Tonight could be a battle of the two least conventional goaltenders in the NHL. It’s gonna be awesome. Tim Thomas in one net and your friend and mine, back from the ends of the earth, Joey MacDonald in the other.
Even though I know Flames fans are still basking in the glow of Wednesday night’s 7-2 thrashing of one of the Western Conference’s best teams, but this game brings an opponent with a history of embarrassing the Flames this season. In their previous two meetings, the Stars have won 5-1 and 7-3 in two of the worst losses the Flames have suffered this season.
The Stars are also in the midst of a Playoff race so they will be a motivated team but who doesn’t like to spoil good things? The Flames are looking to continue their strong post-deadline play and help de-rail the Stars chances at the post-season.
Lineups and preview after the jump
THE FIGHTIN’ FLAMES
There are a few lineup tweaks (including in net) for the Flames as they head into Dallas, check them out according to our buds at DailyFaceoff.com and the Flames website. Once again, I have no real clue which line would be considered a top line, so I included whatever line Paul Byron is on as the first line because he is the coolest.
Hanowski – Galiardi – Byron
Cammalleri – Backlund – Bouma
Glencross – Monahan – Colborne
Westgarth – Knight – McGrattan
Giordano – Brodie
Russell – Butler
Smid – Wotherspoon
JOEY “I THOUGHT WE’D SEEN THE LAST OF YOU” MACDONALD
First off, and I’ll get back to this, let’s welcome back everyone’s favourite backup back to backstop the boys in the first of back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. Back.
After Wednesday night’s beat down of the Ducks, which I TOTALLY saw coming, the Flames are feeling pretty good I would think. Backlund had another unreal game against Anaheim and was easily the most dangerous Flame the entire night. He will play tonight with Cammalleri and Bouma which is a bit of a weird line really.
Curtis Glencross continues his return to the lineup and will play on a line with Monahan and Colborne. I am curious to see how this line turns out as it will likely see some pretty tough competition tonight against the Stars. Monahan and Colborne seem to be a package deal these days, which I am not sure how I feel about. Colborne’s play seems to have shifted away from trying to make skilled plays in the middle of the ice to trying to use his size along the boards and make plays from below the hash-marks. However, it should be noted that last game, which was a 7-2 win, Colborne and Monahan were both even, played 16 and 18 minutes respectively, and combined for a total of 2 shots on goal. Do with that what you will.
Paul Byron has continued his very strong play after the deadline and has been one of the Flames’ most consistent contributors of late. Byron has filled every single role asked of him for the Flames so far this season, including goon duty, and has looked pretty good everywhere he has played. Against Anaheim, Byron put one on a platter for Galiardi to tap in short-handed and fed Smid (yeah, like, this Smid) for his first as a Flame. Here is Byron’s saucer pass to Galiardi from the Anaheim game:
I wonder about Byron’s future with the Flames though. He turns 25 in April and has finally started to contribute at the NHL level but it goes without saying that his biggest detractor is the fact that he is another very small winger on a team that may have two others (Cammalleri, if he re-signs, and Gaudreau, if he signs and plays next year which might be a stretch) on the roster as well. Byron is an RFA at the end of the season and I think he has done enough to earn another contract with the Flames. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.
JoeyMac is coming into tonight’s game with a cool .885 SV% in seven NHL starts this season. That is, well, not very good. He did improve his numbers with Abbotsford, posting a .909 in 16 appearances with the Heat, largely backing up Joni Ortio during that time. Look, no one is looking for MacDonald to make 60 saves and win the game 1-0 but hopefully he can give the Flames a chance to win and avoid giving up a back breaking goal. That’s all Flames fans ask of you MacDaddy.
Here is Dallas’ lineup from our dear compadres at Daily Faceoff:
Benn – Seguin – Nichuskin
Cole – Morin – Sceviour
Roussel – Fiddler – Chiasson
Whitney – Mueller – Garbutt
Goligoski – Daley
Benn – Dillon
Connauton – Gonchar
The stars have a lot of talent on that first line but after that, there are a lot of unknown quantities in Dallas’ forward group. Sceviour, for instance, has been tearing up the AHL and was called up after the horrific incident with Rich Peverley. Alex Chiasson lit up the Flames in Dallas’ 5-1 win in Calgary and has generally had a pretty solid campaign this year but has been streaky, evidenced by the fact that he only scored two goals from December 3rd to March 3rd.
The Stars are a fast skating team who have victimized the Flames quite badly in their previous two meetings. If the Flames would like to stay in this game, especially with their current state of goaltending, they will have to try to drag Dallas into the mud with them.
The bottom-six of the Stars is a scrappy one with Garbutt, Roussel, and Fiddler providing sandpaper and Chiasson, and Ray “Old Man” Whitney serving fourth line duty at the moment. The Stars are missing Oiler exile Shawn Horcoff whom was hit by a puck in practice and not skating. The stars will likely look to their top line to provide offense and hopefully the Flames can force them to use more of their roster and exploit some of their inexperience, even though the Flames aren’t exactly brimming with reliable NHL talent at the moment either.
The Stars are also coming into this game looking for a fourth consecutive win after beating St. Louis in overtime on Tuesday. Since the Olympic break, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been on a tear with Benn scoring 11 points in seven games while Seguin has four goals and five helpers in his last three games (!). So, I think the Flames might wanna watch out for those two right? On the back end, many would be surprised to see that Sergei Gonchar is still in the NHL. Good for him!
Finally, playing Dallas always reminds me of this so here is a picture of one of the best jersey’s in NHL history, which doubles as a handy instructional diagram of the female reproductive system:
The Flames really need to get on a run if they want to challenge for the playoffs here.
In serious news, the Stars are in the thick of a dogfight for a playoff spot in the west They sit one point up on Phoenix, and three up on Vancouver with games at hand on both of them (one of which the Stars are are making up tonight as Phoenix does not play) :
So basically, what this means is that Flames fans have another of these no-lose games tonight. If they win, fantastic, but if they lose, it is another coffin nail for the Canucks and their post-season hopes. Rejoice in the Schadenfreude!
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
The Flames are going to be in tough tonight against a team that has owned them in their two previous games. Tonight also has the potential for some truly awesome displays of scrambly goaltending with Tim Thomas and Joey MacDonald dueling between the pipes. Look away aspiring netminders, do not try to emulate these brave netminders at home.
The Stars can continue their push to the playoffs and the Flames can continue to be pains in the asses of the masses. Puck drops at 6:30 MT on SNET-Flames.