Game 49 Preview: Christmas Comes Late

CALGARY, CANADA - DECEMBER 10: Miikka Kiiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames makes the glove save with Shawn Horcoff #10 of the Edmonton Oilers and Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Calgary Flames in close during third period NHL action on December 10 , 2011 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)

It's the 4th meeting of the season between the Flames and Oilers tonight. Calgary's dominance over the Oilers the past couple of years shouldn't really come as a surprise to most people: the Oilers, despite having some good talent at certain points (Ales Hemsky, Tom Gilbert, Shawn Horcoff), have had major deficiencies throughout their lineup, especially in goal.

Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk's early season run ended quite abruptly in mid-november, as many predicted. For a time they were the best goaltending duo in the league, buoyed by Khabibulin's >.945 EVSV%. Of course, a pace like that is unsustainable and Khabibulin now sports a ~.920 EVSV%. Conveniently for Oilers management, this decline occurred at the same time as a bunch of injuries, so Tambo has something to blame for the Oilers "fall"- instead of being held accountable for building a horrible team.

The Frankenstein monster should play tonight, despite the grisly state his face appears to be in. Hall is extremely lucky that skate blade wasn't an inch or two longer. There's been such little talk around Ryan Nugent-Hopkins lately that I don't even know if he's come back from his injury.

Speaking of injuries, Calgary will get Brendan Morrison back tonight. Depending who you talk to this is either a big help or a marginal player coming back into the lineup to play soft minutes (I'm inclined to lean towards the latter). There were rumours Alex Tanguay was to make his return tonight, but said rumours have been scuttled by TSN's Ryan Rishaug. Looks like we'll have to wait to get Tangs back, but with the recent injury to Curtis Glencross (confirmed to be out anywhere from 6-8 weeks with an "MCL injury"-read, "tear"), the top 6 could use a boost as soon as possible.

This is the last game of Calgary's 3 game roadie, which has been very successful with a win in LA and the loser point in San Jose, both very good teams. 5 out of 6 on the road trip would be a good thing for a team currently 2 points out of a playoff spot.

Players To Watch

Miikka Kiprusoff-It's possible he goes again tonight, in what would be his...9th game in a row? Obviously there's a lot of implications that go along with a 35-year-old goalie starting that many games.

Shawn Horcoff-No Oilers forward drives play as well as Horcoff does. He's also got a awesome parody twitter account. Amazing.


Time for the Flames' dominance to continue.

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