pic via Krandolph
I think I speak for all Flames fans when I say that we all knew the Chris Butler/Paul Byron connection was deadly. It was just a matter of time.
As a result, the Flames are entering tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak with a pair of OT wins against Carolina and Buffalo while the Rangers are currently on their longest home losing streak at MSG in 20 years.
Inexplicably, the Rangers and Flames are one point apart in the standings. That is, well, crazytown. The Rangers showed signs of recovery after a miserable start but are 3-6-1 in their last ten and are a shocking 5-9-1 at home. Yikes.
THE FLAMES LINEUP
Here is the lineup as of this afternoon from Dailyfaceoff.com:
- Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
- Glencross – Monahan – Hudler
- Byron – Backlund – B.Jones
- Bouma – Colborne – McGrattan
- Smid – Giordano
- Butler – O’Brien
- Russell – Brodie
This game is a little bit strange as there is no morning skate so the exact line picture is a little foggy. Hartley said this morning that Blair Jones would draw into the lineup this evening though it is uncertain, at the time I am writing this, who would be sitting. It looks as though it will be a clean Jones swap, with Blair subbing in for David. D.Jones has been struggling lately to generate offense and his general slowness has been already well-documented this season. T.J Galiardi will also sit out again tonight as well though Byron is playing well enough to justify Galiardi’s absence.
We were treated to Monahan’s surprise return yesterday afternoon though he looked a little lost and his line was largely stuck in mud the entire game. Frankly, Glencross and Hudler didn’t look too good either as Glencross looks to be struggling to find his stride again as well. Hopefully Monahan and Glencross can both shake off some of the rust and take advantage of the cushy zone-starts their line was enjoying.
It`s hard not to feel good for the lovable little Paul Byron who now has four points in his last two games, including scoring or assisting on every goal the Flames have score in the past two games. On both of the overtime winners that he assisted, Byron has looked poised with the puck and used his speed to create space in the offensive zone. He is also no longer spending his precious minutes with McGrattan which will surely help him get better looks as well.
Karri Ramo gets a second consecutive start tonight and has posted a SV% north of .950 in four of his last five starts. That is awesome. Tonight will be a tougher test than Buffalo for him as he will be facing an ornery Ranger squad with some very good talent up front.
– Pic via Hakan Dahlstrom
Here is the Rangers’ roster courtesy of of dear friends at Daily Faceoff
- Kreider – Stepan – Nash
- Richards- Brassard – Zuccarello
- Hagelin – Boyle – Pyatt
- Pouliot – Moore – Dorsett
- Allen – del Zotto
- Girardi – McDonagh
- Moore – McIlrath
Clearly this roster is underachieving right now but their back-end is looking rather thin, especially after losing Marc Staal, again. The bottom-six of their roster is also kinda, meh, so it looks as though the Rangers will sink or swim with their top guys. So far this season, it’s been a lot more sinking.
Simply put, the Rangers can’t seem to score. They are third last in league scoring with 11 goals less than the Flames despite averaging 3.6 more shots than Calgary per game. Clearly, the Rangers are not as bad as their record but hopefully they don’t figure that out tonight.
The Flames will see fashionista/guitar hero/goalie Henrik Lundqvist in net tonight who has been struggling to erase an awful start to the season. He currently has a record of 9-14, a GAA of 2.7 and a .910 sv %. Not exactly sparkling numbers for the freshly extended keeper.
This will be a tough one for the Flames. Well, they are all tough for the Flames but the Rangers should be approaching desperation for some wins at home and they will likely see the Flames as a must-win on their schedule.
The Flames will need another solid outing from Ramo if they want to make it three in a row and start this road swing off with back-to-back wins. Puck drop is an early one, 5pm MST on SNET1.