FGD: Winging It With Kipper

We’re down to the nitty-gritty, folks, as the Flames (16-22-4) can mathematically be eliminated from the post-season (and get a little closer to a high draft pick) with a loss tonight against the Detroit Red Wings (20-15-7).

Tonight’s game starts at 7:30 on TSN and your radio friends at Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The kids will continue to be the item of interest down the stretch, but the top story tonight may be Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. Suiting up for the 574th time as a Calgary Flame, he may be playing one of his last contests in the Scotiabank Saddledome. Flames coach Bob Hartley noted after practice that Kiprusoff will play tonight and Friday, as well.

THE LINE-UP

Besides Kiprusoff making his first start in awhile, the other big story is the return of Matt Stajan to the Flames line-up. Before his upper-body injury, Stajan was one of Calgary’s best, most consistent players. He’ll replace Roman Cervenka in the line-up which, all due respect to the Czech player, is probably an upgrade.

Here’s how the lines look according to Pat Steinberg:

  • Baertschi – Stajan – Stempniak
  • Glencross – Backlund – Hudler
  • Cammalleri – Horak – Hanowski
  • Begin – Reinhart – Jackman
  • Brodie – Wideman
  • Giordano – Sarich
  • Butler – Carson
  • Kiprusoff

Wunderkind Ben Hanowski has cut his hair, so please remember that he’s wearing #58 for your hockey heroes. He joins a few good group of young players with ridiculously high numbers: Sven Baertschi (#47), Roman Horak (#51) and Max “Power” Reinhart (#59) are the others. 

THE OPPOSITION

The Red Wings are a pretty good hockey team and have been for awhile. However, they’re in a fight for their playoff lives lately and may actually miss the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90.

However, the Wings have been helping out their own cause lately, going 2-1-2 in their last five and finding ways to get points any which way they can. They most recently blanked the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Sunday night, so they’re rested.

Here’s how their lines may look:

  • Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
  • Franzen – Filippula – Cleary
  • Nyquist – Andersson – Brunner
  • Miller – Emmerton – Tootoo
  • Kronwall – Ericsson
  • DeKeyser – Kindl
  • White – Smith
  • Howard

The Wings have some strong top-six players. The Flames beat them handily during their last visit to the ‘Dome, but that was primarily due to some terrifying defensive zone play and some awful goaltending from Jonas Gustavsson, who won’t play tonight.

Detroit’s in desperation mode, needing a win to give them breathing room – they’re tied with Columbus (at 47 points) with a game in hand, with Dallas just two points back.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are playing for next year. The Wings are playing for the playoffs. The Flames are in audition mode. The Wings are in desperation mode.

On the other hand, the Saddledome will be filled to the brim with emotion, as the fans prepare to possibly say goodbye to #34. If that emotion spills over to the Flames players, this could be quite the hockey game.

 

      • schevvy

        Honestly, if the kids play well and pull out a win, I won’t be mad. Don’t have it in me to be mad with a win. Plus, I want CBJ in the playoffs over DET.

        That being said, it was kinda sorta reverse psychology. Loss is not a bad thing.

        But I tell ya Rex, if the Flames finish ahead of the Oilers….hahahaha. Oh god that would be funny. And then Flames win the lottery of course.

        • RexLibris

          I’d like to see the Blue Jackets in the playoffs, but now that Howson is safely ensconced in the Oilers management I’m not sure I want anyone there giving him any credit (and therefore leeway) for personnel decisions.

          MacTavish I kind of trust. Howson, barely at all.

          Flames finish ahead of the Oilers would be pretty funny. Obviously the laughs would be in the 403 at season’s end, and perhaps in the 780 at the draft (barring lottery alterations).

          Either way, it’d make for one heck of a story.

  • Avalain

    Anyone catch just how much of an idiot Lowe looked like in his apology?! Putting mactavish in is as close to the smell of Sutter nepotism as it gets. He didn’t like being called out by the reporter who asked him why they were going back to the person who started the mess! Lowe should have been fired!

