A year ago, almost to the day, the Calgary Flames were in a sticky wicket.
The team wasn’t great, having lost beloved captain Mark Giordano to an injury just as they got out of the starting blocks. To add insult to injury, beloved former captain Jarome Iginla came back to town with his new team, the powerhouse Boston Bruins, and beat the Flames at home.
Calgary finished sub-.500 and out of the playoffs. Iginla’s Bruins made the playoffs. (And Jay Feaster, the guy who traded Iginla, got fired two days after Boston’s visit.)
Tonight, Jarome Iginla re-returns with his new new team, the Colorado Avalanche (9-11-5). Circumstances have changed, as the Calgary Flames (16-8-2) are the team near the top of the NHL right now and the Avalanche are closer to the outhouse than the penthouse. And when you consider that the Flames traded Iginla to jump-start their rebuild and give him a chance to win a Stanley Cup, the current standings placement is pretty wacky.
Can the Flames continue their winning ways? Find out at 7pm MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Expect some minor tweaks to the line-up this evening, as Matt Stajan most likely makes his illustrious return after just over a month on the shelf. When you consider that the initial prognosis was six weeks for Stajan, that probably speaks to how much work he did off the ice to get back in action.
Lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Nothing official yet, but my inkling is Stajan slots in and either Bollig or Baertschi sits, and Bouma moves back to the wing. Corban Knight was sent back to Adirondack yesterday to make a roster spot for Stajan anyway.
Karri Ramo gets his fourth straight start. He’s 7-2-1 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. His numbers have corrected themselves from his early-season funk and are probably about where they’re going to be, based on last season and his career to-date.
Beyond Ramo, lots of things to be happy with about this Flames team: they out-chanced the Coyotes on Tuesday, they continued to get good play out of their core guys (Brodie, Giordano, Monahan, Gaudreau, Hudler, Glencross), though Glencross can’t get points lately.
Oh, and that Josh Jooris guy had a hat trick on Tuesday.
The big news for the visitors as they begin a quick two-games/two-nights road trip is the return of Semyon Varlamov to the net. Granted, he has looked downright human this season (4-5-4, 2.95 goals against, .918 save percentage), particularly compared to his robot goalie heroics last season. Still, he’s significantly better than back-up Reto Berra, who they got from Calgary at the trade deadline last season for a second round pick.
Lines, via Daily Faceoff:
On paper, the Avalanche have a strong line-up, except for that defensive group – which is borderline scary. Why have they lost more than half of their games? Probably their defensive play – goaltending that has been average instead of superhuman and teams feasting on their defense to get good chances.
And Jarome Iginla has his patented “slow start,” with just 15 points in 25 games with the Avs this season. By comparison, he has the same points/games totals as Dennis Wideman (and would be tied for 7th in Flames scoring behind Giordano, Hudler, Brodie, Gaudreau, Monahan and Glencross).
Welcome home, captain.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Wondering what the Avalanche blogs are saying? Check this out:
Jarome Iginla is returning to the team where his career started, where he played for 16 years and served as captain for almost 10. He’s being pretty chill about it, but he’d like to beat the Calgary Flames. For the Colorado Avalanche’s sake.
SUM IT UP
The homestand continues! The Flames host their old friends from Colorado! Who are sub-.500 and just getting their good (non-Reto Berra) goalie back.
Given that Varlamov might be a little rusty, no time like the present to rack up two more points, particularly against the team’s longest-serving captain (who’s now on his third post-Flames team).