FGD: Free to Do Anything

Kent Wilson
April 08 2013 05:00PM

 

 

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

- Fight Club

There's a strange sort of freedom to being a Flames fan right now. A kind of pleasant weightlessness with the season lost and the rebuild underway. It's a wholly foreign feeling for the faithful after years and years of grasping and clawing for wins until the last few games of the season.

The Flames are impervious to harm right now. Scratch that - they are in a position to actually gain from harm (ie; losses). And because wins don't matter and the club can benefit form defeat, they are able to run the sort of experiments that are denied most professional hockey teams. Hartley can try a wide variety of new line combinations in an effort to see if anything fits. Hopefuls can be called up to see where they're at in their development. New PP strategies and different PK formations can be tested. The rest of the year is strictly about fact finding and evaluation. If a certain experiment doesn't work, well then the club is one step closer to picking first overall. If something does work, though, the Flames can file it away for later use. Whatever minor successes that are stubled upon are bonuses right now. If, in discovering them, the club's record fails even further, even better.

Flames fans can literally cheer for every goal that is scored in every Flames game down the stretch. It's fun and liberating - as long as it doesn't carry over to subsequent seasons, of course. Reveling in nihilism is only fun for so long...

The Lineup

Speaking of experiments, Sven Baertschi rejoined the team thanks to Brian McGrattan's shoulder injury. That means Roman Horak, Max Reinhart and Baertschi will all be finding their legs tonight - maybe even on the same line at some point! Baertschi had 8 points in 11 games on the farm (almost all of them on the PP). He recently opened up to Vicki Hall in an interesting interview which I would recomend.

Curtis Glencross returns to active duty after one game away, while Jiri Hudler fills his space in the infirmary. Because the Flames have nothing to play for, I get the sense that veterans are resting ailments they would normally play throgh in other circumstances.

  • Glencross - Stajan - Stempniak
  • Tanguay - Horak - Cammalleri
  • Baertschi - Backlund - Cervenka
  • Jackman - Reinhart - Begin

  • Giordano - Wideman
  • Brodie - Sarich
  • Butler - Carson

  • MacDonald

Joey M gets the call after another subpar performance from Miikka Kiprusoff on Saturday night. I don't know why they played Kipper on back-to-back nights in the portion of the season that doesn't matter (and in a year where he's generally been terrible), but, as I said...losses are wins right now, so it's cool.

The Opponent

The bad guys tonight are in a similar situation, albeit far more reluctantly since they've already been in rebuild mode for a few years. The only team worse than the Flames currently is the Colorado Avalanche, who are one point back with one more game played.

The Avs are an even worse possession team than the Flames, but also suffer from similarly bad percentages, which is how one sinks to 30th overall in the league. Losing Ryan O'Reilly for a month or two didn't help Colorado, but their real problem is almost everyone in their top six spends too much time in the defensive zone (sound familiar)? Aside from O'Reilly and sophomore Gabriel Landeskog, guys like David Jones, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk and even Matt Duchene are yielding possession. Half of the regulars on the blueline are under water as well, including Jan Hejda, Matt Hunwick and Greg Zanon.

  • Parenteau - Duchene - McGinn
  • Landeskog - O'Reilly - Jones
  • McLeod - Mitchell - Van Der Gulik
  • Malone - Olver - Bordeleau

  • Johnson - Hunwick
  • Zanon - Barrie
  • Hejda - Elliot

  • Varlamov

On top of everything else, Colorado is suffering through a bunch of injuries, so their bottom six is a mess of replacement level type players (or worse).

One move that worked out for the Avs was the signing of PA Parenteau. Nobody really knew if the long-time AHL sniper was for real or simply riding Tavares' coattails in New York, but he's put up good numbers across the board. Parenteau has the second best relative corsi rate on the team behind O'Reilly and leads the club in scoring with 15 goals and 37 points in 38 games to boot. He has been given the high ground somewhat by his coach, but it's hard not to call that gamble a win for Sherman anyways.

Sum It Up

Tune in, crack a brew and enjoy guys and gals. The Flames can't lose right now. I mean they can, and they probably will, but losing is good. Minor highs, no lows!

Tanking is the novocaine of sports fandom.

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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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#101 Jeff Lebowski
April 08 2013, 10:01PM
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What's the deal with Macdonald?

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#102 FireOnIce
April 08 2013, 10:02PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

What's the deal with Macdonald?

He's a subpar goalie that neither the Red Wings nor the Leafs wanted. He gives up bad rebounds, often 2 or 3 chances, and quite frankly hasn't been all that good. Ever.

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#104 RKD
April 08 2013, 10:02PM
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And the streak is over!

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#105 KetchupKid
April 08 2013, 10:04PM
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dotfras wrote:

Colorado certainly wants to lose this one more than Calgary does.

Won't bow, don't know how.

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#106 Captain Ron
April 08 2013, 10:11PM
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Looking at the schedule for the remainder of the season it is very possible that we don't win another game this year.

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#107 Jeff In Lethbridge
April 08 2013, 10:11PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

No I meant after the horn sounded. He looked...emotional. Then leaving the ice the players ere giving him space. Sven leaned in looked like e said are you alright. Then Kipper said something to him. I could be making something out of nothing.

I caught that as well. Almost looked like he was crying.

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#108 Captain Ron
April 08 2013, 10:13PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

No I meant after the horn sounded. He looked...emotional. Then leaving the ice the players ere giving him space. Sven leaned in looked like e said are you alright. Then Kipper said something to him. I could be making something out of nothing.

We noticed that too. I thought he got hurt or something.

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#109 BitGeek
April 08 2013, 10:16PM
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@Captain Ron

Maybe he was told it was gonna be his last game of the season or something, and looking into the future, maybe he guessed it might be a long time before he sees NHL time again?? So ... cherished the win with some emotion?

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#110 Derzie
April 08 2013, 10:35PM
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Sven was weak and still looks defeated, Horak looks good, Brodie is emerging, Cervenka is worth a 2nd look, Reinhart is not ready, the win was useless. 3 good things, 3 not so much.

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#111 RKD
April 08 2013, 10:39PM
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I think bringing kids into a losing environment is very toxic, it can have negative effects on how your players develop. I believed the Oiler kids were developed in bad environment and are still struggling to find how to win consistently. You can't rely on talent alone.

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#112 SeanCharles
April 08 2013, 10:55PM
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Derzie wrote:

Sven was weak and still looks defeated, Horak looks good, Brodie is emerging, Cervenka is worth a 2nd look, Reinhart is not ready, the win was useless. 3 good things, 3 not so much.

Sven played more physical in the 2nd and it worked for him. I can see the offensive potential in him when he's on the PP, he's looking more confident, a couple more games should garner greater results.

Horak looks NHL ready, I thought that last time he got sent down.

Brodie has the tools to be a top pairing dman, he doesn't make mistakes too often and drives and controls the play.

Backlund is getting better and I liked how he looked on the half boards on the PP.

Cervenka I have noticed is skating alot better now and he could be part of the solution here.

Reinhart isn't quite there yet, needs more balance, but I don't think he's too far off, a good offseason and a bit of time to start next yr in AHL and he could be ready next season sometime for full time duty...

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#113 Vintage Flame
April 08 2013, 11:24PM
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Post Game is up.

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