December 19 2009 12:21PM
Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 35th game of the season on Dec. 19, 2009.
The Western Conference is acting oddly this season.
Three teams are tied for the conference lead with 47 points (though Chicago has two games in hand on San Jose and four on Los Angeles). One team, Nashville, has 45 points. Three more, including Calgary, have 44. Then Detroit has 41. And that's it for Western Conference playoff teams.
On Monday, the Kings were leading the conference. And because it lost on that day, it tumbled to sixth and then ended up back in first by the time it played Calgary on Thursday.
And by virtue of how stupidly the NHL's seeding system is configured, Calgary is theoretically third in the conference despite having FOUR teams ahead of it. One of those teams is Nashville, which does have a game in hand. And the Preds are a lot like the Kings insofar as they're well above .500 despite playing on a razor's edge in goals for and against. They've only scored 101 times in 35 games, putting them in a three-way tie for eighth in the West, but have allowed 98, which is ninth. So it's a bit of an oddity, then, that a team that can't score and can't defend is somehow fourth in the conference.
The Calgary Flames (20-10-4 for 44 points. Tied for fifth in the West, tied for first in the Northwest) and the Nashville Predators (21-11-3 for 45 points. Fourth in the West, second in the Central).
1 p.m. Mountain time and 4 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should .
Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary is 9-5-1 at home this year, and just snapped a three-game losing streak. The Predators are 9-5-2 on the road, and were stomped by Calgary in Nashville twoish weeks ago.
What (to hate about the Preds)
David Poile — The Preds' GM drafted six defensemen in the 2003 entry draft, and all but one is now playing for the Preds on a nightly basis. That's pretty freakin' crazy if you think about it. Poile's not so much good at signing the free agents, but the drafting.. wow.
Patric Hornqvist — Every once in a while you'll get a guy that is taken pretty deep into the draft that turns out pretty decently. Hornqvist is the most extreme example of this possible, since he was picked DEAD LAST in 2005. Literally, 230th overall. And now he already has 10 goals this year. Notable Calgary Flames with 10 goals: Iginla, Langkow, Bourque and Dawes (Dawes?).
Drafting — When you're in a garbage market and either can't afford to pay free agents because you sell 13 full-price tickets a night or just can't lure the big-time guys to play in front of a building that's two-thirds empty, it's somewhat important.
Because you're it's not on pay per view for once. Enjoy the game and prepare for this savage beating in the comments section.