After a long 4-day break, the Flames are back on the ice tonight at home versus the Colorado Avalanche.
While a 1-2-1 record might not look too fancy, I’ve been quite impressed with the play of the Flames thus far. Of course, the caveats about it being early and small sample size, etc. apply – but the Flames have outchanced a really good team at evens (San Jose), a crap team at evens (Edmonton), and have basically played two games to a draw with two teams that right now have the look and feel of bubble teams (Vancouver, although that will change, and Anaheim).
Point being, this start has just added to my optimism about this edition of the Flames.
Tonight, Calgary will welcome the Colorado Avalanche to the ‘Dome. The Avs are on the second game of a back-to-back (losing 3-0 last night to Vancouver in the rainy city), and are currently sporting a depleted roster – meaning that tonight is a great opportunity for the Flames to pick up two points.
NHL.com’s preview teases this as a showdown between the two bottom teams in the west, but that’s a bit of a misnomer due to the fact that the Flames have only played 4 games – two less than 6 other teams and 3 less than another 6 (the remaining have 5). Being a game against a division rival and a team the Flames will be fighting off in late April, it would be nice to see the Flames’ relative dominance against the Avs continue: after struggling against Colorado for a couple of years, Calgary is 9-2-1 against the Avs in the past two seasons.
- Glencross – Tanguay – Iginla
- Cammalleri – Backlund – Stempniak
- Hudler – Stajan – Cervenka
- Begin – Jones – Comeau
- Giordano – Bouwmeester
- Wideman – Brodie
- Sarich – Butler
SVEN! will not be playing tonight as he is week-to-week with a hip flexor strain, suffered a couple of days ago in practice. So far, he hasn’t put up points with the same gusto as he did in his 5 games last year but I think he’s looked pretty good out there for a 20-year old in his first pro year.
Chris Butler draws back into the lineup, which is definitely a good thing. He’s the teams 4th or 5th best defenseman, so it doesn’t make sense to me that he would sit in favour of the 6th or 7th, especially since it didn’t seem to me like there was anything wrong with his play.
I’ve mostly liked Hartley’s line matching this season, as through 4 games to my eye it seems that Iginla’s line has been gifted the high ground as much as possible, although he is still mostly playing against the other team’s best. This is a nice change from Brent Sutter, who of course, uh, struggled with that at times.
Roman Cervenka missed the last two practices but he’s good to go for tonight.
- Olver – Duchene – Parenteau
- McGinn – Stastny – Jones
- Kobasew – Mitchell – Hejduk
- McLeod – Malone – Bordeleau
- Johnson – Wilson
- O’Byrne – Hejda
- Zanon – Barrie
Matt Duchene’s had a nice start to the season, with two goals and three assists in 6 games. Duchene had a bit of a down year last year, as a concussion limited him season to 58 games and he put up just 28 points (.49 PPG). Problem was he had a personal SH% of about 3% less than his two previous seasons, plus he lost some ice time with the emergence of O’Reilly/Landeskog.
As you can tell, the Avs are pretty weak right now, as their two best players (the aforementioned Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reiliy) are both out of the lineup. Landeskog suffered a head/neck injury after a nasty hit earlier this week, and O’Reiliy is currently holding out because the Avs are insanely cheap and don’t want to give one of the the best all around players in the Northwest Division the cash he deserves.
On that note, OFFER SHEET HIM FEASTER HOLY CRAP
Sum It Up
The Flames are a better team right now than the Avs are, full stop. There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t run them out of the building tonight, especially since the Avs are coming in tired after a late game last night. The way the Flames have played early on makes me think that will be the case.
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See you there.