January 09 2014 02:37PM
Your Calgary Flames return home tonight, fresh off a sad, tiny road trip where, well okay that Colorado game was great, but goal scoring, as I'm sure you've noticed, continues to be down. After falling 6-0 to the Coyotes in the hockey metropolis that is the great state of Arizona, the Flames have now been shutout 4 times in the past 6 games and scored only 5 goals in that same span.
Needless to say, that is a pressing concern.
And as that old saying about how things get worse before they get better, well brother, things are about to get worse before they get better. The Flames welcome the St. Louis Blues to the Scotiabank Saddledome tonight, and if we're all lucky and send a prayer to all our respective deities (mine's German Titov), we mayhaps see a Flames goal or two tonight.
Maybe. We'll see.
The Offensive Dynamo Calgary Flames
Lineups, as you know and always are, courtesy of our superpals over at Daily Faceoff, and let me tell you, those guys are all fresh sex on wheels.
- Cammy - Backlund - Stemps
- Byron - Monahan - Hudler
- Galiardi - Stajan - Bouma
- Westgarth - Colborne - McGrattan
- Brodie - Giordano
- Smid - Wideman
- Butler - O'Brien
More or less the lineup you'd expect to see at this point in the season, given injuries, mind numbing coaching decisions, and organizational philosophies. That second line is one I'm particularly intirgued in, as I think Sean Monahan could get a decent boost from what may be the two most consistent Flames forwards over the past 5 or 6 games. We all know Monarail has struggled a lot since returning from injury, partly because he wasn't 100%, so maybe now that he's healthy that line could be dynamic.
Anytime I see Backlund at 1C I get giddy.
Expect to see a lot of Gio and Brodie tonight. Obviously they're just the two best defensemen on the team and the club's best shutdown option, but also just because the Blues are good and the rest of these guys are more or less scrubs (not you Dennis, I love you). Could be a long night for that duo.
I don't know if Stone Cold Matt Stajan (pictured above), has any designs on exacting revenge on David "Dave" Backes for his terrible knee on knee hit in overtime the last two times these teams hooked up, but supposedly they're friends somehow and if the Franchise has any competitive juices in him at all (and we know he does), well...let's just say I'll be paying extra attention when the two of them are on the ice together.
Karri Ramo is not Reto Berra and that's a good thing.
The St. Louis Bloos
- Schwartz - Backes - Oshie
- Sobotka - Berglund - Tarasenko
- Paajarvi - Roy - Stewart
- Morrow - Lapierre - Reaves
- Pietrangelo - Bouwmeester
- Shattenkirk - Jackman
- Cole - Leopold
What you're looking at is basically the entire collection of every Olympic country's roster. That is a good looking lineup, and it's easy to see why the Blues are tied for third overall in the whole entire NHL. I mean that 4th line is pretty junky and you kinda see why Calgary would be countering with Westgarth and MccGrattan tonight (aside from they were going to do it anyway), but the Blues in general are a pretty physical team, and I expect a chippy affair tonight. Old school stuff, should be a lot of fun to watch.
Jaro Halak is currently on the shelf, so the Blues turn to one of the other two goalies they've always been comfortable starting. Brian Elliott and Jake Allen are clear steps down from Halak, but the Blues are good enough that no one's ever really been able to notice. Still, if the Flames want to pop a few tonight, it's probably better that Halak's not the one standing in their way.
Reinhart or Ekblad?
Players to Watch
I already touched on this, but let's go with Sean Monahan.
Assuming there's any kind of line matching going on, and Ken Hitchcock loves him some matchups, I have no idea who Sean's going to be going nose to nose with all night, but there's not a lot of options to shelter him. That said, I think he's in the best position possible to succeed tonight, and with some nicely skilled players in Byron and Hudler, there's a good chance we see him on form. He did score the other night against Colorado, and hey, he hasn't been bad lately, so maybe he's getting his nice looking rookie campaign back on track. Tonight's game should be a good test for him and the organization to see how his development has come along.
Also, goons. Lots of goons playing tonight. It's going to be a #GRITCHART heavy kind of night.
I think if the Flames scored one goal tonight, the way things have been going, we'd be happy. If they scored two, there might be a parade. I know a lot of fans are ambassadors of Tank Nation, so they're happy to see the way this season is going. Personally, I don't think they're tanking, they're actually just bad enough on merit to be challenging for that first overall pick.
Somehow I feel better about that. I'd sure like to be able to write these FGDs someday and talk about how the team is right in the thick of a division lead. Someday, friends, someday. That bright future horizon is not as distant as it looks right now, I promise you that.