March 15 2013 04:46PM
It'll be Western Night at the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight as the Flames host the Nashville Predators. Expect cowboy hats, Taylor Swift and a very tight-checking defensive game. Game-time is 7pm and you can tune in on Sportsnet West or Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
The Flames (10-11-4) are attempting to extend their home winning streak to six games and to return to the .500 mark. The Predators (11-10-6) sit just four points up on Calgary and the Flames have two games in hand, so this is a huge opportunity for the Flames to become relevant again in the playoff picture. The Preds got stomped last night in Vancouver, losing 7-4...so, yes it's another opponent on the 2nd night of a B2B.
As per usual, the Flames had an optional skate prior to tonight's game. Many players didn't suit up, although Sportsnet's Roger Millions tweeted that no line-up changes were expected from the group that beat Detroit on Wednesday night.
- Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
- Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
- Comeau – Backlund – Hudler
- McGrattan – Begin – Jackman
- Brodie – Bouwmeester
- Giordano – Wideman
- Smith – Butler
There's no guarantee that Roman Cervenka doesn't slot back in, but there doesn't seem to be anybody that obviously drops out of the line-up.
The Flames will be trying to play a complete game. Most of the wins on their home streak have come via strong third period efforts, but the team has to find a way to put their mark on a game prior to the third period. The lucked out against Detroit after being handily outshot for the first two frames.
Calgary's second line continues to drive the bus offensively, contributing three even-strength goals against Detroit. Stajan and Stempniak have been the team's most consistent players this season, with Glencross (and Bouwmeester) slightly behind.
Nashville didn't skate this morning after their game in Vancouver, so all we can do is guess what their line-up will be. Here's roughly what their lines were at the end of last night's contest.
- Halischuk – Legwand – Boychuk
- Yip – Smith – Erat
- Spaling – Fisher - Clune
- Kostitsyn – Butler - Bourque
- Weber – Josi
- Ellis – Hannan
- Klein – Bartley
Rinne will start for the Preds. Scratches against Vancouver were Jonathan Blum and Chris Mueller. Paul Gaustad is out with an upper body injury. Colin Wilson and Patrich Hornqvist are also hurt.
The Preds are not an offensively-oriented team, as evidenced by them scoring seven fewer goals than Calgary in two more games (and that rather unappealing depth chart above). Heck, their leading scorer – Colin Wilson – has 19 points, comparable with four Flames (Tanguay, Iginla, Cammalleri and Stempniak) that have roughly that many points in fewer games.
That said, the Preds are much better defensively than Calgary, mostly because they have enjoy consistently good goaltending from Pekka Rinne and can turn the neutral zone into a quagmire.
SUM IT UP
The Flames have a winnable game in front of them and the chance to get back to .500, but they desperately need to be better in the first two periods than they were against Detroit. Nashville is a very hard team to catch up to once they get a lead and they play a strong, stifling defensive game.
Calgary was good enough to beat Detroit on Wednesday, but they'll need to play a better, more complete 60-minute game to repeat that result tonight against the Predators.
PS - Kent has 4 tickets to the HItmen gamr tomorrow night whic he can't use as well as a parking pass to get in. Section 119, row 12. First person to emal him (firstname.lastname@example.org) gets them.