Welcome to the 30th Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 78th game of the season on April 3, 2009.
Back-to-back games? Check. Both on the road? Check. Team only playing okay? Check. Offense sputtering and coming in against a team that is defensive-minded? Check. Up against a white-hot superstar right wing? Check. And literally half the defense is AHL-level rookies? Check and mate.
The Flames are scuh-rewed tonight. No Regehr, no Sarich, no Aucoin. And to call up the replacements for them, the Flames cleared cap space by sending down Dustin Boyd and Warren Peters down to Quad Cities. The Calgary Flames, a National Hockey League franchise, will roll this as the defensive pairings tonight in Minnesota in the thick of a deathmatch for the division title and a home ice spot:
Now, let’s examine this line by line to make sure I haven’t screwed anything up.
Phaneuf-Leopold: Well that might not be SO bad. Except both guys are a minus-5 since the Leopold acquisition and have played significant minutes together. That’s strike one.
Vandermeer-Pardy: It could be worse, I guess, but neither has really gotten a ton of ice time, or at least not anywhere near what they’ll be asked to contribute tonight. Neither are outwardly bad, and it’s a good thing Minnesota stinks offensively, but you know this could be trouble.
Negrin-Pelech: Yes, that’s John Negrin, and no, he’s never played a professional hockey game before. Pelech, who hasn’t been bad at all down at QC, doesn’t have the experience to make up for Negrin being literally so green he might count as neon.
So Calgary has, if I’m being generous, half an NHL defense. And because of the roster moves to be able to fit in Pelech and Negrin, it also has 1/3 of a fourth line. Even if there weren’t all the aforementioned mitigating circumstances, I’d be nervous about tonight. But there are. So that sucks.
This is a great situation, yes indeedy.
The Calgary Flames (44-26-6 for 94 points. Tied for third in the West, tied for first in the Northwest) and the Minnesota Wild (36-32-9 for 81 points. Tied for 10th in the West, tied for third in the Northwest).
6 p.m. Mountain time and 8 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should use 9-1-1 in the event of emergencies only.
XCel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
Calgary is 19-17-2 on the road this year, and haven’t allowed more than two goals in any of the last three games. The Wild are a strong 20-11-7 at home and lost to Vancouver in overtime in St. Paul on Tuesday.
What (to hate about the Wild):
They have a chance to maybe win tonight — The last two games against Minnesota were played in Calgary, where the Flames kick the absolute hell out of the Wild at pretty much every opportunity. But in Minnesota, it’s a little different, with Minnesota forcing overtime or winning outright in three of the last five.
This is how you have to spend your Friday night — Look, I know you’ve had a long week. And I know you love the Calgary Flames. And so the ability to sit down and watch an exciting Flames game with a couple of beers and unwind a bit is always nice. But playing the Wild is a bit of an insult. It’s like winning a consolation prize. No one wants to sit through a Minnesota game. Not even Minnesota fans.
Marian Gaborik — He has been unstoppable since he came back from injury, scoring five goals and three assists in seven games and helping the Wild go 3-2-1 in that span. Marian, buddy, you’re not helping us right now.
Jacques Lemaire — I spent at least part of my time in high school thinking he was the Jacques that didn’t know how to read. Turns out I was wrong. He’s the Jacques that doesn’t know how to coach.
They’re in the Flames’ division — That’s plenty of reason right there.
They gave up points to the Canucks the other night — That was what enabled Vancouver to hold the division lead for two days. This was all very upsetting.
Because you’ve had a long week and deserve a good two-hour nap. Enjoy the game and grab a complimentary blanket in the comments section.