FGD: NIEUWY & THE BOTTOM FIVE

Islanders

via Michael Cummo Photography

Tonight, the Calgary Flames (24-31-7) host the New York Islanders (24-32-9) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The game is an important one in the reverse standings.  If the Flames win in regulation, they leap frog the Islanders into 25th overall (no good).  If the Flames lose in regulation and Florida beats the Sabres , the Flames end up tied for the 28th spot overall (excellent).  The night will no doubt be special as former Flame great, Joe Nieuwendyk, will be honored in the Flames ‘Forever a Flame’ program.  Puck drops at 7 pm MT (or whenever the ceremony ends).

JOE NIEUWENDYK

Joe

-via hockeymedia

Nieuwendyk, one of my favorites since I could walk, was a significant contributor to the Calgary Flames for the better part of eight years.  Joe was drafted in the 2nd round (27th overall) in the 1985 draft by the Flames after putting up 45 points in 29 games his first year at Cornell University.  He would play two more years at Cornell, putting up significant points in his time there, while playing a few games with the Flames in the 1986-97 season as well.  His official rookie campaign was the 1987-88 season.  Joe scored 51 goals, 41 assists and 92 points (all club rookie records).  At the time, Joe became only the second rookie in NHL history to score at least 50 goals in a season.  Mike Boss was the first with 53 in 1977-78. Nieuwendyk went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy for the league’s best rookie in 1987-88. 

Joe scored another 51 goals in his second year, to go along with 82 points and was a significant piece of the 1989 Cup Winning team.  Joe continued on with the Flames for five and a half years.  In total, he amassed 610 points (1.07 ppg) with the Flames.  

Joe entered the 1995-96 season very unhappy with his contract status.  After refusing a three-year, $6 million dollar offer from the Flames, he was traded.  Ironically, Nieuwendyk was traded for the young up and coming Jarome Iginla who would go on to be, not so arguably, the greatest player in Flames franchise history.  A fair trade if ever there was.

Tonight, contract issues that persisted 18 years ago will be put to rest and Joe Niewendyk’s #25 will be honored.  Although it’s not being retired, it’s assumed unless you’ve got an NHLE over 70 coming into the league, you better not think of touching that #25 these days … that’s Joe’s.

TONIGHT’S MATCH-UP

The Flames have been playing pretty decent of late.  They are 8-4-0 in their last 12.  Last time out, the Flames dominated the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday (trade deadline day).  The Islanders, well, they’re in a way.  John Tavares, the heart and soul and 50% of the talent, went down at the Olympics and he’s out for the rest of the season.  Thomas Vanek, unwilling to re-sign with Islanders, was traded to Montreal at the deadline.  The Islanders are 3-6-1 in their last ten.  Last night, the Islanders gave up a late two-goal lead to the Oilers, one of only four teams worst than them, and went on to lose in OT.  A trainwreck of a season for the Islanders to say the least.  

THE LINE-UPS

Via the always awesome www.dailyfaceoffs.com

  • Cammalleri – Backlund – Bouma
  • Galiardi – Monahan – Colborne
  • Byron – Granlund – Reinhart
  • Hanowski – Knight – McGrattan
  • Giordano – Brodie
  • Smid – Wotherspoon
  • Russell – Butler

  • Ortio

Those are some different looking lines from even a week ago.  Hudler and Wideman both went down with injuries on Wednesday against the Flames.  Stajan appears to still be out with personal reasons (hopefully positive personal reasons there) and the Flames had a couple bodies go down earlier in the week.  As a result, the line-up features half of the Abbottsford Heat’s line-up.

Granlund will center Reinhart and Byron today.  I really like the looks of that line.  Granlund, who has looked very good since being called up three games ago, has some chemistry with Reinhart and when you add in Byron’s speed and tenacity they could be surprisingly dangerous.

Corban Knight has been touted as a very reliable guy in his own end which, from what I saw on Wednesday, he seemed to be just that.  As well, he was absolutely superb on draws in his first game out (61%).  He’ll need to win a lot of draws tonight to keep that 4th line above water but I really liked what I saw from him in his first game.  I’d say he’s the third or fourth center on this club come Fall.

Wotherspoon will get his first taste of the NHL tonight.  By all accounts, he earned the call-up with some pretty reliable play in his own end down at the farm. If you don’t notice him unless consciously looking for him that’s probably a good thing.

Ortio, who was great on Wednesday, should be in the pipes again tonight.

THE OPPONENTS

  • Grabner – Nielsen – Okposo
  • Bailey – Nelson – Clutterbuck
  • Lee – Strome – McDonald
  • Martin – Cizikas – Halmo

  • de Haan – Hamonic
  • Hickey – Visnovsky
  • Strait – Donovan

  • Nabokov
Take out Moulson/Vanek and Tavares and that is not a great line-up.  Yikes!

