After losing a heartbreaker to the Wings in a shootout on Friday evening, the Flames are finally back at tonight in the first of a four-game tour of the East coast, beginning in Hartford North Carolina (5PM MT, Sportsnet West)
Tonight will represent something of a conflict of interest for Head Coach Brent Sutter, as his son Brandon has developed into a serviceable player for the 'Canes over the course of the past two and a half seasons. The twenty-one year old has gone on to become an assistant to captain Eric Staal after recovering from this devastating hit that caused him to miss a significant amount of time with resulting injuries.
After scoring a career-high 21 goals and 40 points last season, Sutter is on pace for just 14-12-26 this season, and has not recorded a point since Carolina's December 18th meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. He is facing the third toughest quality of competition amongst regular 'Canes forwards, however, and starting in the offensive zone just 47.4% of the time at EV while on pace to finish as a plus player for the first time in his young NHL career. Sutter also plays an average of 2:23 shorthanded TOI/game, nearly a minute more than the 1:42 he played in 2009-10. The 2007 first rounder has become a nice complimentary player similar to a David Moss-type--players who are always useful in the NHL if not always plentiful.
Lines and Pairings:
As for the Flames, it appears Ales Kotalik will re-join the lineup tonight with the absence of former 'Cane Tom Kostopoulos, playing on a line with Mikael Backlund and Tim Jackman while Brendan Mikkelson remains in the press box for the time being.
Cam Ward counters in net for the 'Canes, who come into this one on a two-game winning streak.
Enjoy the game everyone and observe Ian White's mustache from afar in the comments. Go Flames.