October 16 2010 12:52PM
For the second time in four games to start the season, the Calgary Flames will hook up with their provincial rivals, and they do so with some added motivation. Calgary lost their season opener 4-0 in Edmonton and the Flames are also coming off a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers two nights ago. The Flames make some lineup changes ahead of the game, and we'll see if they make any difference.
Two big stories in terms of lineup changes, first starting on the blueline.
For the first time this regular season, T. J. Brodie will sit out while both Cory Sarich and Steve Staios will both slot into the lineup. Staios saw time on Thursday night, while Sarich will see his first action this season. Head Coach Brent Sutter said Brodie had been "okay" up to this point, but it was time to see what a veteran prescence might do on the blueline. My guess...Brodie sits tonight and is right back in Tuesday in Nashville, regardless of how Sarich and/or Staios play.
Up front, it's only one change, but it affects the top two lines. Matt Stajan bumps up to the first line to center a line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay while Olli Jokinen moves down to play between NIklas Hagman and Brendan Morrison. There's history on both lines, as Stajan spent a lot of time with Iginla down the stretch last season following his trade from Toronto. As for Jokinen, he has a long history with Hagman, dating back to the World Juniors playing with Finland. Jokinen recalled "hundreds" of games on the same line while playing in Florida, and they also meshed playing with Finland at the Olympics in Vancouver.
Here are lines and pairings:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Brendan Morrison
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Tim Jackman
Craig Conroy-Stefan Meyer-Brett Sutter
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Robyn Regher-Ian White
Jay Bouwmeester-Steve Staios
The Oilers enter action tonight coming off a loss in Minnesota two nights ago, their first of the season. Robert has a nice piece on Edmonton up right now, and they're a team that handed Calgary their lunch ten days ago.
The worrying part of this game stems from two things. First, Edmonton skated circles around Calgary at points during the season opener at Rexall Place, and their skating ability and speed is very impressive when on display. Second, we saw a speedy, young team school the Flames on Thursday night when the Panthers came away with their 3-0 win.
It's on Calgary to play the type of hockey that gives them success, something they haven't done on a regular basis to this point. On a side note, did you know Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle play on the Oilers? They won't let you forget...
The vultures are out when it comes to the Flames, lets be honest. When a team gets shutout twice in their first three games, it's not going to sit well with any group of fans. But you can't really blame Flames fans for looking at the first three games of this season as a continuation of the 2009-10 campaign. Last season lacked offence and consistency from the Flames...the same things that have been lacking to start this season.
We'll all be watching how Calgary performs on the offensive side of the puck. They've scored three goals in three games, and all three of those goals came in one contest. The powerplay is a dismal 1-13 with the only marker coming into an empty net. And they haven't generated nearly enough in terms of scoring chances. The two games Calgary has lost aren't a case of running into a red hot goaltender and losing soley because of that. Watching to see how the Flames enter the zone and how they bring the puck to the net will be my main focus tonight.
After already snapping their string of consecutive losses, the Oilers will now try to win in Calgary for the first time in almost two years, going back to October 17th, 2008. Overall, Calgary has won five straight games over Edmonton at the Saddledome.
Seeing as how we know Cory Sarich is playing tonight, we're finally able to point out he'll be playing in his 750th career game. Plus, Mike Cvik works the lines tonight...his 1500th career game. He's the tall one...