pic via Mod as Hell
The Flames have scored exactly one time during their last four games. That is, well, not great. Especially considering that those games were at home and two of them were against their two chief rivals, games that the Flames suffered shutout defeats. Yes, now might be a good time to get out of town.
This week the Flames will face the Avalanche, Coyotes, Penguins, and Blues who are a combined 106-42-19 so it goes without saying that this will be a very tough stretch of games for the locals. I would venture that the Flames will need at least two goals over this next stretch of four to have a chance.
The Flames travel to Denver tonight to take on the Avalanche (26-11-4) who will be a tough opponent for the struggling locals. Then again, I cannot imagine a team that would constitute an easy opponent right now when the Flames are looking like they deserve some sort of relegation.
THE TEAM THAT CAN’T SCORE…LIKE, AT ALL
pic via King of the Ants
Here is the Flames lineup courtesy of DailyFaceoff
- Cammalleri – Backlund – Hudler
- Byron – Monahan – Stempniak
- Galiardi – Colborne – Westgarth
- Bouma – Stajan – McGrattan
- Giordano – Brodie
- Smid – Wideman
- Butler – O’Brien
Sadly, the acquisition of Kevin Westgarth is likely not the answer to the Flames offensive woes and tonight, that third line of his is…something. It also seems that Matt Stajan drew the short straw and will be serving McGrattan duty tonight, though I am sure he will move up the lineup at some point in this game.
There was some talk of Lee Stempniak being a healthy scratch for this game but an eye injury to David Jones in the game against Tampa Bay spared all of us from the reality that Hartley was likely going to scratch Stempniak for Westgarth. How much of a dropoff is Westgarth from David Jones? Who even knows at this point.
What I do know is that in Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Lightning, Westgarth and McGrattan combined for 14:22 of ice. That is eight seconds more than Colborne’s minutes, split between two people. I might be a bit hard on the pair because during those 14 combined minutes, Westgarth managed a shot on goal. One shot more than Galiardi managed last game. I honestly don’t understand the point of dressing either of them, but dressing both is lunacy.
One of the lone bright spots over the past few games has been the consistent play of Paul Byron. Now playing on a line with Monahan and Stempniak, Byron has fought his way (not literally) up the depth chart and has been one of Calgary`s only dangerous forwards over this miserable stretch. Byron’s confidence is markedly higher this year and his decision making has been extremely good so it is nice to see him rewarded with more minutes and better linemates.
It was also revealed this morning that the Czech National team will not be including Jiri Hudler or Radim Vrbata on their roster for the Sochi Olympics. Who did make the team praytell? Peter Nedved, Roman Cervenka, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat…etc. Well, that is just bizarre. I would expect that Hudler might be a tad pissed off about that, especially considering his start to the season. Maybe they don’t have Centre Ice in Prague?
THE TEAM THAT GETS WHISTLED AT A LOT
pic via WSDOT
Here are the lines for the Avs as provided by our dear friends at DailyFaceoff.com
- Landeskog – Stastny – O’Reilly
- McGinn – Duchene – Talbot
- McLeod – Mitchell – MacKinnon
- Malone – Cliche – Bordeleau
- Hejda – Johnson
- Guenin – Holden
- Benoit – Sarich
Largely on the strength of their magnificent start, the Avs still remain in the hunt for a playoff spot, currently third in the Central and riding a three game winning streak. During that streak, Nathan MacKinnon is starting to show signs that he will become a dynamic offensive player for many years to come. However, can you believe the slugs he’s playing with? Cody McLeod? John Mitchell? Wow. That makes Monahan’s linemates look like the triple crown line.
Apart from their top line, which is terrifying, the Avs have a remarkably bland group of forwards. They are a also the kind of team that I can see Hartley wanting to dress not one goon, but two against. That sucks.
The Flames will face Giguere in net again tonight, marking the same identical goaltending matchup that we saw exactly one month ago on December 6th where the Avs beat the Flames 3-2.
pic via taestell
This week marks a stretch of games that has the potential to push the Flames to the very bottom of the Western Conference standings. There is tonight versus the Avs, tomorrow versus Phoenix and then dates with St. Louis and Pittsburgh back in Calgary to end the week.
If the Flames swing and miss this week, they could find themselves second from the bottom of the overall standings, depending on how Buffalo performs this week. I am ready to accept this reality but getting shutout repeatedly at home is a rather tough way to watch a team lose. I would hope that those losses inspire some sort of push back this week, if not only to make the games watchable for fans.
Tonight the puck drops 7pm MT on SNET West.