The Calgary Flames are coming off a white-knuckled 4-3 win over the lowly Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night and they continue their trek to the trade deadline with a meeting tonight with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is 7pm on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
The Flames (13-15-4) are recovering from a tumultuous 48 hours, one which saw their captain depart for Pennsylvania and the team pick up a big divisional win, part of their effort to try to salvage some positives from this up-and-down season. The Jackets (13-14-7) have been excellent lately, boasting a 5-2-3 record over their last ten games, but are fresh from a road loss last night in Edmonton. The Jackets have an awful, awful road record, while the Flames have won eight in a row on Saddledome ice.
Can the Flames start the post-Iginla era with a win and stretch out their impressive home winning streak? Can they continue to feast upon teams playing their second of back-to-back road games? Or will they struggle against the Jackets once again?
Forgotten in the last few days of craziness is the fact that the Flames have found ways to win at home. The team has won eight straight at the Dome, even when playing back-to-back games, or playing good teams, or starting their back-up goalie, or missing their franchise player (etc.).
I would expect Calgary to dress a similar line-up as in Wednesday’s game, albeit with some minor tweaks. Here’s how the lines finished off against Colorado:
I would probably expect to see Miikka Kiprusoff in net, and perhaps Derek Smith to rotate back into the line-up on the blueline. Alex Tanguay didn’t skate on Thursday and briefly left Wednesday’s game before returning. My guess is he’ll play.
With Iginla gone forever and ever (or until he returns), the Flames are down to 12 forwards, so I would expect them to summon a body from Abbotsford in the near futrure. The Heat play in Hamilton tonight and Toronto on Saturday, so if somebody’s coming, they’ll either come immediately or after the weekend.
Despite the fact that the Blue Jackets have historically been just awful, the Flames have nevertheless struggled against them. Last season the Calgary went 1-2-1 against the Jackets and they’ve split their pair of games this year, although Columbus has managed to get points in every single game over that span.
The upside for Calgary is that Columbus played last night in Edmonton – and lost by a score of 6-4. There’s a chance that instead of facing goalie extraordinaire Sergei Bobrovsky, they may get back-up sieve extraordinaire Steve Mason.
Here’s how the lines looked for the Jackets last night, when they scratched Nick Foligno due to injury and rolled with seven defensemen, including pariah Tim Erixon.
I wouldn’t expect Foligno back tonight, but maybe Colton Gillies or John Moore could jump in on the fourth line in lieu of Erixon. Then again, with Jarome Iginla gone forever (or until he returns), Flames fans could bond in their hatred of Erixon.
SUM IT UP
Columbus played last night and lost, while the Flames are 7-2-1 playing a team that played the night before. Better yet, the Flames rebounded from a one-sided game in Chicago by beating Colorado – albeit a Colorado team that’s dreaming of Seth Jones right now.
The Jarome Iginla era is over. Whatever the next era will end up being, it begins tonight, rather inauspiciously, with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.