After losing 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues last night, the Flames close out their season tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, the best team in the Western Conference, in a fitting conclusion to what has been a drawn-out and frustrating half-season for Flames fans in more ways than one.
The Blackhawks punched their ticket to the post-season long ago, and clinched the President's Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs on Wednesday. The Hawks are 10-1-2 in their past thirteen games and have lost just six times in regulation this season. That is just ridiculous.
The Flames, on the other hand, have lost two straight to Nashville and St. Louis, and by all indications that streak will be extended to three games tonight. The Flames are 0-2 against Chicago this year, but have managed to keep the score close in both losses. I suspect that may not be case tonight, with the Flames icing a rookie-laden lineup on the second night of back-to-backs. A loss tonight would also likely help the Flames secure a top-ten pick in the draft this June.
Patrick Sharp has returned to the lineup for the 'Hawks just in time for the playoffs, but Flame-killer Ray Emery may not be suiting up for Chicago in this one; after leaving the game against Edmonton with a lower-body injury, he's listed as questionable.
Possible Lines and Pairings:
MacDonald (Kiprusoff will not start in what could very possibly be his last game as a Flame, which is just stupid and puts a cherry on top of the pile of questionable decisions by the Flames' coaching staff/front office this season. I'll be wearing my Kipper shirt anyways).