FGD 6: Into the deep end (8pm; SN360/1)

Lads and ladies, welcome to the first scary-looking game on the Calgary Flames 2016-17 calendar.

The Flames (1-3-1) have yet to really play a rock-solid 60 minute of ice hockey this season. They’ve struggled on the power play and have given up several goals on their penalty kill, despite several tactical improvements. Their opponents tonight are the St. Louis Blues (3-1-1), who went to the third round of the playoffs last season and have allowed 10 fewer goals than the Flames in as many games. They’re playing well and coming in at a time where the Flames are not.

The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 360 (and One), and on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Be advised that due to construction and events in the vicinity of Stampede Park, the Flames are advising fans to head down early (or take transit) to avoid bottlenecks.

THE FLAMES

Lines from morning skate via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanMichael Frolik

Kris VersteegSam BennettTroy Brouwer

Lance BoumaMikael BacklundAlex Chiasson
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanFreddie Hamilton(HAMILTON)
Mark Giordano Dennis Wideman

T.J. BrodieDougie Hamilton
Jyrki JokipakkaDeryk Engelland

Based on morning skate, we’re seeing some significant changes tonight. After three so-so outings, Brian Elliott sits on the bench as the back-up as Chad Johnson starts against Elliott’s old team. Brett Kulak and Matthew Tkachuk head to the press box as Dennis Wideman and Freddie Hamilton rotate in. (Good news? No Nicklas Grossmann.)

Wideman back in gives the power play another weapon, which is good, but doesn’t do much to solve the problem of the team’s inability go win a battle in their zone (or to gain control of the puck and set up their PP system in the offensive zone). And before you panic about Tkachuk being scratched, a game as a healthy scratch with a new perspective did a ton of good for Johnny Gaudreau. Is it a good sign if the thought is he’ll be here all season? Definitely not. But it’s not quite the end of the world…yet.

THE BLUES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Jaden SchwartzAlex SteenVladimir Tarasenko
Robby FabbriPaul StastnyNail Yakupov
David PerronPatrik BerglundDmitrij Jaskin
Scottie UpshallKyle BrodziakRyan Reaves

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo
Robert BortuzzoKevin Shattenkirk
Joel EdmundsonColton Parayko

Jake Allen is expected to start tonight. He’s coming off his first loss of the season in Edmonton, but he’s still 2-1-1 with a 1.99 goals against average and .909 save percentage. He’s been solid, if unspectacular, and he’s finally the undisputed top dog in St. Louis.

Tarasenko, Stastny and Steen are point-per-game or better so far, and Yakupov had a nice performance against Edmonton. The Blues are a well-coached, deep team. How deep? Colton Parayko is a third pairing guy here. They play primarily a dump-and-chase style, but their puck retrieval is strong, their forwards are fast and physical, and this should be a challenge for Calgary’s defenders tonight.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES BLUES
Wins 1 3
Points 3 7
Power Play 4.5% 21.1%
Penalty Kill 77.8% 94.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 51.3% 50.8%

HISTORY LESSON

All-time, the Flames and Blues have played 166 times in the regular season. The Flames have a slight 75-73-18 edge. St. Louis took two of three meetings last season, but the Flames had a great performance in their last encounter: a 7-4 drubbing at the Saddledome that featured a hat trick for Michael Frolik and three point games for Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Dougie Hamilton.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Recommended Blues Twitter follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

It could be a long night for the Flames. St. Louis will be looking to bounce back from a loss against Edmonton, and the Flames still are seeking some consistency to their game. If they don’t find it immediately tonight, this one could get ugly.

  • shaner

    I don’t think we can expect better against one of the premier teams….we hung in there until the end and gave them a run for there money…..good work boys

  • Bob's Hockey Stick

    the Oilers winning, The leafs looking respectable, AND the cubs are going to the world Series…. No wonder the flames can’t catch a break. The hockey gods must be fighting the zombie apocolypse… Nothing else makes sense.

    • flamesburn89

      The PP was bad last year too, but was it ever this inept? Scoring has been up so far this NHL season, and yet the Flames’ PP cannot buy a goal. I know it’s early, but maybe it’s time the Flames coaches tried changing up their PP system?

    • Juan Valdez

      This is a huge dilemma for Tre. He can’t fire the coach, and he can’t fire the players because they have guaranteed contracts. That only leaves one other option…

    • McRib

      He obviously had to fix “hair” in time for the press conference…. Priorities!!! Just to clarify, he doesn’t refer to it as “his hair”, just “hair” in the third person. Agree with everything you have said tonight, it was completely entertaining when the game was not (even if we “pretended” again to come back).

      Sadly GG reminds me of Dallas Eakins, too focused on worthless crap (nutritional food, hair, etc) . Bob Hartley wasn’t amazing, but GG makes me miss him immensely. I would take a Ron Wilson all day right about now. The players have zero respect for this… To quote Bryce Harper…. “Clown” (I know it’s a touchy subject, right about now)

  • positivebrontefan

    It was good to see the Flames make a game of it.
    Yes, I am an Oilers fan, but I miss the Battle of Alberta.
    We need both these teams to be good to make that mean anything.
    I watched the Heritage classic today and found myself chuckling at the fact that it was the Alberta teams that kept the Jets so frustrated.
    I can’t help myself as an Oilers fan to get on your cases a little bit, trust me I feel your pain, but I really hope we have other teams fear coming into Alberta like they used to.

    Good luck Calgary, I’ll leave you alone now.

    Cheers

  • Aadvarkian Abakeneezer

    If someone could have found a monkey to run our PP tonight we would have had this game. So that’s… something? I guess?

    Maybe we just fire Cameron and let Jerrard do all the special teams? It literally couldn’t possibly be worse.

  • Suzycue123

    This flames team looks like the oilers circa 2007-2015. I pity the fool baby!!!

    Trust me, once the loses start mounting it becomes numb.

    This is just start of the Nolan Patrick sweepstakes.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    Now? Now can we fire GG and his assistants? 6 games in… 1-4-1.

    Blackhawks, Blues, Senators, Capitals, Blackhawks, Sharks, Kings, Ducks, Stars coming up… Which of these games do you believe we’re going to win with things they way they are?

    Something is up with our 6 million dollar men… Is it the system? Or do they just not like GG?

    Our power play is AWESOME… at giving up breakaways.

  • Juan Valdez

    I never thought I’d say this, but I wish Darryl Sutter was coaching the Flames. At the very least he could restore accountability. This is the guy BT should have hired, but instead he goes with his long time friend Glen Gulutzan.

    Hartley didn’t reward Hamilton with power play time because he’s a lazy player. Too many poor personnel decisions are crippling this team. By decentralizing the management scheme, the Flames have put a system in place where the people making the most important decisions can’t be held responsible. Instead it’s become a blame game where nothing gets accomplished and the on-ice product gradually deteriorates.

    It’s clear as day that Bob Hartley, Joni Ortio and Kari Ramo were not the problem.

    What a circus!

    • Juan Valdez

      Then again, I can hardly blame Sutter for not wanting to come back after the way he was treated; After all, it wasn’t his decision to become general manager. I mean he even admitted himself that it was too much work being coach and GM simultaneously.

    • KACaribou

      “It’s clear as day that Bob Hartley, Joni Ortio and Kari Ramo were not the problem.”

      OMG I would love to pull out my posts from last year saying this very thing. But, alas, I am not that guy…

      Wink, wink!