April 09 2014 11:42AM
We're down to the final five days of the 2013-14 season, and the Calgary Flames play their 80th contest tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome against the Los Angeles Kings. It's the fifth and final meeting between the clubs. The road team has won every single game.
The home side arrives back in Calgary after a pretty successful road trip, winning three of five and putting some drama into the playoff hopes of New Jersey and Tampa Bay. The Kings are a streaky team, having lost three of their last four games (and that stretch followed a six-game winning stretch).
They're being chased by the Minnesota Wild, and desperately need some points to cement their claim to the third seed in the Pacific Division. It's ultimately a meaningless game, they're being chased by Dallas and Phoenix, neither of which can catch 'em.
Tonight's game is the last TSN broadcast for awhile. It kicks off at 8pm MT.
THE BOYS IN RED
Lines from practice, via many media types (and your pals at Daily Faceoff:
Byron - Cammalleri - Hudler
Glencross - Monahan - Colborne
Bouma - Stajan - McGrattan
Van Brabant - Galiardi - Westgarth
Brodie - Giordano
Butler - Russell
Billins - Cundari
Stajan and Byron are back in after missing time dealing with personal matters, so Agostino and Hanowski sit. Also absent are Backlund, Wotherspoon, Smid, Wideman, Granlund and Jones.
The coaching staff continues to opt for line balance without so many guys; you could argue they have two second lines and two fourth lines. But given their balanced approach at spreading the workload over the past few games (perhaps in an attempt to evaluate the kids), a balanced line-up makes complete sense.
After winning his 16th game of the year in New Jersey, Karri Ramo gets his 35th start of the year. He's been very good lately. Very good.
THE ROYAL VISITORS
Lines via Daily Faceoff
Gaborik - Kopitar - Williams
King - Carter - Toffoli
Pearson - Stoll - Brown
Clifford - Richards - Lewis
Martinez - Mitchell
Muzzin - Voynov
Campbell - Greene
The Kings need wins. Badly. They've lost three of four and in the process have tumbled from well ahead of Minnesota to tied with them, although that has zero playoff impact. But during a stretch where they should be playing strong playoff-style hockey against prospective playoff opponents, they've stumbled.
The Kings also have a mostly healthy roster, so it's not like injuries can be leaned on as an excuse. They just don't seem to have it right now, which is likely incredibly worrying for the team from Hollywood. Regehr and Doughty are nursing minor issues, so both are sitting tonight to get ready for the post-season.
SUM IT UP
The Flames and Kings battle for the season series and bragging rights, with the locals trying to win against the Kings on home ice, and the Kings trying to round back into playoff form against an opponent that's been very good over the past two months.
Beware, though: it's a late game, so grab some coffee or Red Bull on your way to the game.