    • Double Dion

      He does look a bit chubby. Of course, so does Geno Malkin and he’s pretty good. His skating needs to improve and he did look winded. Could be a product of Calgary’s elevation too. I know when we’d go to lower points in minor hockey I’d have crazy good cardio because I was used to Calgary. It’s why olympians tend to train here and in Canmore.

      • Avalain

        Fair enough. Chubby or not, if he scores for us I’m happy! Reminds me of one summer my brother and I went to see the flames play at a charity softball game . Bryan Glynn was a rookie who hadn’t even played yet. He was straight-up fat. I bet at least 50 lbs overweight apparently Tim hunter put him on his exercise program and he was ready by day one. It was weird seeing everyone else lean and he was really fat. Of course hanowskis not like that. Maybe it was the locks?

  • Double Dion

    Bring in the losses boys! We want a high pick. No conflict for me anymore. Come June all the losses will have been forgotten when we have a nice prospect coming to cowtown!

    • Double Dion

      This game is MUST LOSE. The Coilers are giving us a run for a money. They are WAY better than us at getting lottery draft picks. If they somehow win the lottery or get a higher pick than us I’ll be terribly disappointed.

      #mustLoseGame

  • Avalain

    So conflicted! On one side Calgary desperately needs to lose this game or risk losing out on a top 5 pick. On the other side, a spiteful part of me wants Detroit to miss out on the playoffs as a result of some defensive mistakes that wouldn’t have happened if they had come up with a nice package for Bouw.

    Oh well. Better off seeing a game like the one against Min where we put up a good fight and still lose in regulation.

  • mk

    Too bad the newly-signed Berra won’t come over and experience some “growing pains” to the end season (i.e. loses).

    Then he can become an excellent goalie for the next few seasons after that initial hiccup. 😀

    • beloch

      Of all the goalie prospects in the Flames system, Berra has the least promising stat sheet. He’s 26 and has posted MacBackup-like numbers in the Swiss-A league for several years now. I’d honestly like to know what Feaster&Co. see in this guy.

      I agree that it’d be nice to see him in net for the rest of this season though.

      • supra steve

        “Of all the goalie prospects in the Flames system, Berra has the least promising stat sheet. He’s 26 and has posted MacBackup-like numbers in the Swiss-A league for several years now. I’d honestly like to know what Feaster&Co. see in this guy.

        I agree that it’d be nice to see him in net for the rest of this season though.”

        I’m hoping that what they SEE in him, involves actually SEEING him play. I have not, so hoping they have done their homework, assuming they have. The return on the Iggy trade is starting to look a little better then first thought, hope that will be the case in the JBo return as well.

    • Sanintarious

      Not a for sure thing….Pat Steinberg just reporting on twitter that the Flames have signed him to his ELC (1 year 1.33M-With bonuses built in).

      Not sure if this kicks in this year, or next year….but if it does kick in this year, we could very well see him in the final 4 games.

      EDIT- Just re-read yours and see you mentioned “newly signed”. My bad!!

      Did they say he won’t come till next year??

    • Double Dion

      Agreed. I also think Kipper has been overrated for about four years now. The time to trade him was this past offseason when we had some leverage and he had an actual good year. Spilled milk and all that though. We missed the boat. At least we traded JBo at the right time. Missed the boat on Stempniak though.

    • the forgotten man

      Agreed! It was fun while it lasted but I let go of the past when he hinted he might not fulfill his contract next yr and when he said he wouldn’t go if traded! Not very professional! What if the flames just said,” to hell with you, we’re not payin you?” Same diff no? Pisses me off !

  • beloch

    I gotta give this one to the Wings unless Kipper breaks out of the secret forest lawn CSIS detention facility he’s been held in all year, impales the shape-shifting alien who has been inhabiting his jersey, and shuts out Detroit.