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.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    They’ll be tired and bummed out tomorrow night. I expect a loss in Columbus and if tonight wasn’t the final nail in the coffin – tomorrow absolutely will be. Trade talks and rumours will be heating up big time over the next week.

  • Franko J

    Have any of you guys ever been in a relationship you knew was kinda bad but stayed because it was comfortable and just told yourself you didn’t want it to end but the moment it was over it was like a huge weight was lifted from your shoulders? Trust me Iggy probably doesn’t even realize how down he is but the moment he is on a fresh team, new winning environment I would lay money we see a practically brand new Iggy.

  • Franko J

    @ Q

    I think your thoughts and sediments resonate to a plenty of Flames fans about why Iginla has never ever had that legit elite centre. Can you imagine how this team would have been without Kiprusoff as well? The main reason the Flames are in this predicament along with Iginla is very simple. Very poor drafting and utterly horrible development of players. Nobody who constantly blogs on this site can truly say Calgary has had a sparkling record in the draft. As well, when the GM’s continually moved draft picks for short term gains and a patchwork lineup, this is the end result we are witnessing with this team.

    Case in point:
    This year we all know about the ROR situation, the irony is the Flames choose in the first round someone other than him. If the Flames had adequate and competent scouting at that time they would have picked a player at centre who may or may not been that legit elite centre, but at the very least provided the Flames with a very good young player to compliment the roster.

    The one complaint I have made, no matter the who the GM has been is if the team knows that centre is their weakest position why did they draft a goalie in the first round. Or a bottom six or seventh defender?

    Going forward if Flames ownership and management should have learned by now is that they lost the opportunity to build a real contender with two elite players who are in the twilight in their careers. That the only way Calgary has the chance to change their fortunes is by drafting, developing and trading for players who will not only compliment Baertschi, Gaudreau, Brodie, and Backlund but enhance the team overall.