It seems all the Calgary Flames do lately is beat the Colorado Avalanche (or Edmonton Oilers). In the case of the former, the Flames have taken eight consecutive victories over them, sometimes in crushing fashion and sometimes in bizarre fashion. Any fashion will work for tonight, as Calgary plays host to Colorado for the fourth meeting between the teams this season (7 pm, Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960).
The last time these two teams met, it was the Flames getting out to a 4-0 lead before watching Colorado pull within one in the third period and come very close to tying things up on a few occasions. Even still, it was the third straight Calgary win over their division rivals this season; tonight’s fourth meeting between the clubs is the last until March, when they finish their season series with a pair of games.
Some pleasant news this morning saw David Moss skating with the main group at an optional morning skate, which is good to see after he’s missed the last 11 games with a lower body injury. He’d be a welcome addition to the lineup and it sounds like he’s within two weeks of returning. That was the only notable piece of news from skate this morning, as not much is gained typically from an optional.
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay-Brendan Morrison-Rene Bourque
Blake Comeau-Mikael Backlund-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
T.J. Brodie-Scott Hannan
Derek Smith-Joe Piskula
Roman Horak will sit out with Morrison playing down the middle tonight; the rookie centre hasn’t sat since October 20th. Brent Sutter says he wants Horak to see a few things from up top while watching tonight.
It’ll be Miikka Kiprusoff in net tonight after allowing six against the Hurricanes on Tuesday night; still, he’s been fairly decent overall this season, and he’s given the Flames a chance to win virtually every single night. You can expect him to start Saturday against the Oilers and news Tuesday in Nashville for sure before resting in either Thursday’s game in Tampa or Friday’s affair against Florida. That’ll be the first chance to see Leland Irving in action, as it sounds like he’ll be the guy with Henrik Karlsson on the shelf for up to two months.
The Avalanche look to bounce back after their 6-0 loss in Vancouver on Tuesday night, a game where Kevin Porter went knee-on-knee with David Booth of the Canucks. A decision on Porter regarding a suspension could come down prior to the game tonight, so he may not centre Colorado’s fourth line against the Flames. I didn’t think it was necessarily an intentional play, but it put Booth out four to six weeks.
Not only have the Avs had horrible results against the Flames, they’ve also been struggling on the road as of late, going 0-5-1 in their last six. They’re without two regulars tonight, as it’s doubtful Paul Stastny will play as he continues to nurse a torso injury while Ryan Wilson won’t play thanks to a concussion. Young Stefan Elliott will play his seventh game with the Avs, coming off an 81 point season with the Saskatoon Blades last year; he has a pair of goals so far in his young NHL career.
T.J. Galiardi-Matt Duchene-David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog-Ryan O’Reilly-Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik-Jay McClement-Chuck Kobasew
Cody McLeod-Kevin Porter-Brandon Yip
Kyle Quincey-Shane O’Brien
Erik Johnson-Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda-Ryan O’Byrne
Landeskog, O’Reilly, and Winnik have been broken up with the Stastny injury, but there’s no questioning how good that trio has been this year. Landeskog may not be putting up the numbers of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton, but his contributions in Colorado have been very impressive, looking at his possession rate coupled with his sub-50% offensive zone start.
It sounds like Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start in net for the Avs saving Semyon Varlamov for Friday’s game in Edmonton. Both Kobasew and McClement will play their 500th career games tonight.
It could be said the Avalanche are due for a win against the Flames, but knowing how they’ve played against Calgary, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate. If the Flames can push their agenda early on, I think they wilt the Avalanche and win their ninth straight against their division rivals; with tonight’s opponent and Saturday’s game against Edmonton, you’re looking at two games that should be wins for the Calgary, so I’ll be disappointed if they’re not 6-1-1 over eight games after the weekend.