What’s on tap: April 2nd, 2010

Well, it looks less and less likely that the Calgary Flames are going to catch any other Western Conference playoff team not named the Colorado Avalanche. Why? Well, because all those teams they’re chasing decided to win on Thursday night. Luckily, the schedule presents itself nicely for the 9th place Flames. They get to take on that 8th place Avalanche team they’ve been chasing this evening at the Pepsi Center! Let’s take a look at the potential Friday implications.

On the Homefront

Calgary takes on Colorado for the final time this season at 7:30 pm (Sportsnet, The FAN 960). The Avalanche have already won the season series, taking the first 4 meetings this season before falling to Calgary on March 17th. Every game between these teams has ended in a 3-2 score.

Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net for the Flames, his 5th start against the Avalanche this year. He has yet to pick up a win against the Blue and Burgundy, as Vesa Toskala was the goalie of record during that 3-2 Calgary triumph in March.

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Who’s hot for the Flames? Well, all of a sudden, the much maligned Ales Kotalik has 2 goals in 2 games. Granted, his goal against Washington did snap a 17-game drought without a goal, and an 11-point span without a point. Who’s not? Well, the production has dried up as of late for the captain, as Jarome Iginla is now riding a 6-game goalless drought. He’s scored just once in his last 11 games.

The lineup looks much the same for the Flames, as you can expect the lines to remain from their wins over Washington and Phoenix. They looked like this:

Hagman – Stajan – Iginla
Kotalik – Backlund – Bourque
Dawes – Conroy – Moss
Sutter – Nystrom – Mayers

Colorado’s Magic Number to clinch a spot remains the same as Calgary’s Elimination Number: 4. The Flames have 87 points with 5 games remaining, the Avalanche have 89 points with 6 games remaining.

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Behind Enemy Lines

Well, good luck chasing down some of these teams, but we’ll put them in there for the sake of it.

Nashville – The Predators were impressive in a come from behind victory over St. Louis on Thursday night, strengthening their playoff position while also crippling post-season life for their division rivals in Missouri. Patric Hornqvist lead the way with 3 points as the Preds took a 3-2 win, decreasing their Magic Number to just 1. Nashville is not in action tonight.

Detroit – The 6th place Red Wings won. Again. Make it 7 straight wins for the Winged Wheel, and tenth in their last eleven games, this time downing Columbus 3-2 on Thursday. Detroit now has 95 points with 5 games remaining, and their Magic Number drops to 2. The Red Wings are idle tonight.

Los Angeles – And fancy that, the Kings won on Thursday as well. They were not to be denied in an 8-3 romp over the Northwest Division leading Vancouver Canucks. The Kings have 94 points with 5 games remaining. They do not play tonight, and their Magic Number is also 2.

St. Louis – Make it the KO punk for the Blues in the aforementioned loss to Nashville. The Blues held a 2-0 lead at one point in that game Thursday, and were unable to hold on. St. Louis now sees their Elimination Number fall to 2.

Again, the Magic and Elimination Numbers are not fool-proof science, but they’re pretty accurate when you combine wins for the teams trying to clinch, and losses by the teams chasing. In this case, the Magic Number always takes into account Calgary losses, as they’re the 9th place team. Enjoy the Showdown in Denver and maybe something other than a 3-2 score.

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  • Arik

    i've been disagreed with for months, on the subject, but i don't think backlund should be slaving away with the likes of nystrom and mayers on the fourth.

    ever since the brent sutter line blender landed him on a line with bourque and boyd ("the killer b's") he showed some nice top-line creativity and sound defensive awareness. i'm glad he's been re-inserted into that role and will quite possibly be responsible into turning kotalik into a vyable hockey player.

    i mean, kotalik (post-game on wednesday) said that mickis has "good wision." huge kudos from the quiet czech.

    • I think the last 4 games or so has been a real coming out party for Backlund. I don't necessarily believe he's a legit top line center yet, but he's certainly shown some creativity that has been lacking on this team. If he continues to progress at the rate he has this season, all those expectations for him may not be as lofty as some thought.

    • It is too early to say that Backlund is "there" it is nice to see someone with offensive talents come up in the Flames system. I hope he keeps it up. Maybe next year we'll see him centering a #1 line with Iginla and Bourque.