FGD: Swimming with the Sharks


(courtesy Vegnews.com)

Fresh off their fisticuffs in Vancouver on Saturday, the Calgary Flames (16-26-7) head down the west coast to face another test in the form of a division rival. The San Jose Sharks (31-12-6) are fifth overall in the NHL, a stark contrast to Calgary’s 28th placement in the overall standings.

It’s the third meeting of the 2013-14 season between the Flames and the Sharks. The two previous meetings – one each in Calgary and San Jose – were both losses for Calgary. One was a one-sided 6-3 drubbing in the Bay Area (fuelled by the Sharks crazy-good PP scoring three goals), the other was a 3-2 overtime loss in Calgary a month later.

Which Flames team will show up? The October team that got spanked or the November team that grinded out a point? Find out tonight! The puck drops at 8:30pm MT on Sportsnet West, y’all.

THE LINE-UP

After the shenanigans on Saturday, the Flames actually played fairly well, keeping the Canucks to the outside and largely negating their deep top six. They lost because they took too many penalties (and because the Canucks didn’t play “their game” until the third). The Sharks are a much deeper team than the Canucks, but the same general approach could be useful.

The Flames didn’t do line rushes at this morning’s practice in San Jose, so it’s guessing games for lines. What we do know is that David Jones and Kris Russell are returning to the line-up from the injured reserve, which pushes T.J. Galiardi and Shane O’Brien to the press box. Ben Street is the other remaining healthy extra body. Mike Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross remain on the IR.

Hudler – Backlund – Stempniak
D.Jones – Stajan – Bouma
Colborne – Monahan – Byron
Westgarth – B.Jones – McGrattan

Brodie – Giordano
Wideman – Smid
Butler – Russell

Ramo
Berra

Ramo starts for the fourth time in the last five games. Calgary’s offense continues to be primarily Jiri Hudler-based (he’s got 18 more points than the next-closest player, and has more assists than any other player has points), with occasional flashes from Mikael Backlund and a rotating cast of characters.

THE OPPOSITION

The Sharks have been bit by the injury bug much worse than the Flames of late. They enter tonight’s game without Raffi Torres, Scott Hannan, Adam Burish, Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. Despite all of this, they’re still a pretty good hockey club. While the Flames were battling the Canucks on Saturday, the Sharks were involved in a track meet with the Tampa Bay Lightning – Joe Pavelski had a hat trick.

Lines, via DailyFaceoff:

Pavelski – Thornton – Burns
Nieto – Marleau – Wingels
Kearns – Desjardins – Kennedy
Sheppard – McCarthy – Hayes/Brown

Irwin – Boyle
Vlasic – Demers
Stuart – Braun

Niemi
Stalock

The Sharks have won three in a row, four of their last five and five of their last seven. In 2014, they’re 6-2-0. Conversely, the Flames are 2-6-1 this year. The Sharks have a much more balanced attack than Calgary – Thornton, Pavelski and Marleau drive things, but other guys have gotten hot from time-to-time to balance things out.

Calgary’s defense will definitely have their hands full tonight.

SUM IT UP

On Saturday, the Calgary Flames showed that, despite recent disappointments, they still have some fight left in them. They’re going to need to be at their best tonight against one of the NHL’s best hockey clubs. They showed they can stand toe-to-toe with them back in November. But in San Jose’s barn, they’ll need to set the tone early and, like they did against Vancouver, somehow suck the Sharks into playing their style of game.

Otherwise, it could be a very long night for the visitors.

  • the forgotten man

    Why not trade Stajan at deadline and let him resign in Calgary if being here was so important or how about only 2-3 years if he wants to stay here. Like a ten goal forward is not readily available during FA season. A 4 year anchor taking up space that should be used by our youth.

      • mattyc

        mostly in jest, I just wanted to give Clyde a hard time because he mentioned something about his corsi in jest.

        relCorsi is just corsi relative to the team average.

        I like the Stajan signing. Lots of good arguments have been made that he’s a decent (under-appreciated) player.

        • EugeneV

          So that means Stajan is slightly below the team average?
          Does it account for strength of competiton faced?

          Like I’ve stated previously, I want to understand the “new” stats.

          • mattyc

            It doesn’t account for competition.

            Stajan has a corsi% this year of 47.8%, meaning 47.8% of the shot attempts when Stajan is on the ice are against the opposing net. In a vacuum, that’s not great, but when you consider the Flames are a pretty junk team (the Flames’ team corsi% is 44.5%), it doesn’t seem that bad. Stajan’s corsi% is 3.3% better than the team average (relCorsi%).

