After splitting the first two games of their four-game trip through the Central Division, the Calgary Flames (6-7-2) try to get back to .500 tonight. They face a tough test in the St. Louis Blues (9-2-2). The Blues have been strong of late, winning four of their last five – including their last outing on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens. The Flames are in a bit of a slide, having lost three of their last four games – their only victory being Sunday in Chicago.
The Blues have been one of the NHL’s best teams this year, bolstered by a strong offensive attack led by Alex Steen. With the Blues’ size and speed, the Flames may have their hands full. The puck drops at 6pm MT on Sportsnet Flames and the Fan 960.
Deep breaths everyone. Here are the projected lines via DailyFaceoff.
Bouma – Stajan – Jones
Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
Jackman – Monahan – Hudler
Reinhart – Backlund – McGrattan
Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Billins – O’Brien
So, no Sven Baertschi. In addition, Tim Jackman and Brian McGrattan slot in, with the “grit” players sprinkled throughout the line-up. Baertschi’s parked in the press box for the third straight game. Calgary lost the first two games he sat by identical 5-1 scores. And it’s a bit odd considering that Reinhart/Backlund/Baertschi would be a decent line, albeit not a checking line.
The Flames announced earlier today that Curtis Glencross is out with an MCL injury for six weeks, so the Flames are without Breen, Giordano, Stempniak and Glencross. As a result, the lines look a bit lean. The Cammalleri/Colborne/Galiardi line is probably the top line by default and will get leaned on heavily.
Reto Berra starts after giving up five goals in Minnesota. He was drafted by the Blues and they traded him to Calgary, so he may be motivated. After the loss on Tuesday, Bob Hartley noted that the team wasn’t that good, so it makes sense to throw Berra back in there. I’d guess Karri Ramo starts in Denver on Friday.
Via our best pals at DailyFaceoff:
Steen – Backes – Stewart
Roy – Sobotka – Oshie
Schwartz – Berglund – Tarasenko
Cracknell – Lapierre – Reaves
Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo
Jackman – Shattenkirk
Leopold – Polak
St. Louis’ top six is really great, full-stop. Alex Steen is the hottest thing in hockey right now, boasting 13 goals and a disgustingly strong 30.2 shooting percentage. The top line has 45 points between the three of them. The third line is also fairly strong, and it’s not until the friggin’ fourth line that you find some rough spots. This is a blueprint on how to build a hockey team in 2013, gang.
Tons of ex-Flames here. Aside from Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, Adam Cracknell was a late, late round pick that worked his tail off and made it to the NHL on a regular basis. I’m resisting the urge to call him an everyday NHLer, but he’s close.
SUM IT UP
The Flames need a win tonight to guarantee a .500 record on this road trip. They’ll be in tough against the Blues, who have two regulation losses this season and play a very structured game. That said, the Flames have the tools to win, as they showed in Chicago. The key to their success will be out-working the Blues and beating them to loose pucks, something they utterly failed to do in the third period against Minnesota.