Looking to break a two-game losing streak, the Flames take on the Minnesota Wild tonight at the 'Dome desperate for whatever spark they can get--which means we may see Sven Baertschi return to the lineup.
Aside from two victories versus the Dallas Stars, Calgary has now lost three of their past five games to teams that are somewhat (if not significantly) better than they are in games that were virtually no-contest and were characterized by persistent stupid mistakes on the part of the Flames.
In those three games, the Flames scored just three goals and were outshot 95-89; in their past five games altogether, they've been outshot 159-138. I'm not sure why Feaster thinks sending down Roman Horak and calling up Akim Aliu is going to solve that problem when it will probably just exacerbate things by forcing the team to kill more unnecessary penalties or give up a goal 4-on-4, but what's done is done.
Anyway, the Wild have been on something of a tear since the last time they played the Flames, a 2-1 shootout win for the Minnesotans which seemed to spell the demise of Blair Jones in Bob Hartley's eyes back on February 11.
The Wild are 4-1-1 in their last six games with wins against the Oilers, Red Wings, Avalanche, and Flames, and have jumped into eighth place in the Western conference. Cal Clutterbuck sustained a leg injury in the game against the Oilers on a play for which Taylor Hall was suspended two games for kneeing, and defenceman Justin Falk may miss tonight's game with the flu, but other than that the Wild's top guns are healthy and ready to play, which could be bad news for the Flames.
Getting Baertschi back might infuse some offence into Flames' lineup, as the team has struggled both to score and to stop the other team from scoring on home ice, and currently holds the second worst home record in the NHL. Perhaps Baertschi will retain a spot with the big club while they await the return of the injured Mikael Backlund, but it's still debatable if that is what's really best for the 20-year-old, who likely won't crack the top-six any time soon unless he can be guaranteed favourable circumstances. However if he found himself on a line with Hudler and Cervenka, I wouldn't complain--although Cervenka might not make it into the lineup either. Because sitting one of your most offensively creative forwards for a below replacement-level pugilist is a sure-fire way to win a game.
Tonight's game means that the Flames hit the 1/3 season mark, and with things not exactly looking great so far, a win would provide some temporary relief around these parts. Joey MacDonald must be due for one of those games where he stops everything humanly possible, right?
Here are your game day links:
An update on Calgary's prospects [Flames Nation]
The struggling Abbotsford Heat could really use Baerstchi back as they try to bounce back from their sixth straight loss tonight against the Charlotte Checkers [Heat Hub]
Have the designs for the 2014 Winter Classic jerseys been leaked? [SB Nation]
Hope to see you all tonight!