SUM IT UP

Tonight is the second and final match-up between these two teams this year.  The Nieuwendyk celebration will certainly give some importance to the game as the celebration will be a memorable one. The only importance of the actual game however is how it affects the 2014 draft, three months from now.  With the amount of kids the Flames have up, this could go either way.  The Flames have been on a hot role of late so I’ll give them the edge.  Win or lose, it’s all gravy when you’re nowhere near playoff contention and instead vying for draft position. 

Share some thoughts and memories about Nieuwendyk in the comments if you got ‘um.

  • mattyc

    One more thing. All this talk of tanking is friggin ridiculous. How does becoming the absolute worst at something make you any closer to getting better. Just means there is a longer ladder to climb. I hope they win out.

  • Burnward

    So off topic but maybe someone could answer this for me. First off I don’t know alot about hockey other than it’s fun to watch while having a beer. I like Burke he entertains me. Why is he a hockey guy as opposed to the former GM Peter Griffin who isn’t a hockey guy. Seems to me they are both lawyers. Whats the deal?

    • beloch

      Display names are case sensitive on this site. Primo != primo. Whoever designed this site’s authentication system made some unusual choices.

      Request for Mr. Pike: How about a “report post” button so we can help weed out the trolls? The trash button is more for people we merely disagree with. Trashing trolls just gives the little attention wh*#$es what they love most! A “report post” button would reduce trolling even if the reports are routed to /dev/null. It gives people something to click on instead of “trash” when trolls piss them off.

      P.S. Am I a bad person for feeling oddly gratified to be specifically targeted by ‘nucks trolls?

    • Schmenkley

      No worries, I think any regular FN readers recognize the stench of desperation that precedes Canuck trolls wherever they go, hanging on to their delusions of “elite”…..

  • mattyc

    For those that are wondering here are all the Flames that have worn # 25 in their history. This stuff is on nhl.com…. fyi

    Eric Vail, Willi Plett, Greg Meredith, Bruce Eakin, Yves Courteau, Mike Bullard, Joe Nieuwendyk, Dave Roche, Sergei Krivokrasov, Niklas Andersson, Igor Kravchuk, Martin Sonnenberg, Darren McCarty, David Moss, Steve Begin

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Nieuwendyk is the last true #1 center the Flames had. Forever a Flame is kinda silly, there are some guys who should have their jerseys retire and I think Joe is one of them.

    As long as Garth Snow is the Isle GM, they’ll continue their one step forward two step backwards progress.

    Will be cool to see Wotherspoon makes his NHL debut.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Strength down the middle. That is what the late 80’s Flames had an abundance of, and Joe Nieuwendyk was the most talented and valuable Center on the team.

    I remember Nieuwendyk very well, and what I find exciting is that Sean Monahan has the same nose for the net and an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, just like ‘Joe Who’.

    • mattyc

      If Monahan can become as good as Joe was we will be in good shape. Maybe Knight can be the next Otto and maybe one of the other guys can become Killer and one like Pepper.(2/3 of these guys would be quite good) That team was loaded down the middle and could roll 4 lines and play two all star defenders and two other sold pairings. That is what I would like to see this rebuild try and be.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Looking at the lineup tonight I am quite excited about seeing the kids one more time. It will be interesting to see Spoon with Smid.

    Next years Flames lineup will look like this many nights next year except with Glenx instead of Cammi. Add Johny G, Sven and Poirier to the mix and there is some real potential for exciting hockey. I expect that Burke will pursue some bigger bodies to help supplement the size issue, I just hope they can skate with the kids.

  • Byron Bader

    Opening Ceremony: “Ladies and gentlemen we are here to honor one of the great Calgary Flames, your next GM, Joe Nieuwendyk.” Tell me Burke wouldn’t pull that off.

  • Lordmork

    From a drafting point of view, the Flames should probably lose tonight, which means they’ll probably win. That’s ok. We’ve got some rookies who are hungry to win. Let’s see what they can do before a few vets come back into the lineup. There’s still time for the Flames to fall back a few places, and I guess there’s always the lottery!

  • beloch

    A strange thing about that #25, but the Flames historically haven’t been at all reluctant to hand it out to new players. David Moss and Steve Begin both wore 25.

    #14 on the other hand…

    • Byron Bader

      I knew there was a couple people that had warn 25. Couldn’t remember off the top of my head. Thanks.

      I’m pretty sure nobody’s put on #2 since MacInnis left. Gilmour’s 39 has been tossed around a few times. He was only here for 2 years and change I guess.

      • Byron Bader

        Mike Commodore wore #2. There were a few others too (as listed here

        Turns out I forgot Darren McCarty and a few others with #25. But #14 has been suspiciously absent from the organization since Fleury; to the point of giving other numbers to blokes like Stajan.

  • beloch

    I desperately want the Flames to shred what little remains of the Canuck’s playoff hopes tomorrow night, so I should be able to take a loss tonight pretty philosophically.

  • mattyc

    “At the time, Joe became only the second player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals in a season, eclipsing Mike Bossy’s record of 50.”

    Um, no. Second ROOKIE. And Bossy’s record was 53.