FGD: On the Road in Nashville

 

 

For the twelfth time this season, the Calgary Flames are entering a game with a record just below .500 and hope to get back to even with a win. Thus far this season, their 11 previous attempts have resulted in a 6-4-1 record, which would be great if they managed to win more when entering a game with a .500 record.

Now, in the midst of an extended win-one, lose-one stretch, the Flames really need a win and really need to get back from .500. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Tonight’s game is the first of a back-to-back – tonight in Nashville, tomorrow in Columbus – that sees Calgary begin to use up their games in hand. Entering Thursday, the Flames had two (or three) games in hand on literally every other Western Conference team. If they put together wins over the next 48 hours, they can get to within two points of a playoff spot – with games still in hand.

Puck drop is at 6pm on your various Sportsnet sports broadcasting properties.

THE LINE-UP

The Flames are coming off of a 4-3 loss in Dallas on Monday night. According to Roger Millions and Pat Steinberg, the team will look a bit different tonight. Here are likely line combinations:

  • Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
  • Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Comeau – Backlund – Hudler
  • McGrattan – Begin – Jackman
  • Brodie – Bouwmeester
  • Giordano – Wideman
  • Sarich – Butler
  • Kiprusoff

In summation: Kiprusoff has returned from child-birth and will start. Cory Sarich subs in for Derek Smith. Steve Begin subs in for Roman Cervenka, who, I think we can safely say at this point, isn’t being sat for "health reasons".

Biggest head-scratcher may be the Sarich sub-in, although Smith has been merely “fine” and I’d wager that he’s back for the Columbus game. Ditto Cervenka. The Flames have three lines clicking right now and merely need to come out in the first period with some form of urgency. Any form, really.

Iginla had perhaps his best game of the last month against Dallas, but just could not score.

THE OPPOSITION

Like the Flames, Nashville is coming off a 4-3 road loss. Theirs came in Columbus on Tuesday night. Lines for tonight weren’t immediately available, so here’s roughly how they looked on Tuesday:

  • Mueller – Legwand – Bourque
  • Beck – Fisher – Erat
  • Boychuk (gone) – Spaling – Halischuk
  • Clune – Smith – Yip
  • Weber – Josi
  • Ellis – Blum
  • Klein – Bartley
  • Rinne

Either Bobby Butler or Sergei Kostitsyn will replace Boychuk in the line-up, as he’s been claimed on waivers by Carolina. I’d lean towards Kostitsyn. If so, let’s hope he shows the same level of try and tenacity he displayed against the Oil.

Pekka Rinne has been lit up (and chased) recently – most recently against the Flames last week. The Preds are also injury-hobbled and their forward roster is full of, to be blunt, random dudes. If Bob Hartley can line-match a bit, the Flames could make some hay in Music City.

SUM IT UP

The Flames need points. They’ve beaten the Predators convincingly recently, and really need to do it again. As much as the road losing streak hangs over the team, they have to put it out of their minds and go to work. Miikka Kiprusoff should be able to hold the team in the game, so as long as the club can score on Pekka Rinne (and undermine his likely flagging confidence), they have a good shot here.

Next stop: .500.

  • Scary Gary

    Well if the fat lady isn’t already singing she will be if we don’t win tonight… according to Sports Club Stats if we lose tonight our chances of making the playoffs drop from 20% to just under 14%

  • Scary Gary

    Is Cervenka that bad?

    I want to see him on a line with Backs and Hudler. Put Comeau centering on the 4th…

    On Smith: I thought he played horrible last game so its not surprising he’s back out. We only have 5 guys we can count on night in and night out.

      • Yup, so much for the new, improved offensive juggernaut that was to be the 2013 Flames.

        Hartley hss already been preaching defense for weeks now. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone else?

        (And somewhere on the ranch, Brent Sutter chuckles to himself)

        • I’d say that’s a rational response from the coach insofar as the team’s biggest problem is goals against this year.

          That said, the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league-worst goaltending.

          • The Last Big Bear

            I think that the defense looks a lot worse than it is because of the league worst lack of consistency, effort, and attention to detail and that their goaltending the last few years has been the only thing hiding an organizational problem stemming from a lack of proper leadership in the dressing room.

          • Except that this is the coach that a month ago was talking about how the game is about being up tempo and full of excitement for the fans. That the team was going to play an offensive style of hockey and that he did not care if they won their games 7-6.

            Now that he finds out that he has a number of players that dont want to consistently work hard and that playing up tempo is fine if everybody is competing he has started to stress that defense is the cornerstone to all good teams and too winning hockey games.

            Pretty sure that when Brent was here he went through a similar stage of disillusionment. Complain all you want about Brent and how Bouwmeester was not getting the offensive opportunities, but he recognized that even though Bouwmeester has the speed he cannot effectively be both players and so Brent sacrificed offense for almost half a game of higher end defense.

          • Bingo on the change of drum beating from Hartley. Thing is, I think Hartley knows this team cant play the upbeat style because they are either to small or too old & too inconsistent to establish any type of team identity. I think Hartley & Feaster & even how Ken King talks on the Fan know this. It just seems they are not throwing anybody under the bus, that would be kinda stupid when you are trying to get top trade value for these players. I love to gamble and right now, I think Management know this thing is a big do over & they need to rebuild this team from the foundation up.