Game 41 Preview: Flames vs. Capitals - The Half-way Mark

Last time the Calgary Flames and Washington Capitals met... it well... it got ugly. A 7-2 romp by the visiting Capitals, low-lighted by a Cory Sarich own-goal. Shot that sucker right into the Flames net and it was all downhill from there.

But, that's all history and is, of course, secondary to the big story of the day. Jarome Iginla sits at 499 goals, 1 away from a pretty elite milestone. I'd love for him to get it tonight, or Thursday in Boston - but the selfish side of me hopes he waits until they return home Saturday to play Minnesota so I can be there in person. Either way, all eyes will be on Iggy until he gets 500.

The other big news of the day was the juggling of lines by head coach Brent Sutter. Those will be posted and critiqued after the jump.

Half-way mark sees the Flames with 41 points, good enough for 12th place in the West - 4 points out of the almighty 8-hole.

According to SportsClubStats.com - the Flames currently have a 16.8% chance of making the playoffs. Hitting the normal playoff marker of 95 points would require them to improve their second-half record by roughly 5 wins, going something like 23-14-5 (counting tonight's game). Given what happened in the second-half last season, we know that we can't rule out a surge from the team, but their past 11-12 games have been anything but confidence inspiring.

IMO, they actually regressed a tad back to what they were like last year during big stretches. Inconsistent. The big streaks either way is a sign of a team that's still not willing to put in an effort every night.

The Flames lines according to Flames.com (hopefully this time they're accurate).

Glencross - Jokinen - Iginla

Bourque - Comeau - Stempniak

Byron - Backlund - Jackman

Kostopolous - Horak - Morrison

Bouwmeester - Butler

Hannan - Babchuk

Brodie - Sarich

Kiprusoff

Where do you begin here? Obviously, injuries are forcing Sutter's hand a bit here but the juggling of the forward lines seems a bit panicked. Blake Comeau has been steady since coming to town but he's hardly a 2nd-line centre, especially not having played the position all year. But, he should fit in well with the other players on the line.

Backlund just can't seem to keep himself established in a scoring role on the team. Could be the bounces (PDO of 948) or it could be that he's just not giving enough every night. Will slotting him in with the other struggling forward, Tim Jackman (PDO of 929), ignite them?

Babchuk and Sarich in the lineup at the same time against a potentially dynamic offense? That's just asking for trouble. The Flames are going to have to play a slow, defensive game or risk getting lit up.

- Flames are 4-3-3 in their last 10. The Caps, 6-3-1

- Caps D Mike Green returns to the lineup.

- Flames team faceoff % sits at a Lankow-esque 45.4%.

- Game starts at 5pm MTN ... Canada/Russia semi starts at 7pm MTN. PVR the Canada game and stay off twitter, lest you miss Iggy's 500th! Of course, for me, I'll be at the 'dome watching Canada beat up the pesky Ruskies so I'll have my fingers crossed it doesn't happen after 7pm!

Good luck to the Flames tonight - steal a win against the Caps and start another streak!

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