The Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens play their much anticipated outdoor game at McMahon Stadium this afternoon, and I wonder how much "let’s just play and move on" sentiment there is among both teams. For the Flames, we know how massively important the two points is, so whatever they can do to keep their roll of late going will be huge today (4 pm, CBC and Sportsnet Radio FAN 960).
It’s the second meeting between the Flames and Habs this season, and the last meeting was a tale of two games, with the Flames falling down 4-0 early before storming back to force overtime; a P.K. Subban goal in the extra frame would let Montreal escape with two points.
Don’t expect much to change from a Calgary perspective, as they’ll go with the same lineup they’ve been rolling with over the last while. Defenceman Cory Sarich was absent from practice on Friday for maintenance reasons, but returned Saturday in the outdoor practice. Lance Bouma was also re-assigned to Abbotsford since Calgary’s last win over Dallas, so he obviously won’t be an option. Here are lines and pairings for today:
Alex Tanguay-Brendan Morrison-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-David Moss
Rene Bourque-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman
Tom Kostopoulos-Mikael Backlund-Niklas Hagman
Robyn Regehr-Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Anton Babchuk-Steve Staios
Overall, the line doing the most damage of late has been the second unit with Jokinen centering. They were dominant to start Wednesday’s game against Dallas, and continue to play against the top opposition players. Miikka Kiprusoff starts in net for the Flames.
We found out on Friday about Mike Cammalleri’s return to the Montreal lineup after missing 12 games with a shoulder injury. He’ll be a welcome addition to a Habs team coming off a couple consecutive losses, including a 4-1 loss in Edmonton on Thursday. Cammalleri was practicing on a line with Tomas Plekanec at Saturday’s practice, and should play there today.
Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec are the two most important players on the forward ranks, and they’ll probably be on a line with Cammalleri. Scott Gomez centers the more protected second line for the Habs, with Gomez’s zone start significantly higher than Gionta’s. With not a lot of news coming from either team, here are projected lines and pairings tonight:
Mike Cammalleri-Brian Gionta-Tomas Plekanec
Andrei Kostitsyn-Scott Gomez-Travis Moen
Benoit Pouliot-David Desharnais-Ryan White
Max Pacioretty-Jeff Halpern-Lars Eller
Roman Hamrlik-James Wisniewski
Hal Gill-P.K. Subban
Alexandre Picard-Yannick Weber
Both Gill and Wisniewski are questionable for the game, so if they don’t play, expect Brandon Nash to slot in at the very least. The Habs may also go with 13 forwards if neither Gill nor Wisniewski can play. Carey Price goes in net for the Habs.