October 19 2010 05:31PM
And now Calgary comes to yet another crossroads in this young season. Is it win and finally start playing like a half-decent team more often than not? Or continue to take every other game off and hope that you somehow luck into enough road points to back into the playoffs? Find out live on
Sportsnet West Flames Nation!
This will be an interesting game for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's Rene Bourque's first night back in the lineup. He should provide plenty of pop for a pivot and a wing that have been sorely lacking anything resembling it this season: Curtis Glencross has a single goal in his account, and Mikael Backlund has nothing. These three could be a solid combination out there tonight, particularly if one of the top two lines fails to carry its weight, and that's the kind of thing you've been able to set your watch to so far this season.
The prime candidate for that, of course, is the second forward unit of Hagman-Jokinen-Morrison. I understand B-Mo has more points than anyone on the team, but holy hell this is Brendan Morrison. I'm sorry, but there should never be a point at which he is leading your team in scoring. On the other hand, you have to like what you saw out of the top line of Tanguay-Stajan-Iginla on Saturday against the Oilers. They moved the puck effectively, won a lot of battles and, of course, scored a bunch. So that's always nice to see, and hopefully it can continue here tonight.
But the best news of the day is that Steve Staios might not be long for this Flames roster with the acquisition of Brendan Mikkelson, who won't be suiting up tonight. While unfortunate that his joining the squad was the impetus for TJ Brodie being sent to Abbotsford, rather than, say, Staios being fired, screaming, into the white hot center of the sun, he's certainly an upgrade over whoever he replaces. And honestly, what the hell is Bob Murray thinking letting Mikkelson go to make room for Andreas Lilja? It defies logic.
But anyway, the Flames take on a fairly good, if largely untested opponent in Nashville tonight. Granted they beat Chicago 3-2, but they also snuck three past Corey Crawford, not the most difficult of tasks. More interestingly, the Preds go tonight with a bit of a depleted lineup. No Matt Lombardi to pivot the top line, meaning its up to rookie Colin Wilson to go between Martin Erat and JP Dumont, and no Marcel Goc to center the second. The real trick will be stopping Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly, of course, but Sully's never been particularly good against the Flames in Nashville (you have to go back to 2006 to find the last time he scored against them there, and since then he's minus-6 with two assists in four games). In addition, this is Pekka Rinne's first game back since sustaining a lower body injury in the season opener.
Provided the right team shows up for Calgary tonight (never a guarantee), the Flames probably don't bottle this one too badly, right?