FGD: Playing for Pride

If you were one of the dwindling number of optimistic Flames fans, the Saturday afternoon loss must have been soul-crushing. Especially since, from a number of angles, the Flames played one of their best games in awhile. They outshot the Stars, outchanced them (which is rare fare for the Flames this season) and the top line actually dominated in terms of possession and such. Alas, sometimes you lose when you should win – which is something the Flames can’t bemoan too loudly at this point – they spent most of January and February pulling similar upsets.

The unfortunate ramifications of the defeat, however deserving or not, is the Flames are all but out of the running for the post-season for a third consecutive season. While three points out doesn’t seem like a lot, the way is blocked by three other teams who each have more than 6 games left to pile up the points. Short of winning out and the rest of the the bad guys going cold, that’s all she wrote for Calgary in 2011-12.

The Lineup

Jokinen didn’t take the morning skate but is expected to play tonight between Moss and Glencross.

Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Comeau – Stajan – Stempniak
Kostpolous – Jones – Jackman

Butler – Bouwmeester
Hannan – Giordano
Wilson – Babchuk

As mentioned, the Cammalleri line did some good work in Dallas, in part because with guys like Moss, Comeau and Jones back in the line-up, Brent has finally started giving Iginla and company the kind of circumstances they need to succeed. Iginla saw just one defensive zone draw all day compared to 7 offensive zone faceoffs at even strength. That line also played mostly against the nobody unit of Fiddler, Burish and Nystrom. Out of 17 ES minutes, Jarome spent about two of them against guys like Ribeiro and Eriksson.

Jokinen’s line split their time between facing Benn’s trio and the Ribeiro unit, so as expected they’re once again operating as a shut-down line. Only part of Jokinen’s recent struggles can be explained by his tougher circumstances. More on that later this week.

Finally, Stajan skates with Stempniak and Comeau tonight which is probably a far more ideal place for the scapegoat/hero, hot streak aside.

The Opponent

Not much to say about Dallas after reviewing them on Saturday.

Eriksson – Ribeiro – Ryder
Morrow – Benn – Ott
Nystrom – Fiddler – Dvorak
Dowell – Wandell – Burish

Goligoski – Larsen
Robidas – Souray
Daley – Pardy

I can only assume Marc Crawford Glen Gulutzan was okay with the Iginla/Fiddler match-up on Saturday because he didn’t do much to get away from it. Or maybe it was his idea in the first place and Sutter was only happy to oblige? We’ll find out tonight when Sutter has last change I guess. If the Flames coach only stumbled upon a meaningful match-up due to the incompetence of his rival, well…that would be unfortunate.

Kari Lehtonen is a very good bet to get the start again.

The Story

We’re past the climax and are now entering the denouement phase of the Flames season. Like the last few years, the story this year was a tragedy and all that’s left is tying up the loose ends and taking what lessons you can from the failure.