It's one of those touchstone games where a club can gauge how close or far there are from the elite of the league. The Flames failed such a test last November against the same team, a performance so putrid it caused the the bench boss to breathe fire and re-evaluate the game plan from top to bottom.
Calgary had another such game recently, albeit a relatively toothless Detroit Red Wings. The results were mixed, with the Flames spending most of the night in their own end, but winning thanks to good goaltending and a few bounces at the other end. And although Dany Healtey mat not play tonight, it's unlikely Calgary will escape with the two points if they put forth a similar effort. Even without Heater, the Sharks boast the likes of Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Setoguchi and Clowe in their top six. Their depth is a little lackluster betyond that, but the top end is so overpowering it doesn't much matter most nights.
Stuff to watch:
- Jokinen and Iginla have been getting along pretty well recently. Some games they've outchanced the bad guys and others they've outscored them despite being under water both in terms of possession and chances. This will be their stiffest test of the season thus far, so it'll be instructive to see how they fare. Especially with a legit NHLer on the left wing.
- Joe Pavelski is a lot like Daymond Langkow - a solid as hell player at both ends of the ice who can play against any level of competition. He's a lot younger though, so he may have an even higher ceiling.
- Beyond Blake, Boyle and Vlasic, the Sharks have a pretty modest blueline (Murray, Huskins, Demers, Joslin). That is perhaps their primary weakness, although it doesn't seem to be harming them much thus far.
Let the comments commence.