FGD #27: Iginla Returns (Again) (7pm MT, SN1)

A year ago, almost to the day, the Calgary Flames were in a sticky wicket.

The team wasn’t great, having lost beloved captain Mark Giordano to an injury just as they got out of the starting blocks. To add insult to injury, beloved former captain Jarome Iginla came back to town with his new team, the powerhouse Boston Bruins, and beat the Flames at home.

Calgary finished sub-.500 and out of the playoffs. Iginla’s Bruins made the playoffs. (And Jay Feaster, the guy who traded Iginla, got fired two days after Boston’s visit.)

Tonight, Jarome Iginla re-returns with his new new team, the Colorado Avalanche (9-11-5). Circumstances have changed, as the Calgary Flames (16-8-2) are the team near the top of the NHL right now and the Avalanche are closer to the outhouse than the penthouse. And when you consider that the Flames traded Iginla to jump-start their rebuild and give him a chance to win a Stanley Cup, the current standings placement is pretty wacky.

Can the Flames continue their winning ways? Find out at 7pm MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Expect some minor tweaks to the line-up this evening, as Matt Stajan most likely makes his illustrious return after just over a month on the shelf. When you consider that the initial prognosis was six weeks for Stajan, that probably speaks to how much work he did off the ice to get back in action.

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.09.51 AM

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Nothing official yet, but my inkling is Stajan slots in and either Bollig or Baertschi sits, and Bouma moves back to the wing. Corban Knight was sent back to Adirondack yesterday to make a roster spot for Stajan anyway.

Karri Ramo gets his fourth straight start. He’s 7-2-1 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. His numbers have corrected themselves from his early-season funk and are probably about where they’re going to be, based on last season and his career to-date.

Beyond Ramo, lots of things to be happy with about this Flames team: they out-chanced the Coyotes on Tuesday, they continued to get good play out of their core guys (Brodie, Giordano, Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler, Glencross), though Glencross can’t get points lately.

Oh, and that Josh Jooris guy had a hat trick on Tuesday.

THE AVALANCHE

The big news for the visitors as they begin a quick two-games/two-nights road trip is the return of Semyon Varlamov to the net. Granted, he has looked downright human this season (4-5-4, 2.95 goals against, .918 save percentage), particularly compared to his robot goalie heroics last season. Still, he’s significantly better than back-up Reto Berra, who they got from Calgary at the trade deadline last season for a second round pick.

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.08.54 AM

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Varlamov starts.

On paper, the Avalanche have a strong line-up, except for that defensive group – which is borderline scary. Why have they lost more than half of their games? Probably their defensive play – goaltending that has been average instead of superhuman and teams feasting on their defense to get good chances.

And Jarome Iginla has his patented “slow start,” with just 15 points in 25 games with the Avs this season. By comparison, he has the same points/games totals as Dennis Wideman (and would be tied for 7th in Flames scoring behind Giordano, Hudler, Brodie, Gaudreau, Monahan and Glencross).

Welcome home, captain.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

Wondering what the Avalanche blogs are saying? Check this out:

Jarome Iginla is returning to the team where his career started, where he played for 16 years and served as captain for almost 10. He’s being pretty chill about it, but he’d like to beat the Calgary Flames. For the Colorado Avalanche’s sake.

SUM IT UP

The homestand continues! The Flames host their old friends from Colorado! Who are sub-.500 and just getting their good (non-Reto Berra) goalie back.

Given that Varlamov might be a little rusty, no time like the present to rack up two more points, particularly against the team’s longest-serving captain (who’s now on his third post-Flames team).

    • everton fc

      Winning teams find ways to win. This bunch has no quit in them. None.

      I almost expect them to win these days. And the losses, they seem only “blips”. Nothing to worry about.

      If we roll into January playing like this, we’ll not only make the playoffs, but teams won’t want to draw us as their opponent.

  • everton fc

    I have to ask:

    How did Baertschi look?

