The Flames have won two games in a row against teams much better than them, and tonight they're heading into Anaheim to take on the Ducks in a building where they haven't won since 2004.
Stop me if you've hear this one before.
In order to break this Disneyland losing streak, Bob Hartley seems to think his lineup needs to be the "biggest possible" to take on the "bruising" Ducks. At least this is his rationale for scratching Sven Baertschi, who is the same size as Jiri Hudler.
Just what makes the Ducks so "brusing?" Well, they're 17th overall in the league in hits, if you believe in the value of that sort of thing. They're 13th in the league in major penalties, and are actually the fifth least penalized team in the NHL this season.
Are those the type of stats that define a team as "bruising?" Or is it because most of the players on their roster are over six feet tall?
I fail to see the logic in Hartley's approach to this game, and I hope for Baertschi's sake that he gets sent down to Abbotsford soon if this is the strategy that the head coach is going to continue to employ. That might happen sooner rather than later with Mikael Backlund getting closer to a return and the possibility that he could play tomorrow against the L.A. Kings.
Anyway, with Baertschi out, Steve Begin will draw back into the Flames' lineup, which eliminates the possibility of any skill on the Flames' fourth line. In fact, given that Toni Lydman is playing for the Ducks in this game, it may as well be 2004 again!
It looks like the line of Curtis Glencross, Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak will stay together in this game; I really like them against the Sharks, they were the only line that really continued to put the pressure on San Jose offensively as the game wore on in the third period, and they were pretty good defensively too. Roman Cervenka has been looking sharp as of late as well.
Here are the rest of your probable lines and pairings:
The Flames get a sort-of backup goalie again tonight in Viktor Fasth, so if the Hockey Gods continue to smile upon the Flames, tonight might just be the night they break the skid.