If you haven’t heard, Dion Phaneuf is back in town; and so are the Toronto Maple Leafs. Well, if you are living in Florida, that’s what’s going on here in Calgary…it’s the Flames and Leafs for the first time this season (7:30 pm, Sportsnet Flames and The FAN 960). The blue and white fans will invade the ‘Dome, and this should be fun tonight.
We know it’ll be a jacked up building, because whenever Toronto (or Montreal, or Vancouver, or Edmonton…sorry Ottawa) visits, it turns into a great night. On the hockey side of thing…this is a pretty damn important game for both teams, as they both try to stay relevant in their respective conferences. Obviously, the Flames are a little more relevant right now, but it’s a big game overall.
Once again, who knows what we’ll see from a Flames standpoint. We do know that both remaining players from the Phaneuf trade will be on the ice; Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan will both be in the lineup, with the latter getting back in after missing two games as a healthy scratch.
Who sits out? Your guess is as good as mine…and we’ll find out in pregame skate. The Flames have seemingly stopped rolling lines during gameday morning skates, and Head Coach Brent Sutter said he’ll decide who isn’t playing closer to game time. Ales Kotalik, who hasn’t impressed upon returning from injury, is a possibility…he was late coming off the ice this morning, while Curtis Glencross left the ice early, so there’s speculation he might be the guy singled out. To be honest, I wouldn’t have a problem with either…Glencross has really taken a step backwards since his very strong opening two months, and he’s the type of guy who might respond to a wake up call like this. Kotalik…well…he’s Kotalik.
Here are the lines and pairings Calgary went with in Monday’s win over Columbus:
Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Rene Bourque
Niklas Hagman-Brendan Morrison-Ales Kotalik
Tom Kostopoulos-David Moss-Tim Jackman
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Adam Pardy-Anton Babchuk
Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net, and will most likely start against Minnesota on Saturday; Henrik Karlsson should get in early next week, either Monday or Tuesday when the Flames play back-to-back on the road. Speaking of back-to-back…Calgary’s still looking for consecutive wins for the first time since late October.
Dion! Keith! Freddie! Yes, all three players sent to Toronto in January will be on the ice tonight for the Leafs, lead by their captain Dion Phaneuf. First, a couple links:
- Robert Cleave has his gameday preview on the Leafs
- TheLeafsNation.com and their preview of the Leafs and Flames
Phaneuf has played three games since returning to the Toronto lineup after missing more than a month with a deep leg laceration; he’s put up two points in that time, a goal and an assist. As much as Dion was maligned in Calgary, it might be at a higher level in Toronto…the scrutiny on him is probably unfair, as he was anointed the saviour by many when he was acquired. Kinda tough to put really high expectations on a guy who’s still developing as an NHL defenceman…but…waffles!
Keith Aulie will slot in on the Leafs blueline, playing just his 12th game as an NHL defenceman. I still don’t know why Aulie was part of the deal; if you believe what you read, Leafs GM Brian Burke wasn’t even after but was glad to take him when Darryl Sutter threw him in as part of the deal. And Fredrik Sjostrom (or as the announcer on NHL 10 says: Fredrik Sha-joss-trom) will play on Toronto’s third line…here are projected lines and pairings:
Clarke MacArthur-Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin
Colby Armstrong-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
Kris Verteeg-Nazem Kadri-Fredrik Sjostrom
John Mitchell-Tim Brent-Colton Orr
Dion Phaneuf-Francois Beauchemin
Luke Schenn-Tomas Kaberle
Brett Lebda-Keith Aulie
Both Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Komisarek are nursing injuries right now, which explains a Leafs blueline that is a little thinner than usual. Jean Sebastien Giguere gets the start in net for the Leafs, another former member of the Flames…albeit, a little less recent.
Yeah, all the Flames stuff is the same…win some games, win more than one in a row, don’t make mistakes, play a full 60, yep, we get it. Let’s just enjoy this game…it’s way easier to stop looking at the big picture and just enjoy some hockey, and maybe tonight we’ll be treated to an all right game. Maybe tonight we’ll be treated to a game between two teams that aren’t very good, and maybe it’ll be close for the majority. We can hope right?