Game Time : 7:00 MT
Opposition: Lighthouse Hockey
Coverage: Fan 960 (radio only)
The Flames play their first of three games in three nights at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon this evening, with the Islanders once again providing the opposition. Their encounter on Thursday was a sleepy one, with nothing of note occurring. Just another pre-season game, absent any compelling story line at all.
In all seriousness, if Thursday's game was one of intrigue going in, and controversy coming out, tonight's encounter has the possibility of being a game that will be carefully watched by the league, and not because of the quality of the competition on the ice.
There's been plenty of virtual ink spilled regarding the Phaneuf hit, and frankly I won't waste much more. I wasn't crazy about the fashion the hit was delivered, and said so Thursday night, but it's done. The league ruled about as I expected, and I'm very happy Kyle Okposo wasn't badly injured. Dion Phaneuf believes that his effectiveness relies in part from riding right on the edge, and when you play that way, there will be potential for something like this to occur. It's possible that Phaneuf remaining in Calgary tonight will take the air out of things, with the Islanders choosing to wait until the teams meet March 25th to settle up, should they feel the need.
Beyond all that, I understand the excitement of watching a big hit, I'm hardly immune from enjoying it, and it's hard to argue against the fact that the Flames were better by a very wide margin after it occurred. However, without going into things too much, I have an immediate family member who suffered a traumatic brain injury last winter, although not from a concussion. It's no good, people. When I see what happened Thursday, I'm always mindful of the effect that brain injuries, even of the "mild" variety, can have on someone. If that makes me insufficiently bloodthirsty, so be it. It's simply that a case of unfortunate life experience has made me unwilling to immediately join the hallelujah chorus. Your mileage may vary, and differing opinions, as always, are welcome.
The game tonight will showcase a different line-up from the group that beat the Isles on Thursday. Shoot-out hero Theo Fleury stayed in Calgary as well, and Gord Baldwin, Riley Armstrong and Keith Seabrook were included in the travelling party, so it's another AHL+ type of line-up for the Flames. The following list is from Peter Maher's conversation with Rob Kerr yesterday. If an actual roster appears somewhere, please post it in comments if I haven't gotten to it.
Boyd, Stuart, Jaffray, R. Armstrong, Glencross, Chucko, Van Der Gulik, Greentree, Lundmark, Nystrom, Prust, Murray.
Maher mentioned that 13 forwards traveled, so there's one more that he didn't mention or I missed.
Pardy, Pelech, Negrin, Baldwin, Sarich, Seabrook, Kronwall.
Maher never mentioned any goalies.
Jaffray and Stuart get their third consecutive look, which might give a hint as to who's in the running for the last roster spot should the Flames choose to go with 14 forwards at the start of the year. I'll also be curious to hear about the work of Keith Seabrook. As for goalies, I almost hope that Kiprusoff is one, because lord knows he looks like he could use the practice, based on Thursday's effort.
The opposition tonight are already banged up, with Weight and Bergenheim suffering groin injuries in Edmonton, Franz Nielsen needing a knee scope that will sideline him for at least a month, and Okposo still recovering from his concussion. The Isles led the league in games lost to injury last season, so that's not the start an already thin team needs. John Tavares sat in Calgary, which suggests to me he'll be on ice tonight. I would be curious to hear if Kevin Poulin gets another game somewhere along the line, because he was very good against the Flames two nights ago.
"Hear", of course, is the operative word this evening, since there's no video coverage as far as I know. The game starts at 7 PM MDT, with coverage on the Fan 960.
Update: Tonight's probable roster, via the official site:
|Flames Probable Roster vs. Islanders|
|6||Van der Gulik, David||LW|
Carsen Germyn is the extra forward, with Curtis McElhinney getting his first look in the pre-season. Matt Keetley also gets an opportunity to erase the memory of a so-so effort on Tuesday.
Upper-date: Lines here via the Herald; McE gets the first 40 minutes in net, and no Tavares. If the Isles don't go looking for a pound of flesh, this really could be a sleeper.