Pre-Season FGD: One Last Chance (7pm MT)

The pre-season schedule for the Calgary Flames finally ends with a second game with the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the Saddledome.

The Flames sat their big guns on Thursday and lost 3-1. They played decently, but weren’t amazing in the second and third periods. Tonight, the Flames dress what’s basically their opening night roster against what’s basically the same Jets roster from Thursday. Want to see a reasonable facsimile of what the Flames are going to be? Tune in tonight.

It’s a 7pm MT start – a rarity for a Saturday game – on TSN3’s Centre Ice feed (Shaw channel 351 and check your local listings for Shaw) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines from morning skate:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
Bouma – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Bennett – Jooris
Bollig – Stajan – Jones

Giordano – Hamilton
Russell – Wideman
Kulak – Engelland

Ramo
Hiller

Ladislav Smid also skated with team this morning, but Brodie, Colborne and Byron did not. Drew Shore, who cleared waivers, was also not on the ice. Joni Ortio joined the practice group mid-way through.

Two interesting wrinkles: Karri Ramo gets the start and should likely play the full 60 minutes, and Brett Kulak – not Ryan Wilson – gets slotted in on the left side of Deryk Engelland. Hartley called it a “playoff game” for Kulak, but noted that getting his feet wet against the Jets late last season probably helps Kulak with the adjustment.

God, I hope their power-play is better tonight. Of all the things they’ve done this pre-season, their power-play hasn’t really gelled and this is their last tune-up game to get things working before live bullets begin flying on Wednesday. Let’s hope they can get it going.

THE JETS

The Jets had plane issues last night and flew in earlier today after having their morning skate in Winnipeg. Via Brian Munz of TSN 1290, here are projected lines:

Petan – Little – Wheeler
Perreault – Scheifele – Ehlers
Raffl – Burmistrov – Stafford
Thorburn – Copp – Peluso

Enstrom – Myers
Chiarot – Postma
Stuart – Trouba

Pavelec
Hutchinson

After Michael Hutchinson went 60 minutes on Thursday, the expectation is we’ll have a full game from Ondrej Pavelec tonight. Aside from no Dustin Byfuglien and no Andrew Ladd, it’s basically the opening night Jets – and a very similar group to the team that the Flames lost to on Thursday.

ELSEWHERE

There’s a trio of Flames-related junior games this evening:

  • The Calgary Hitmen (Pavel Karnaukhov) visit the Moose Jaw Warriors.
  • The Medicine Hat Tigers (Nick Schneider) visit the Prince Albert Raiders
  • The Barrie Colts (Rasmus Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane) host the Kingston Frontenacs.

SUM IT UP

The overly-long pre-season is finally, mercifully over after tonight.

We’ll have the return of meaningful hockey starting on Wednesday.

        • MWflames

          I believe you are referring to Paul Byron. Put Byron in Bouma’s spot, scratch Bollig and let Bouma take 4th line minutes. If that is the opening day line-up I would be happy with that.

          Defence: It appears they’re giving Kulak a chance to earn a job tonight and wilson is left to sit in the press box with his fate out of his hands. Interesting. I’ve liked Wilson’s play, and would take him over Engelland any day of week. But given who’s on the farm and that Smid is still around (apparently), we do not need another veteran contract. Hoping Kulak grabs the bull by the horns tonight and we see him again on Tuesday.

          Goalies are a headache that I don’t not feel like discussing!

          Should be a good game tonight.

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            Byron is NOT, EVER going to be any more than a spare part on ANY competent NHL line up. NEVER.

            Because he is on the ice for more shots for than against (Corsi, the only metric that says he is a player, but of course is a flawed metric because not all shots are equal to another) you want him there in place of an actual hockey player in Bouma?

            Go play fantasy hockey where those stats are important, because if they were the main thing then we would have Stephen Hawking coaching our team.

      • everton fc

        Bouma all be fine on the second line. And Ferland with Bennett is quite exciting. Jooris, as well.

        Bouma is a far better player than Byron. My hope is Bollig and Byron will slip in and out of that fourth line LW spot, with Raymond either waived or traded for a pick. I can’t see them letting Byron go, as Hartley loves him. But Raymond impressed last game, and Byron has been average, at best.

