January 24 2012 12:16PM
So, for both the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, the prospect of a nice mid-season break looms starting on Wednesday morning. In the midst of a grinding 82 game season, I can imagine there would be few things players would look forward to. Well, hopefully a nice beach with the family isn't what's on the minds of the Flames as they host the Sharks for the final game prior to the 2012 NHL All Star break (7 pm, Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960).
It's the second time in a week these two teams will meet after the Sharks took a 2-1 shootout win one week ago at the HP Pavilion. That was the first of a nice string of games on the road for the Flames, a span where Calgary took five of a possible six points. And after a two day break, the Flames also get to entertain a San Jose team coming off a surprisingly tough game the night before.
Alex Tanguay will return to the Flames lineup this evening barring an unforseen setback, as both the player and the Head Coach pointed to a very likely return. After missing 15 games with an upper body injury, Tanguay's return will be a welcome boost to Calgary's forward ranks and will do no harm on the powerplay either. The question surrounds whether he'll be in game shape right away or if the timing might be a little off, but he says he feels fine.
Mike Cammalleri-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla
Blake Comeau-Olli Jokinen-Lee Stempniak
Alex Tanguay-Blair Jones-Tom Kostopoulos
Brendan Morrison-Roman Horak-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich
Those lines could change as the night goes on, so we'll see if anything changes. Matt Stajan left the ice yesterday during a compete drill with Jarome Iginla, and Stajan won't play tonight; Lance Bouma will also miss the game. Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net.
I could lie and say writing up a full preview for a team that the Flames played just seven days ago would be a waste of your time to read. However, I won't lie, and instead I'll tell the truth: I'm selfish and I feel like it would be a waste of my time to write up an almost identical piece. No one says I'm not lazy...double negative you know.
Sarcasm and writing indifference aside, the Sharks are still a very good team, but a group that is prone to frustration when things don't go their way. When things do go their way, San Jose can be damn scary to play against. After going on a tear heading into their last meeting with Calgary, the Sharks have now lost their last three since then, including a 2-1 shootout setback in Edmonton last night.
To make matters worse, they also lost defenseman Brent Burns in that contest, as he collided with Ales Hemsky's knee early in the third period. While the Oilers forward was handed a five minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct, Burns left the game and did not return, and he won't play tonight. "I tried to go down the wall, and it was just a reaction play," Burns said. "It didn't feel too good on my part. I knew it wasn't good right away. I thought I was going to throw up. I don't know how bad it is yet. It happens. It's a quick game. I've been on the other end of these. It happens so quick. It's not his fault."
Andrew Desjardins-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau-Logan Couture-Benn Ferriero
Jamie McGinn-Michal Handzus-Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester-John McCarthy-Andrew Murray
Dan Boyle-Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray-Jason Demers
Colin White-Justin Braun/Jim Vandermeer
The odd thing about this team is their lack of success on the powerplay, sitting 17th in the league standings when up a man. No Burns doesn't help that, as he sits second on the team with four powerplay goals. Tied with him for second on the team in that same category is Ryane Clowe, who will miss his fifth straight game with a facial fracture; he's not expected back until after the All Star break.
From a Calgary perspective, we all hope a nice break isn't what is being thought about heading into this one. Even with injuries, the Sharks are still an extremely dangerous squad, and too many mistakes will cost the home side dearly. That said, the gameplan executed one week ago was an effective one against this opponent, as the Flames frustrated San Jose, limiting their chances at even strength. A repeat performance of that will give Calgary their best chance of putting together a third straight victory.