            For competition you can measure against the corsi of the players Stajan plays against (called Corsi QualComp). There’s still a lot of debate about how to measure the quality of competition. Some use corsi, some use time on ice…

          • Parallex

            No. Without getting into the specifics PDO essentially measures luck in the form of shooting percentage plus save percentage. Having a PDO of 95 is bad luck (PDO 100 is neutral). Stajan’s 5 on 5 relCorsi is +3.2. A good number (slightly above average) that looks better when you account for his hard zone starts… not 4 years and 12.5M good mind you but he’s a positive player (for now).

          • mattyc

            I’d also be willing to bet the flames never get to 100 PDO this year. The goaltending is so far below acceptable, they’ll never get the 92% or whatever they need to get to 100. In that way, it won’t be luck so much as it will be anomalously bad goaltending.

          • Parallex

            Not if they keep giving starts to Berra they won’t… Ramo is nothing to write home about but Berra (and Joey Mac in his few starts) really drag team goaltending down. I’m almost surprised Ortio hasn’t gotten a turn yet.

    • Schmenkley

      Really? You seriously think 3-4 years from now we will have 3-4 other centers that will bring what he does, at that price?

      It is a REBUILD; Stajan as a 3/4 C down the road will be fine with me.

      • Schmenkley

        I’m just filling in the blanks. I’m fine with Stajan being here for a bit longer…

        But it makes me wonder because we have Backlund, Monahan and Stajan as our center depth, which I actually like, but then I remember we will be drafting high this year and next. Which is also good….

        But you have to think a center is going to be drafted likely in the next 2 drafts who is high calibre and able to step into the NHL upon being drafted or by the following season. Which is good because having too much depth at center is never a bad thing.

        But if that happens and we move a center I worry Backlund is the one who would be moved..

        He is young, valuable, has proven to be an effective center and could get you a better return than Stajan would in a trade.

        I just worry this makes Backlund trade bait at some point in the near future.

        My ideal future rebuilt team has Backlund and Monahan on it.

        I know players can be moved to wing as evidence by Colborne and Reinhart but how many LH wingers do we need?

        So I like Stajan signing but want Backlund here more so, if it comes down to that, so as long as this doesn’t eventually lead to that I can see the value in the deal.

        • Schmenkley

          I hear you and don’t necessarily disagree; I like Backlund as well.
          Unfortunately this is a rebuild, and there likely are VERY few untouchable pieces on the chessboard, far less than most fans realize.

          I think this signing, at this time, sends a couple messages:

          1) be a good soldier, commit to the cause and dedicate yourself to the team, and you will be rewarded (this goes out to any potential UFA’s that might look Calgary’s way down the road as well)

          2) All you young prospects that are and will be in the system can now count on a dependable proven vet to help carry the load for as long as possible

          3) The fans can now count on having a veteran presence in the dressing room to help teach our future stars (hopefully!) what it takes to be and become a professional hockey player in the NHL

          Ask the fans of the team a couple hours north of Calgary if they see any value in keeping a veteran presence like that.

          Hoprfully this will help ensure that we don’t wind up rushing the kids before their time, let them mature at a pace that benefits their development.

  • RexLibris

    Stajan’s contract hit is decent and this allows the team to shelter Monahan and backup Backlund for one more season at least.

    The term is long, but at that price, and barring any movement clauses, it shouldn’t be prohibitive. They can always waive him in year three or four if need be.

    Burke is recognizing the reality of the Flames situation with this signing.

    • RexLibris

      That would be a win for the Flames. They could re-sign Reimer and select twice in the top fifteen, perhaps ten in this year’s draft.

      Let’s wait and see happens.

    • piscera.infada

      Don’t see him trading Gio. In one of the articles linked to the previous FN contribution Burke is quoted as saying something along the lines of ‘it starts with defence’. I don’t know why you trade away your best and most consistent defeder, and your captain to boot for that return. Don’t get me wrong, I like what’s coming back there, minus Reimer, but Gio is a non-starter, I think. He’ll move Wides before Gio.

    • the forgotten man

      15 days?
      That’s a long time for no man-love with his gunslinger Bieksa!!!
      Or do they allow for conjugal visits?

      What a poozie that Bieksa is btw; so he steps up to take the faceoff so that the new guy does not have to fight Westgarth (solid move) but then sees how big Westgarth is and he refuses to fight him and finds someone smaller to fight….the new guy ends up fighting anyway.

