FGD #39: Closing Out 2014 (7:30pm MT, SN One)

The past year has been pretty good to the Calgary Flames, all things considered. The team’s rebuild progressed from its infancy to the point where the Flames played spoiler to playoff teams last season and went on a great run late in the season. Overall, the Flames enter tonight’s game against Edmonton, their final game of 2014, with a 41-35-4 record over the calendar year.

And yes, they still consider themselves to be rebuilding. They probably will until they make the playoffs, whenever that happens.

Tonight’s game is interested on a number of levels. Calgary (20-15-3 on the season) hosts their most bitter historical rival, the Oilers (8-22-7 on the season) for the second time in five days. It’s the annual New Year’s Eve game. Everyone will have the end of the calendar year looming around them. The Flames desperately want to bank some points as they creep towards a playoff spot. The Oilers just want to avoid starting another losing streak as they creep towards relevancy.

The puck drops at 7:30pm MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. It’s the late game of a double-header, following a Toronto/Boston game at 5pm on Sportsnet West. There’s a chance that if the first game runs long, the start of the Flames game could be delayed slightly on Sportsnet West, so beware. Or just stick to Sportsnet One, if you get both.

THE FLAMES

Lines for tonight, via our pals at Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.34.45 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.34.59 PM

Jonas Hiller makes his 24th start of the season for the Flames. He’s 12-10-2 this season with a 2.29 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and a .934 even-strength save percentage. He’s been on a roll of late, so it makes sense to park Karri Ramo on the bench for another game.

Josh Jooris returns after missing a few with an upper-body injury, and he bumps Mason Raymond to the press box and Joe Colborne to the wing. Both are entirely logical, smart decisions given how well Jooris has played and how poorly Raymond has of late.

Mikael Backlund skated with the main group again and coach Hartley noted he was progressing well. Backlund, Ladislav Smid and Sam Bennett remain on the sidelines.

The Flames are 16-8-3 all-time in New Year’s Eve games, not that it means anything at all.

THE OILERS

Lines, via Daily Faceoff!

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.41.37 PM

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Ben Scrivens starts tonight after back-stopping the Oilers to their SECOND WIN IN THEIR LAST 22 GAMES. It’s been a long year up north. Season-long, he’s got a 6-13-5 record with a 3.10 goals against average, .895 save percentage and .902 even-strength save percentage.

Yikes.

The Oilers have made a few roster changes since we last saw them, adding Derek Roy (via trade from Nashville) and Mark Fraser (off waivers). I don’t hate either addition, as they both provide the Oilers with some depth, though I question if Roy adds the same necessary (and missing) physical aspect to the team that Fraser does.

Edmonton’s blueline is still a chasm of dread, though. I’m not sure if their bad goaltending is a product of bad defensive play or the other way around, but the Oilers give up way too many goals.

ELSEWHERE

Also today, the Adirondack Flames (19-13-2) host the Toronto Marlies (13-15-4) in Glens Falls at 3:30pm MT. The Baby Flames continue to be bolstered by the strong play of goaltender Joni Ortio (15-7-1, 2.59 GAA, .915 SV%), and anchored by their top line of Sven Baertschi (11 points), Bill Arnold (17 points) and Emile Poirier (19 points).

OUTDOOR FUN

Tomorrow, the NHL presents its annual Winter Classic in Washington, DC, between the Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Many current Flames have outdoor experience: Jonas Hiller (2014 Stadium Series), Mark Giordano (2011 Heritage Classic), Dennis Wideman (2010 Winter Classic), Matt Stajan (2011 Heritage Classic), Curtis Glencross (2011 Heritage Classic), Mason Raymond (2014 Winter Classic), Jiri Hudler (2009 Winter Classic), Brandon Bollig (2014 Stadium Series) and Deryk Engelland (2014 Stadium Series) have all played in NHL outdoor games.

Rookies Johnny Gaudreau and Josh Jooris both played in the Frozen Fenway event back when they were in college.

SUM IT UP

It’s round three of the Battle of Alberta tonight! The Calgary Flames can cap off a very strong 2014 calendar year AND cement a win in the 2014-15 edition of the Battle of Alberta with a win tonight.

And the two points will go a long, long way towards helping them achieve their 2015 resolution of making a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.



