FGD: Return of the Mac

Tonight could be a battle of the two least conventional goaltenders in the NHL. It’s gonna be awesome. Tim Thomas in one net and your friend and mine, back from the ends of the earth, Joey MacDonald in the other.

Even though I know Flames fans are still basking in the glow of Wednesday night’s 7-2 thrashing of one of the Western Conference’s best teams, but this game brings an opponent with a history of embarrassing the Flames this season. In their previous two meetings, the Stars have won 5-1 and 7-3 in two of the worst losses the Flames have suffered this season. 

The Stars are also in the midst of a Playoff race so they will be a motivated team but who doesn’t like to spoil good things? The Flames are looking to continue their strong post-deadline play and help de-rail the Stars chances at the post-season.

Lineups and preview after the jump

 

THE FIGHTIN’ FLAMES

There are a few lineup tweaks (including in net) for the Flames as they head into Dallas, check them out according to our buds at DailyFaceoff.com and the Flames website. Once again, I have no real clue which line would be considered a top line, so I included whatever line Paul Byron is on as the first line because he is the coolest. 

Hanowski – Galiardi – Byron 
Cammalleri – Backlund – Bouma
Glencross – Monahan – Colborne
Westgarth – Knight – McGrattan

Giordano – Brodie
Russell – Butler
Smid – Wotherspoon

JOEY “I THOUGHT WE’D SEEN THE LAST OF YOU” MACDONALD

First off, and I’ll get back to this, let’s welcome back everyone’s favourite backup back to backstop the boys in the first of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. Back. 

After Wednesday night’s beat down of the Ducks, which I TOTALLY saw coming, the Flames are feeling pretty good I would think. Backlund had another unreal game against Anaheim and was easily the most dangerous Flame the entire night. He will play tonight with Cammalleri and Bouma which is a bit of a weird line really. 

Curtis Glencross continues his return to the lineup and will play on a line with Monahan and Colborne. I am curious to see how this line turns out as it will likely see some pretty tough competition tonight against the Stars. Monahan and Colborne seem to be a package deal these days, which I am not sure how I feel about. Colborne’s play seems to have shifted away from trying to make skilled plays in the middle of the ice to trying to use his size along the boards and make plays from below the hash-marks. However, it should be noted that last game, which was a 7-2 win, Colborne and Monahan were both even, played 16 and 18 minutes respectively, and combined for a total of 2 shots on goal. Do with that what you will.

Paul Byron has continued his very strong play after the deadline and has been one of the Flames’ most consistent contributors of late. Byron has filled every single role asked of him for the Flames so far this season, including goon duty, and has looked pretty good everywhere he has played. Against Anaheim, Byron put one on a platter for Galiardi to tap in short-handed and fed Smid (yeah, like, this Smid) for his first as a Flame. Here is Byron’s saucer pass to Galiardi from the Anaheim game:

 I wonder about Byron’s future with the Flames though. He turns 25 in April and has finally started to contribute at the NHL level but it goes without saying that his biggest detractor is the fact that he is another very small winger on a team that may have two others (Cammalleri, if he re-signs, and Gaudreau, if he signs and plays next year which might be a stretch) on the roster as well. Byron is an RFA at the end of the season and I think he has done enough to earn another contract with the Flames. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.

JoeyMac is coming into tonight’s game with a cool .885 SV% in seven NHL starts this season. That is, well, not very good. He did improve his numbers with Abbotsford, posting a .909 in 16 appearances with the Heat, largely backing up Joni Ortio  during that time. Look, no one is looking for MacDonald to make 60 saves and win the game 1-0 but hopefully he can give the Flames a chance to win and avoid giving up a back breaking goal. That’s all Flames fans ask of you MacDaddy. 

GOLIGOSKI’S MEN

Here is Dallas’ lineup from our dear compadres at Daily Faceoff:

Benn – Seguin – Nichuskin

Cole – Morin – Sceviour

Roussel – Fiddler – Chiasson

Whitney – Mueller – Garbutt

Goligoski – Daley

Benn – Dillon

Connauton – Gonchar

Thomas

The stars have a lot of talent on that first line but after that, there are a lot of unknown quantities in Dallas’ forward group. Sceviour, for instance, has been tearing up the AHL and was called up after the horrific incident with Rich Peverley. Alex Chiasson lit up the Flames in Dallas’ 5-1 win in Calgary and has generally had a pretty solid campaign this year but has been streaky, evidenced by the fact that he only scored two goals from December 3rd to March 3rd.  

The Stars are a fast skating team who have victimized the Flames quite badly in their previous two meetings. If the Flames would like to stay in this game, especially with their current state of goaltending, they will have to try to drag Dallas into the mud with them. 

The bottom-six of the Stars is a scrappy one with Garbutt, Roussel, and Fiddler providing sandpaper and Chiasson, and Ray “Old Man” Whitney serving fourth line duty at the moment. The Stars are missing Oiler exile Shawn Horcoff whom was hit by a puck in practice and not skating. The stars will likely look to their top line to provide offense and hopefully the Flames can force them to use more of their roster and exploit some of their inexperience, even though the Flames aren’t exactly brimming with reliable NHL talent at the moment either.  

