The Flames get re-acquainted with the Saddledome this evening on the heels of a pretty useful road trip. The home record has been a point of conversation over the first third of the season, of course, but I suspect that it's more a fluke of timing than any legitimate issue. The team started to play a bit better in it's own end, and Miikka Kiprusoff decided that it would be a good time to start up his Vezina campaign, so the record has fallen into place.
If there is any basis to the Flames' home struggles, we'll see it over the next few weeks, with the club home for nine of its next dozen outings. The opponent tonight should make for an interesting match, because they have more skill than most clubs, and likely wouldn't mind a night of simply trading opportunities.
Since I'm doing most of this before the morning skate ends, I have no idea if the Dawes experiment will hold, but it hasn't appeared to be any great upgrade over the other options that Brent Sutter has employed to work with the big two. That line wasn't really at the heart of Calgary's dominating possession night in L.A., and their PP work appeared toothless.
Bourque-Langkow-Moss and GlenX-Conroy/Boyd-Nystrom were very good in the team's last outing, and Flames' preview on the official site doesn't mention Conroy as an injured player, so the forwards should all be in place. Prust is likely due for a game as well. Watching Brian McGrattan do his nightly do-si-do before retiring to a seat that teams should just sell for 500 bucks a night is a waste, at least for me.
The Sun has Regehr stating that he's ready. It should, as always, be noted that the Flames discuss injuries to players in the straight-forward manner best exemplified by this gent. Reggie or not, Adam Pardy will need to be better than what he displayed Monday, by a long shot. The news in that Sun piece regarding Sarich hints to me that he's been in a bad way since training camp, because even after he began playing, he looked dreadful. Not the sort of news I wanted to hear, to be honest.
In net, uh, Kipper, maybe?
The Thrashers got pantsed by the Maple Leafs on Monday, and they might be shaking up the lines to head off a losing streak. They do have a ton of skill, with Kovalchuk, Antropov and bargain-basement prize Maxim Afinogenov leading the way. Between last year's waiver claim of Rich Peverley and 800K this summer for Afinogenov, I might need to re-think my "Don Waddell is hopeless" world view. I suppose I could simply revert to the whole "even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then" premise, but that doesn't seem entirely fair. Getting Pavel Kubina has also worked out for the Thrash, and Ondrej Pavelec has played fairly well, although this post from Scott Reynolds over at C and B might lead a person to suspect that he's headed for a correction. The Herald's tea-leaf reading is that Johan Hedberg might have a go in the net for the Thrashers tonight.
The Flames will need to get another solid night from the forwards away from the puck, and not turning it over in the neutral zone will likely be at the core of a Flames' win. This isn't the sort of team that the Flames want to trade odd-man chances with, even if Kipper stands on his head. It might be asking a lot for a low-event outing, but that's best way to a win tonight, IMO. Oh, and if the PP gets a clue, that wouldn't hurt anyone's feelings either.
Game time is 7:30 MT, with coverage on Sportsnet West.