Hmm. How does that go, again?
I'm not sure I have that arrayed in exactly the correct manner, but I think you get the drift, right? The Flames have owned the Wild for the last while now, even when Minny was the better team a couple of seasons ago. Tonight, the two meet again at a time where both are in good form.
The Flames controlled Atlanta very nicely Wednesday, and it was an occasion where the first line were actually leading the way. As Kent has noted, they didn't face Kovalchuk that much, but they certainly got a good look at the other Russians on the Thrashers, and had the best of it by a fair margin. The Dawes experiment will likely hold until there's a prolonged stretch of poor play or injuries, so hopefully things stay as is until mid-June ;-) In all seriousness, as long as they aren't bleeding chances against every night, there isn't much reason to make a move. Nigel Dawes has pretty decent hands, so if Joker and Iggy are creating the odd chance, he's an acceptable bet to finish some of them. That doesn't change my feelings that the Flames will make a move after the Olympics, of course.
That does leave Bourque-Langkow-Moss as the second option, and if they can play the way they did on Wednesday in a hard match against Kovalchuk, the Flames will be in clover. Their collective history suggests that's not beyond the pale, either.
Curtis Glencross struck a blow, or a shitload of blows, to be precise, against dirt-baggery in his set-to with Colby Armstrong. I don't hate Colby Armstrong, and if he shows up in Calgary as a UFA next summer I wouldn't be completely shocked, but he does push things a touch. I did notice him give Glencross a "Okay, dude, whatever" sort of shrug after the fight, so I'd suspect his attitude is unchanged. Oh, well. That line played better as the game progressed, but Eric Nystrom isn't really a long-term answer in a good team's top-nine. He's about a third-and-a-half liner, IMO.
It sounds like Craig Conroy is fifty-fifty to play after the morning skate, and the reports are it's his knee acting up, although I'm dead certain I saw him icing his wrist on the bench in L.A. Whether he goes or not, with the Boogeyman alleged to be in the lineup, I suspect we'll have another McG sighting. You know, I don't have any issue with the type of stuff that went down between GlenX and Armstrong, but those arranged-marriage sort of fights just aren't my deal. Each to their own, and all that, but I'll confess those moments are my cue to head for the fridge or the bog.
In the Sun piece I linked, Adam Pardy's availability was brought into question, so we may see Kronwall again. It's also become clearer that Cory Sarich might be shelved for a bit, with a broken foot the culprit.
As an aside, I'm just not sure what the point of this puffery is, since I suspect that the booing in question was largely about the Flames' serial ineptitude on the PP rather than Phaneuf's specific work. I do always wonder where people who never pay a cent to attend games get off advising people who do what is or isn't acceptable behavior, though. As a paying customer, you do hold the right to complain if what you're seeing displeases you, do you not? When Steve MacFarlane has some skin in the game, I'll have some time for his POV on the matter.
In net, it sounds like Brent Krahn Curtis Joseph Leland Irving Curtis McElhinney , who the hell do you think is going to be in net? Effective immediately, unless there's a puff of white smoke from the Saddledome, we'll just pencil in number 34.
Minny has straightened things out, and sit only four points away from eighth. They're doing this without any help from their prize UFA signing of the summer, as Martin Havlat has had a terrible start to his career in the Twin Cities. I don't know exactly what Minnesota would have hoped for in terms of production, but I don't think I'm stretching things to say that 11 points and -17 thus far probably wasn't what Chuck Fletcher had in mind. His PDO is 94.5, so he'll be better at some point this year, but he's struggling Corsi-wise, so it isn't just a case of him not getting a few bounces here and there. Mikko Koivu is still really good, though, and all Andrew Brunette ever does is collect points. 27 points in 30 games isn't bad for a 36 year old, PP specialist or not.
Niklas Backstrom hasn't been quite up to his past standard thus far, with a meh .920 EV SV %. I suppose if we can suggest that Mike Keenan's absence could be a part of Kipper's good start, the possibility that Jacques Lemaire is no longer running the show has to be considered in Backstrom's drop-off. He, like the rest of the Wild, have improved as of late, and he did blank Colorado last time out, so he's one up on Kiprusoff in that regard.
I'd guess that for all the talk in the off-season about the Wild trying to open things up, we'll still see a game where both clubs try to keep things quiet, and the if score finishes 3-2 or 2-1, that should just be accepted as the new normal. Oh, and I expect the Flames to skate around aimlessly on the PP again, because that looks like the new normal as well, sadly. It's the one major blemish in their game at this point.
Game time is 7 MT, on PPV. Those of you who have Shaw in BC should get this one as part of the CI free preview.