Flames Game Day: Took this trip to Garden Grove...

 


Honda Center

8 PM MT

Opposition: Anaheim Calling

TV : Sportsnet West


With a well-earned two points in the hopper after beating L.A. 5-2, the Flames head down the road to Anaheim for this evening's encounter with the Ducks. In recent seasons, this would be the sort of game that would be very hard for Calgary to win, largely because the Ducks were a better team than the Flames, and certainly were superior from the early winter of '06 through the spring of '08. 

That's not quite the case anymore, and with a strong third period against the Kings in the books, the Flames have a chance to turn a bit of the recent history. 

Jarome Iginla was pretty efficient on Saturday. 4 SOG, 8 attempted shots overall, 3 goals. Got another 80 to 85 games like that your back pocket, chief? He and Jokinen have been under scrutiny around these parts, and I think the chances +/- that Kent posted yesterday are at the heart of that scrutiny. With that stated, if we're going to take the "baby steps" approach, the fact that they took advantage when Sutter got them a good match, and that they were + Corsi and EV scoring chances can be considered good underlying signs. Olli Jokinen might even score a few goals someday, right? Oh, yeah, baby steps. 

Daymond Langkow's line held there own against the Stoll-Brown duo, and the goal he worked SH with Glencross was quality. David Moss isn't the skater that Bourque is, so the style the line plays might differ a bit, but they'll still have to face some sort of top six opposition tonight. Moss looks to me like whatever nick he had might yet be affecting him, but the play he exhibited Saturday was better, or at least closer to what the team would like to see. The Flames need him to be productive with or without Bourque around, but obviously that need is a bit more acute with 17 on the shelf.

Curtis Glencross must have exceptional hearing, because it was no time at all between his getting a scolding in the game day thread and his excellent pass to Langkow that lead to the winning goal. With that in mind, "dammit GlenX, get it together!" I mean, no point in waiting until things get out of hand ;-) He and his linemates had themselves a pretty nice game, and the team as a whole were terrific in the third.  When the Flames went up 3-2, they kept dominating the game, rather than allowing the Kings to come at them. 10-2 EV shots in the third on the road against a decent team is solid, whether Smyth and Scuderi played or not.

No changes to the blue, but Phaneuf and Regehr were among the few Flames that seemed to have a tough afternoon Saturday. If the duo struggled against Frolov-Kopitar-Williams, that's not really a good omen for any potential match-up with Getzlaf and Perry. 

There's been some grunting that the Flames are undecided over who gets the start in net, but if it isn't Kipper, I'd be a bit surprised. The team didn't abandon him on the PK Saturday, and he repaid them with a good game. Funny, isn't it?

The opposition has gotten off to a struggling start, with the first line lighting people up but not much else going on. The Ducks rolled these first three lines in their 06/07 run to the Cup:

Kunitz-McDonald-Selanne
Penner-Getzlaf-Perry
Niedermayer-Pahlsson-Moen

and backed them up with Niedermayer the greater, Chris Pronger and Frenchy Beauchemin.

Now?

Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry
Artyukin-Koivu-Selanne
Calder-Marchant-Nokelainen

with Niedermayer and Whitney/Wisniewski as the main guys on the back end. Those aren't equal, at least not to my eye, and the bleeding of players might have caught up with the Ducks. That first group is still a menace, and my second favourite Jet (number one is Gabe Desjardins' interweb handle) remains a threat on the PP. After those guys, there isn't much happening. Unlike last season, Hiller has just been OK rather than off-the-planet good behind them, and Giguere, for reasons on and off ice, has been poor since 07/08. 

The Flames haven't won in Anaheim since before the lock-out, and busting that skein will require another good PK night, as well as minimizing the Getzlaf line as best they can. The Flames should have an edge in depth, so good special teams and breaking even vs. the Getzlaf crew will likely be the way to a win.

Game time is 8 MT, with coverage on Sportsnet West.
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