Getting down to the short strokes here folks. As such, both Alberta clubs are icing near to-NHL ready line-ups this evening, where the remaining few hopefuls on each side will have ton try to continue to impress against stiffer competition. On the Flames side, here's what Steve MacFarlane says are the lines tonight:
Sjostrom - Jokinen - Iginla
Glencross - Lundmark - Fleury
Dawes - Langkow - Bourque
Stuart - Jaffray - Prust
Regehr - Bouwmeester
Phaneuf - Giordano
Although the bottom end of the roster is still murky with Fleury, Jaffray, Stuart, Prust, Lundmark, Stralman and Kronwall still hanging around, I think we're beginning to see what we can pairings to expect at the top of the rotation when the regular season starts. Jokinen has been persistently paired with Iginla as has Bouwmeester with Regehr and Giordano with Phaneuf. Other things will fall into place once Moss, Boyd and Conroy return (all hurt with "lower body injuries" apparently), but I think we can also predict that Nigel Dawes is going to get the first audition for the top 6 forward gap.
The Oilers line-up is similar in that a lot of the regulars are starting to pair up while a number of question marks are jockeying for position as the pre-season nears it's end. Derek Zona sent me the Oilers roster, which looks like this:
Jacques - Horcoff - Hemsky
O'Sullivan - Comrie - Stone
Penner - Brule - Nilsson
Moreau - Cogliano - Brennan
Souray - Gilbert
Grebeshkov - Visnovsky
Smid - Strudwick
and with a note that "the organization continues to give Gilbert Brule every chance to make the team, though he's yet to show any NHL game. Quinn keeps O'Sullivan-Comrie-Stone together for the fourth straight game. Horcoff and Hemsky are back together after the Gagner-Hemsky experiment is mercifully put down.
Last year's toughs pairing, Souray-Gilbert is together for the first time in preseason. Last year's second toughs pairing, Grebeshkov-Visnovsky is also together for the first time."
From what I've heard, Ryan Stone is making a major push to stay in the majors while "coke machine" JF Jacques appears to be getting the Dawes treatment on the top line this evening.
On the Calgary side, Bob already summed things up nicely below, but here's the short version: a lot of eyes will be on Fleury and Lundmark as well as the Stralman/Kronwall/Pardy battle, but one guy truly on the hot seat is Miikka Kiprusoff. His lackluster start has provoked unsettled whispers amongst Flames fans and media alike, perhaps hinting that the former Vezina winner is finally running out of good will with folks around here. Another sub .900 SV% performance this evening and the whispers will get louder.