November 24 2010 11:23AM
I'm hoping you get my Jersey Shore reference, and if you don't, then I've completely outed myself as one of the only FlamesNationers to have watched the oddly entertaining MTV program. What it has to do with tonight's Flames-Devils game in Newark (5:30 pm, TSN and The FAN 960)? Absolutely nothing, but anytime I can get a Jersey Shore reference in...I'm doing it. By the way, it's a big game for the Flames.
Henrik Karlsson does indeed get the start tonight in net for the Flames, as Calgary tries to snap a two game losing skid and rectify something much deeper...two wins in 11 games, a span that has put them three games below the .500 mark. The good news? For the first time in a while, the Flames take on a truly mediocre opponent WITH the results to go with it.
With Calgary playing five road games in seven nights, they needed to get their backup goaltender in at some point. I know there is a strong argument to play Miikka Kiprusoff tonight, but you simply can't play him every night, and this was a good opportunity to play the backup. Karlsson wasn't good at all in his last start, a 6-5 loss to Colorado...but neither was the team in front of him. Calgary has made a theme of playing some stinker hockey in front of their backup at times, and needing a win, that can't happen tonight.
Matt Stajan will not play tonight after being hammered by New York's Marc Staal on Monday night...the hit knocked Stajan out of the game, but the feeling is he might be ready for the weekend. The timing seems to work though, as Stajan's exit coincides with Olli Jokinen's return after serving a three game suspension; he'll play in between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay tonight, re-uniting the unit that started the season together.
Good news comes in the form of Robyn Regehr, who returns to the lineup after missing one game...he went awkwardly into the boards trying to finish a check Sunday against the Red Wings. Calgary loses a lot with Regehr out of the lineup, primarily the tough minutes he plays, almost always in key situations. Here are lines and pairings for tonight:
Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Brendan Morrison
Tom Kostopoulos-Stefan Meyer-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Anton Babchuk
Steve Staios-Brendan Mikkelson
Craig Conroy won't play again tonight, but it seems like he's battling a shoulder injury, which is why he's missed time. The Flames Twitter has updated to say Cory Sarich is scratched tonight...no word as to why.
Ahhhh, the vaunted 6-13-2 Devils...a team that went all out to retain Ilya Kovalchuk during the off season, to the detriment of the rest of their team. Depth wise, this team ain't great...injuries to key players like goalie Martin Brodeur, Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise make things even worse.
Johan Hedberg gets the start in net, coming off a Monday shutout over Washington, a game where the Devils exploded for a 5-0 win. We all remember Hedberg from the 2004 first round against Vancouver, don't we? He was such a game changer. Here are lines and pairings for the home side:
Ilya Kovalchuk-Dainius Zubrus-Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias-Jason Arnott-Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston-Travis Zajac-David Clarkson
Rod Pelley-Adam Mair-Stephen Gionta
Colin White-Henrik Tallinder
Andy Greene-Mark Fayne
Matt Corrente-Anton Volchenkov
Plain and simple, Calgary needs a win...they played good in Detroit, but the Red Wings came back to take that game in overtime. They played eh in New York, with a listless first period followed up by a better second and third, but couldn't find the equalizing tally heading into the third period. Tonight, even with their backup in, this is a game the Flames are supposed to win. If they go out and control this game at even strength, which they have the ability to do, they won't have to worry about who's in net. Even with the 14th place spot occupied by Calgary currently, they're just six points back of where they want to be. So if they can put something together now, things start to become a little less dicey.