Preseason FGD: One last (exhibition) ride (8pm, SN360)

In every life, there are beginnings and endings. While the preseason schedule usually begins with excitement and wonder, as we’re seeing the first semi-meaningful hockey in months and months, it usually ends with the same general summation: thank goodness it’s over.

The Calgary Flames suit up for their seventh (and final) exhibition contest of the 2016-17 preseason tonight in Vancouver, where they face the Canucks. The game signals the end of a schedule of practice games that were dominated by three things: strong impressions by Matthew Tkachuk, bemusement at the glut of bottom-six forwards in camp, and anxiety over Johnny Gaudreau’s contract status.

Unlikely last night’s barn-burner between the Flames and Arizona, tonight’s game is televised. It’s on Sportsnet 360 with the Canucks broadcast crew, or you can join Wills, Loubardias and Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Puck drop is just after 8pm.

THE FLAMES

The BIG NEWS tonight is that Sean Monahan will make his preseason debut tonight after sitting out much of the exhibition calendar with a lingering back strain. But he’s better now, so he’ll draw in.

Not playing tonight, per Sportsnet 960’s Derek Wills: Sam Bennett, T.J. Brodie, Troy Brouwer, Deryk Engelland, Michael Frolik, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk. That would make the players dressing look something like this:

  • G: Chad Johnson (who’ll play the whole 60), backed up by Brian Elliott
  • D: Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Jyrki Jokipakka, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brett Kulak & Nicklas Grossmann
  • F: Sean Monahan, Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund, Alex Chiasson, Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, Linden Vey, Brandon Bollig, Freddie Hamilton, Hunter Shinkaruk, Chris Higgins & Lauri Korpikoski

That’s a very AHL-level roster, so we’ll see which (if any) of the fridge bodies stand out. If you presume that the players not dressing tonight have jobs nailed down, Hathaway seems like a bit of a surprise to me.

UPDATE: Lines via Pat Steinberg:

Shinkaruk – Monahan – Vey
Higgins – Backlund – Korpikoski
Bouma – Stajan – Ferland
Bollig – Hamilton – Chiasson

Jokipakka – Wideman
Wotherspoon – Hamilton
Grossmann – Kulak

THE CANUCKS

Lines tonight for the Canucks, per Jon Abbott of TSN 1040:

Sedin – Sedin – Eriksson
Rodin – Sutter – Hansen
Baertschi – Granlund – Virtanen
Burrows – Horvat – Skille

Edler – Tanev
Hutton – Gudbranson
Sbisa – Larsen

Miller
Markstrom

Largely this is an NHL-esque group, with a few young faces sprinkled in here and there. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is what Vancouver went to war with when the puck drops on October 12. That third line shall forever be dubbed The Calgary Connection, as Baertschi and Granlund were acquired from the Flames and Virtanen was drafted from the Hitmen.

WHEN LAST WE MET

Back on September 30, the Flames beat Vancouver 2-1 in thrilling exhibition action. It was a decent hockey game.

SUM IT UP

The preseason is almost over! Join us tonight to revel in the excitement of the last parts of meaningless hockey, and fret over the Flames roster as roughly every bubble player jockeys for position against a relatively NHL-level Canucks squad.

    • everton fc

      I’d like to see Shinkaruk and Ferland w/Monahan or Backlund. If Shinkaruk-Backlund-Ferland “works”, perhaps Frolik play RW, first line w/Monahan and Gaudreau?

      This will be Korpikoski’s last game. Could be Bollig’s, as well. Maybe even Vey, though I think not. Not yet. I think Higgins gets an offer. Maybe even a two-way, to Stockton (do they have room, though?) I think Hathaway and Freddie H are “in”, but Freddie H, outside the two goals – has he done much else?

      Grossman again getting one last look – if they offer him a contract, I’ll be disappointed.. If Kulak has another strong game, Wotherspoon, barring a trade, is in jeopardy of being sent down. He’ll clear waivers, though. Most in the league have, thus far.

    • cberg

      Jooris and Colborne have those two beat out easily. Best PTO tonight was Grossman, and that’s not saying much. Korpikoski a couple of moments, but nothing great.

      Overall the team looked pretty terrible, which is not unexpected when 6 of your top 10 players are sitting it out.

      On a systems thing, not sure if I’m liking the “advance together” theme that GG is instituting. It just seems that is a recipe for a middling advance then big pile up in front of the net that pretty much negates our speed. I think if you examine the advanced stats we’re probably killing it in Corsi but the great scoring chances are not there. Part of that is of course the players, or lack thereof in many/most of the games but it also is a systems thing that has removed one of our biggest strengths, speed. Possession (Corsi) isn’t everything. We’ll see how it goes.

  • jakethesnail

    Flames couldn’t have dressed a weaker lineup than what they will have tonight – against the Canuck’sopening night lineup? Wow!

    Seven or eight of the Flame’s line-up won’t be on their opening night roster!

    Easy game for the Flames…lol

  • Hubcap1

    No GM wants to get caught going to arbitration with marginal guys. Though under better circumstances they may have worked out a deal with Colborne prior to free agency, once they had declined to offer the initial contract.

    • Baalzamon

      Yeah not Johnson this time. Not really anyway. Hamilton played the rush too passively on the first goal and Virtanen was left wide open in the slot on the second.

      Ferland and Kulak have looked pretty good for the Flames. Other than them not a whole lot of good. Hamilton has been driving play, but he’s also been mishandling picks.

  • everton fc

    Wotherspoon’s days may be numbered here. Hoping Bollig is cut. Looks like Chiasson’s shooting again. Ditto Ferland – both with two shots – half the team total.

  • everton fc

    Terrible way to end the pre-season. We do not look confident. Tkachuk-Bennett-Brouwer looks ready. Maybe Ferland and Shinkaruk. A few on defence. And Elliott.

    The rest?

      • The GREAT WW

        He is in way over his head. Has never been a winner in the NHL before.

        The pp and pk needed drastic improvement over last year, hard to judge pp without Johnny, but special teams look horrible so far.

        Bottom 5 finish again this year.

        GG and his assistants will be gone before Christmas next year…

        WW

        • everton fc

          I know a lot of this is way “too soon to say”, however, if WW is correct… What happens to BT and Burke, who hired this crew?

          I think they have to keep Tkachuk for the season. They better sign Johnny before the weekends out. They need to look like this, opening evening:

          Gaudreau-Monahan-Frolik/Ferland (yes, Frolik); Tkachuk-Bennett-Brouwer; Shinakurk/Ferland-Backlund-Shinkaruk/Frolik; Bouma/Stajan or Vey/Chiasson.

    • Derzie

      They just look like an AHL squad. The majority are starters or supposed to be anyway. Also, the whole pre-season has been shaky. Worse vibe than last year for sure. We’ll see how it goes in the real games but things look poor right now.

  • McRib

    Let’s all not forget that Edmonton led the preseason with a 6-1-1 record last season. Preseason means little to nothing (one of Chicagos cup run years they finished last in preseason and I believe they went winless) especially when Vancouver is starting all regulars and we have a lineup of Monahan, Hamilton, Shinakurk, Kulak and a bunch of AHLers and a handful players who will be cut within the week. Calgary obviously did this on purpose to see which players on cusp sank or swimmed. Edmonton won again tonight, but it is less impressive when you consider McDavid, Eberle, Lucic, Drasitil, Klefbom, Larsson, etc were all in lineup, Winnipeg didn’t start any of top line.