December 19 2013 12:01PM
Pic via Ktpupp
Tonight, the Flames head to a North American city where there are about 350 stray dogs per square mile. No, not Mexico City but good guess! They like to call this Mad-Maxian dystopia, "Detroit."
The hockey team that plays in Detroit are always, always good. Like, frustratingly so.So much so that Mike Babcock, featured on HBO's 24/7 said longingly and with a straight face, "We haven't won a cup since '08..." As in 2008, and not 1908. Yes, many hardships have befallen poor Red Wings fans and their great cup drought of five years.
The Wings (15-12-9) have moved to the Eastern conference for this season and are currently four points behind Tampa Bay for third spot in the Atlantic division. They currently own one of two wild-card positions but this is not exactly been an ideal season for the Wings so far who are surprisingly inept at home with a 5-9-6 record.
THE LOCAL HEROES
pic via Dan Stephenson
The Flames (13-16-5) were shut out by the Bruins on Tuesday 2-0 off the strength of two goals from a circus freak on skates. Three games into this road trip, the Flames are 2-1 and had a pretty good effort on Tuesday but were simply outmatched by a better team.
Some of the lines are a little different tonight so take a peak at them. As always, thanks to our buds at Dailyfaceoff.com
- Glencross - Stajan - Stempniak
- Byron - Monahan - Hudler
- Cammalleri - Backlund - D.Jones
- Bouma - Colborne - McGrattan
- Russell - Brodie
- Giordano - Smid
- O'Brien - Butler
I am quickly becoming the president of the Paul Byron fan club. That loveable little squirt has played his tush off these past few games and earned his spot on a line with capable players. I am sure on Babcock's game-day run around Joe Louis Arena, he is dreaming up ways of stopping Byron and his five-foot-seven truculence. I am very curious to see how this line deals with the opposition tonight but I would think that the line of 32-23-24 are a pretty good bet to see some sheltered minutes.
Cammalleri will play tonight with Backlund, which will also be interesting to watch. I have thought that Backlund's play has been very solid since Monahan's injury, when he began to usurp Colborne's spot in the top-nine. As Kent pointed out on twitter this morning, Backlund hasn't been on the ice for an even-strength goal in 10 games and has played over 18 minutes at even-strength in six of those games including over 20 minutes in the last two. Wow.
Karri Ramo gets the start again tonight after a solid performance from Reto Berra on Tuesday. In Berra's last three starts, he has posted a combined SV% of .942 which is pretty good for a very small sample. A few more starts like that and he will have his season percentage over .910, which still isn't amazing but it does show improvement.
I have no problem with seeing what these two netminders are about this season but I do think that Ramo has looked more like a guy who can carry the mail over a longer stretch. Though, I am not suggesting that his largely decent play is making anybody re-number their old 34 jerseys for 31 instead.
pic via fusionmonkey
As I mentioned earlier, the Wings are struggling mightily at home, failing to earn a point since November 27th and currently mired in their longest regulation home losing streak (five games) since 1985-86. Not to mention the fact that their ineptitude is being documented for posterity by an HBO film crew. So, I would think that the Wings will be highly motivated tonight.
Here is their lineup thanks to Daily Faceoff:
- Jurco - Datsyuk - Alfie
- Miller - Andersson - Tatar
- Cleary - Glendening - Eaves
- Bertuzzi - Sheahan - Tootoo
- Kronwall - Ericsson
- Quincey - Smith
- Kindl - Lashoff
Did I say Wings? Sorry, I meant *Wings-ish.* Holy Maltby the Wings are hurting. Their injured list would likely challenge for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan division: Franzen, Helm, DeKeyser, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Nyquist, Weiss (who sucks), and Jimmy Howard. That is a lot of good NHLers in the press box.
Knowing Detroit, Jurco (a former second rounder in 2011) and Sheahan (a first rounder in 2010) will both turn into 30 goal scorers after serving their mandatory 4-6 year sentences in Grand Rapids. However, the Flames have a unique opportunity to beat this off-brand version of the Red Wings at home.
Jordan Tootoo is dressed tonight so, I think, that will give McGrattan someone to deter? Or maybe he can scare Bertuzzi? Thats how this is supposed to work right? But neither Bertuzzi or Tootoo can fight McGrattan right? On account of the code? Or will Tootoo fight him to stand up for his teamates? Maybe Glendening or Cleary will try something to spark some energy for his team, but, in so doing allows McGrattan to energize his own team as well? Anyways, I am going to walk into the ocean now.
The Flames will see former Leaf star Jonas Gustavsson in net tonight. Gustavsson has been very solid this season, filling in for Howard during Howard's injury and the periods where he hasn't been very good.
pic via Jpowers65
The Flames will look to beat this knock-off version of the Wings and continue their strong road trip while making a brief, but albeit very cool, cameo on 24/7. The Wings, held together only by Babcock's strong jaw-line and outrageous Canadian accent, will look to beat an opponent that they should beat and try to improve their miserable home record.
It's a bit of a weird start time as the puck drops at 5:30MT on SNET West.