The Calgary Flames have the chance to do something they haven’t done all season tonight as they get set for another crucial road matchup, this time in Dallas (6:30 pm, TSN and Sportsnet 960). If Calgary is able to pick up a win at the American Airlines Center and couple with that with some more help on the out of town scoreboard, they’ll move into a Western Conference playoff spot for the first time this season.
The Flames took all four matchups with the Stars last year, winning both games by a shootout on the road. The teams are seperated by three points in the standings, so Dallas isn’t overtaking Calgary with a win tonight, but they do have a game in hand, so a Stars win makes their case a little better to overtake. The Flames are getting the help out of town, including a Colorado loss in Vancouver last night.
Not much change for the Flames tonight as they continue to get the job done in February; they’re now 4-0-2 this month. A big part of that has been the stellar play of Miikka Kiprusoff who truly is turning back the clock to his first number of seasons with the team. Kiprusoff gets the start tonight as Calgary looks to earn a fourth consecutive win.
Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
Krys Kolanos-Roman Horak-Lance Bouma
Paul Byron-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich
The other really good thing we’ve seen from the Flames of late is how they’ve done a pretty decent job of turning their limited offensive zone time into true scoring chances. When you’re a negative possession team, like Calgary is right now, you have to be efficient with the time you get and Calgary has done just that of late. They’ve also been very opportunistic in cashing in on those said chances when they’ve materialized.
Dallas is probably a playoff team by underlying metrics, as they actually are fairly decent when taking a glance. Watching them play live a number of times lately, I’ve seen a much improved bunch from the mirage team that was atop the Western Conference for the first half of last season. That team saw a fall from grace that followed predicitons and conventional wisdom, whereas this team is much less routinely outshot. They still don’t generate a ton, but they look to have taken a step forward possession-wise.
Steve Ott-Jamie Benn-Tomas Vincour
Loui Eriksson-Mike Ribeiro-Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell-Tom Wandell-Adam Burish
Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley
Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas
Philip Larsen-Mark Fistric
The team is without Brenden Morrow who will miss his sixth straight game with an upper body injury. On the blueline, Sheldon Souray will sit out once again after taking a puck off the foot last week; he’ll join healthy scratch Adam Pardy in the press box. That contract Pardy signed on July 1st looked bad when it was signed and has played out exactly as many thought it would, so at least it’s meeting expectations.
Kari Lehtonen gets the start in net in the midst of a second straight strong season in Dallas.
Sum It Up
You don’t really wanna see much change in Calgary’s game tonight. They aren’t going to dominate very many opponents down the stretch here, but they must continue to take advantage of their opportunities. Not only is eighth in the West in reach, but the conference has opened up a little with the Kings and Blackhawks just three points clear of Calgary.