It may seem like the gut-punch shoot-out loss to the Wild the other night was the death blow to the Calgary’s playoff hopes. And while that certainly didn’t help, the truth is the fat lady has yet to belt out her final aria on the Flames season.
A week ago, this game wouldn’t have meant quite as much to Dallas. They were the Pacific division leaders at the time, and in the comfortable position of 3rd in the west as a result Since then, however, they have been bumped down by the Kings and are, for now, back in the dog fight for the final playoff position. With 85-points they sit 8th, just two ahead of the Flames.
So the good news is, the crowd – including the Stars – is still within reach for Calgary. The bad news is Dallas will be equally desperate to win this afternoon.
Apparently Tanguay didn’t practice this morning due to a wrist problem. However, Cammalleri joined the team in Dallas after the Minny game and was skating on the first line. He’s still a game time decision though.
Cammalleri – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Moss – Jokinen
Comeau – Jones – Stempniak
Kostopolous – Horak – Bouma
Butler – Bouwmeester
Hannan – Giordano
Babchuk – Wilson
I know a lot of folks are unhappy with Brent Sutter and Blake Comeau after the let down in Minnesota. And fair enough, the shoot-out was ghastly. However, Calgary’s top scoring unit played against nobodies all night (Brodziak, Johnson and Powe was the primary match-up) and they still managed to get outchanced. Iginla and company also started more often in the offensive zone, so it was an incredibly lousy night for the captain and friends. In fact, since his hot streak to start the month of March, Iggy has gone four games without a single point (despite playing over 23+ minutes per night). Remember when we talked about Iginla has hart candidate and sampling bias?
That’s not on Brent either, because the coach has worked to get Iginla pretty favorable match-ups since Jones and company have returned. Iginla is still breaking even or getting outchanced most nights though. If this rapidly sinking season is to b salvaged, Jarome is going to have to be a lot better.
Finally, it looks like Tim Jackman is back on the shelf, giving Lance Bouma a chance to get back in the line-up. Clay Wilson gets another look due to the Derek Smith and Cory Sarich injuries. Yes, that third pairing terrifies me too.
Kipper goes in net.
Dallas is pretty healthy at the moment and their top two lines have a couple of guys worht worrying about.
Eriksson – Ribeiro – Ryder
Morrow – Benn – Ott
Nystrom – Fiddler – Dvorak
Dowell – Wandell – Burish
Goligoski – Larsen
Robidas – Souray
Daley – Pardy
I’ve never been that impressed with Ryder overall, but there’s no denying he’s dangerous in certain circumstances. He’s having a surpriginly decent season so far with 32 goals and 57 points. Having only managed 30 goals twice before (a long time ago, and mostly due to a lot of PP itme with the Habs), 32 is a career best. That is accompanied by a career high shooting percentage of 16.8%, so while playing on Dallas’ top line has helped him shoot a bit more, he’s also enjoying more fortune than usual as well.
Ribeiro, Eriksson, Morrow and Benn are all decent threats who have given the Flames problems in the recent past. Their third line is fast, if not very good at anything else, so they may give fits to Anton Babchuk today.
Finally, I don’t know what’s going on with the Stars defense pairings, but those are the groups they ran the other day in Vancouver. Adam Pardy has had a dreadful time of things in Dallas this year, but he’s at least found himself back in the active rotation. The biggest surprise for me is rookie Philip Larsen playing with Goligoski on the top pairing.
Kari Lehtonen will go in net.
Things have been disappointing for Flames fan recently, but they have yet to become altogether boring. The team is down but not out and with a win today can further crowd and complicate the fight for 8th place.
As usual, there are a number of other matches to be cognizant of today. The Avs and Kings face the Canucks and Bruins while Phoenix and San Jose will see each other. Pray for the that third one to at least end in regulation.