Depending on how things go tonight in the Big Apple, Calgary could either be riding an impressive three game point streak, or be staring at consecutive losses once again. And the way things are right now, the perception of this team seems to swing wildly back and forth by the hour. Nevertheless, the Flames invade Madison Square Garden tonight for their first and only meeting this season with the Rangers (5 pm, Sportsnet West and The Fan 960).
Well, the hot topic now is how the Calgary Flames respond after an overtime loss in Detroit Sunday afternoon…a game that was four seconds away from being won by the visitors. The Flames were very strong at even strength yesterday and have an opportunity to carry that forward against a Rangers team much more top heavy than the Wings.
It looks like things will be much the same tonight as they were yesterday, with the one question mark being Robyn Regehr, who left the game in Detroit after colliding awkwardly into the boards in the third period. The injury looked serious at the time, but it seems much less so today…he’ll be a game time decision. If Regehr can’t play, it would be expected to see Steve Staios re-enter.
Up front, Rene Bourque also left the game yesterday with an undisclosed injury, but he’ll be fine for this game. Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net for this game, as it’s expected he’ll play four of the five on the road…hearing from people on the trip, Henrik Karlsson should be starting against the Devils on Wednesday. Projected lines and pairings:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Brendan Morrison
Tom Kostopoulos-Craig Conroy-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Anton Babchuk
Cory Sarich-Brendan Mikkelson
This is the final game of a three game suspension for Flames forward Olli Jokinen, so we’ll see how he impacts the lineup upon his return.
It’s a Rangers team playing their third straight game against a Northwest Division opponent, falling 5-1 to the Avalanche on Friday before topping Minnesota 5-2 the next day. Overall, New York sits 11-9-1, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference. Comparing New York to the Red Wings, you can see the differences right away.
The Rangers are nowhere near as deep, so if Calgary can do the same work they did at ES in this game, they’ll have some success. And maybe some penalty calls will go their way.
Alexander Frolov-Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Sean Avery-Derek Stepan-Derek Boogaard
Marc Staal-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Mike Sauer-Matt Gilroy
According to reports, Martin Biron will get the start in net for the Rangers. Reading around, Rangers writers suggest number one Henrik Lundqvist has been shaky at times this season. Biron has limited opponents to two goals or less in six of his last seven starts.
It’s a Rangers team without names like Chris Drury and Vaclav Prospal, but they still have some offensive talent to get the job done. The top two lines are pretty strong, and the Dubinsky unit does some very strong work at even strength against good opposition.
Many are disappointed (at best) with the officiating in Detroit, a game where Calgary allowed three powerplay goals on seven opportunities. A number of those seven penalty calls seemed questionable, and a few seemed to be missed on the other side. A late penalty to Jay Bouwmeester was part of the reason why Detroit was able to tie things with four seconds remaining in regulation, and the large amount of powerplay time certainly lead to the large advantage in chances in the first and third periods.
What Calgary cannot do is dwell on that or anything else negative that came out of Sunday’s overtime loss, because there were a lot of positive things to take away from that game. If those positive things are sold, and if Calgary carries them over here…I think they come away with a win at MSG.
The Flames sit just three goals away from quite the franchise milestone…10,000 career goals. We’ll see if they hit that mark tonight. The last time Calgary played in the Garden was December 7th of 2008, when they took a 3-0 win.