Good news, everybody! The Calgary Flames are back at the .500 mark after a really fun 3-2 shootout win in Nashville. The Preds were well-rested, but the Calgary side played a strong 60 minutes, got great goaltending from Karri Ramo and generally were pretty damn solid.
Bad news, everybody! Now the Flames go into Chicago to play the Blackhawks, an even more well-rested and just disgustingly stacked hockey team.
It’s a measuring stick game tonight at the United Center! 6pm! Sportsnet national feed! (Sportsnet West and regional channels if you’re outside of Alberta!)
Calgary is playing their fifth game this year and polishing off their second set of back-to-back games this year. Three games into their mammoth six-game road trip (which I dubbed The Widowmaker for its potential to wreck their record), they sit with a pretty damn solid 2-1-0 record. After tonight, they have stops left in Columbus and Winnipeg. There’s a small chance they could finish north of .500 on this trip, which would be quite the achievement for this bunch.
Former Blackhawk Brandon Bollig returns to his former home tonight, which should be neat for him.
Lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Hudler – Monahan – Setoguchi
Glencross – Backlund – Byron
Raymond – Colborne – Gaudreau
Bollig – Stajan – Bouma
Giordano – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Smid – Diaz
David Jones (upper body) is out. Deryk Engelland will miss the game with a lower body injury. Lance Bouma will play (after getting squashed last night) and Jonas HIller will start tonight, continuing Calgary’s goalie rotation. The team didn’t practice this morning, so lines are a bit of guess-work, and Calgary Herald ace Kristen Odland lists Russell with Diaz and Smid with Wideman, so your mileage may vary.
Your tough minutes line is the Backlund line, and you hope against hope that they can shut down Toews and the rest of the Hawks don’t hurt the Flames too badly. The Flames had a good special teams night in Nashville – with a power-play goal for and no power-play goals against – and they will desperately need to press any special teams advantage they are given tonight.
Did you know that apparently half my Twitter feed is Hawks fans? It may be because they’re so damn fun to watch play the game of hockey. Chicago is a prototype of how to build a team: (1) Wait until the owner dies and his son inherits it, (2) have the son allow the hockey ops people to do their jobs.
In all seriousness, look at this damn team. (Via Daily Faceoff):
Sharp – Toews – Hossa
Saad – Shaw – Kane
Bickell – Richards – Smith
Carcillo – Kruger – Morin
Keith – Seabrook
Hjalmarsson – van Riemsdyk
Rundblad – Oduya
The Hawks are without Michal Rozsival and Kris Versteeg, which would make their team even more stacked.
Chicago is undefeated so far this year, granted they’ve played twice and one of those games were against Connor McDavid’s future team, the Buffalo Sabres. But they’re expected to be a Stanley Cup contender once again this season. They’re basically the Los Angeles of the Central Division, if that makes sense.
SUM IT UP
The Flames continue their road trek tonight! The game’s a national telecast and you’ll see it at 6pm. Unless you’re busy and have to PVR it, at which point you can watch it whenever your heart desires.
The Flames likely desire a win, but against this competition, they may need to “settle” for a 60-minute effort and a good showing against one of the league’s elite teams. Here’s the bar, gentlemen: try to reach it.