ups – and if they’re not playing with some desperation, they probably will be on a plane to Glens Falls before too long.

  • everton fc

    The third period the Flames have been sitting back a bit and the Avs have been pressing. Avs have had many excellent chances, including a few great rebound chances. Hiller’s been excellent.

    Bouma just scored empty net. He’s had an excellent game.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Gaudreau is wildly inconsistent at the NHL level so far, but man, when he is on, he is something to see.

    Also, bye Acolatse. Hope you enjoyed your time with the Flames, and am looking forward to a good (or at least adequate) season in Adirondack.

    Hiller. Just, Hiller. Looks like we may have an actual goaltending battle. I’m sooo ready for that.

    • SavardianSpinorama

      From what I’ve seen can’t agree with your appraisal of Gaudreau being “wildly inconsistent”. From what I’ve seen he’s been one of the Flames better/best players practically every game he’s played. I think both the stats, and the eye test would back that up. That’s not to say he’s always been effective. He hasn’t, but who has?

      I don’t get some of the comments here and in the media re: Gaudreau. It seems like he’s under the microscope (understandable) and every little thing is getting analyzed every which way, but the same thing isn’t done to other players. Like he has to attain to a higher standard to even be considered fairly successful.

      For those thinking he needs more seasoning who are you going to put forward as having outplayed him to date?

      Is he perfect? No. Does he still have things to learn? Yes. But so what, which Flames player doesn’t?

      • The Last Big Bear

        Gaudreau disappears for periods at a time. That’s understandable for a guy who’s got one regular season NHL game under his belt. And I agree he’s been one of the Flames’ best players. But he’s also been very inconsistent. That’s not a value judgement, just an observation.

        And I’d say plenty of other players have been under the microscope too, like Setoguchi, and Diaz, and basically everyone else who is new to the team and has a reasonable chance of being a full-timer this season. It’s only natural.

        In my eyes, Gaudreau has been incredibly successful already. My honest appraisal for the past 2 or 3 seasons was that it would take him all four years of college, plus a solid 2 years in the AHL to get to where he already is today. He’s scored an NHL goal, and he’s a lock to see some more NHL time this season. He’s already more than beaten the odds for a 4th rounder, and is still on an upward trajectory.

        But *I* am one of those who think he needs more seasoning, and that has nothing to do with who outplayed him. Who has outplayed Bennett at centre? Who outplayed RNH in Oilers camp his rookie year? It has nothing to do with how good his competition is or isnt, and everything to do with what is best for his development.

        Skill-wise, the American League is a small step ahead of college hockey, but a giant leap in terms of physicality and guys trying to take your head off. It’s every inch as rough as the NHL, but at a slightly slower pace, and THAT’s what I think Gaudreau needs to be eased into. I’d rather he get comfortable with guys trying to kill him at AHL speed before he has to deal with Matt Cooke and Cal Clutterbuck. I have no concerns about Gaudreau’s skill, its only his ability to avoid a career-ending injury that worries me.

        • Players disappear for periods at a time, whether prospects or pros. Look at the playoffs last year. Kane on Chicago skates around, nothing much then BANG out of nowhere he makes an amazing move and roofs the puck. Next shift something different… Its rare that a player dominates and is noticeable all game long.

          Look at last night’s game, Monahan had 3-4 excellent chances in close, also moved the puck upwell a few other times. The rest of his 20-25 shifts? Was he even on the ice? Yes, but the nature of the game, whether its a great pass by a teammate, different opposition, whatever.

          The idea that he “disappears” for periods at a time is not a fault, its the nature of the game. I can’t recall him floating out there or duffing it, as in a problem.

          As for being over scrutinized and held to a higher standard… Yes, Diaz and Setoguchi and others have also got scrutiny, but hardly even close to Gaudreau’s. Hey, it comes with the territory, better players get more scrutiny and people have higher expectations. So far I think he’s done very, very well.

          Lastly in regard to physicality, yes that’s a concern, but whether he gets seasoned or not thats always going to be a concern. You never can be prepared for an illegal cheap shot, expect through deterrents which the Flames are working on.

          • The Last Big Bear

            I’ve watched a hockey game before. I know that Gaudreau’s not going to score every shift.

            I just have a different opinion from you regarding his consistency.

            I’m not sure why thats so hard to believe, when its almost universally quoted as the most difficult part of staying in the NHL.

            Young players almost always need to add muscle mass and improve their defensive game in order to make it to the NHL, and they need to improve their shift- to-shift and game-to-game consistency to stay there. That’s *almost* universal.

            I say the same about Gaudreau, and people act like I’m saying he has two heads.

          • LBB,
            Generally I like your comments, and actually I don’t mind this comment either, except for 1 thing. You seem to focusing your consistency comment on Gaudreau, alone and making the implicit comment that regular NHLers don’t have the same issue. I think consistency is always an issue and ebbs and flows happen all the time with virtually every player. Pointing out this in Gaudreau while assuming it doesn’t happen in others I disagree with

            Secondly, although I would generally agree that newly drafted prospects, as 18 or 19 year olds need a year or two to add muscle mass and grow up, Gaudreau is 21. He’s already had his 3 years of development, albeit in college and so I don’t believe he needs the same as say, Sam Bennett i.e. growth.

            I certainly don’t think you’re saying he has two heads, just that you’re treating him differently and not consistently with either other prospects or vets.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    There were positives that they should be happy about and can build on but I don’t think they would be pleased overall.

    But it’s preseason. Still more preason to iron things out. I just think they need to be patient and keep working on whatever Hartley sees.

    They won but just look at the gv battle. Something to improve on, for sure.