FGD: Do Something

The Calgary Flames are almost two months into the season and this campaign has far too many similarities to the team that started last year in a mediocre fashion.  The problem is, last year the Flames finished with a decent record thanks to a scorching two month span after the turn of the calendar.  Expecting that to happen this time around would be setting yourself up for disappointment; so, that said, it’s time for Calgary to get themselves back on track as they host the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in a week tonight at the ‘Dome (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).

As this season continues to linger along in an unimpressive fashion, you can only hope the Flames move closer to accelerating their future plans.  The summer of 2012 is a huge time for the team as is the coming February trade deadline, but if Calgary proves not to be competitive on a regular basis, some of the moves might just have to be moved up to start the retooling process sooner rather than later.  At this point, all I want to see is some consistency in the efforts for the Flames, so we’ll see what happens this evening.

The Lineup

Calgary has been without Rene Bourque at practice the last pair of games as he’s sat out with what the team is calling "maintenance days".  It comes at a very interesting time, as Bourque has been the hot topic around the Flames since Kelly Hrudey’s comments Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.  I will say Bourque likely played his best game of the season Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators, and he will play tonight, so let’s hope that continues.

Yesterday’s theme focused on Calgary’s top line which now sits at a combined -20, thanks in large part to the -10 rating of Jarome Iginla.  While I usually take +/- with a large grain of salt, as I feel there are much better metrics to evaluate players, in this case it tells one main story: the top line isn’t scoring.  At this point, we aren’t expecting much from the Iginla trio defensively, but we do expect them to produce offence.  They haven’t on a regular enough basis to this point, hence the not pretty -20.

Alex Tanguay-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
Cory Sarich-T.J. Brodie

There’s a chance Brendan Morrison could return to the lineup tonight, as Head Coach Brent Sutter deemed it 50-50 he could be activated off IR.  From who I’ve talked to, it’s going to happen, as David Moss will be placed on the IR with his current lower body injury.  Stajan or Kostopoulos are both candidates to come out if Morrison is back.  Derek Smith is a little banged up, which is why Sarich returns this evening.

Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net for the Flames.

The Opponent

Chicago is currently the NHL’s best team with 27 points and a four game riding streak heading into action tonight, including a decisive win over Vancouver on Wednesday night.  The last time the Blackhawks took on the Flames their powerplay sat 28th in the NHL; just a week later, Chicago enters tonight with the 19th ranked man advantage.  That’s quite the jump in just a few games, showing just how dangerous this unit is.

I chose the Hawks to win the Stanley Cup this year, mainly because I don’t see very many teams that can combine a top six (or even top nine) forwards and top four defenders like Chicago can; combine that with relatively solid goaltending, and you’ve got a very formindable opponent.  The Hawks can score, they can do it in a balanced fashion, and they will feed on any opportunity they have to exploit superior matchups.  Both Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane have 21 points while Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews have put up nice numbers as well.

Viktor Stalberg-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Daniel Carcillo-Patrick Kane-Patrick Sharp
Bryan Bickell-Marcus Kruger-Andrew Brunette
Ben Smith-David Bolland-Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith-Steve Montador
Nick Leddy-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sami Lepisto-John Scott

Bolland returned to action Wednesday against Vancouver which is nothing but good news for the Blackhawks.  He plays a vital role for Chicago, taking on tough defensive minutes against hard matchups while also helping to set up the Toews and Kane lines with better spots to thrive in.  Bolland and Kruger have both taken a ton of key defensive zone faceoffs, and both seemingly done a pretty good job with their time so far.

Brent Seabrook won’t play tonight after suffering a leg injury Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.  Corey Crawford gets the start in net.

The Story

Calgary beat Chicago on both occasions at the ‘Dome last year, and another win against them would go nice currently.  We’re now watching the Flames play on November 18th and we’ve yet to see the Flames win more than two games in a row, and they’ve only done that on one occasion.  We also have yet to see Calgary get above the .500 mark, and they have to win three straight to do that on this occasion.  This one won’t be easy, as that’s a good Blackhawks team on the other side, and, well…yeah.

  • redricardo

    Are we going to see the Flames that play to their opponents level, look like world beaters against the better teams, and keep this game close, potentially even winning?

    Or are we going to see the same old Flames that look disinterested, are unable to generate anything offensively, and give up after the first period?

    Either way, this game will give one of the “Go Flames Go” crowd or the “Blow it up and start over crowd” some more fuel for their fire. Most important game of the year???

    • RexLibris

      No, I wouldnt put this game as most important of the season. A loss to the Hawks isnt that bad, especially if the effort is there. The biggest game of the season is next week against Columbus. We lose that one, and well, the gasoline cans will be coming out.

