7 PM MT
Opposition: On the Forecheck
TV: Sportsnet West
The Flames start another 3 in 4 night skein with a home date versus the Predators this evening, and unsurprisingly, the team's sputtering goal output is the topic du jour. There is, as you might suspect, plenty of talk from the team about staying the course, as you might suspect. As I mentioned last night, short of overhauling the roster, it's the only rational choice, so you'd expect nothing else in terms of comment from the players.
The Iginla-Jokinen duo, as been the case as of late, did everything but score against the Pens. The captain appears to be in the sort of form that has to result in another streak and as has been mentioned in previous Predly previews, he might not have a straight P v P match-up to contend with. That should portend good things on the scoresheet.
And yes, I know that's a lot of Ps in the last sentence or two. Deal.
The Langkow line has resident the only Flame with any sort of recent goal scoring luck, as Rene Bourque is in continued good form, but Langkow himself and Nigel Dawes are in deep holes at the moment. Again, it's finishing that is in short supply, not overall play.
Craig Conroy returned to the line-up, although I did notice that when the Flames were in search of an equalizer, Boyd moved up one slot. That's not always the worst way to get Boyd involved, since it allows the Flames to have a more responsible player in the top nine most of the night. If they're in front, status quo. If behind, the player with more burst in his game at the moment (Boyd) gets more opportunities. Until Boyd proves he's a slam-dunk choice over Conroy in all situations, that's not the worst way to go about business.
The D has settled, I'd say. That Crosby goal was a blemish on a night of very good work by Giordano and Bouwmeester, but they were likely the right choice to do the heavy lifting. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sutter begin to split the responsibility given to his top two pairs on occasion. There are nights where Regehr and Phaneuf will, and likely should, get the top lines, no questions asked. San Jose this coming Monday, with Thornton, would be that sort of opponent. Against a team like the Hawks, that may not be the best way to go, simply from a style POV.
Miikka Kiprusoff would go again tonight, one would think, with a B2B looming Sunday and Monday. McE in Anaheim, maybe?
The Preds have won three of four since the Flames dispatched them 10 days ago, including victories in Vancouver and Edmonton. Presuming they didn't pull anything in their outing at the Garrison, they should be well-rested. Patric Hornqvist is having a very nice scoring year for himself, smacking around some softer comp to the tune of 18 goals thus far. Hey, if you're getting easier match-ups, you'd better score against them, and he is, so mission accomplished. The Preds, as we often discuss about them, approach match-ups in that sort of fashion more rigorously than most teams, which means another night of likely hoping Legwand and Ward saw off Iginla and crew while looking to win the game elsewhere.
The Predators still can't kill a penalty, and the better shot totals for the Flames' PP the last couple of outings do suggest a team that might, just maybe, score another goal or two with an extra man. Being honest though, predicting another night of stone mitts seems like the better bet, but one can dream, can't one?
Game time is 7 MT on Sportsnet West. Maybe there will be a few "Marry me, Shea" types around tonight for our entertainment.