FGD: To .500 and Beyond

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.

The Lineup

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 26: David Moss  of the Calgary Flames skates controls the puck during a hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flames won 3-2. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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.

The Opponent

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Jonathan Quick  and Drew Doughty  of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the Staples Center on November 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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.

The Story

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.

Of Note

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.

  • Olli Jokinen in the lineup is a joke. Conroy should be starting over him, because he is a better player, not because of any fan attatchment.

    Conroy isnt the best player in the world, but he gives you more than Olli does. Connie has a higher g/60, p/60, ect. Yet the team gets away with benching him to play a guy they overpaid in the offseason (Olli) simply because it would look bad on the team to bench the guy?

    This is insane. P Sizzle, do me a favour and try to bring up why the team hasnt benched Olli yet on the radio, if you would.

  • CitizenFlame

    I’m interested to see who is going to pull the Handzus/Simmonds/Clifford match-up, Iggy or Bourque? I hope Iggy can match the performance he had against these guys last time. I think that was the game that he started to turn his season around. I don’t remember if he put up much for points but looked pretty dominant against good comp as he was playing mainly against Doughty/Mitchell and the Handzus line if memory serves me correctly. LA is a really tough home team but they have been struggling lately so I hope Calgary keeps that going.

        • SmellOfVictory

          One of the many ways he reminds me so much of an Iginla-lite (although ‘new Iginla’ looks like he’s developing ways to be more of a perimeter player on occasion without being entirely useless).

          Iginla-related side note: he was ranked 10th best RW of ‘modern era’ hockey recently. I think perhaps he should’ve been a bit higher, but still cool to see.

          • there is no doubting iggies contribution in years past. my point is that as a coach, it is easier to make adjustments against the flames when rene plays a soft perimeter game as he is known to do often. 10 th best rw is about where iggie is all time. top flame ever no doubt.

  • SmellOfVictory

    perhaps someone can enlighten me.if moss is such a valued commodity, and the organization feels he is an intregal component how can you rational explain being scratched for 2 games.while moss was on the mend the propaganda was how much he was missed.

  • dustin642

    Yeesh, after the last game I really did not expect to see our “European Allstar” line stay in tact. Are the Sutters that redneck that they think that because these guys are from the same continent that they should have chemistry? Hagman is set to invisible mode, Kotalik is ummm trying(?) and Jokinen has been god awful lately. That line against either of LA’s top 2 lines scares me. Still no Moss? Is the dude hurt or is he actually in Brents doghouse? Really expected (or should I say hoped) to see Olli in the pressbox and have Conroy dress for this one…

    • dustin642

      the majority of the personnel issues with the flames are directly related to one man, darryll sutter. an almost non existent use of the draft, the needless tear down of the cup team. yep he takes the credit for the cinderella run yet didnt build the team.and the worst statistical supported free agents signings.the cupboards are bare. compare the la kings plan to darwoods knee jerk reactionary approach to managing this club. but what is most disturbing is the lineup. it screams of who is truly running the game.