FGD #4: A Trip to Music City (6pm; SN360)

After two days off to give thanks for the points they have already received – two, via the Oilers – the Flames are in the Music City of Nashville, Tennessee tonight to visit the Predators.

The Flames have had three games worth of good third periods, but haven’t really played a full 60 minutes yet this year. That’s bad, as playing a good 20 minutes will only apparently beat Edmonton – and that took Edmonton rolling over in the third. Granted, it’s early, but the Flames really need a full 60, especially if they’re going to bail out their goalies; Hiller and Ramo have been good-to-excellent thus far, but the club has just a single win to show for it. In the midst of a six-game road trip, the team will need a more complete effort to survive.

The puck drops at 6pm, and you can catch the action on Sportsnet 960 The Fan or on Sportsnet 360.

THE FLAMES

Calgary is now in the meat of their six-game road trip (with three games left after tonight). They beat Edmonton in Dumpsville on Thursday, then were out-played soundly by a better Blues team on Saturday. Now, after two days off, they face Nashville. Nashville won two of the three games against the Flames last season, with Calgary’s lone win coming in that thrilling 5-4 shootout. They also had that excellent 6-5 game in March (when they received a standing ovation from the Saddledome crowd despite losing). The game in Nashville was more one-sided and had Carter Hutton in net.

The Flames used four different goalies in their three games with Nashville, while the Predators used three.

Lines, from our pals at Daily Faceoff (via Derek Wills and the Flames media troops in Nashville):

Hudler – Monahan – Setoguchi
Glencross (A) – Backlund – Byron
Raymond – Colborne – Gaudreau
Bollig – Stajan – Bouma

Giordano (C) – Brodie
Russell (A) – Engelland
Wideman – Smid

Ramo
Hiller

David Jones (upper body) remains out, but is not on the IR, but Jiri Hudler is back from the flu, so the lines get shuffled and Brian McGrattan sits. Ramo starts in Nashville, while Jonas Hiller hopes to repeat Reto Berra’s Swiss magic from last season and win when he starts in Chicago on Wednesday.

THE PREDATORS

Nashville is 2-0-0 and have been off since Saturday, like the Flames. They have wins over Ottawa and Dallas under their belts. This is the final game of their season-opening three-game homestand, after which they hit the road later this week. Peter Laviolette is their new coach this season, replacing long-time coach Barry Trotz. So far, it’s going well.

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Bourque – Ribeiro – Neal
Forsberg – Roy – Smith
Wilson – Jarnkrok – Jokinen
Beck – Gaustad – Nystrom

Josi – Weber
Volchenkov – Jones
Ekholm – Ellis

Rinne
Hutton

Mike Fisher (achilles), Victor Stalberg (lower body) and Matt Cullen (upper body) are all on the IR for the Predators. The good news is that Cullen was the Preds leading scorer against Calgary last year. The worse news is that the Predators are a lot deeper than last year’s version, so I doubt they’ll need Eric Nystrom to score four goals in a game again.

That defensive group looks pretty damn solid. And let’s welcome back Nystrom and Olli Jokinen, two fine former Flames.

SUM IT UP

The Flames have had a tough time winning in Nashville recently, as they haven’t won in that town since 2011. With how they’ve been playing – and how good a start Laviolette has the Predators off to – it will be tough for them to break that streak.

Unless they bust out their first real 60-minute effort of the season. If they play how they did against St. Louis, they likely will lose once again.

  • Brent G.

    Only hrudey would pick Ribeiro as first star in a flames win. What a joke. G__damm hrudey . I’ve always said he hates the flames and he proves it time and time again. Believe it. How do we get stuck with these drips calling our games. Lubeo you are a joke too. Hopefully your balls drop before the season is over

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    2, 3 years ago you could pretty much turn off the TV if the game went to a shootout. Iggy would miss, Kipper would crap the bed. I actually have confidence going in now!