      Gun slinger??? More like” ball gravy slinger”

      WW

  • flamesburn89

    Burke’s signing of Stajan to 4 yr extension, tells me 2 things: Burke believes in veteran leadership for the rebuild and that the rebuild isn’t going to be short. I’ll wait until the trade deadline to see what kind of value we are getting for Cammie and Wideman etc.

  • Burnward

    How is this a bad signing? A Guy that can move up and down the rotation during the rebuild, giving young guys an opportunity to develop in different roles. No NTC/ NMC attached from what I see. If someone comes in and challenges him then he can be moved. The cap hit is comparable to others of the same ilk across the NHL is it not? How many quality centermen are jumping at the bit to join a rebuild? Why do people care about term and cap, especially right now? The flames will be lucky to hit the floor next season as it is. This team Needs some vets and he’s a solid dude from all accounts. I like it, worse things to be “puking” about. Melodramatic much?

    • flamesburn89

      It’s not a bad signing at all. Guy shows leadership , is versatile and works hard. Plus he wants to be here. Some people just love to complain. Hope he has a decent corsi and can drive possession or some guys could really get upset though.

    • prendrefeu

      Melodramatic? Pfft.

      Do you want to watch Stajan for the next four years? Also, he’s 30.

      Why does everybody think these contracts are so easily moveable?

      • piscera.infada

        I think if you read my post you should be able to determine how I feel about Matty Franchise. But In case you just simply scanned it, I don’t see how it’s a problem contract, one that couldn’t be moved later if need be. It’s a fair contract.

        The 30 remark is silly, why is being 30 now a days a bad thing. The guy has the most NHL games played on the team and you need that for a young team. It’s called experience.

        If you are solely focused on individuals during this rebuild, repeat, rebuild, then you are going to miss the bigger picture…the team. He is a player that is good for the team, right now, during this rebuild. Do you honestly think that any of the young guys in Abby are ready for full time NHL duty without some kind of veteran leadership to help them through it? If you think we can get someone else to sign here and replace stajan who would you suggest? And again what would be the point, why replace a youngish NHL centre that knows the team now with someone from outside the organization. Why displace that leadership? I see no downside to this signing, this team needs players that want to be here. It’s going to be rough road for a few season, if we are lucky, and it’s cool that Matt Stajan wants to be here for it.

        • piscera.infada

          I also think that what’s commonly overlooked about Stajan is that the guy is clearly a team-first player. When he went through his crap-storm for the two years he always said the right thing, and kept coming back. Stajan is a guy who will play whatever role you give him – he won’t pout or mope, and he won’t ask for more. Those a great guys to have around when this situation is going to get even dicier.

  • Parallex

    TSN confirms Matt Stajan 4 years $12.5 million. A lot people may think it is too high but the cap is going up and is projected to reach 80-90 million. Also, Stajan wants to be in Calgary. Personally, I don’t think Burke will let one of his Toronto guys go. We will have guys like Stajan, Colborne and more Burkie guys down the road. Stajan is not the offensive guy he used to be but you need depth at the center position and a penalty killer. Stajan eats minutes and you need veteran guys, look at the Oilers. They are in year four of their rebuild and still behind the Flames who are in year one of their rebuild.

  • MichaelD

    Where has the Stajan signing been confirmed? Not exactly what the flames sites says or my limited search on NHL.

    If it’s confirmed he allows a veteran presence although I would have preferered an upgrade via the UFA market. The fact that he got through all the hate form fans during the first contact and the crap from Sutter he has demonstrated character and leadership. 4 years though is too long and the other issue is if there is any trade movement clauses. Another question is how does this fit Burkes idea of needing to bigger as Stajan is only average or a bit below average. Interesting days ahead.

    • Parallex

      Ladies and Gentleman… I give you Brian Burke!

      AKA The Darryl Sutter brother by another mother.

      How the frak do they reason that Stajan won’t be completely redundant by year two? He’s going to be (once again) the most expensive fourth line center in the NHL before the end of 2016.

      Burke makes such crappy signings. Guess he just wasn’t comfortable without a terrible contract to his name and figured he best overpay a guy that wasn’t even a free agent yet to more money then he’s worth and a longer term then is wise.

  • Czar

    Wish that we could see a legit 4th line of NHL players for once. We have the pieces for it but need to play not one but two fighter for some reason.

    Galiardi – B. Jones – Bouma

  • RedMan

    Stoaked to see Gio, Brodie, Russell, Wideman and Smid all play in the same game.

    I wonder who Burke will retain out of this group?

    Gio, Russell and Brodie are my fav’s!