FGD: You Can Do It!

                                                 image: memecrunch   

When an NHL team is struggling in every capacity imaginable, there’s no better time to snap out of it, than when matched up against one of the leagues elite teams. Last night, in a village about 3 hours up the QE2, was Exhibit A. The Edmonton Oilers and their dynamic group of underachievers snapped out of a funk that saw them lose 5 of their last 6 games, against the Eastern Conference powerhouse, and Sidney Crosby lead, Pittsburgh Penguins last night. They made dramatic comebacks from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to emerge victorious, 4-3 in extra time. The Oilers. The Edmonton Oilers. The team backstopped by Devan Dubnyk beat the Pittsburgh Penguins!

Now that, is what the Flames should be focusing on, coming into tonight. Not the fact that Penguins are probably pissed off and motivated to avenge an embarrassing defeat to the worst team in Alberta, when they face the second worst team in Alberta. No, not that. The focus should be on the fact, that if the Oilers can do it, so can they!*

* scoring goals is a pre-requisite for winning

The Team That Can Do It!

  • Cammalleri – Backlund – Stempniak
  • Byron – Monahan – Hudler
  • Galiardi – Stajan – Bouma
  • Westgarth – Colborne – McGrattan
  • Brodie – Giordano
  • Smid – Wideman
  • Butler – O’Brien
  • Berra

The forward group, which has been so effective of late, naturally stays the same as last game – the one where they were shut out 5-zip. You can’t really blame Hartley though, it’s not like he has a lot to work with. I would still like to see a Cammalleri-Monahan-Hudler line, as I think that could muster up some solid scoring chances, but nonetheless this line-up is about as good as it gets given the resources they have. That’s a sad thing to say.

Anyways, Monahan has been better of late in my opinion, I even saw him throw a bodycheck the other night, which was nice. At this point, he’s probably one of the teams best offensive options along with his linemate, Jiri Hudler. It never ceases to amaze me how Hudler has played this year. There haven’t been too many off nights or dips in his production which, considering the team he plays for, is extremely impressive. The top unit is probably the only one that looks somewhat decent on paper, but on the ice haven’t brought much. Stempniak is ice cold while Cammalleri has been playing like a Katy Perry song (link Hot and Cold). Mikael Backlund’s progression this season amidst all the disaster has been very encouraging. His confidence is up and the numbers are slowly starting to come up, as well. In fact, he’s on pace for a career year!

The defence has been a little shady of late and absence of Kris Russell is clearly being felt, but nonetheless the boys on the blueline have been Calgary‘s strength this year. Giordano and Brodie have been very solid night in and night out and when it’s all said and done, this rebuild and the high level of competition that he faces will only benefit TJ Brodie in the long run. Wideman’s return has added a much missed dimension on a misfiring powerplay and his pairing with Smid hasn’t been all that bad, although the weren’t great against the Blues the other night. Once Russell returns, that Top 4 on the blueline will actually look real solid. The third pairing tonight is uh, well, rebuild friendly.

Berra will get the start tonight because Ramo allowed five goals against the Blues. Ramo got the start against the Blues because Berra allowed six goals against the Coyotes. Basically, the goaltending isn’t going all that great either. Berra was spectacular in his debut against the likes of Toews, Kane and Hossa and will need to be equally as impressive against the likes of Crosby, Malkin and Neal if the Flames have a prayer in this game.

The Team They Need To Do It Against

  • Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Brian Gibbons
  • Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
  • Tanner Glass – Brandon Sutter – Taylor Pyatt
  • Craig Adams – Joe Vitale – Deryk Engelland
  • Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang
  • Robert Bortuzzo – Brooks Orpik
  • Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
  • Fluery

At first glance, one notices Brian Gibbons beside the two Canadian Olympians, Crosby and Kunitz. Well, the 25 year old got the call up in light of the Pascal Dupuis injury and from what I understand has mostly played on the top unit. He has six points in 12 games this year. Aside from Gibbons, the entire top 6 of the Pens is lethal, with legitimate scoring threats in abundance. The third unit is designed to annihilate opponents with behemoths Tanner Glass and Taylor Pyatt winging Brandon Sutter. They also present a scoring threat however with both Pyatt and Sutter possessing decent skill and the entire line offers a relentless work ethic. The fourth line is probably put together for Salary Cap reasons.

On defence, a solid mix of youth and veteran presence make them equally as dangerous. Letang is viable to score every time he’s out there, with his partner Scuderi taking care of business in his own zone has one of the best stay at home defensemen in the league. Bortuzzo and Orpik are both big, hard to play against blueliners who will pound the Flames into the ice at every opportunity and the third pairing features a guy who the Flames could’ve drafted but Jankowski is better, obviously.