      • piscera.infada

        Kipper got better as his career dwindled (oddly enough). In the early (and game-dominant) days, he sold-out for the poke-check almost every time. It became ridiculously painful to watch.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Hmm. I seem to remember him finding a bit of success with the poke check for a short time. Then he over used it and teams figured him out. Mikka himself said he hated the shootout. Flames were abysmal at it. One of the worst in the league.

  • Lober

    Flames played like a team tonight. Bollig was a doof but whatever. Backlund in beast mode already.

    In regards to the Oilers, I honestly could see them finishing 0-81-1.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Every season Edmonton seems to add more talent. Every season they look better on paper. Every season I expect them to improve. Every season I’m wrong.

      What up, yo?

      • RexLibris

        A few things.

        They are missing two of their top line in Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle.

        Eakins decided to healthy scratch Petry in a moment of career suicide – honestly, I think this game could get him fired and I’m not on the “fire Eakins” bandwagon.

        They dress two rookies for their first NHL game against the Kings in Yakimov and Nurse, and they can’t protect Draisaitl against the hard match-ups.

        They have the pieces for the most part, aside from center.

        MacTavish pursued Jokinen, Perrault, Legwand, and a host of other free-agent centers this off-season but none signed.

        Gordon had a hard collision tonight and could be injured which means that their most veteran center on the team would be Mark Arcobello with 45 NHL games.

        Some of it is self-inflicted, some is karma being a sadist.

        End result is potentially another wasted season.

        • MWflames

          Here’s the thing though. Generally, I think the oilers made decent moves this summer, and fair amount of them too. But how could anybody look at that centre depth chart and think they’ve created a winner? I’m not saying mactavish should of sold the farm for a topbline centre. But he made a decision not too, and honestly I think that is the same as making the decsion not to make an honest effort at the playoffs. I guess I’m just saying nobody should be too surprised because any game that RNH misses will be a very hard game to win. And that should of been abundantly clear to any oilers fan.

          • RexLibris

            Well, I think the point is that they knew that they needed C depth and went shopping but at every turn the aisles were empty.

            Eventually you run out of options and have to go with what you have.

            There is a trade waiting to happen and it involves Jeff Petry.

            They have the players, but it is putting them in a position to succeed.

            I don’t think Draisaitl or Nurse should be in the NHL past their 9th NHL game.

            Every Oilers fan knew that if Nugent-Hopkins missed any time the sky would fall.

            The team tried to address it and couldn’t.

          • RexLibris

            With Draisaitl, they have painted themselves into a corner. They anointed him as #2C out of camp, so they can’t send him down now. With RNH out, it even more at peril.

            The trade waiting to happen should be Schultz, which would get a decent return. Petry is not the golden boy, but is a better all-round player. MacT didn’t help the case by signing Petry to a 1 year and Schultz to a 2-year deal.

          • RexLibris

            No arguments here.

            I’d suggested they trade Schultz because he has fame around the league and I think he gets the better return while Petry, who is actually the more valuable player based on breadth of skills and consistency of play, should have been signed to a four-year deal.

            Instead, well, the usual happens. Management thinks they have another Paul Coffey because they all played with him and this guy likes his steak cooked the same way while Petry just doesn’t “fit” with the team plan.

            They didn’t have a choice on Draisaitl after camp. He beat out Arcobello, Acton, Yakimov, Lander and Khaira. The only one who should have even been considered is Arcobello.

          • RexLibris

            He’s not really Brodie because Brodie is smaller but skates the puck better.

            Petry is big, plays a positional game well and has a strong first pass. He’s a RHD that you put out against the better competition in a shut-down role designed specifically at taking the puck away from the opposition and moving it to counter-attacking forwards.

            If the Flames had him and two decent NHL scoring wingers they could challenge for the playoffs.

            Petry could go to Detroit and look like a miracle. Those who cheer for him in Edmonton expect this and wouldn’t be surprised in the least.

