FGD #6: Home Ice Advantage – the Flames host Washington


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(Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports)

It’s probably premature to call the sixth game of the 2015-16 campaign a must-win for the Calgary Flames, but it’s rapidly approaching that status.

After five games of uneven play and underachieving, the Calgary Flames (1-4-0) face a big challenge in the form of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (3-1-0). While the Flames have struggled, losing three straight (and all against conference rivals), the Capitals have won two in a row by identical 4-1 scores. Now, they hit the road for a three-game Western Canadian swing.

The Flames hope to give them an inhospitable welcome.

Puck drop is at 7pm MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet 360 (with Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey) or Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines for tonight, via Daily Faceoff:

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Karri Ramo starts for the third time this season and he’s still seeking his first win. Last word was both Sam Bennett and Joe Colborne were game-time decisions, while it sounds like Mason Raymond and either Markus Granlund or Micheal Ferland are the extras. The Flames only have 22 active bodies, so they can bring Colborne off of the injured reserve without making another move.

UPDATE: Granlund was returned to the AHL, so it sounds like Ferland will definitely be playing tonight (as will Colborne). Most likely that third line is now Ferland – Colborne – Jooris.

The biggest news is four all-new lines, including the reuniting of the fourth line – who played together in the pre-season and were pretty good for whatever that’s worth. Hopefully the new lines lead to the groups playing simple rather than getting overly fancy; Calgary’s even-strength play has been occasionally okay and mostly bad, so focusing on simplicity – short passes, lots of shots, low-risk clearing moves – is a great place to start. Granted, it’s a challenge to take that approach against a team as talented and dangerous as Washington, but that’s the hand they were dealt.

THE CAPITALS

Washington’s projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Braden Holtby is likely the starter tonight. He’s been very good for the Caps thus far.

Washington’s line-up is a good mix of size, talent and speed. Their big bodies are either talented or can get moving in a hurry, and that’s allowed them to give more time and space to their highly-skilled players. Their defensive group isn’t the best in the world, but they nicely complement their forward contingent.

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames and Capitals split their two meetings last season. Tonight’s meeting is the 90th all-time between the Flames and Capitals; Calgary/Atlanta have won 42 of the previous 89 meetings.

ELSEWHERE

Way up in Prince George, BC, the Calgary Hitmen (and Pavel Karnaukhov) are facing the Prince George Cougars in the first of back-to-back games between the clubs tonight and tomorrow.

HOME ICE HERO

Celebrate the referee, volunteer, time-keeper, organizer or other great person who keeps the
game going and asks for nothing in return. Nominate your Home Ice Hero
and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero by clicking this link!

SUM IT UP

Again, it’s not really a must-win game for the Calgary Flames tonight, but the desperately need to get their house (and game) in order. They need to get points to get back in the thick of the Pacific Division, but I’m sure Flames fans (and other observers) would be content with a competitive showing against a very good Washington Capitals club tonight.

  • Johnnydapunk

    Not here to troll (slow sports night and the Flames game is the only one on)

    But what’s going wrong? Are the Caps that good or the Flames that shocking?

    Seems like goaltending is a bit weak and Hamilton has not really lived up to the 5.7 mill, it just looks rough.

    Just wonder if Hartley’s message not getting through or what?

    Really curious as that late in the game fight seems to be missing.

  • The unwashed

    The look on Hartley’s face before the last TV timeout said it all. Bewildered, Stunned, Shock…why is this happening? Line juggling, the current goaltending carousel isn’t working! Russell looks afraid and disinterested, Hamilton is getting pushed around (insert Oshie’s goal here) and with Backstom’s second goal, Hiller was already down. It’s not just a 1-5 record it’s a 1-5 record with no answers and the same crappy goaltending and uninspired play.

  • The unwashed

    Hamilton is an absolute mess. Another night of bad pinches, caught up the ice, being softer than a baby’s you know what in front of the net, out muscled constantly, out of position and on the ice for almost all goals against once again. Hamilton has been the worst dman on the team thus far and its not even debatable at this point.

    Not even sure where you play this guy right now he’s playing so bad…detrimental every time he’s on the ice. Last year sitting a few stars early on (Gaudreau, Wideman) in the season were huge wakeup calls for those players. I hope Bob exercises the same mentality with Hamilton as he needs a huge wakeup call right now.

  • The unwashed

    There is such a lack of fight with the hockey team right now.

    They need a wake up call. They need something other than a plug vs plug fight. They need someone to get angry and take out their frustrations on the opposing team and give this team a sense of focus. TJ will help but TJ is not the answer.

  • Rock

    Remember Jay Bouwmeester?

    Well…he’s back with the Flames , only right handed now and wearing # 27. Except JayBo was always reliable and responsible defensively despite being soft. JayBo didn’t light the world on fire offensively, which was expected of him at $6.5M per year when he was here, which made him an easy whipping boy but my god he never brought half the baggage we’ve seen outta Hamilton so far.

    I hope this kid gets sat for a game, basic fundamental plays he’s failing at miserably right now over and over again. It takes a lot to bring Mark Giordano down but Dougie is doing it. Pretty sure Hamilton was out there again for another four goals against tonight, and was standing there doing nothing in front of the night multiple times tonight watching guys walk right in for quality scoring chances, not to mention the stupid penalties he keeps taking.

    As frustrating as JayBo was, at his worst he never came close to where Hamilton is at right now. Sit him Hartley if need be, anything to shake things up right now is a positive thing.

  • CofRed4Life

    Hamilton needs press box time. The only problem is that Ortio is taking up one of those spots. I think that’s one of the reasons Hartley isn’t happy with having all 3 goalies. It limits his “benching” ability.

  • Bad game.

    Better effort than the Edmonton game.

    Just some mental breakdowns tonight.

    Johnny looks better than all of our other forwards combined.

    Ferland has become irrelevant.

    Announcers love Colborne because he’s tall.

    Another sad night.

    • RexLibris

      Bad Game – Again

      Better effort, definitely not.

      Mental breakdowns (a lot), is the coach’s job to monitor, and nothing has been learned or absorbed 6 games in.

      Johnny Hockey, agreed.

      We need Brodie and Bouma back ASAP

      Agreed, another sad night of complete ineptitude.

  • Franko J

    With respect to Hamilton, that was the worst game by a Flames defenceman I have seen in a long time. He was way worse tonight than Bouwmeester ever was.

    Not only does he need press box time, he needs to sit in the video room 1 on 1 with a defense coach and learn to play defense. He looked clueless tonight.

    He was directly responsible for three goals, and took a needless penalty. Brutal.

  • RexLibris

    For what it’s worth, Ferland looks good on paper right now.

    He’s getting even zone starts, pushing chances against good competition and playing with even teammates relative to the team.

    He may not be showing up well on the score sheet, but he looks like an effective depth player at this point which was a concern going into the season.

    I’d said one of the things to watch this year was his development, and while we’re still very early in, things look okay for him thus far.

  • Franko J

    No goaltending, no confidence, no magic. Until Hartley can somehow find his “goalie whisper ” mode this team doesn’t have the chance to win games.

    All is not lost yet, however they truly need to get back to rolling up their sleeves collectively and start out working the opposition. This team may look more talented on paper this year, but what I like the most from this team last year was for the most part they seldom got out worked and our hustled from the opposition. This year because of lost confidence right now they aren’t building any momentum heading into the second or third period.

    Urgency is now. If they don’t get this muddling start turned around sooner than later I must think . . .

    Let the exodus begin?

    Too bad the salary cap is squeezing every team with their roster because trades will be few and far between now and the trade deadline.