March 27 2013 02:25PM
Two of the NHL's lowest-ranked teams clash tonight in the Scotiabank Saddledome with both of their playoff chances rapidly fading from sight. The Calgary Flames (12-15-4, 4.1% playoff chance) host the Colorado Avalanche (11-6-4, 0.8% playoff chance) at 8pm on TSN and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
The Flames are coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss last night in Chicago and are an uneven 3-7-0 in their last ten, but they're riding a seven-game winning streak at home. The Avs have been idle since a 3-2 loss to Vancouver on Sunday, but are equally poor (3-7-0) lately and boast one of the NHL's worst road records at 2-10-3. They're the only NHL club worse than Calgary on the road.
With two teams playing mostly for pride now, it'll be very interesting to see how this one plays out – particularly with the Avs playing for Seth Jones now and the Flames trying to keep their faint mathematical playoff hopes alive. Colorado has won the first two meetings between the teams this season by scores of 6-3 and 5-4.
The Flames got absolutely slammed with shots against Chicago, getting out-gunned 35-16 and being on their heels the entire time. But that was a road game, and the Flames seem to have a strange confidence about them in home games. Things just seem to go well.
Given that it's the back-end of a back-to-back, the Flames didn't have a full morning skate (it was an optional) and line combinations are now guess-work. Here's how they lined up at the end of their game against Chicago:
- Brodie – Bouwmeester
- Giordano – Wideman
- Butler – Sarich
As per Pat Steinberg's Twitter (and the Flames), Miikka Kiprusoff will sit after being shelled with shots over his last two games. Joey MacDonald will suit up in his stead. Also, expect some line-up changes given the back-to-back. I'd wager that Brian McGrattan and Derek Smith will sneak back into the line-up, but that's just me guessing.
Like the Flames, the Avalanche are coming off of a loss that was worse than the score reflected – a 3-2 setback on Sunday against the Canucks. Colorado also lost two key parts of their line-up to injury – forward Paul Statsny and defender Ryan Wilson.
Here's their lines as of the end of the Vancouver game:
I'd expect Semyon Varlamov to start, Tyson Barrie to replace the injured Wilson and either David Jones or Aaron Palushaj to replace Statsny. The Avs remain a fairly talented team that has really, really underachieved this year. They've also had to deal with some injuries and absences, but thankfully (for them) Ryan O'Reilly is back and getting his legs under him with three goals and 11 points in 12 games (yay).
SUM IT UP
It's beyond crunch time. Wins are needed to stay alive. The Flames will have to play a smart game to play a rested Colorado team, particularly coming off a very disappointing performance against Chicago. Of course, on the
Only three games remain until the trade deadline.
UPDATE - Jarome Iginla won't play tonight. That means he will likely be moved within the next 24 hours.