FGD #4: Going to Winnipeg

After a disappointing second period sunk them on Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames leap back into action this evening in everyone’s favourite city, Winnipeg, where they face the Jets.

The Flames (1-2-0) haven’t played a complete game yet, instead relying on strong finishes to propel them to victory. It worked in one of their three games thus far, so perhaps they need to find a better plan. They’ll be in tough against the NHL’s largest team, the Jets (3-1-0), who are quite large, fast and pretty darn talented. The Flames would really, really like to get back to .500 before the weekend.

The puck drops this evening at 6pm MT on Sportsnet Flames (with Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey) and on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Jays/Royals game goes at 5pm tonight, so I strongly recommend picture-in-picture (or alternating between radio and TV broadcasts of the two games).

For a look from the other side, check out JetsNation’s preview of tonight’s game!

THE FLAMES

Calgary’s lost two of three to begin, but they were quite good for two of three periods on the road in Vancouver, so perhaps it’s a home-game thing. Either way, the Flames need to start accumulating points in the jam-packed Western Conference.

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Karri Ramo gets his second start of the season. He allowed four goals in the season-opener against Vancouver and wasn’t amazing, but also wasn’t why they lost. Healthy scratches are Joni Ortio and Markus Granlund, the Finnish pals, while T.J. Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Joe Colborne and Lance Bouma are on the shelf with injuries.

Calgary’s new approach seems to be an attempt at having two scoring lines, with Bennett and Backlund teaming up with Ferland (and Frolik) in practice this week with an aim towards getting goals out of players that aren’t on the top line. The Gaudreau trio has amassed five of Calgary’s seven goals so far this season, so they might want to get on that.

Calgary’s power-play has been uneven. Sometimes it generates chances. Tuesday was not one of those times, as they struggled to enter the zone and generally looked tentative and erratic with the puck until they finally scored on their fourth man advantage. They need to be more opportunistic to win games.

THE JETS

The Jets are coming off a victory over the New York Rangers last time out, and will be celebrating their home-opener. They’re the last NHL club to have their home-opener, and it’ll be weird for everybody to sit through introductions for a team that’s been playing for 4 games.

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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My understanding is Ondrej Pavelec will get the start tonight, but that could change. (Cheap Plug: Daily Faceoff has a starting goalie tracker page for every day of the season.)

The Jets? They’re pretty good. They have balance. They have size and skill, and several guys in their line-up can hurt you badly if you give them too much time and space.

Tonight, keep an eye on winger Nikolaj Ehlers. Formerly the ace of the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, he’s got great skating and very good hands. If he was a little bit bigger he’d be the perfect player, but as it stands he’s pretty damn good and can make defenders look foolish.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

Our pals over at JetsNation have done a good job looking at just what the heck’s up with Ondrej Pavelec, who traditionally hasn’t been amazing as a Jet (or as a Thrasher, really) – allowing for the ascendance of Michael Hutchinson last season – but has been superb over the last while. They look in-depth at his numbers between the old Jets coach, Claude Noel, and the new guy, Paul Maurice.

Interestingly, Pavelec has recently performed quite a bit better in
the low slot area, and slightly better in the high slot area, but
slightly worse in shots from the outside. This suggests that the
difference in save percentage from the two samples may be under
exaggerating the difference between the two samples.

In the end, the improvement is minor, although still an improvement.

The
difference between the 3K splits as opposed to the coaching splits is
due to Pavelec having one of his worst streaks ever just at the end of
Noel’s tenure, and likely in part why True North removed the coach.

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames won two of three meetings last season against the Winnipeg Jets, dropping Game 82 at MTS Centre with a line-up full of AHL call-ups as they rested everybody good after clinching a playoff spot at home against Los Angeles. (In the line-up for the Flames that game? Brett Kulak, Markus Granlund and Joni Ortio.)

The good news is that none of the games were close; the Flames won 4-1 and 5-2 (the first win being the emergence of the “real” Johnny Gaudreau with a pair of goals at the end of a road trip), while Winnipeg won the last game of the regular season 4-1.

There were zero fights between the Flames and Jets last season.

