March 11 2013 03:15PM
On February 20th, when I said I wish the LA Kings could play the Calgary Flames every day... I was just kidding.— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) March 11, 2013
Us too, Half, us too.
In what feels like, oh, 48 hours, your Calgary Flames are back at it tonight for the second leg of a back to back against those damned merciless Los Angeles Kings, who are looking to treat the boys in red as lower class serfs, existing only to do the bidding of the kingdom for a second game in a row. The Flames, amid swirling rumours that this game is potentially the straw that breaks the camel's back (the camel being GM Jay Feaster, and his back is a Jarome Iginla trade), look back to get back on track against an obviously very good LA squad to close out their California road trip with at least a little bit of pride intact.
We don't really need to talk about it (in fact, if you read the post game report for the last game, we literally provided no words for the effort), but suffice to say, the team is in the midst of a touch of turmoil these days. After an impressive couple of wins against tough opponents in Vancouver and San Jose, the Flames took to the road and put in a much better effort against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim than the 4-0 score so unflatteringly reflected. But after Saturday's debacle, where Calgary's performance was even worse than Matthew Perry's on Hockey Night In Canada's After Hours, the team has shown once again that they are far too inconsistent to be seriously considering a playoff run in this, a shortened NHL campaign.
Most seasons are long. Teams have time to smooth over the lumps that are the glaring faults in their game, and in an 82 game season, this iteration of the Flames could possibly be competitive enough to figure that out. But over the course of 48 is a different story, and the tolerance of stinkers like the 6-2 drubbing by LA two nights ago grows less and less. That's why many believe that THIS is the game that determines whether it's time for Calgary to pack it in and ship off everyone short of Harvey the Hound to other markets, or if the march towards 8th is earnestly born anew. #GOINGFORIT!
The roster sheet has yet to be confirmed by anyone tonight, but there's a few things we do know. Curtis Glencross is still out, as he's nursing the effects of whatever injury he's suffering from that kept him out of the last tilt with the Kings. And Miikka Kiprusoff, who looked pretty damn abysmal against the Kings after dominating the Sharks, gets a rest tonight, maybe for a few games.
I, uh, well, whatever works, right??!
That's what Sportsnet's Roger Millions is calling his "best guess" for tonight based off of what he's seen in the morning skate, and if that's what we're seeing tonight, well, it's different, and that's the nicest thing we can say about that.
Of note, if these are indeed the lines, young and fabulous TJ Brodie has been given a promotion up to the first defensive pairing with Jay Bouwmeester, and that would be of particular interest for something to watch for. Brodie has been fairly impressive this season, and even though his game in the past 5 or 6 has regressed and earned him 3rd pairing responsibilities with whatever dead weight defenseman checked in beside him, he has truly been a pleasant surprise for the Flames this season. This is a big challenge for him, and it'll be quite the compelling storyline to see how he stacks up against the King's top line which is, I don't need to tell you, just a little bit potent. Having Bouwmeester line up next to him can only help Brodie, and we'll have to see how much slack Jay takes for his young partner, but either way, fun to watch.
That 4th line though. It hurts the heart.
UPDATE: Pat Steinberg has Brodie back down on the third pairing with Sarich. Let's split the difference and say he lines up with Giordano on the second set.
I got nothing. Mike Richards appeared like he might be out of action after his blueline collision with Tim Jackman last game, speculation that was further amplified when the Kings called up 20 year old prospect Tyler Toffoli from Manchester. But all reports indicate that Richards was at practice Monday and good to go for today, so in the meantime, we'll go ahead and assume that the Kings haven't made any changes to their lineup that pretty thoroughly dismantled Calgary last weekend.
No word on whether or not Jonathan Quick gets the start in goal tonight, but one assumes he will, as he seems to be finding his form after his, let's say Kipper-esque start to the year.
The Kings do not need to make much in the way of changes. They're starting to look much like the team that ran over everyone in last spring's playoffs en route to their Stanley Cup victory, and they're doing so without having key cogs Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene on defense. So that's scary.
The Kings are good, and Calgary is going to have to throw everything they have at them to get this one done. I would not expect to see a lot of the 4th line, which is a logical notion to have, so this means that they'll probably play 11 minutes. Be ready for that. GRIT CHART SAYS IT'S HAPPENING
Loves us some grit chart, which will now become the site's on-going running joke indefinitely.
Jeff Carter is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now, so I think maybe a key to the game might be trying to neutralize him. You can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him.
I don't know. Buckle up, it's going to be a ride. I know a lot of fans want to see the Flames get killed in this one and have everyone traded to fancy new cities, but a) that sucks, b) don't count on it. Personally, I'd like to see the flames show up with some pride and perform to a level we know they're capable of, but only show 30-40% of the time.
Game's at 8. SN West. Be there. Bueno. Vamos Llamas!