  • Cool Story, Brodie!!!

    What a wonderful hockey game … CAN vs usa!!

    Totally enjoyable .. what a mix of talent on both sides.

    McDavid vs Eichel … McD by the smallest of margins.

    Werenski as a Flame draft … I am ambivalent.

    Demko with a bunch of superb saves!

    Just saw a few shifts by Rafikov of the Russians … we could have something special developing there!! Czechs playing with great desire.

    What fun!

    BTW: Nurse a lock with the Oil … good player and Hanifin (spelling?) … very good also. Finally … Sam Reinhart??? Simply super! Great,great game!

      • RKD

        Goalies are a crap shoot at the best of times. Remember Gibson playing so well for the US, launching into a playoff run with Anaheim and now mired in the minors and can’t get a sniff in the bigs. The same could be said about Demko. The reality is goalies are a different breed, develop at a different rate and some who look superb in junior are a flop when they face NHL talent. So unlike Walt, I’m willing to wait a few years to see how McDonald develops. No guarantees with any of them. And for my money, I’ll take BT’s opinion over Walt’s every time.

        • RKD

          Agreed.
          We should not even be having this conversation; we should never have drafted a goalie when our need was D.

          We should have drafted at least 3 D with our second and third round picks, instead of just 1.

          WW

          • BurningSensation

            And with this gem we can safely ignore everything WW ever says, forever and ever, amen.

            You never draft for position. Ever. It’s BPA all the way.

          • BurningSensation

            Ah…. BPA like McDonald, Smith and Bolig……..

            In the early rounds there is no reason to go off the board.

            BPA:
            Monahan: perfect
            Bennett: perfect

            Off the board:

            Jankowski
            Baerchi
            McDonald:
            No good.

            This GM gig is not that hard:
            Stay on the board in early rounds.
            Gamble in the later rounds….
            Gaudreau, Brodie in the 4th: perfect.

            WW

      • Just a Fan

        What is it specifically that you believe McDonald is not the better goalie? Personally I have not seen enough of Demko to comment on his ability. After the draft I admit I was concerned as you are…after watching McDonald closely at the Penticton tournament (I attended all the Flames games) my concerns were eased. He is a big goalie, has exceptional lateral movement, and has extremely quick reflexes. He played all 3 games and was a bit nervous in his opening period of game 1. If I can recall I believe he won all 3 games. He is only 18 years old with plenty of time for development. Time will tell if it was justified to draft him in the 2nd round. Your entitled to your opinion……

        Your thoughts/analysis of MaDonald that justifies your comments? Have you seen him play?

        Perhaps you have found another “Rienhart” whipping boy?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Another day, another win for the Baby Flames over the Toronto Marlies…..Sven Baerschi sets up Billy Arnold for the OT winner! Reinhart and Knight with the other goals!

    GFG!!! The future does indeed look bright!

  • Cool Story, Brodie!!!

    Oil actually looked solid tonight. Nelson is looking like the coach they actually need. He’s only been the head coach for 2 games but they played a much more structured game.

      • Cool Story, Brodie!!!

        I hope the flames finish 16-22nd like they do every year. Miss the playoffs every year and when they do make the playoffs ( went past the first round once in the last 20 years) they don’t do jack shit. As a Canucks fan I can honestly say the flames are just as lame as the oilers. If you were good you could rip on them but you’ve won one cup and you’ve been an irrelevant franchise since you entered the league.

  • cgyokgn

    Our powerplay sucks. I don’t remember the last time we scored a powerplay goal. And when you don’t score on a 5 minute PP, well, something is wrong. Not only does it deflate your team, it gives the opposition a boost. I’m going to go get drunk and celebrate New Years, and pretend we aren’t losing to the Oilers. Go Flames, boo Edmonton, score more goals pls.

  • mk

    The Oilers are starting to look a little scramble-y: that’s the way I like them. 🙂 Klefbom has been good all night though – I’m not looking forward to seeing him up north in the future, as he develops.

  • cgyokgn

    Didn’t I say that Jooris was due for a goal? Flames completely dominated the OT. Three on three was really interesting: although we had two defensemen, being as they were Gio and Brodie, it was all offence. Flames with another exciting come-from-behind win.