FGD #54: Roaming The Desert

Last evening, the Calgary Flames played one of the strangest games of the year. They blew a 4-1 first-period lead but somehow survived two 5-on-3s, losing David Jones and Karri Ramo, and eked out a 6-5 shootout win in San Jose. Now, roughly 20 hours after that game ended they’re back in action against another divisional rival, the Arizona Coyotes.

After last night’s game, I can honestly say that I have no idea what to expect. The Flames have won three straight (and four of five), but not in ways that inspire any confidence that they can (a) keep it going or (b) creep their way into a playoff spot and stay there until season’s end.

The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.


Last night’s projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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The Flames aren’t skating before the game, but here’s what we think we know right now. Karri Ramo is out for tonight and Jonas Hiller will start. He came in in relief last night and won. He’s 8-5-1 with a 2.98 goals against average and .908 even-strength save perecentage. He’ll be backed up by Joni Ortio, just summoned from the AHL’s Stockton Heat to hold a clipboard – much like he’s been doing on the farm lately with Kevin Poulin playing well. David Jones’ condition wasn’t updated as of this writing, so presumably we’ll see Josh Jooris back in tonight.

Calgary’s special teams were active last night. The good news? Their power-play scored twice, including Kris Russell’s tying goal that sent things to overtime after the team collapsed like a dying star and blew a 4-1 lead. The bad news? The team largely blew their 4-1 lead on the back of giving up three power-play goals to the Sharks, a number that’s just awful any way you slice it. The Flames cannot afford another shoddy performance; they need to take fewer penalties or be less bad on the PK.

Heck, both would be nice.

Keep your eyes peeled for the usual energetic kids, such as Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett, who continue to drive Calgary’s offense despite being tykes.


Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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As with Calgary’s most recent meetings with the Desert Dogs, young Louie Domingue gets the nod tonight. He’s 9-7-4 with a 2.61 goals against average and .932 even-strength save percentage since being recalled from the AHL.

The Coyotes are a well-coached, fairly disciplined group. They know what they are and they play a style of game well-suited to their talents. And they have a team that’s not high on name-value, but full of youthful pep. Oh, and it probably helps that Domi and Duclair have exceeded expectations and really done a great job complementing the fairly skilled forwards that Arizona already had on their roster.


Wins 25 24
Power Play 14.5% 18.2%
Penalty Kill 76.6% 77.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.9% 46.4%
Faceoffs 48.5% 53.7%


The Flames have played Arizona twice this season. They’ve lost both games. Both games have been close, though; a 2-1 overtime loss in Glendale in November and a 2-1 regulation loss in Calgary in early January.

All-time, the Flames are 87-70-27 against the Arizona/Phoenix/Winnipeg Jet-Yotes.


The Flames are now six points up on last-place Toronto, and just five points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot (with a game in hand!).

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They’re still sixth-last in points percentage, but they’re on their way up right now.


The Flames have been winning of late, albeit in bewildering, frustrating fashion. It probably won’t last, especially with their top goalie on the shelf, but it would be so Calgary Flames if they made a run at a playoff spot before the percentages catch up with them (and they end up drafting 10th or 12th instead of in the lottery pack).

  • flames2015

    Hope the boys can stay out of the penalty box tonight, having Brodie & Gio playing over 30 minutes is obviously less than ideal.

    Unrelated but saw an article this morning on sportsnet, NHL Roundtable on trades they would like to see happen. They have Hudler and Kris Russell going to the Dallas Stars for Valeri Nichushkin in return. If there’s any slight chance that this could happen, Flames need to do it. He’s 20 years old, 6’4, 205lbs, former 10th overall pick and is a RW. He would still be under an EC until next year, which is also favorable. Plauged with some injuries in the last 2 years but I can see his speed and skill being great within our top two lines.

  • MattyFranchise

    3-1-0 on this seven game segment so far with the only loss coming from CBJ.

    Pike’s probably right, gonna end up with that 10th to 12th pick this year.

  • everton fc

    Hiller will be the man for a while if Ramo’s out for some time. It’s smart to keep Poulin working, for if Hiller goes down…

    Also, if Ortio’s a train-wreck here (I doubt he starts one game in his “comeback”) he’s easy to waive. Poulin may not be, if he does well up here. Perhaps another reason.

    Juggling “Flaming” torches and porcelain plates, as always! Poor pun intended. And why is Bollig in for Bouma? Has Bouma been playing well? So-so?? What’s up w/that???

  • SydScout

    This makes me so mad. I’m tired of hearing about our great prospects and them getting no time to prove it in the bigs. What have we done with Ortio and Nak to make them better and prove themselves against the best. Nothing. Nothing at all. Can anyone honestly imagine themselves working their guts out day in and day out, recently moving countries on the promise of opportunity from the Flames in Naks case, to sit in the damn press box? These guys love playing, and this much just destroy their confidence in either or both themselves and the Flames.

    Bob, learn about development. They don’t have to be top D or a shut out beast to start. Third line and the odd game here and there is what they want. In other words, a friggin reward for hard work put in and results shown.

    Oh yeah, always earned!

    • Craig

      Yup Bob only plays who he likes. Last night is a great example, Smid and Engelland were out for almost every goal against. They looked awful, and yet here they are starting again instead of giving Nakladal 10 mins to prove himself. Hartley needs to go.

