April 10 2013 03:24PM
Well, gang, we're down to brass tacks. The Calgary Flames will not make the playoffs. If they win every single game, chances are slim. But hey, the season is almost over and the Flames are in full-on audition mode for younger players.
Tonight, with 10 games remaining in the borderline-disastrous 2013 season, the Flames (14-20-4) and the Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6) in the 250th meeting between the two clubs. Since their first epic clash (back when the Flames were in Atlanta) on October 28, 1972, the Flames hold a 123-83-33-10 edge, earning 58% of available points against the Canucks all-time. Expect that record to take a small hit tonight, however.
This year the Flames have gone 1-2-1 against Vancouver, with their single win being in Vancouver's lone visit to Calgary – a convincing 4-2 home victory against a travel-haggard Canucks club that played the night before. Calgary won't have that advantage tonight, but they do have a roster half-filled with plucky youngsters with something to prove.
Game-time is 7:30pm on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
The Flames won in Denver, breaking both a five-game losing skid overall and a franchise record 13-game road winless streak. The win places Calgary in 28th spot in the NHL standings, three points up on Colorado in the battle for the league basement.
Matt Stajan is the latest addition to Calgary's walking wounded, as he's out (at least for tonight) with an upper-body injury. He joins Brian McGrattan, Derek Smith, Jiri Hudler and Paul Byron on the sidelines.
And no Matt Stajan equals a fairly substantial line shuffle at the morning skate.
- Tanguay - Backlund - Stempniak
- Baertschi - Horak - Cammalleri
- Glencross - Reinhart - Jackman
- Cervenka - Jones - Begin
- Giordano – Wideman
- Brodie – Sarich
- Carson – Butler
Blair Jones returns to the line-up, being recalled on an emergency basis. He joins fellow Abbotsford exiles Brett Carson, Max Reinhart, Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak. After today's skate, Flames coach Bob Hartley indicated that he was happy with how the young'uns have been playing, so hopefully that continues tonight.
Vancouver last played on Monday night, when they beat Phoenix 2-0. The Canucks are a very good hockey club who defeated the Flames last weekend in a shockingly competitive, but ultimately one-sided, affair. That night they needed Cory Schneider to win them the game, but this time around they are playing the glorified Abbotsford Heat, so don't expect Calgary to be quite so present.
Here's how Vancouver's lines ended up on Monday night.
- Sedin - Sedin - Burrows
- Higgins - Roy - Hansen
- Raymond - Kesler - Kassian
- Ebbett - Lapierre - Weise
- Bieksa - Edler
- Hamhuis - Garrison
- Ballard - Alberts
The Canucks are attempting to round themselves into playoff form, but they're continuing to be bitten by the injury bug, most recently losing Chris Tanev and Chris Higgins to the infirmary. They're also without Manny Maholtra and David Booth. I'd expect Tom Sestito to replace Higgins, but that's just a guess. On the other hand, Ryan Kesler finally returned to the linepu recently and his addition plus with Derek Roy from the deadline gives the Canucks a decent 1-2-3 punch down the middle again.
SUM IT UP
After 250 editions, you'd expect that we would've come up with a clever name for the Vancouver/Calgary rivalry. So far, nobody has.
Vancouver's a team poised to make noise in the post-season, while the Flames are dreaming of the off-season and a brighter tomorrow. The result of this game should be predictable, but the Flames youngsters may be full of piss and vinegar, so if the Canucks snooze on this team, they may be in for a surprise.
Either way, this could be a very interesting measuring-stick game for both clubs.
- Game #40 Preview: Canucks @ Flames
- An extended look at Vancouver's Defense Pairings
- Cory Schneider's Odd Trajectory
- Higgins and Tanev out with Dreaded "Lower Body Injury"
- Early Returns: Derek Roy's First Week With the Canucks
- Follow Ryan Pike on Twitter