In the final 12 games of the season or so, the Flames and Preds are battling it out for who can be more mediocre. The Predators’ playoff hopes are completely extinguished while the Flames are still just those loveable little scamps who don’t know when to quit or when to just stop throwing themselves in front of pucks with the devil-may-care attitude that only comes with nothing to live for. That may be an exaggeration but I am not convinced Lance Bouma is entirely sane. Just sayin.
Tonight, there will be two noteworthy additions to the respective rosters. Calgary is debuting Kenny Agostino, acquired in the trade that sent Jarome to Pittsburgh where he won a Stanley Cup and carried Crosby on his back into a rainbow sunset. The Preds also have a new addition tonight as they recalled Calle Jarnkrok yesterday after
granting the freedom to trading David Legwand to Detroit.
For that reason at least it will certainly be worth watching at least part of this one! RIght! C’mon guys! Lineups and preview after the jump
THE FIGHTIN’ FLAMES
Let’s remember Berra as he would have wanted, winning in a shootout.
There are quite a few switches in today’s lineup with one new face and another familiar face returning to active duty. This roster looks surprisingly like one you would expect out of an actual NHL team. Here it is thanks to our buds at Daily Faceoff:
Glencross – Stajan – Hudler
Agostino – Monahan – Colborne
Cammalleri – Backlund – Byron
Bouma – Galiardi – McGrattan
Russell – Butler
As you may have heard, the Flames are debuting one of the pieces of the Jarome Iginla trade tonight in Yale’s Kenny Agostino. It is nice to see that they are going to give him some competent linemates in his first game with the big club, as that has not always been standard practice for the Flames in the past. I think I am like a lot of people when I fully admit that I have no idea what to expect from Agostino tonight. I saw him at Flames development camp this summer and thought he was pretty good but hell, in that camp Josh Jooris and Linden Penner were dominating the competition so I am not sure it’s an indicator of much.
Agostino’s numbers at Yale are pretty impressive, as he was essentially a point-per-game player in his final three seasons with the Bulldogs. Agostino was also a part of Yale’s NCAA Championship winning team last season. What is perhaps Agostino’s most impressive statistic from college is his shot production. When Agostino was signed, Darren Hayes tweeted out a striking stat of Agostino’s:
The stat that leaps off the page for me when you look at Agostino’s 2013-14 season is his shots on goal — a ridiculous 163 in 33 games.
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenHaynes_CP) March 17, 2014
Hopefully Agostino can continue to generate offense in the show, though it is pretty much impossible that he will continue at the clip he was at in college. Also, maybe his energy will rub off on Monahan and he can finally get that elusive number 20 on the season tonight.
The Flames are also welcoming back Jiri Hudler to the lineup tonight and he will be playing one a line with the newly returned Matthew “Franchise” Stajan and the still reasonably rusty Curtis Glencross. Hudler has had a nice season for the Flames and prior to his injury was the most reliable Flames forward in terms of point production. Despite missing the last seven games with an ankle injury, Hudler is still the team leader in points with 44 and assists with 30.
Kent mentioned on twitter a few days ago that Tyler Wotherspoon might not be doing so well possesion wise during his brief stint with the club. I checked out his numbers and, yikes...they are not so great. His CF%rel is a cool -27.5 in his first seven games with the Flames. I know, I know, small sample size and all that, and I am sure that being paired with Smid isn’t going to do wonders for his possession numbers, but hopefully he can improve his numbers over the final stretch of games as it looks as though Dennis Wideman is done for the season. With the injury to Wideman, it is entirely likely that Wotherspoon will be up for the rest of the year.
Ortio gets his ninth start of the season in net and has been pretty decent for the Flames so far with a 4-4 record and a .906 SV%. If nothing else, that is a vast improvement over Joey MacDonald’s SV% in eight games as well, as Joey Mac boasts a .885. However, I know that I am not exactly setting the highest bar for Ortio in this comparison.
EMPEROR TROTZ’S MEN
Here is the Pres lineup thanks to our dearest confidants, Daily Faceoff.com:
Hornqvist – Fisher – Spaling
Bourque – Jarnkrok – Smith
Nystrom – Cullen – Wilson
Clune – “Frank” Sissons – Eaves
Josi – Weber
Jones – Ekholm
Del Zotto – Ellis
The Predators are ice cold. They have lost three-straight games, seven of their last ten, and are now within the sight of the bottom of the Western Conference. The Flames by comparison are 6-4 in their last ten and now only five points back of Nashville, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
Since Pekka Rinne’s return, he might have some rust to shake off. Rinne has allowed nine goals in his last two starts. Yikes. Carter Hutton played decently during Rinne’s injury, going 15-11-4 with a .904 Sv% which is not horrible but certainly not horrendous. Rinne gets the start tonight for the Preds so hopefully (or not depending on your postion vis-a-vis tanking) he is still playing like Alex Auld and not the Pekka Rinne of last season.
Every time that one looks at the back end for the Predators they think, wow, this team should be better. That is a damn good group of D men and they look to be only getting better. With young studs like Jones, Ekholm, and Josi only just starting to come into their own, Nashville is pretty much set for life on defence.
Their forward group is a little more sketchy. Now without David Legwand, the Predators have Calle Jarnkrok making his NHL debut tonight after being acquired from the Red Wings at the deadline. There is a fair bit of buzz surrounding the 22 year old Swedish centre who has amassed 36 points in 57 AHL games. At the deadline, many were surprised that Nashville was able to leverage a prospect of Jarnkrok’s calibre from the notoriously prospect stingy wings, especially given the bargain-bin prices league wide on deadline day.
PLAYOFF LOTTERY IMPLICATIONS
The cushion that used to exist between the fifth and sixth spots in the draft lottery is shrinking very fast, though that has been because of Flames victories so it’s not all bad news. The Preds are falling like a rock and could easily be caught by the Flames in the next two weeks if they don’t start to win a few games.
Elsewhere tonight, there are no other games that have any impact on the Flames current spot in the standings outside of Carolina, and that might be a stretch for the Flames.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
It seems as though tonight, as with many nights this season, is a can’t miss for Flames fans. Well, aside from the fact that it’s a Flames/Predators game which I know doesn’t rate highly on the list of ways to occupy one’s evening for a lot of fans. No matter what the outcome, Flames fans will get a peak at Kenny Agostino tonight and he’ll be playing on a line with some interesting pieces so there’s that to look forward to. If the Flames continue their stretch of good play and beat the Preds? Great. Suck it Rich Clune. If not, well, that’s not the worst thing either. Ahh, to be a Flames fan..
Also, the last Flames Preds game was pretty awesome. The Flames won 5-4 in a shootout even though this happened:
Puck drops at 7pm MT on SNET West.