After three games where the Flames did most of the right things and still ended up on the losing side, they finally broke through against the Flyers yesterday with a 3-2 shootout victory. That's already old news, however, as the team attempts to take both games in the state of Pennsylvania when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon (11AM MT, Sportsnet West)
The Flames don't get much of a break in this one, as the Pens are just as hot as the Flyers heading into today's matchup. They've won five straight and are 8-1-1 in their past ten games, with Sidney Crosby currently in the midst of an 11-game point streak, and is sitting one behind Steve Stamkos for the league lead in points.
The Penguins are just 6-5-1 at home, however. They have a goal differential of just +3 in those games, and they've allowed three shorthanded goals on home ice, an area in which Calgary is proficient, tied for third in the league with four goals while down a man. Of course the Penguins are also missing PK stalwart Jordan Staal, who lead the league in shorthanded goals in his rookie season.
The Penguins are also getting quite a bit of offence from their blueline, as Kris Letang is currently tied for fourth in scoring amongst defencemen with 19 points and Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin are also in the top twenty. In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury has bounced back from a so-so start to the season and has raised his EV SV% to .908%, but none of his numbers are spectacular. His best work has been done on the powerplay, where he has a .917 SV%, although the Penguins are only ranked 18th in the league with the extra man. Despite having allowed three shorthanded markers, Pittsburgh has the best PK unit in the league at the moment, operating at 89.8% efficiency.
As for the Flames, it doesn't look as if much will change in terms of the lineup. Craig Conroy did play yesterday despite missing time prior to that with a shoulder injury, and it doesn't look as if Matt Stajan is ready to re-join the team quite yet, but I suppose we'll find out soon enough.
Lines and Pairings:
Brent Johnson will counter for the Penguins in net, giving Fleury a rest after he made 43 saves in a win over Ottawa yesterday.
Enjoy the game everyone and hope for a change of fortune in the comments, as the Penguins are 6-1-1 against the Flames in their past eight meetings. Go Flames.