Two teams missing their awesome goalies collide in the Lone Star State tonight! The Flames (4-5-3) are missing Miikka Kiprusoff (career 2.46 goals against average, .913 save percentage). The Stars (8-6-1) are missing Kari Lehtonen (career 2.69 goals against average, .915 save percentage). Lehtonen’s been better than Kiprusoff this year, but both teams wish they had their number-ones.
A win here puts the Flames back at .500, a lofty perch which they’ve gotten to but have yet to cross over entirely. And it’s already a quarter of the way into the season.
Of course, Calgary beat Dallas last Wednesday in a 7-4 game. It was crazy, in that both Leland Irving and Richard Bachman looked shaky. In a shocker, Bachman still has an NHL job while Irving is back in the AHL.
It comes with the territory in the wacky world of the NHL.
After Friday night’s set-back against the St. Louis Blues, Flames head coach Bob Hartley hit shuffle on his line-up card. And the Flames waived Blair Jones, demoted Leland Irving and called up Danny Taylor.
Oh, and Blake Comeau is a centre now.
- Cervenka – Tanguay – Hudler
- Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
- Glencross – Comeau – Iginla
- Horak – Begin – Jackman
- Giordano – Bouwmeester
- Wideman – Brodie
- Butler – Babchuk
Overall, the big question mark is Comeau up the middle. Why you put the team’s worst possession forward on any line besides your fourth – and your captain to boot – is beyond me, but I’m not the coach. The top two lines look solid, though unspectacular by NHL standards.
MacDonald has the worst numbers of the three Flames goalies, at least in terms of save percentage, but he’s only played one game. With Irving looking shaky as a leaf in his last few starts – and nowhere near as poised as he did last season – giving MacDonald a shot is a good idea. If he looks as bad as he did in the St. Louis game, it’ll look like a worse idea.
The Stars are firmly in the middle of the pack in the West. They don’t have their starting goalie or the habitually underrated Ray Whitney, but their top six is still very dangerous and their bottom six boasts some very useful players. They beat Vancouver on Friday night.
Via Sportsnet’s Roger Millions (@rogmillions), here’s Dallas’ likely lines.
- Benn – Morrow – Jagr
- Smith – Roy – Eriksson
- Roussel – Eakin – Ryder
- Nystrom – Fiddler – Garbutt
- Dillon – Robidas
- Rome – Daley
- Goligoski – Larsen
Bachman (1-2-0) is statistically the worst of Dallas’ three goalies used this year and he looked pretty bad in Calgary last week. Then again, it’s just one game. As mentioned, he’s in because Karri Lehtonen is on the shelf.
SUM IT UP
The Flames beat the Stars and have the ability to do so again. That said, Dallas beat a very game Canucks team on Friday and can’t be under-estimated – and it’s very unlikely they’ll be as lousy as they were in Calgary.
The Flames, meanwhile, need to regain their confidence in their goaltending and find the swagger they had against the Stars. They were shaky and uneven against the Blues, and they cannot afford to get in a hole early down in the heart of Texas.
Game-time is 4pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.