FGD: Into the Fire

Kent Wilson
February 02 2013 02:51PM

A lot of consternation in Flamesland after the 6-3 loss to the Avs on Thursday, but from my angle the team has exceeded expectations from many angles through the early going. The results aren't there and the goaltending has been *ahem* questionable, but the club has made a habit of outchancing and outshooting their opponents so far. With a few different bounces and an NHL-average Kipper, the Flames have a much better set of W-L numbers heading into tonight.

Chicago is probably the best team the Flames have faced thus far though. The Sharks are the only other true playoff caliber opponent Calgary has seen and they have some severe depth problems. Not so much for Chicago, who boast starts like Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Keith and Seabrook at the top-end of the roster and then quality depth options like Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and David Bolland elsewhere.  The addition of Michal Roszival and Johnny Oduya in the off-season solidified their top-4 on the back-end as well, so there really is no obvious weakness to exploit on Chicago's roster.

The Hawks haven't lost in regulation this season, in part because of the quality of their line-up, but also because Corey Crawford is pulling a reverse-Kipper so far. Much maligned last year during an entirely mediocre season, Crawford has some out a put up a .934 SV% in 7 starts, including .930 at ES and a mind-boggling .968% on the PK. Obviously that's not going to continue forever, but it wouldn't surprise me if Crawford is better than what he seemed in 2011-12.

The Line-up

Out are Begin and Sarich, replaced by Comeau and Smith. The Butler-Sarich duo were victimized a couple of times last game and were an obvious sore spot on more than one occassion. Comeau is back to being one of the least popular Flames on the roster, but I think we can all agree he's better than Begin.

  • Cammalleri - Tanguay - Iginla
  • Cervenka - Stajan - Hudler
  • Glencross - Backlund - Stempniak
  • Comeau - Jones - Jackman

  • Bouwmeester - Giordano
  • Wideman - Brodie
  • Smith - Butler

  • Kiprusoff

Word is Cammalleri will get elevated to the Iginla line today. Neither he nor Glencross had great games against Colorado, although that has been par for the course for Cammalleri thus far. He's had a lot of problems executing all over the ice, so maybe Hartley is looking to get him some more ice time to help him find his legs.

With Glencross moving down to the Backlund line, I would suggest tonight would be a good point for the Flames new coach to start burying the bottom-6 in the defesive zone as much as possible. Last game the Iginla trio including Glencross generated the most chances at even strength (6) but also gave up the most against (5), whereas the Backlund unit only saw one chance against all night.

At best the top line is going to be even more "high event" with a struggling Cammalleri on the wing, so it would make sense to give the Backlund and Jones units the bulk of the own-zone draws.

The Opposition

  • Saad - Toews - Hossa
  • Sharp - Kruger - Kane
  • Bickell - Shaw - Stalberg
  • Bollig - Meyers - Frolik

  • Keith - Seabrook
  • Oduya - Hjalmarsson
  • Brookbank - Leddy

  • Emery

Okay maybe I exagerrated when I said there were NO weaknesses on this roster. For example, I have no idea what rookie Brandon saad is doing on the first line and I doubt it lasts more than a period. He's a good quality prospect, but no way can he hang with Toews and Hossa at this point in his young career. Byron Bickell on the third line over Frolik is a baffling decision as well since Frolik has the best relative possession rate amongst regular forwards on the team. He still can't seem to put a puck into the ocean, but even as a pure driver of the play he's wasted on the fourth line.

Chicago's third defense unit is pretty suspect as well, if only because the incorrigible Sheldon Brookbank is on it. 

Also odd in the early going for Chicago is the fact that Patrick Kane is getting his head absolutely beat in in terms of possession (-17.74 corsi/60) and it's not like he is suddenly starting 70% of his shifts in the d-zone or anything. That's the sort of rate goons, grinders and marginal AHLers put up, so it will be interesting to watch him to tonight to see just what is going on. The points are there for him right now, but that's due to an on-ice SH% of 17.73% (which is more than double the league average). When that percentage regresses his results will crater if he continues to spend so much time in his own zone.

