Adam Pardy looks to make his return to the Calgary lineup this evening as the Flames play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning; the only meeting between the teams this season (7:30 pm, Sportsnet West and The FAN 960). Everyone is excited to see Steven Stamkos in action for the first time, as the Lightning kick off a western Canadian swing.
This one should be fun…mostly because of the high flying opposition; or more accurately, the high flying top talent on the opposition. Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have been as scary a duo offensively as there is in the NHL this season, and shutting them down was what everyone was talking about at morning skate today.
It was an optional skate this morning, but we know Adam Pardy will return to the lineup in place of Steve Staios. It’ll be just the third game of the season for Pardy, who was injured back in early October in Calgary’s home opener against the LA Kings. Head Coach Brent Sutter hinted that Pardy would play with Anton Babchuk tonight, at least to start. Here would be the suspected pairings for tonight:
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Anton Babchuk-Adam Pardy
Up front, it seemed this morning like Mikael Backlund may sit out for a second straight game, but that was until this tweet from Roger Millions:
There’s a rumor Flames may take Jokinen out..and put backlund in…interesting…Jokinen may be wearing out the Coach
We’ll see if we can’t flesh that out the rest of the day; we may not know until pregame skate, so check back at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg closer to the game. These were lines on Sunday in Chicago:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Ales Kotalik
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman
Sutter was asked about Bourque a few times this morning, and the message is clear…the guy has to be more consistent, and has to start working to be the type of player we all know he can be. That’s the frustrating part about Bourque…when he’s going, he’s extremely difficult to contain and can control a game. When he’s not, he’s ineffective and very frustrating to watch.
Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net.
The 15-9-3 Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Saddledome for the first and only time this season, a team we all know has top end scoring punch. Stamkos is second in the NHL in both goals (21) and points (40) and St. Louis is rolling with 34 points. It drops off from there, however…Vincent Lecavalier is out of the lineup as he recovers from hand surgery while Steve Downie could be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered Thursday.
Simon Gagne has been elevated to the top line with Stamkos and St. Louis, as he skated with those two in Tampa’s 6-5 win over Colorado on Saturday. Here are projected lines and pairings:
Simon Gagne-Steve Stamkos-Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone-Dominic-Moore-Teddy Purcell
Johan Harju-Mattias Ritola-Sean Bergenheim
Adam Hall-Nate Thompson-Dana Tyrell
Mike Lundin-Pavel Kubina
Brett Clark-Victor Hedman
Mattias Ohlund-Randy Jones
Tampa’s goaltending has been atrocious at times, with neither Mike Smith nor Dan Ellis impressing anyone…Ellis will start tonight. Both goalies have save percentages below .900 and both have goals against numbers north of three. Yikes.
Calgary took far too many penalties on Sunday against the Hawks, finding themselves shorthanded nine times and surrendering four goals in that span, albeit one into an empty net. Tampa’s powerplay is statistically right there with Chicago’s, clicking at 23.6% for the season. Yeah, with that Stamkos kid setting up at that left circle…maybe staying out of the box would be good. Everything else pertinent to the Flames has been said about 200 times this season: get on a roll, find consistency, limit mistakes, blah blah blah.