The Calgary Flames will try to make it three straight wins tonight as they continue a three game road trip at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (5:30 pm, Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960). It’s a place that used to be absolute death/kryptonite/guaranteed failure for the Flames, but lately, that hasn’t been the case at all.
Riding a two game win streak, it’s F‘in Game Day, and I’m very intrigued to see how the visitors perform. After a fairly solid showing in a 1-0 overtime win in Nashville, the Flames face a different opponent that will force Calgary to captialize on puck possesion. Calgary has faced some early season tests, but the 3-1-1 Red Wings register as the stiffest to date. Here’s Robert’s Detroit preview for good reading as well.
Calgary goes with the exact same lineup they did Tuesday in Nashville, with Miikka Kiprusoff getting the start in net. Newcomer Henrik Karlsson will start Friday in Columbus. To refresh, it looked like this:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Brendan Morrison
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Craig Conroy-Stefan Meyer-Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Robyn Regehr-Ian White
Jay Bouwmeester-Steve Staios
Newly claimed Brendan Mikkelson joined the team in Detroit yesterday, he’ll be the seventh defenceman sitting in the press box. Brett Sutter will join him as a healthy scratch. I liked the line of Glencross-Backlund-Bourque on Tuesday night, and once again, we’re seeing the value of Curtis. He was the driving force when grouped with Backlund and Jackman, and was that same force subbing 17 for 15.
I don’t mind the Kiprusoff start tonight, it makes the most sense in my mind. It’s not so much an opponent thing in my mind, it’s more a rhythm thing. If there wasn’t a back to back, he’d be playing in this game, so throw him in knowing you have the rest advantage Friday with starting Karlsson.
A fairly good start for the boys in the Motor City, kicking things off at 3-1-1. They do battle with injuries tonight, as they have for most of the early going, and seemingly all of last season. Brian Rafalski (knee) and Jonathan Ericsson (back) will both be absent on the Detroit blueline, while Justin Abdelkader (ribs) and Kris Draper (hernia) will miss time up front. Detroit does get good news, as Johan Franzen will return to the lineup after missing one game with a concussion.
Who’s hot? Well, who else but Todd Bertuzzi, the former Flames forward (nice alliteration). Big Bert has points in four of his first 5 games. One thing to watch will be the Detroit powerplay. Going over the numbers this morning, their 4-24 mark at 16.7% is well below what we expect from them. The loss of Rafalski has obviously hurt, but if the Flames take five penalties like they did Tuesday, the Red Wings man advantage may be primed to break out.
It’s the first meeting between the teams this season, and it has the makings to be a pretty entertaining game. Calgary played Nashville strong, not letting the Predators patient gameplan swerve them away from their plan of attack. The Flames out waited the Preds and struck in overtime thanks to Rene Bourque.
Detroit plays a much stronger puck possession game, and so Calgary will have to do more with the puck when they have it, especially when they go an extended time period with it. I didn’t feel the Flames were getting away from generating chances against Nashville, more that it was just a strongly played game at even strength for the Predators. Calgary looks to win three straight for the first time this season.
Detroit has the edge all time at home to the Flames, posting a 37-21-11 record…they’re just 5-4-1 in their last ten games when hosting Calgary, though. Last season, the teams split the series with Calgary winning twice in Detroit and the Red Wings pulling the same feat at the Saddledome.
With the start tonight, Miikka Kiprusoff will pass Colin Patterson for 26th on the Flames all time games played list.