FGD: Canuck You

VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 14: Alex Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates with teammate Ryan Kesler #17 after scoring a goal while Craig Conroy #24 of the Calgary Flames skates past during the first period of NHL action on March 14, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

It’ about friggin time.  There are few things that are more fun to be a part of than a Flames-Canucks game at the ‘Dome, and the first meeting between the teams is finally here (7:30 pm, TSN and The FAN 960).  The Flames have won two of their last three games following a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

It’s F’in Game Day, and I think we’re all pretty excited for this one.  The Canucks look to extend their win streak to three games, but as people in Calgary bemoan the start for the Flames, the Vancouver faithful aren’t that thrilled with how things have gone on the left coast.  It’s clear to everyone that the Canucks pose a very tough challenge for the Flames tonight, but these two teams tend to bring out some pretty darn good games.  Here’s what the CanucksArmy is saying.

The Lineup

An optional skate this morning for the Flames, and as per usual, Head Coach Brent Sutter watched things from an off ice perch.  Most guys were on the ice, and from the outside it looks like the lineup will remain the same from Monday’s win over the Wild.  Here were the lines and pairings:

Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Mikael Backlund-Olli Jokinen
Curtis Glencross-David Moss-Rene Bourque
Tom Kostopoulos-Brendan Morrison-Tim Jackman

Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Brendan Mikkelson-Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff

Big game for the likes of Bourque and Moss, as both haven’t been up to snuff the last couple games.  Guys like Kent and R O have really turned me on to the effectiveness and value of Moss and I’d like to see him return to the impact he had prior to this last little stretch.  Bourque is a little different…we know he’s a strong player, but right now he’s confined himself to the outside and isn’t doing the things he can do to control a game.  In theory, a line of those three guys should be extremely effective.

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Mikael Backlund  of the Calgary Flames celebrates his third period goal against goalie Peter Budaj  of the Colorado Avalanche to tie the score 2-2 at the Pepsi Center on November 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Flames defeated the Avalanche 4-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
 

Really impressed with Backlund lately, and he was by far the best guy on that European line Monday night.  He’s no longer a passneger with his linemates, and Monday he was the driving force.  Plays and cycles aren’t dying on his stick nearly as much, and now it’s time for the counting numbers to start coming for him…which they will.  He hasn’t had a point in ten games, but he’s been really good.

The Opponent

OTTAWA, CANADA - NOVEMBER 11: Henrik Sedin  of the Vancouver Canucks prepares to take a faceoff while teammate Daniel Sedin  looks on during a game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on November 11, 2010 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
 

It’s a Canucks team that we all know is very tough, and of the six games between the teams last year, there was a wide variety of results.  From Calgary’s dominating opening win over the Nucks to the beating Vancouver put on them to finish the season, there was a little bit of everything in their season series.  Calgary played probably their best game of the season against Vancouver last year, a game in January where Roberto Luongo was the sole reason the Canucks came away with a point.  The Flames would eventually win in a shootout.

Everyone is talking about the Sedin brothers around the ‘Dome the last few days, and we all know why.  The talk is about shutting them down as a group, it’s not just on a certain defence pair or forward line.  The whole "5 man unit" concept has really been thrown around a lot lately.  Head Coach Alain Vigneault is very good at the matchup game, at home and on the road…all we can do is cross our fingers Babchuk and Mikkelson aren’t out for an icing.  And that’s not a shot at Mikkelson.

It’s a deep Vancouver team with Roberto Luongo starting in net.  Here are projected lines and pairings:

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Alex Burrows
Mason Raymond-Ryan Kesler-Jeff Tambellini
Raffi Torres-Manny Malhotra-Mikael Samuelsson
Tanner Glass-Joel Perrault-Jannik Hansen

Alex Edler-Christian Ehrhoff
Dan Hamhuis-Keith Ballard
Andrew Alberts-Kevin Bieksa

The Story

Calgary’s win over Minnesota on Monday needs to become a more regular thing.  Yes, the wins need to be more regular…but also the way they won.  It wasn’t overly dramatic, it wasn’t physical or intense…it was just a game that Calgary won.  They weren’t dominant nor were they dominated, and the Flames need to win more games like that, because of the remaining schedule, they aren’t all going to be easy to get up for.  Is this one easy to get motivated for?  Sure.  It’s the Canucks, it’s the first meeting, and on and on and on…but winning some of those ho-hum games is important.

Calgary can’t continue the trend of win one, lose one, win one, lose two…it’s just not going to cut it.  Currently at two games below the .500 mark, they’re still not written off or, really, close to it.  Will it be a challenge to leap frog allllllll those teams over a season?  Sure.  But we all know it’s not impossible.