        Wilson would be better served as the guy in the box until Brodie returns. Let Kulak play; they can always swap him for Nakladal on the roster, and give Wilson the minutes. But let Kulak start as the #6 d-man next week.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      I tend to agree. Klimchuk could be a solid middle 6 winger (he’s years away though). That being said, Ferland has all the makings of a solid top-6 power forward, sort of like a Milan Lucic-lite. It’s not secret that Ferland had issues. That being said, he was a least a point-per-game in his two Jr. years post draft (2012/13 he wasn’t, and he bounced around to 4 different teams in 3 different leagues). That being said, Ferland has shown pretty good offensive instincts in the past, and he’s look reallly good w/ Monny and Johnny.

  • supra steve

    I like that Kulak is being given a chance to sink or swim. If he is even close to as competent as is Wilson, then why spend another NHL contract on a veteran D-man at this time when you have 2 experienced injured guys likely to return in the near future. Let the kid play himself either into or out of a job, even if it’s only for a short term this season.

  • Crazy Flames

    Interesting that Granlund and Raymond aren’t playing tonight for one last chance to prove themselves.

    Raymond must be safe and Granlund heading to the Heat to start the season.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    I’m liking those lines for the most part. That bottom six is fearsome, especially if Mickis and Frolik are as dominant possession-wise as we hope (which would mean offensive starts for Bennett and Ferland). And we already know that Stajan – Jones is about as strong a fourth line unit as you’re likely to find.

    Jets seem weak down the left side without Ladd. Also, who’s this Chiarot guy and why are he and Postma ahead of Trouba in the rotation? They’re strong down the middle though. Burmistrov as your third center? Yikes.

  • Greg

    Take out bollig and engelland and plug in Brodie and Byron, and I really like that line up.

    Just looking through the season preview predictions… Boy is the west an absolute gauntlet run. Outside Arizona, every team could be a playoff contender. Going to be a dog fight, so excited to watch it play out!

  • Burnward

    This team is going to be good this year. On the brink of very good.

    These guys are playing some hockey.

    Even if it is Winnipeg B+, they are getting throttled.

  • Burnward

    Well I haven’t been watching, but apparently the Flames are controlling play (does the eye test support this?). The worst Flames by Corsi are Kulak, Gaudreau, and Engelland, all at 50%.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Definitely yes. The Jets have had a couple of opportunities that looked dangerous but the Flames have been buzzing. The Bollig/Stajan/Jones line looks very effective and has had some good opportunities. Bouma/Backlund/Frolik (especially the latter two) have been doing exactly what you would hope – pushing the puck North.

  • everton fc

    Random ramblings…

    Bollig has 3 shots/2 hits. The Stajan lines seems to be the best on the ice tonight. Who knows – Bollig may put 10 in the net w/Stajan and Jones!

    Ramo – the first goal was a fluke. How was the second – I missed it?

    Kulak -1 on the fluke goal, but seems comfortable, with an odd partner in Engelland.

    Good to see Hartley trusting of Ferland on the PK, as he never PKd prior to this year’s camp.

    Faceoffs are becoming less and less a problem.

    Great save by Ramo, as I typed!

    • Big Ell

      Second was a great upper corner short-side over-the-shoulder shot from close in on the side, from a guy wide open. Not sure Ramo had any chance, but perhaps others will think so. Besides these he has made several great saves and overall looked pretty good.

      In the 2nd period Winnipeg played better, getting more pucks towards the net and better D through the middle of the ice. Flames had better chances the last 5 minutes but besides a couple of posts nothing yet.

    • Big Ell

      I agree, he’s looked composed, moves the puck out and occasionally jumps into the play. This is the first time I’ve really watched him and he’s been very good.

  • Big Ell

    Looks like BH mixed up the first line after a relatively disappointing 2nd period and moved Frolik up.

    That second goal that Ramo gave up was a helluva shot but…

  • Big Ell

    One thing I’ve noticed is there is very little physicality in the game. Lots of skating but few, if any hits, probably trying to avoid injuries being just preseason. I can’t imagine we’ll see the same once the season starts.