The Flames can keep their playoff hopes on life support today by beating the Dallas Stars. A win would be especially useful if it were in regulation time as well.
Calgary has spent a lot of time going to OT over the past month (including an OT loss against these very same Stars) and while that has garnered them points even in losses (never a bad thing), they’re going to have to start ending things in regular time a bit more often if they want to catch those ahead of them. Particularly in a game versus a close rival like the Stars. Of the Flames 17 remaining games, they face the Stars twice (including tonight), the Kings, Colorado twice, Minnesota twice and Anaheim once more. Those are all clubs in the mix and a proliferation of three point matches would make the Flames already murky post-season aspirations even murkier.
Both Comeau and Cammalleri went down with late game injuries versus Anaheim, but there has been no word of them being hurt long term or someone else being called up, so we can assume they’re good to go for today.
Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Kostopolous – Stajan – Comeau
Bouma – Horak – Jackman
Giordano – Hannan
Smith – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Sarich
Matt Stajan hasn’t looked terrible over the last week or so, resulting in a bit more ice time from Brent Sutter. The coach has been nothing but begrudging when it comes to opportunities for the former Leaf since his big bro left town, so that’s something.
The second line asn’t quite as good at shutting things down in Anaheim as they were in Phoenix, and to be fair they faced a stiffer test from Getzlaf and company. Things shouldn’t be quite as tough this afternoon, although Eriksson, Ribeiro and Benn are all guys the Flames need to respect.
Kipper will be back in net after Leland Irving’s noteworthy outing in Anaheim. The kid was recently returned to the farm (apparently the org wants him seeing as much action as possible), but I would expect him to be recalled at some point this month to give Kipper at least one more game off before the end.
Things are still a bit tight for Dallas when it comes to purse strings are revenue, but it would certainly help new owner Tom Gaglardi if the club could squeeze into the playoffs and garner a few games of bonus home games. It may also have revive the flagging fan interest in Texas.
Eriksson – Ribeiro – Ryder
Ott – Benn – Burish
Nystrom – Fiddler – Dvorak
Garbutt – Wandell – Vincour
Souray – Robidas
Goligoski – Larsen
Fistric – Daley
The Ribeiro unit is the Stars’ top line, but I’d say Jamie Benn is the true future of the club up front. Dafted in the 5th round in 2007, the former Kelowna Rocket had a monster final season in the WHL and then surprised everyone by making the Stars out of camp the very next year. He scored 22 goals and 41 points as a rookie and has steadily improved every year he’s been in the league. He currently boasts a .94 point-per-game pace and has one of the best relative corsi rates on the team (+10.3). He’s a keeper.
Kari Lehtonen will be in net for Dallas. He has been pretty since being traded from the Atlanta Thrashers with a .928 ES SV% last season and a similar .926 this year. He has also been mostly healthy as well, which was his primary issue in ATL.
Both teams need the points and neither one wants things to go past regulation. The Stars can put a boot on the Flames throat with a win today, while Calgary can stay in the thick of things by taking the "W". This contest won’t determine things for good for either team, but with only 4 weeks left in the season we’re getting down to brass tacks here.
Get serious or go home boys.