FGD: Too Many Storylines

My head is still spinning from Thursday night’s acquisition of Mike Cammalleri.  It adds another massive storyline to tonight’s massive matchup between the Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings (8 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960).  You can add Cammalleri’s return to the Sutter vs. Sutter angle, and let’s not forget how important this game is for both teams in the Western Conference standings.  Too many things to talk about!

Cammalleri arrived in the city yesterday evening, met with the media, and then was back this morning to participate in morning skate.  Darryl Sutter was in the house early this morning, as the new Head Coach of the Kings likes to prepare bright and early for games.  Overall, there are all the makings of a playoff-like atmosphere for this one as the Flames look to win their ninth straight game on Saddledome ice.

The Lineup

Cammalleri was skating on a line with Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak this morning which is likely the starting alignment for tonight.  I don’t mind the look, as Backlund has shown he can drive the play and Cammalleri has proven he can create when playing with a pivot like that.  It also means the line centered by Olli Jokinen will stay together, looking to continue putting up the points they have.

Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Mike Cammalleri-Mikael Backlund-Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau-Blair Jones-Lance Bouma
Tom Kostopoulos-Roman Horak-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Anton Babchuk
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich

It was almost refreshing to find out Cammalleri wasn’t speaking to the media this morning.  And why would he?  He’s got a game to prepare for and after doing 20 minutes with the media yesterday, doing it again would be kind of ridiculous.  As for Head Coach Brent Sutter, he was asked the obligatory "what about facing your brother" questions once again, and you get the feeling his "non factor" responses are genuine.

Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net.

The Opponent

The Kings enter action tonight playing their best hockey of the season, and they’re doing it under that guy we all came to love/hate/love to hate.  Darryl Sutter has had the success GM Dean Lombardi envisioned when he hired him in early December thus far, and LA has risen to a playoff spot sitting seventh in the Western Conference.  LA is 6-1-4 since Suttsy took over behind the bench.

Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dustin Penner-Mike Richards-Jarret Stoll
Brad Richardson-Andrei Loktionov-Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford-Colin Fraser-Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Jack Johnson-Matt Greene
Willia Mitchell-Slava Voynov

The Kings simply do not score very often, with their 97 goals for being the lowest total in the National Hockey League.  That’s why it’s rather surprising you’ve seen LA put up eight goals over their last two games.  The reason why they’ve had such a struggle scoring is beyond me, and seems to have baffled most who watch this league on a regular basis.  Even with Simon Gagne sidelined with a concussion, they have two very capable scoring lines and a pair of blueliners with point producing ability.

It’s not like they have awful possession numbers, as most guys have fairly solid rates, including Kopitar who is crushing opponents on a regular basis.  The only anomaly is Mike Richards, who is way in the minus despite having a fairly typical split of offensive and defensive starts.  I can’t quite explain that one.

Jonathan Quick has been one of the NHL’s best this season between the pipes, with his overall save percentage sitting at .932.  That’s fairly remarkable, especially considering it’s a point higher than his number at even strength.  He’s consistently playing elite hockey in all situations, and he’s a scary goaltender to face right now.

The Story

The stories write themselves tonight, but I’m more excited for just how good a game this could be.  The second meeting between these two teams was great last season, which came at about this time in the year.  These games are the biggest remaining ones this season, the same way games with Dallas and Phoenix will be.  Sit back and enjoy!

  • RKD

    I agree Pat, what a ride it will be. Luckily for me I’m going to celebrate my birthday by going to the game.

    If you would have told me two months ago, Darryl Sutter would be facing his brother Brent, Mike Cammalleri would be a Flame once again and Giordano would be in the lineup I wouldn’t have believed you.

    It will be a rocking Saturday night on HNIC, just need a win to top if off.

    Darryl is a cerebral coach, he’s resurrected the Kings back life and they are now only three points of the Pacific division leading Sharks.

  • RKD

    Gotta say, this is the most stoked I’ve been all year to watch a Flames game. The return of Darryl, return of Cammy, battle between two times battling for the playoffs, and to top it off, it’s on HNIC, and it’s Western Night at the Dome, how much better can it get? Too bad I won’t be at the Dome tonight, but hey, I’ll enjoy making people angry on the chat tonight! 🙂 Go Flames Go!

  • amaninvan

    Really, really looking forward to tonight. Looking at the rosters: Byron is our healthy scratch, and Bouma moves to the opposite wing. Personally, I would have liked to see Byron center the 4th line, with Horak sitting down. Im just not sure what Horak gives us right now… he seems to have temporarily lost his way.

    That said, our top six looks pretty good, better when Tangs returns.

  • everton fc

    I really like the look of the lines this evening. Especially the third line – I am looking forward to seeing these three together.

    The Kings need to go back to the jersey they wore in the 70s/early 80s. The jersey they have now could be the worst in the league, alongside Columbus.

    I guess it sells, though… In hip-hop-ville.

    Look for Clifford and Jackman to “dance”. Perhaps Kosto and Fraser… I think (hope) the Flames come out physical.

    If we get whooped by the old boss 4-0… What do you do?! That’d be a huge kick in the mind.

    Gio with Babchuk sort of scares me.

  • Upkeeper

    Would have liked to see Byron over Horak on the 4th line. I think his speed and drive would really do well on that line. Horak has just been meh for me lately. I think he would benefit the rest of the year in the AHL.