We could probably start every single game preview from here on out with: this is a must-win game for the club; but the other side of the coin is whether or not the game is one that the team should win.
Based on the current standings and the expectations going into the season, a road tilt in LA probably isn't one you had marked down for a 'W'. Add to that the fact that the Kings just came into the Flames own barn and shut them down and you'd really have to think that a win will be hard to come by.
However, the Flames are competing with the LA Kings for one of the final playoff spots in the West and are coming off a disappointing loss but a rather strong effort against San Jose - currently a tougher road date. The team needs to expect to get points tonight and it's going to take an effort even better than that of Saturday nights game at the 'dome or Tuesday night's close call against the Sharks.
The team needs to play at a .615 to .675 clip the rest of the way to have a shot at the playoffs and improving their road record is tops on the "to do".Surprisingly, following the injury to Curtis Glencross (listed as week-to-week while he's evaluated further), it sounds like Brent is STILL going to go with 11 forwards and 7 D. That means Anton Babchuk will likely be looking again at playing sparse minutes and focusing on the power-play. Against San Jose he managed 4:18, hardly enough to argue for another go at 7 D, but the Flames had ZERO powerplays against the Sharks.
This is what the lines are expected to look like:
Judging by the lineup being fielded tonight, the Flames will be in tough. They'll need Kipper to be on his game and the team in front of him to block shots and draw a couple penalties.
- LA has won the last 3 against Calgary at home.
- Darryl Sutter has guided the Kings to an 8-1-5 record since replacing Terry Murray.
- Calgary is 0-4-2 in their last 6 road games.
- Flames are 4 points out of 8th spot with 1 game in hand on the Avs.
- On the road, Miikka Kiprusoff is 7-9-2 in goal, with a 2.60 GAA and .913 sv%.
- Some more Kipper stats: He's 1-1-1 with a 1.29 GAA and .948 sv% against the Pacific. On Thursday nights he's 5-1-2 with 2.18 GAA and .926 sv%. Sv% by month .930/.914/.915/.915. Sv% against the bottom 1/3 of the league, .929 ... sv% against the top 2/3 .911.
Good luck to the Flames tonight, it's going to be tough.