FGD: Seeing Stars

For seemingly the zillionth time this hockey season, your Calgary Flames face-off at home with a team that played the night before (usually in a different city). Okay, it’s only the third time, but the Flames haven’t won one of these games yet. And with the quarter-pole of the season looming on Friday night, the club desperately needs to cash in on some of these opportunities.

Tonight’s opportunity pits the 3-4-3 Flames against the 7-5-1 Dallas Stars.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames are still without the services of goalkeeper Miikka Kiprusoff, centre Mikael Backlund and winger Sven Baertschi. Paul Byron (wearing #32) and Joey MacDonald (wearing #35) will make their 2013 Flames debuts, although MacDonald will merely replace Danny Taylor opening the gate. The biggest boost is that Mike Cammalleri will return to the Flames line-up after missing a few games due to a hip flexor injury.

Wednesday’s skate was an optional, but on Tuesday Steve Begin was between Glencross and Iginla and Baertschi was between Cammalleri and Stempniak. In reality, we’re guessing they’ll line up something like this.

  • Hudler – Tanguay – Cervenka
  • Glencross – Stajan – Iginla
  • Cammalleri – Byron – Stempniak
  • Comeau – Jones – Jackman
  • Giordano – Bouwmeester
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Sarich – Butler
  • Irving

Cammalleri should give Calgary an offensive boost, assuing he returns to the line-up a better player than when he left it. Byron showed some great chemistry with Stempniak when he was up last season, so maybe he can do some damage rather than just be a warm body. That sure is a line of smaller guys though.

Sarich replaces Smith for the second straight game on the back-end while Steve Begin sits out up front. Anton Babchuk is more or less ready to go, but remains in the presssbox.

THE OPPOSITION

The Stars played last night and did a lot to get Flames fans on their side as they beat the Oilers up in Shelbyville by a 4-1 score. Dallas boasts a slew of familiar faces, including one of two active NHLers with more career goals than Jarome Iginla in the ageless Jaromir Jagr. Also contributing in Dallas is former Flames first rounder Eric Nystrom.

From our friends at Defending Big D, a stab at the lines:

  • Morrow-Benn-Jagr
  • Eriksson-Roy-Ryder
  • Smith-Eakin-Vincour
  • Nystrom-Fiddler-Garbutt
  • Dillon-Robidas
  • Rome-Daley
  • Goligoski-Larsen
  • Bachman

One of the fourth liners may cycle out for Wandell or Roussel and Oleksiak might swap in for Larsen.

Jamie Benn has returned the line-up and put together strong counting stats and underlying numbers as well. With him in the fold the Stars top six is pretty strong, alhough there are some useful players (albeit with limited offensive upside) in their bottom six as well.

Things get a bit dodgy on the back end, and its likely that the Flames will be seeing back-up netminder Richard Bachman (career stats: 8-6-1, 2.68 GAA, .913 S% and 1 shutout). He’s not quite Kari Lehtonen, but he’s got more games under his belt and better numbers than Leland Irving.

SUM IT UP

Dallas has a pretty strong team and they’re not missing any big guns (well, besides Ray Whitney). With them having played the night before, there will be no better opportunity for the Flames to get two points. Of course, with the Flames missing their starting goalie, top rookie and their best possession center, they are by no means guaranteed success.