Calgary Flames vs. Philadelphia Flyers
7:30 PM MT
Opponent: Broadstreet Hockey
It's been a wild weekend, hasn't it? Winning Saturday night in convincing fashion and then awakening to the Phaneuf trade news Sunday morning was...discombobulating. I predicted prior to the Toilet Bowl that there would casualties should the Flames fall to the Oilers, but it's seems the wheels were already in motion. We'll never know what truly spurred the ouster of Dion (Sutter) Phaneuf - be it internal conflict, obvious deficiencies in the organizations forward ranks or the mis-allocation of dollars, but I would imagine the dreadful 9 game losing streak hastened things along, even if all other considerations were valid.
So, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Ian White make their Flames debut tonight. Stajan with Iginla, Hagman with Jokinen, Mayers with the pluggers and White with Regehr. But that's actually become a secondary story in light of the on-going rumors surrounding the (potential?) Olli Jokinen and Ales Kotalik swap. According to TSN's most recent reports, the deal is still on the table and is likely to be finalized after the game.
Of course, a corollary consideration is the potential effect the rumor will have on Jokinen and Prust, given they will ostensibly be playing their last game in Flames silks (well...maybe not Prust. Dudes like herpes 'round these parts). Add in the confusion of four new players trying to find their way in new surroundings and well...you have the makings of class-A cluster-F.
Which isn't good, considering the opponents this evening are pretty damn good. The Flyers suffered through a tough stretch back in November, but have managed to muddle through despite sporting Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton as their goaltending duo while Ray Emery recuperated from a groin injury. They frequently out-shoot their opponents and have three capable forward units featuring the likes of Richards, Carter, Briere, Giroux, Gagne, Hartnell and Van Reimsdyk. The back-end isn't too far off either, boasting Timonen, Pronger, Coburn and Carle (though things get pretty thin after that).
In short, Philly isn't a team one can take lightly. The Flames are basically in disarray at the moment and although there's a usually a bonus "adrenaline" effect for players when they join a new club, I'm not sure that will be enough to overcome the simultaneous expansion and contraction currently going on in the dressing room.
Course, if you're anything like me, the results this evening are next to irrelevant next to to the Jokinen-Kotalik stuff.