    Seems Ferland is a beast out there, especially in front of the net and in the tough spots. His goals will come once he figures out his game in the NHL.

    • everton fc

      Sure…but hope your not judging Ferland on the number of goals he gets! Having 12 forwards that can get you goals get’s you 29th place finish.

      I look at Ferland as that tough SOB power forward that the Flames badly need and did he ever show it tonight!!

      And yes you are correct he will get his goals because he has the skill and talent to score!

      • everton fc

        Ferland’s my favourite Flame in many ways. I’ve been following him since his time at Brandon. I have no doubts he can play at this level. I think he’ll find the score sheet soon enough. (Flames should keep an eye on Brandon d-man Ryan Pilon, by the way)

        Still wanna know how Baertschi looked to those who saw the game (I followed the internet updates real-time)

        • McRib

          I thought Sven played fairly well, showing continued improvement over previous games. Still nowhere near the level of Jooris or Gaudreau, but definitely more physical in the corners, made plays into the middle and was noticeable. Not sure about defese, didn’t notice.

      • Rockmorton65

        Don’t follow the logic of your 1st comment. A power forward needs to score. Otherwise they are Big Ern or Bollig.

        Ferland, Granlund and Baertschi would be a line that has size, toughness and skill. Byron has heart, but is more of a straight-line scoring threat, usually on a breakaway. Sven would add that element of passing skill and a bit of size that this line lacks.

        Granlund has lost a step since he and Jooris switched spots. Of course, Johnny makes most players better, but I thought Grans might be able to step it up.

    • McRib

      Sven Baertschi regularly created chances playing limited minutes on the fourth line with Bollig and Bouma. He made a couple notable defensive plays for me as well, an area he seems to be improving every game. Also earned a couple shifts in third stepping up to the third line. Ferland had a couple dominant shifts especially with one near the end of the second period where he created multiple chances just buzzing around the net, great hands in tight to go along with his frame. Goals will start to come for Ferland in the coming games. Granlund was actually fairly quite tonight I would have switched him with Sven, but understand he has earned that position outside of one game. I am just fine with how Baertschi’s complete game is coming around, once he gains the coaches trust we know he will produce with more offensive minutes.

        • McRib

          Sven is definitely a much better player when he is engaging physically, I wonder how much a couple of his injures at the end of the last two seasons created a slight lack of confidence to engage physically to start this season. In Junior he was always knifing through traffic, once he starts making sharp moves through traffic his offensive game will come back, he’s so great laterally in the offensive zone when he plays without hesitation crossing up opposing defenders.

          I think he might be served well to do one more AHL seasoning stint in coming months to get offensive confidence up again, but I haven’t seen anything of late that doesn’t suggest he is close to being a full time NHLer. I don’t think he needs a ton of AHL time however, 15-20 games and I would then start to roll him regularly in the bottom six at the NHL level, at some point you need to give top prospects time in the NHL to get comfortable with the speed. Some players benefit from playing top minutes in the AHL, but I think if you asked Sven he would rather be playing less minutes in the NHL at this point in his career.

  • zachg

    Im currently living in ontario so i do not get many games, but tonight courtesy of SN1 i got to enjoy one hell of a hockey game…. R U $$$$ing kidding me!!! Analytics big $$$$ YOU !!! Flames are like die hard with avengence!! GO FLAMES GO!!!!

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’ll bet Monahan has scored 85% of his goals in the NHL within 10 feet of the net. He’s a dangerous player when he gets in close, and is a clutch player. Love it.

  • McRib

    I think I just saw Lambert huddled in the corner, rocking back and forth, muttering “the flames have to tank to win. The flames have to tank to win. The flames have to tank to win….”

  • McRib

    And anyone who wants to argue my point of view I kindly submit:

    Exhibit A: Game seven, 2004 Stanley Cup Finals

    Exhibit B: Calgary Flames before and after said Final

    Exhibit C: 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins

    Exhibit D: 2014 Boston Bruins

    Exhibit E: 2014/15 Colorado Avalanche