The Stars are also coming into this game looking for a fourth consecutive win after beating St. Louis in overtime on Tuesday. Since the Olympic break, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been on a tear with Benn scoring 11 points in seven games while Seguin has four goals and five helpers in his last three games (!). So, I think the Flames might wanna watch out for those two right? On the back end, many would be surprised to see that Sergei Gonchar is still in the NHL. Good for him!

Finally, playing Dallas always reminds me of this so here is a picture of one of the best jersey’s in NHL history, which doubles as a handy instructional diagram of the female reproductive system:

dallasmoo

PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS

The Flames really need to get on a run if they want to challenge for the playoffs here.

In serious news, the Stars are in the thick of a dogfight for a playoff spot in the west They sit one point up on Phoenix, and three up on Vancouver with games at hand on both of them (one of which the Stars are are making up tonight as Phoenix does not play) :

Dallasstandings

So basically, what this means is that Flames fans have another of these no-lose games tonight. If they win, fantastic, but if they lose, it is another coffin nail for the Canucks and their post-season hopes. Rejoice in the Schadenfreude! 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?

82298000_5f3d8b9325_b

The Flames are going to be in tough tonight against a team that has owned them in their two previous games. Tonight also has the potential for some truly awesome displays of scrambly goaltending with Tim Thomas and Joey MacDonald dueling between the pipes. Look away aspiring netminders, do not try to emulate these brave netminders at home.

The Stars can continue their push to the playoffs and the Flames can continue to be pains in the asses of the masses. Puck drops at 6:30 MT on SNET-Flames.   

  • BurningSensation

    I already liked Byron before his recent stint of decent NHL play, because I thought he was the perfect ‘veteran-call-up-in-case-of-injury-good-guy-on-the-farm-mentoring-the-kids-plays-rightway-hard-every-night’ guy.

    Sure he’s never going to be as legit as the Cliff Ronnings of the past, but guys like him have an important role to play.

    Pay the man.

  • MattyFranchise

    Let’s not forget earlier this season Joey Mac threw his team mates under the bus and was immediately banished to Abbottsford. The only reason he is up with the Flames are the injuries. No one claimed this guy when on waivers which confirms his low value.

    When Ramo returns good riddens Mac!

      • It’s not how Beloch explained it to you at all!!

        After the loss he sensed he was going to be sent down. Rather than MAN UP he blamed his team mates for not playing well in front of him. Its was embarrassing for him and for the franchise.

        Flames management and coaching staff want nothing to do with this guy and he deserves his ass out of here!!

      • beloch

        He showed some human emotion and understandable frustration after a loss, and the newspapers spun it into this:

        “Goalie gaffe costs Flames – MacDonald critical of team’s play in loss to Wings”

        http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Goalie+gaffe+costs+Flames/9115368/story.html

        I doubt MacDonald was sent down because he spat out something other than the standard “stoic hockey player” lines to the press. Rather, he was sent down because he was stinking up the crease. He was 0.818 that night, which was his worst performance in a season where he averaged a 0.885 sv%. Meanwhile, Berra was averaging 0.908 in Abby. MacDonald wasn’t helping the club win so it was time to bring Berra up and see what he could do.

        MacBackup is back up because Berra was traded and Ramo is still injured. He’s playing only because the Flames play again tomorrow. It really is dumb to play a goalie in back-to-back games, even if he’s elite. Playing an exhausted goalie usually doesn’t improve the team’s chance to win, increases the goalie’s odds of injury, and also increases the chance he’ll be lit-up, which can damage his confidence. MacBackup is so awful that playing Ortio both nights probably would improve the Flames chances of winning, but resting him prioritizes his development over winning a meaningless game. Smart move.

        Note: Ortio did play in back-to-back games against the Islanders and Canucks just last week. On the second night he delivered his worst NHL performance so far. It might have been ugly if Vancouver had managed more than an utterly pathetic 14 shots. That is a game MacDonald should have played.

  • Lordmork

    I’ve been a real fan of Byron since his call-up. I think he’s surprised everyone with his play. This year he’s brought the attitude, if not the size, that I think Burke wants. I’d think that deserves a 1-2 year contract, at the very least, with the hope that he can develop further (he’s only played about 70 NHL games). At worst, he seems like a useful depth option who can play different positions in the event of injury and put up some points while doing it. I’m not sure you can have too many of those guys in your system.

    On a different note, I’m really curious to see how the rookies handle Dallas, who’ve been Flame-killers this year. I hope this rebuild puts the nail in the coffin of the Flames who give up after getting behind by a goal or two.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    So… it almost might be best to lose this one – for several reasons:

    To sink Vancouver

    Help improve draft position

    Help convince management to NEVER play Joey MacDonald again.

    • MattyFranchise

      They probably will lose but so long as they put in a solid effort then it is definitely a win/win for me. I’d like to see them play well and lose to a better team than they play horribly and give the game away like those incredibly frustrating boys in Shelbyville.

  • beloch

    The good news is that Hartley finally realized it’s dumb to play any kind of goalie, let alone a rookie, in back-to-back games. The bad news is that we have to see MacDonald in net either tonight or tomorrow night. Phoenix is a marginally more beatable opponent than Dallas so this is the right move.

    Tonight could be ugly, or the Flames might carry in some momentum after pantsing Anaheim and giving them all atomic wedgies. At least us Flames fans can tune into tonight’s game not knowing what we’re going to see, aside from the goal-tending…