Jeff Zatkoff played last night in Edmonton so it’ll probably be MA Fluery in tonight for the bird who can’t fly. Someone should tell him this is a playoff game so the Flames have a better chance of scoring!

Sum It Up

Is there a chance the Flames come away victorious in this one? Yes. Is it a good one? No. It’s more than likely that this game will be more fuel for Lambert’s negativity fire, than for my positivity one (which is more of smoulder than anything that this point). The Penguins are really good and the Flames are really not. Those are facts, but the Oilers proved last night that facts can be meaningless sometimes, sparking a little bit of hope for the home side tonight. If Berra can put on his best Kiprusoff impersonation and the Flames actually score once or twice, they stand a chance. They proved a couple weeks ago that they can hang with the Penguins, but then again, that was back when they could score.  

  • RedMan

    My prediction:

    Paul Byron will get into a fight to either defend another player or spark the team,while our depth forward line (Grats, FridgeGarth)will give the Pen’s shutdown line fits.

    Like usual.

    Yay, we get to be on HNIC!!! wait… can we take a rain check on HNIC? this could get embarrassing.

    See ya all at the barn… be there or be square!

  • Christian Roatis

    It would really be nice to see a Flames blog without the mention of Edmonton. A lot of envy goin around down here lately. How about we don’t get shutout tonight and we can go from there. Baby steps…

  • Burnward

    You pukes in ” we wanne be” town just can’t refrain from slamming
    the Oilers can you. Is it deep down inside you know their current state
    will turn around and when it does your pathetic excuse for a hockey
    club will be what is typically found on on toilet paper ? Yes, the Oilers
    have issues, but i assure you the talent is there and that is what scares
    you. You have none – zero – not the slightest of hope. Monahan ? Yeah , he is good but thats all you have besides arrogance for no reason.

    So shut your pie hole Flamers and Flamers Media buffoons, you have nothing to slam Edmonton or the Oilers about. You my friends are
    a hair away from being the , yes THE doormats with no future. Your coach is soon to be gone as well. Look in the mirror Calgary and tell me what you really see. And save the slamming of the City of Edmonton, I’ve lived in Calgary, it really is not all that you think it is. Wanna Be’s , you just can’t figure it out can you. Pathetic.

    Enjoy an Angry Penguins Team tonight you sad sack doormats.

    PS – Go back to Atlanta where you belong.

    • Burnward

      why don’t you go back to your Oiler loving blog dueshbag !! Flames will rebuild in half the time its taken the Oilers. You are pathetic. The Oilers have and continue to be doormats for almost a decade.
      As far as cities are concerned Edmonton is a dump. Your team is probably a lot like you. Overrated and undersized.

    • Spaz

      An angry pathetic Oiler fan that is a loser and supports what is clearly the worst pro franchise in sports history that has had over 500 losses since 2006. And those are only the Oilers, we won’t even mention the Eskimos! What a pathetic fan and City.

      • Spaz

        Just out of curiosity I looked at the regular season totals since the lockout and was shocked to find that the flames have only won 18 more games than the Oilers over the last 7.5 seasons.

        Hurray for the loser point / shootout?

        EDIT miscounted the first Oiler failure season, it’s actually 59 games! Or on average 7-8 games a year.

        • Christian Roatis

          Typical Oiler fan that can’t add simple numbers. Tell me what these numbers mean?? 30, 30, 28 etc etc. Sound familiar? Want to know why the Oilers have better talent? Could it possibly be the league grants basement dwellers 1st overall draft choices?? Guess what Oilers are going to get another one this year. More shattered dreams and careers for young top talent. Becoming an Edmonton Oiler! What a nightmare!

          • Spaz

            I think his point was that we both suck basically equally. But they have Nugent Hopkins, Eberle, Hall and Yakupov to show for it. Pretty hard to argue we aren’t the bigger losers coming out of the last 7 years.

            Thats why I’m so glad we finally got it right this year and are going for #1 overall. If only Buffalo could win a few more games.

          • Spaz

            No I was just trying to see if it was really as bad as he said it was. I do think they’re pretty equal in the current bad team department but what Calgary lacks in ‘skill’ they make up for in effort usually. The one thing both fans have in common is they both seem to think their rebuilds are going ‘better’ than they really are. It’s just the Oilers have years more of practice at being terrible. High draft picks mean nothing with poor management, just ask Islander fans… I mean Oiler fans…

          • Spaz

            I just looked at the Penguins drafting that built their team. It took 5 years of top 5 picks (4 of them being top 2). FIVE!

