The Calgary Flames are saying all the right things, riding a four game losing streak into Denver tonight for their second meeting with the Colorado Avalanche (7:30 pm, Sportsnet West (JIP), Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960). Curtis Glencross returns to the lineup for the Flames, as the team seems motivated to make sure this skid ends now.
It’s F’in Game Day, and for the second time this season, it’s against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were able to take a 6-5 win at the ‘Dome on October 28th. For the Flames, not only is this a divisional game, it’s also time to snap a four game losing skid. That was the feeling yesterday prior to the team departing for Denver…everyone was talking about how things need to get turned around now, when the season is still relatively early. The main message: don’t put yourself behind the eight ball two months into the season.
As mentioned, Curtis Glencross returns to the Flames lineup after missing Friday’s loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. He’ll slot into the same spot he was in before, on a line with Craig Conroy and Tim Jackman. Steve Staios will play once again, after getting back into game action Friday against the Wild. Here are lines and pairings:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Brendan Morrison-Mikael Backlund-David Moss
Curtis Glencross-Craig Conroy-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Ian White
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Steve Staios-Jay Bouwmeester
Will be interesting to see how the matchups go tonight, but this seems like a game where names like Jokinen, Morrison and Bourque need to carry the offensive load.
Yep, that above is a thin blue line. Colorado is straight up ravaged by injuries, especially on the blueline. The Avalanche will go with a starting six defenceman, four of whom will be playing with under ten games of experience. Wow. The starting six tonight look like this for the Avs, minus pairings:
Scott Hannan, John Michael Liles, Colby Cohen, Jonos Holos, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Liffiton
As for lines, they’re projected like this, with a whole lot less in terms of injuries:
Chris Stewart-Paul Stastny-T.J. Galiardi
Brandon Yip-Matt Duchene-Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnick-Ryan O’Reilly-Cody McLeod
David van der Gulik-Phillipe Dupuis-Kevin Porter
Peter Budaj looks to get the start in net, coming off a shutout. To me, it’s on the Flames to make sure they exploit the injuries affecting the Avalanche. With that blueline, Calgary better get that forecheck going early, and start forcing turnovers right off the bat.
Calgary is below the .500 mark for the first time since the first few games of the season, and the frustration is mounting from the loyal fans of this club. It’s true, the team has got to stop the bleeding now, and not let this thing get out of control, and I’m glad the team is saying all the right things heading in…but doing the right things has been the real issue at times this season.
Yes, the Flames played pretty good in Friday’s loss to Minnesota, and probably deserved a better fate in a lot of ways. So, what’s important is to take those good things and carry them over to this game. Frustration over a loss like that can be a good thing, but they can also be a bad thing and breed more bad habits.
It doesn’t look to be a special teams display, with the Avalanche boasting the second worst penalty kill in the NHL, sitting at 71.7%. Their PK at home is even worse, at 63.0%, placing them dead last in the league. Ha, but then there is Calgary’s road powerplay, which is second worst at 4.5%.
Calgary has now scored the first goal in 10 of their 13 games, yet sit just 5-5 when doing that. You’ve got to do a better job when opening the scoring.