First thing’s first for the Calgary Flames as they get set to take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight at the Staples Center (8:30 pm, Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960). The Flames look to put back-to-back wins together after a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
It’s game day on the road…the Flames take on the Kings for the second time this season. It’s been such a challenge for the Flames to put consecutive wins together, and it’s obviously a problem…it’s been since late October. It gets old talking about how important a string of wins is, but at the very least, there’s an opportunity for Calgary to get some positive things done on the road.
There’s a bit of a battle as to who’s going to get into the lineup this evening…David Moss missed Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay, as we were told he was a healthy scratch at first, and then found out he was actually battling an illness. From what we were lead to believe, Moss was supposed to be in the lineup on Tuesday and late afternoon illness kept him out. We’ll see if he plays tonight.
Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net for the Flames, as he had a strong third period against Tampa; his second, eh, not so great. Obviously he was going to play in one of these games of the back-to-back, but whether it was going to be LA or Anaheim was kind of up in the air. Henrik Karlsson has looked all right in two straight starts, against New Jersey and Minnesota, so it looks like he’ll be called upon Friday.
Here were lines and pairings from Tuesday, as it looks like they’ll be very much similar tonight:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Ales Kotalik
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Anton Babchuk-Adam Pardy
One other note…Flames forward Ryan Stone was quietely placed on waivers yesterday and cleared this morning, so he’ll be assigned to the American Hockey League.
Here’s an LA Kings team that is very good at home; very good at home. They sit 10-2 on Staples Center ice this season, and even more impressively, have yet to surrender a powerplay goal on home ice. The Kings are a team who play it very close to the vest; in hearing from assistant John Stevens yesterday, it’s a team that is committed to a certain style seemingly top to bottom. Their 61 goals against is tops in the Western Conference, and a lot of the credit goes to Jonathan Quick in net. He’s been very good, and will start against Calgary tonight.
Offensively, they’re lead by Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar…but production all round has been down a little. There are some talented players on this team, and names like Kopitar, Smyth and Drew Doughty have the ability to pace hockey games at even strength. Here are projected lines and pairings:
Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Ryan Smyth-Jarret Stoll-Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds
Davis Drewiski-Brad Richardson-John Zeiler
Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Peter Harrold-Jack Johnson
Alex Martinez-Matt Greene
A couple injury notes…Willie Mitchell remains out of the lineup with a wrist injury, and he’s still classified as week-to-week, however Alex Ponikarovsky could return tonight; he’s been out since November 6th with a broken finger.
Well, the Flames played a relatively solid game against Tampa on Tuesday night, but they played one of their best games this season early in October against the Kings. That was a 3-1 win at the ‘Dome, and a game where Jarome Iginla was dominant. Iginla has been very good for the most part over the last month or so, and the work he did against players like Kopitar and Doughty in that last meeting was very impressive. A lot of people will be watching Rene Bourque, who put up three points against the Lightning…he needs to be a whole lot more consistent than he has been, so playing two good games consecutively is a start.
As mentioned, it’s a Kings penalty kill that is very good at home…it’s not very good on the road, but at home…um…100%. Yeah, 43 for 43 at Staples Center. So, how do you look at it for the Flames? Well…for a struggling powerplay, this might not be what they needed OR for a powerplay that has scored in two straight games, maybe the Kings are ripe for a PP goal against.