      • brodiegio4life

        Certain players under Bob get a free pass. Others never get a chance. Raymond and Bollig should’ve been sent down and Grant brought up months ago. Now he’s out indefinitely, an opportunity wasted. Treliving must see this. Yet, he’s obviously complicit. Wondering what role ownership gas in all this? Pushing for playoff gate receipts, perhaps?

        Still hoping trades are made to free up some spots and Bob is replaced this summer.

      • Dan the Drunk

        I totally agree… Smid and Engellend were painfull to watch. They would be on for a goal and then Hartley would come right back to them on the next shift. Normally I don’t single out players but they were having a rough night and if they weren’t that bad the Flames would have had a much easier game.

        I can’t imagine Nak would have been as big of a liability. The win last night ensures that the third pairing stays in tack. Hartless doesn’t have to justify not playing Nak because there is no body of work to view to see how good he is….it is really simple. Once he plays Nak and Nak shows he can perform there will be pressure to play him more.

      • Plumsrus

        I think Granlund spent enough time as the forgotten man…they need to see what they have. I will never agree with not playing Jooris….they will lose him at the deadline and it will be a big mistake.

  • smith

    I really do not want to cheer for loses but am just not sure management will do the right thing if not pushed to it. Yes they made some nice decisions with Frolik and Hamilton. But seem to have made just as many bad decisions. Letting Hartley continue to make ridiculous player choices, loosing Shlemko and Byron, not trading Hudler, Russel, Wideman, Bouma after their year last year when everyone new their value was highest etc… And now their reported interest in signing Russel. Not a fan.

    Do what is needed!

  • smith

    The post about Hartley are in stark contrast to last year when he won the Jack Adams. I’m curious what has changed in people’s minds? Last year people couldn’t say enough good things about him. The difference in the team is negligible. Did people really believe the rebuild was over and there were no more growing pains?

    I don’t like how he has been using our players from the AHL as much as everyone else. It drives me nuts seeing that situation. But I don’t know the full story, he could have a good reason. Or he might not. I don’t know. But is not playing a guy really a reason to fire him? Especially after he won the Jack Adams the year before (he must be doing something right)? I am curious as to what changed from this year to last?

    • brodiegio4life

      Last year many of the writers were critical of BH use of the AHL and other prospects; so no this not new. The difference is that because the Flames were winning and in a playoff position for most of the year he was given the benefit of the doubt. Last year we had way more injuries so he had at times little choice and even then relied heavily on his trusted few.

      • Plumsrus

        Thanks for the response and insight into what you think about Hartley. I can’t understand the trolls that downvote a question then fail to answer it. I happen to agree with you. But I like understanding where other people stand and have a conversation about it.

        Player usage drives me insane. Frolik is one of our best forwards and he never gets a chance on the PP. On top of that our PP SUCKS. So there should be no reason as to try something new. We have some incredible rookies, but they don’t get a chance to play because Hartley doesn’t like youth and plays bad veterans instead. But I’m not sure if you can justify firing a guy for player usage. As a result I’m on the fence on this issue. Which leads me to my next question.

        If you fire Hartley, who replaces him? Good coaches are hard to find and there are a plethora of teams trying to find a new coach. We could get stuck with a much worse coach than Hartley, who is only failing to give rookies a chance (this issue could fix itself if we have a good trade deadline and move veteran players we don’t need).

        • Plumsrus

          I have often been a BH supporter more so than many.But as time has gone I have become frustrated with him as well. I also think we sometimes we give BT a free ride but he controls who is here. Most coaches have a shelf life that is short, some are able to adapt but most can’t or won’t. The problem is that the Flames seem to pay lip service to player development and at the same time have lofty goals; these are at times not very compatible. Would we be belly aching if we were 10 points up in standing; we might have been if TJ had been healthy to start the season and had gotten goaltending like we have the last month. I struggle with no obvious plan.(That I can see)

  • flames2015

    It’s not only the lack of giving AHLer’s playing time that’s concerning but rather the use of current roster players as well. Having brought in Hamilton & Frolik, one would think that our special teams would have immediately improved given the history of the two players and their point production on the PP. Rather than play these two players, Colbourne & Wideman were used instead? Hamilton should be 3rd on our d depth chart, yet his utilization of Russell over Hamilton is mind boggling.

  • smith

    Last year there were less options for Hartley to mess up. Yes play Russel and Wideman because there was no one else. This year we have several players who have shown much better. (Hamilton). Also Kulak and Nakhadal have shown enough that they should at least be getting looks.

    Up front last year lots of us were not fans of Colborne, Bollig and Raymond getting so much ice but wins helps soften the blows.

    Last year Hartley played Monahan at centre. Who would have ever expected that Hartley would fall in love with Granlund and play the flames highest ever draft pick out of position. Mind boggling.

  • Plumsrus

    I heard a rumor before widman was suspended there was a deal in the works with Boston to get subban there AHL keeper as rask is the man there. Any truth to that one?

  • RKD

    I doubt we see 11 goals tonight or anything close to the excitement of last night, should still be a decent game I hope. The Yotes have cooled off, they are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    Why has my IP address just been banned? On what grounds. .I get whoever is modding right now might not like me but you can’t just go banning me for no good reason.

    That’s garbage! What is your justification?!