      • Captain Ron

        Yuuuup. That Columbus game is the one I was thinking about too. Lose that and the word Flames will have a whole new meaning around these here parts. I think I smell some 92 octane fumes. If we get lucky maybe Mason or whoever they play will be the “hot goalie” that night.

        • Captain Ron

          You know whats scary, the 4 games after Columbus,– Det, Stl, Minni & Nash. All playoff teams starting to play very well. This could get real friggin ugly. WE could seriously be 5 games under .500 by Dec 1. I think VF quoted me not long ago, if we are 5 under .500 by dec 1 forget playoffs & Feaster should be advising the bidding for any player starts Jan 1/2012.

  • redricardo

    I predict:

    Chicago 4 – Calgary 1 (seen 4 home games and only 2 goals in all 4)

    Iggy – Minus 2
    Borque – Minus 2
    Goal scored by Glencross

    Flames content with a solid effort in a losing cause, all Flames post game conversations are just recordings from past losses.

  • RexLibris

    If Chicago is coming off a game with Vancouver they might already be looking ahead to their game against the Oilers on Saturday and facing a team that’s coming apart at the seams.

    There is a chance for the Flames to outwork the Blackhawks. The Oilers did it last year and stunned them, so perhaps a good work ethic and some dirty play in front of the net could salvage this night for your team?

    Here’s hoping. Just don’t thrash them too much, we have to play them next and we’re already down three starting defencemen. I don’t want them too grumpy when they roll in to town.

    • Vintage Flame

      There is a chance for the Flames to outwork the Blackhawks. The Oilers did it last year and stunned them, so perhaps a good work ethic and some dirty play in front of the net could salvage this night for your team?

      There is a chance, but is there the will. Like Pat said, Bourque played his best game against the Sens, but Chicago is a team he has historically had success against. Can he perform 2 games in a row?? Dare to dream Flames fans..

      In order for the Flames to truly outwork the Hawks, they are going to have to play a FULL 60 min. I just wonder if this team has it in them against the #1 team.

      Sad to say, I will miss the chat tonight, as I’m being subjected to witness this 3 ring circus in person. I might be drunk tonight…

      • Vintage Flame

        I could see this being a let-down game for Chicago. Coming off a big win against Vancouver, they may come out flat in this one. However, as you said TEH Flames must play a full 60 min to have a chance. I think they also need to have a good start and get in the lead, hard to play from behind against Chicago.

  • RexLibris

    Since 1967, everyone has had a chance to “own” the Leafs.

    I wonder if we could resurrect Harold Ballard and put him in charge again. You know, just for laughs.

  • David McConner

    Flames do have a chance if Chicago follows true to form their last couple of games – sandbagging until 3rd pd, then turn it on for enough quick ones to get the win. IF Flames can hold a 2-3 goal lead (did I just write that?) into mid-3rd then they do have a chance.

    Maybe we should relocate the Coyotes to Calgary.
    Then move the Flames to Phoenix. People there wouldn’t notice anyway and if the sunshine doesn’t inspire the Flames,send them back to Atlanta. What goes around…

    Think I’ll just sign off now. Bye all.

  • Captain Ron

    A. I hate the hawks

    B. I love the Flames

    C.Very worried this could get ugly tonite.

    Hipe Feaster is working the phone lines, this team needs a kick in the a@$ very soon.

  • Pretty sure no GM wants to trade with Feaster at this point, unless it’s Bourque or Giordano for basically nothing.

    From what he said about Hagman, no one wanted him. And this is a player who has scored 20+ goals and 40+ points 3 different times. We couldn’t even off him for a 4th liner, although, I’m sure Feaster was asking for something like a 2nd liner + prospect/pick, which is ridiculous.

    Hopefully the half-decent Flames show up! Perhaps Iginla will finally get going and Bourque will be slightly less high on paint fumes than he normally is.

  • Captain Ron

    Pretty sure Feaster would have taken any draft pick for Hagman since he had to give him up for nothing in the end and pay half his salary for the remainder of the season. It is the 3 mil contract that was the problem.

    • Captain Ron

      Bingo. Problem with Columbus is their arses are right up against the cap. How would fans feel about having to give up Backlund Bourque & something else for Carter. Is he worth going for right now?? Colorado are talking about Statsny for Carter. Thats hard to compete with. Now idf we threw in Kipper & Bourque for Carter & Mason(for Cap hit puposes), would that be worth it?

      • We’d absolutely be in the toilet if we took on Mason. He is just not performing well. Perhaps his Calder season was a fluke? It’s hard to tell.

        Having Carter to center Iginla and Tanguay would be pretty sweet though. Maybe we could offload JBo to Montreal for Cammalleri? Cammy – Carter – Iginla would be sweet.