FGD: Opportunity

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.

The Lineup

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.

The Opponent

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.

  • everton fc

    I wonder if the Stars are geraing up for a bigger move? Grossman seemed a good fit there.

    I was also thinking… With Kubina obviously avaialable… Feaster better move quick if he wants a guy like Frolik from the Hawks.

    In fact, if he wants to move a defencemen, he better move quick.

    I’d take Pardy over Babchuk. Always liked him. And a guy like Pardy could almost fill in for Sarich or Hannan, if one could be moved…

    Couldn’t he?

    Again, I’d rather have Pardy at $2mill/season over Babchuk at $2.5mill/season.

    Then again… we could pass on both.

  • Grossman is big for the Stars. He plays some of the toughest minutes on the team and does it fairly well.

    He’s in the Regehr, Alzner, (Barret) Jackman type mold. Good news for Calgary, that’s a big hole for Dallas.

  • everton fc

    Well looks like Pardy will be drawing in after all with Grossman being shipped to Philly.

    2nd and a 3rd for Grossman seems pretty high to me, although he is listed as a top pairing guy here on the depth chart.

    Makes the game a little bit easier for the Flames tonight.

  • RexLibris

    Small shake-up with the Stars sending Niklas Grossman to Philly for (GET THIS) a 2nd rounder in 2012 and a 3rd rounder in 2013. The guy is big but is a 5th or 6th D-man. 41 points in 333 games. Joe did good with this trade!

  • RexLibris

    I know I’m sounding very negative these days, but let’s hope the Flames win this one, and the, ahem, Stars align so that they end up in 8th. Next up, 7th place.

  • RexLibris

    Man do I almost feel bad for Adam Pardy:

    http://video.flames.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=11&id=158043

    The guy just looks sad and frustrated in that video. I was thinking, we could get rid of our deadweight in Babchuk and trade back for Pardy. It would save us 500,000 in Cap Space if anything else.

    I’m really surprised that the stars haven’t waived or traded him at this point. Guess the only reason is the cap floor.

  • RexLibris

    This feels like one of those games where the Flames lose and it starts the Iceberg Shuffle (two steps forward, one step back).

    I hope they win, it’d be nice for Flames fans to talk about winning to STAY in the playoffs than to get it.

    Besides, then you can start trash-talking the Canucks fans about how you’re going to bounce them in the first round.

    On that note, a playoff battle between Iginla and Kesler would be a great event for media coverage.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      no kidding on Benn, I remember making it a point to watch the Kelowna Rockets when Backlund played for them and whenever I did I always came away impressed by Benn. Getting talent like that so deep in the draft is certainly a boon to whatever team is lucky enough to do it.

  • everton fc

    Benn cut Iggy in their bout last season. He certainly held his own.

    We could certainly see some scraps this evening. Ott, Burish, Dowell… Nystrom… All guys who’ll “go”.

    For us… I can see Jackman, perhaps Kosto, Bouma and Sarich, but the Stars will certainly try to get under Iggy’s skin. No doubt about it.

    I have a good vibe about this evening’s contest. Especially if we can win some faceoffs.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    The game I remember from last year was when tanguay tied it up late & then they won in a shoot-out. After that game, the Flames went on a tear. Let’s hope Dallas gives us that same push.

    My gut tells me we won’t win in both Dallas and LA (however I also didn’t think we’d beat Vancouver & I had my doubts about Toronto), but we should try & scrape points wherever possible.