Nation World HQ
February 18 2012 12:13PM
With the brother vs. brother series tied at one win a piece, the Brent Sutter coached Calgary Flames roll into Los Angeles for their third meeting this season with Darryl Sutter's Kings (8 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960). As the Flames look to extend their point streak to eight games, they'll also try to reel in their conference rivals who currently hold the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
Calgary was fortunate to come away with a point Thursday night in Dallas, as they spent far too much time in their own zone and relied far too much on the all-world goaltending of Miikka Kiprusoff. That said, they got the single point and were in a position to maybe steal two, and they enter the evening just two points back of the postseason. The only bad news out of town last night came in the form of a Colorado win on the road in Edmonton.
Doesn't look like much changes whatsoever for the Flames tonight, as really, not a whole lot can right now. Calgary is struggling with depth already and have done a good job of patch-working together a lineup that has done the job over the last few weeks. Mike Cammalleri's move to centre has been pretty solid while the top line has continued to put up points, so there isn't much reason to make any large changes.
Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
Krys Kolanos-Roman Horak-Lance Bouma
Paul Byron-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich
Some good news came yesterday morning when Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh let us know both Curtis Glencross and Derek Smith have resumed skating. It's not groundbreaking news or anything, but it's another step in their recovery process, as both are hoped to be back sometime in early March. Both will be a large help to the lineup, and Smith's return specifically leads to some interesting discussions about the future of certain Calgary blueliners.
Miikka Kiprusoff gets his fourth straight start in net.
There's not a whole lot of guessing anymore when it comes to the LA Kings. While it remains a mystery as to why the Kings are the NHL's lowest scoring team (124 goals), but it's no longer a surprise. We're talking about almost two full seasons of this team having decent-to-strong possession numbers coupled with staggeringly low goal totals. Sometimes it's an anomaly over a full season, and sometimes it's what you are. It's clearly the latter at this point, and there's next to no excuse for it knowing some of the quality talent LA boasts.
Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford-Andrei Loktionov-Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson-Colin Fraser-Kevin Westgarth
Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell-Jack Johnson
Davis Drewiski-Matt Greene
Injuries have eaten up LA's depth of late, with Simon Gagne sidelined indefinetely with a concussion; Jarret Stoll's lower body injury will likely keep him out for this game tonight.
One area where the Kings aren't lacking is in net, as Jonathan Quick is putting together a Vezina quality season as a workhorse goalie. Quick's impressive 1.89 goals against is as much a team stat as anything else, with LA typically hard to score against with the way they play. However his .937 even strength save percentage (.934 overall) tells you that Quick is as big a part of that low goals against as well. Quick has allowed two goals or less in 17 of his last 19 games, yet LA's record over that time is just 9-5-5, showing you how little run support they've given their netminder. Quick gets the start tonight.
Neither team is overly gifted offensively right now, and both lineups are kind of slapped together with duct tape. How Kopitar et al do against Calgary's top unit will likely tell much of the story of this game, if Darryl ends up using that matchup. The other interesting storyline is the two struggling "number four" forwards on each team, as neither Calgary's Cammalleri nor LA's Richards has done the job totally as hoped since joining their new teams.