            I think Holland and Nill both like what they see in Petry and my guess is that Nill looks for a way to acquire him to bolster an unimpressive blueline and push the Stars closer to the top of the Western Conference.

          • Lober

            Which, size aside, is how Brodie stated out. Differences for sure and Petry IMO is a #4 while Brodie is legit #2, but both rely on brains and transition, I guess, is how I was looking at it.

          • beloch

            The Oilers made some progress this summer. Their blueline still isn’t good, but it’s better than it was. I’d far rather the Flames picked up Fayne than Engelland, just for example. It’s still far too early in the season to say the Oilers haven’t improved. The sample size is just too small.

            That being said, they’re relying on two very inexperienced goalies, and if either one caves it’s not a good thing. Also, they drafted based on immediate need. Bennett was younger than Draisaitl and more highly ranked. We now know he had a better season than Draisaitl last year while both physically less mature and injured. Bennett was the smart pick. They drafted Draisaitl because he was more NHL ready and they needed a center immediately. So they drafted a player who is statistically likely to be inferior in the long term so they could rush him into the NHL immediately and potentially retard his development. That’s just plain dumb. I’d be a lot more pissed off if that decision hadn’t handed Bennett to the Flames!

            All that being said, even if the Oilers continue to suck this season, their lottery pick rookies still have years to go before peaking. Wasting this season isn’t going to drastically shorten their cup window. However, that assumes they can break the cycle of suck and attract competent players at reasonable salaries. They’re currently paying far too much for far too little, and it’s hard to change that without showing signs of finally getting on the long road that leads out of the desert.

          • RexLibris

            Bennett was ranked higher by many, but Draisaitl complements the team well. He’s a larger body, plays a strong two-way game and is a sublime passer.

            If they had taken Bennett the outcry would have been “another small forward” from many outside of Edmonton.

            Calgary got Bennett and he is perfect for the team. He can play in a lineup to complement Monahan who has a very different game and skill set.

            That the Oilers signed Fayne and Pouliot this off-season is a big deal. Those players usually signed elsewhere and both contracts are reasonable for where they are playing in the lineup.

            But yes, if they keep this up they’ll have to start acquiring player the way the Islanders do, by trade, and that can very quickly turn sour.

          • RexLibris

            Part of my reasoning behind thinking the Oilers would blow by Calgary last season was based on the ability to make, as MacT would say, “bold moves.” However, while they improved their D, I look to the NYI and what they did and give Edmonton a failing grade.

            The Oilers have top prospects to trade and 1st round picks. A savvy GM should’ve been able to fill in the holes faster and better. The entire organization, however, seems dead set against trading any sort of futures. Now, I’m not saying they should trade the farm in order to go back to being mediocre, but I do think there’s a window in which a team needs to transition away from rebuild and into “now.” Edmonton has done this, but not to a large enough degree. What would Klefbom and their 2015 1st be worth, for example? And what did Edmonton offer for Seguin? I’m not suggesting one for the other, but you can see where I’m going with this. Opportunities have come up to dance, but shyness has kept them on the sidelines.

            As for Schultz, so much ability, such brutal development.

  • cgyokgn

    Ever since coming back from injury near the end of last season, Ramo has been stellar. He also seems to have figured out the shootout (it used to be a guaranteed loss with him in the net, a continuation of the Kipper days). Not sure what has made the difference, but I like it. Let’s hope that Hiller can regain his confidence.

    • RexLibris

      I don’t think we need fear a cataclysmic war in the near future as it relates to hockey.

      Its a long season yet, and I hadn’t pegged the Flames to be as bad as some had expected/hoped. They have good players in key positions. It’ll buoy the team for the time being, whether that is for the better or the worse remains to be seen.

  • RexLibris

    In unrelated news Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla almost participated in fisticuffs tonight. Refs broke it up before it started but both of their gloves were off.