            Whitney (5), Fleury (1), Malkin (2), Crosby (1), Staal (2)

            Thats even more suck than even the Oilers have endured. AND they got Staal the year after they had Malkin AND Crosby in the lineup.

            My point is just that I hate our mgmt for not starting this a few years ago. Because history dictates we have a lot of pain ahead of us….

          • Spaz

            “AND they got Staal the year after they had Malkin AND Crosby in the lineup”

            No they didn’t. Malkin didn’t start playing until after Staal was drafted.

          • Burnward

            Ah, ya I see Malkin stayed in Russia after his draft year. But my point stands. They sucked harder and longer than the Coilers have. And that got them a powerhouse for 10+ years.

            Chicago, LA are also examples of 5+ years of suck comparable to the Oilers. LA took almost 10 years.

            I’m not saying the Oilers are awesome, they clearly suck bal1sac. But I’ve noticed we like to point at them and laugh and say how we will do it better and faster. I highly doubt it. But I’m actually quite happy. Ekblad this year, McDavid next year. Now thats something to talk about!

            Just saw this on TSN – “Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun believes the Flames could trade Cammalleri, Stepniak, Matt Stajan and Chris Butler before the trade deadline. All four will be unrestricted free agents after this season. Francis also speculates that defenceman Dennis Wideman could be traded if a team is willing to pick up contract and he waives his no-movement clause.”

            We might be able to catch Buffalo afterall!

          • Spaz

            History dictates that most rebuilds aren’t like Pittsburgh’s!

            I know it’s easy to get fed up with being an average or mediocre team but I’m not sure advocating a rebuild is always the right path. They were lucky, drafted well and had good management, for every success there is a comparable failure.

            Although Calgary could have picked a good time to do so if the McDavid hype train is the real deal.

          • Spaz

            So I had a small goof and missed one tally in a 7.5 field and when I double checked my results I pointed it out. Regardless the actual number wasn’t close to 500 which is why I started looking to begin with.

            But I appreciate your personal attack really I do! Stay classy Priom / Primo!

    • Freakin' Saprykin

      As a dedicated Flames fan, I have to say that you’re right. We are nearly devoid of talent. But we’re just starting this whole bottom team in the league thing. That thing that the Oilers have been doing for a few consecutive years now. Not trying to put them down, that’s how you get the Halls, Nugent-Hopkins’ and Yakupovs. Give us a couple years, we’ll show some promise too. There was a time when all the Oilers had to brag about was Ales Hemsky! This is that time for the Flames.

      • Spaz

        Jokingly ripping on either “Shelbyville” is one of the few joys you can get from two crap-tacular teams. I wonder if Islander and Panther fans do the same?

        It’s just a bit sad when some people take it so seriously. News flash: neither of these beloved Hindenburgs of hockey are getting in the playoffs anytime soon.

    • RedMan

      I know, I know… “how good the Oilers are GOING to be some day” ya I know… I have heard that may times and you know, in spite of the Oilers still being at the colon end of the league,right there behind Calgary’s sphincter, I DO still believe you…


      PS: the bitterness of so many years of Oiler suckage is painful to watch – you should get some counseling for that!!!

      • Christian Roatis

        I agree with everything you have said tonight Jeff!

        BTW: great picture of your parents at their first Flames game!!! You are such a good son….


      • Spaz

        The Oilers won because they got a couple goals that read like this:

        Nugent Hopkins from Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle

        There is exactly zero chance of a couple goals like that happening for us.

        I get that we take pleasure in ridiculing the Oilers, but yikes…. I actually watched a bit of that game last night and it was really depressing as a Flames fan. Why? Because the Coilers suck so, so bad, but wow. It put into perspective how thin we are as a team.

        We have nobody. Seriously, nobody…. Honestly we have a long long road ahead of us. Malkin, Crosby, Neal. UMMM ya… But even the Coilers have so many players that are better than ANY of ours.

        Oh well, Ekblad should help.

        • Christian Roatis

          Well I never said the Flames were good, or better than the Oilers or any of that. Fact is though, the Oilers and Flames share the distinction of being bad, and if one bad team can beat the Penguins then maybe the other bad team can too. The theme of the FGD: There’s a chance, not: Oilers suck more than Flames.

  • Spaz

    Actually Zatkoff played last night, probably due to the oil being the worst in the west. Honestly I’d rather have Fleury in net as he might have a wheels off the bus performance to gift Calgary a win.