This will be the 20th head-to-head regular season meeting between the Flames and the Thrashers/Jets. Calgary is 10-8-1 all-time against Atlanta/Winnipeg.

SUM IT UP

It’s not quite a must-win game for the Calgary Flames, but in the front end of a back-to-back, it’d be great to kick off the weekend with a victory. Panic might set in among the populace if the Flames creep too far below .500, and a win here will ensure that they more or less keep pace with the West’s big guns as they find some chemistry, get healthy and eventually round into form.

  • MontanaMan

    Clearly offside. He lost contact on the puck -> skates over the blue. What’s the purpose of this coach’s challenge if they don’t even know the rules? Utter BS.

        • ClayBort

          False, straight from the rulebook

          “Rule 83 – Off-side
          83.1 Off-side – Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck
          into the attacking zone.
          The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be
          the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player
          is off-side when both skates are completely over the leading edge of
          the blue line involved in the play.
          A player is on-side when either of his skates are in contact with, or
          on his own side of the line, at the instant the puck completely crosses
          the leading edge of the blue line regardless of the position of his stick.
          However, a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the
          line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he
          had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the
          blue line. “

      • DestroDertell

        I think it was the matter of whether they considered Buff to have control of the puck or not as it crossed the line. Anyway, I feel bad for my country man to let such a weak goal so late in the game 🙁

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    Last season Hartley reached a coaching milestone (400 wins) and Calgary promptly lost 9 straight (8 in regulation). This season he wins his 100th as Flames coach and they lose 2.. I’m not saying it’s aliens. But it’s aliens.

  • everton fc

    We lack offence, outside the first line. We sort of did last year, if we’re fair with ourselves.

    Ferland needs to score. Jones has been quiet. Bennett needs to score. Ditto Frolik. Others.

    The line combos are still be juggled. Our defence is “meh”…

    We needed to come out of the gate strong this season. We haven’t. Simple as that.

    Raymond had 4 shots again this evening. Why can’t any go in the net? Jooris’ penalties in the 3rd didn’t help us…

    So much to point out. Don’t seem to have that jump, that killer instinct, that confidence we had last season.

    Year 2, of our “rebuild”….

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Well, second line scored tonight, and have been dangerous all year to date. Flames still juggling lines before settling on some combos. Thought Backlund with Bennett and Frolik was very good tonight.

      Couple other thoughts. Winnipeg is the biggest team in the NHL, as well as very fast. They used their size well, blocking shots and intercepting passes and mostly controlling the boards. Teams are also clogging up the upper slot which has been Calgary’s go-to play finding an open man there, so that hinders our offence quite a bit. Thirdly, we had low shots but a lot of that is we can’t hit the net for anything. Fourthly, they get a lucky bounce on the first goal, and beaten by a great play by DB, poor play by KR.

      It was a good game overall, close, they get a bounce and make the game-winning play when it mattered. Congrats to Winnipeg.

  • ClayBort

    for those who don’t want to read through the whole rule, here is the important part

    “However, a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered “off-side,” provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.”

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Control and possession are deemed to be simply is the puck on the stick, you can’t be going backhand to forehand as that is not deemed to be in possession.

      • ClayBort

        No, that is not the case. If the ref believes going forehand to backhand did not create a material possibility of the puck being lost, it’s still in the player’s possession. If Byfuglien had banked that puck off the boards, different story.

  • DestroDertell

    BTW, for the past two game I counted the number of completed/attempted transition zone passes done by the six Dmen. That is to say, a pass going north (another zone) which is either first catched by the receiver’s hands or stick and then kept.

    * vs. Blues *

    Name / Pass Completed / Pass Attempted

    Giordano / 6 / 13

    Hamilton / 5 / 9

    Russell / 1 / 10

    Wideman / 7 / 10

    Kulak / 1 / 3

    Engelland / 3 / 8

    * vs. Winnipeg *

    Name / Pass Completed / Pass Attempted

    Giordano / 4 / 6

    Hamilton / 4 / 4

    Russell / 2 / 6

    Wideman / 1 / 4

    Kulak / 0 / 2

    Engelland / 1 / 4

    Only counted even strength because the level of difficulty changes with less players who can interfere. Unsure if I got the numbers right for the last period.