Sum It Up

The Hawks have a strong line-up with high-end talent and ga oalie playing over his head right now. The Flames have put together some strong performances but the goaltending has been poor so the record isn't there. The best news for Calgary is the hawks played last night and lost in a shoot-out so they should be tired at least. In addition, Corey Crawford is taking a seat in favor of back-up Ray Emery, so that should help the Flames cause to some degree.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#201 CitizenFlame
February 03 2013, 12:39AM
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Hey Kent, are you not doing the scoring chances this year? I always liked those articles, and they might be more enjoyable this year when we are outchancing the bad guys, unlike the last few years.

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#202 Baalzamon
February 03 2013, 12:47AM
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@seve927

Everything P.J. Stock says is 100% pure nonsense. I'm amazed anyone even listens when he talks anymore.

Everyone who thinks grit is the reason the Flames lost needs to shut up. Now.

In fact, shut up about grit all together. When you have the puck for THE ENTIRE GAME it is a complete non-factor.

Unless by grit you actually mean grit (as in, will to succeed at all cost) and not # of hits. In which case the Flames have enough.

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#203 seve927
February 03 2013, 08:57AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Everything P.J. Stock says is 100% pure nonsense. I'm amazed anyone even listens when he talks anymore.

Everyone who thinks grit is the reason the Flames lost needs to shut up. Now.

In fact, shut up about grit all together. When you have the puck for THE ENTIRE GAME it is a complete non-factor.

Unless by grit you actually mean grit (as in, will to succeed at all cost) and not # of hits. In which case the Flames have enough.

I wouldn't mind seeing some size added, would you? Not for the sake of size, but just a couple bigger bodies that can play and bang a bit? I think, for instance, a guy like Ferland has some attributes that could be really beneficial to this team if he can start to figure things out.

I just thought it was strange to say it had anything to do with this result.

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#204 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:09PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Hawks are incredibly lucky to get any points in this game, let alone a win.

Frustrating, but Flames shouldn't be discouraged. play the same game the same way 10 times and the Flames win 9 times.

That sounds about right.....Flames finish season with 9 wins.

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#205 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:13PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Despite this going to a shoot-out, the Flames are playing very, very good hockey right now.

Kent makes a good point. When the Flames play their best hockey, they still end up at the bottom of the standings.

When does football start?

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#206 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:15PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Stajan's been very good tonight.

Finally....the voice of reason.

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#207 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:19PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

Those guys looks like Flames from the 80's.

Exactly! They look really old and ready to retire.

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#208 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:31PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

leaf fans are wearing very thin of dion, listened to tsn toronto the other morning, call in show most fans said trade him. ask leaf fans and they might think they got snookered.

Of course they're feeling snookered....they gave up Stajan and three other players who are no longer playing in the NHL......oh....wait...that's right....its you who got snookered...

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#209 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:41PM
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@negrilcowboy

Kent Wilson wrote:

I assume Kanes underlying numbers will improve - I mean, I can't imagine why he'd fall off a cliff like that (aside from not playing with Toews at ES anymore).

negrilcowboy wrote: precisely why, no toews kane duo.

Old Retired Guy wrote: precisely..just like the Jerome Iginla....

the Jerome Iginla....

The Jerome Iginla and some other guy Duo.....

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#210 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 05:46PM
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Pkease note. I respectfully waited until the thread was dead before I interjected with the levity.

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#211 Kevin R
February 04 2013, 09:04AM
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Old Retired Guy wrote:

Pkease note. I respectfully waited until the thread was dead before I interjected with the levity.

Have you seen that movie Goodfellows? Well you are a "Funny Guy" :)

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#212 Old Retired Guy
February 04 2013, 11:27AM
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Yes my goodfellow, I remember watching it the year it came out in the spring of 1990. Good flick. Oh yeah....that was the same year the Oilers won thier 5th Stanley Cup. Did you see that one?

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#213 Kevin R
February 04 2013, 01:10PM
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Old Retired Guy wrote:

Yes my goodfellow, I remember watching it the year it came out in the spring of 1990. Good flick. Oh yeah....that was the same year the Oilers won thier 5th Stanley Cup. Did you see that one?

Well yes but I have selective blockout. No one expected Oilers to do anything & in my hockey pool I got Messier & Kurri & then a few others & I walked away with the $$$ in that puppy. The other memory was that it came the year after the Flames Cup in 1989. Does that one tickle your fancy too? Bing Bang boom pow.

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