Calgary Flames @ Toronto Maple Leafs
5:00pm, CBC locally
Enemy Perspective: Pension Plan Puppets
A win or overtime loss this evening and the Flames will escape the jaws of this unpleasant 7 game roadie with a .500 record, which was the goal (in my head at least) when Calgary set out on the 3rd. It hasn't been always been fun or pretty, but the club has done a decent job of perserving through injuries and questionable goaltending the last couple of weeks. No one's going to be throwing these guys a parade when they get back, but I will say this for them - it could have been worse.
The foe tonight requires no introduction. The Leafs sold at the deadline and are playing out the stretch. They've actually been better than I antcipated this season and I think they aren't as far away from making the play-offs as many are probably anticipating. They've actually managed to outshoot their opponents on average this season and it's mainly bounces and horrendous goaltending that has led to their league worst .384 win% when putting more pucks on net than the bad guys thus far.
All that said, they are a beatable opponent. They have below average forward depth and, as mentioned, they have some pretty spotty netminding (although Gerber has been *better* since being claimed on waivers). That's good news for the Flames, who haven't exactly been defensively capable lately.
The lines tonight according to Inside the Flames will be:
Which is significant, because these were the trios that debuted in the third period of the Detroit game - a period in which the Flames outshot the Red Wings 17-2 and outscored them 3-1. This line-up gets away from the "all eggs in one basket" strategy that Keenan had been running since Jokinen joined the team by playing Olli with Iginla and Cammalleri and spreads the threats out across a couple of lines. If i were to pick a "heavy lifter" unit, I'd go with Langkow et al - although I'm not sure the Leafs have a true "power" line to worry about. In short - Im a fan of this new set-up in the absence of Bourque, even though it splits up the Moss/Glencross duo that has been so successful at moving the puck in the right direction this season.