FGD: Lucky Number 9?

It’s been a while…so maybe the Flames are due?  The Flames have lost eight straight games against the Chicago Blackhawks, heading into their meeting of the season…it goes tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome (7:30 pm, TSN and The FAN 960).  Regardless of the opponent, maybe it’s time the Flames snap out of this skid…it’s their final home game before a tough 5 game road trip through the Eastern Conference.

It’s F’in Game Day and hopefully Calgary is able to get up for this one…they’re playing the defending Stanley Cup champions and it’s a team that has absolutely dominated them the past two seasons.  March 16th, 2008 was the last time Calgary posted a victory over Chicago, and it really hasn’t been all that close since.

The Lineup

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: Anton Babchuk  of the Carolina Hurricanes takes a shot against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Hurricanes 4-3. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It’s the debut of the two newest members of the Calgary Flames…Anton Babchuk on the blueline and Tom Kostopoulos up front.  Both were acquired Wednesday from th Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenceman Ian White and forward Brett Sutter (who was then placed on waivers). Babchuk will wear jersey #33 while Kostopoulos dons sweater #16.

Because it was an optional skate this morning, no official word on lines, so we’ll find out tonight (check back on Twitter for the latest), but it sounds like Babchuk will skate on a pairing with Mark Giordano.

As for Kostopoulos, the thinking is he’ll play on a line with Tim Jackman, as things shift around a little bit thanks to the three game suspension for Olli Jokinen, who will also miss Sunday’s game against Detroit and Monday night in New York.  David Moss will pull a shift at centre, as he was put there at the start of training camp.

Miikka Kiprusoff makes the start in net, his eighth consecutive start.  One has to wonder when Henrik Karlsson will get in next, but it would have to be at some point on the upcoming road trip.

The Opponent

Chicago Blackhawks' Viktor Stalberg (L), Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (R) celebrate a goal as Edmonton Oilers' Ales Hemsky skates by during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Edmonton November 17, 2010.  REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

The Hawks enter action tonight coming off a might impressive 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers, lead by a first period hatty from captain Jonathan Toews.  From all reports, the kid was abolutely incredible that night, with a one game Corsi rating completely off the charts.

Robyn Regehr was talking this morning about how Marty Turco can change a game, as the veteran goaltender will get the start.  With the difficulty Calgary has had at times this season establishing anything down low, he looks to be quite the factor.  Here are projected lines and pairings:

Viktor Stalberg-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp-David Bolland-Marian Hossa
Tomas Kopecky-Fernando Pisani-Troy Brouwer
Bryan Bickell-Jake Dowell-Jack Skille

Niklas Hjalmarsson-Brent Seabrook
Jassen Cullimore-Brian Campbell
Nick Boynton-Duncan Keith

Marty Turco

It’s obviously not as deep a team as the prior two years, but it’s a team that plays strong, system hockey under Head Coach Joel Quenneville.  Play like you did at times over the past three games, and you’ll be burned.

The Story

Well, it really is the same old story if you’re a Flames fan.  They need a win, they need to be desperate, and they need to put 60 minutes together.  Everyone is talking about Calgary limiting mistakes, which is obviously something they NEED to do…but more importantly, they have to limit mistakes at crucial times.  Their last three losses have all been close ones, and key mistakes have cost them goals in all three games.  It’s not fair to ask any team to play a perfect game, but it is fair to ask for a dialed in team when things are close.

Of Note

After going 10-2-2 in November last season, The Flames are off to a dreadful 11th month this year, sitting 1-5 thus far. 

The streak for Calgary against Chicago is even worse at the ‘Dome, with the Flames winless against the Hawks at home for almost four straight years.  The last Flames win over Chicago in Calgary came November 22nd of 2006.