The Opposition: Nucks Misconduct
After a barn burner against the Stars last night, the Flames are in Vancouver to take on the conference leading Canucks tonight (8PM MT, CBC). The two contests prior to this one both resulted in wins for Vancouver by a combined score of 10-3. Yup, brace yourselves folks; this could get out of hand.
The Canucks +38 goal differential is tied for second-best in the league, behind only the Philadelphia Flyers. They're better than the Flames in nearly every facet of the game. The only statistical category that the Flames are marginally better than tonight's opponent in is shots against per game, with the Flames allowing nearly three less shots per sixty minutes than Vancouver. About the only way they can really hope to win this game is to shoot pucks at the net and hope Luongo is having an off game.
The Canucks are going through a bit of a rough patch recently where they lost four of their past five games including two shutout losses. They've scored just eight times in those five games, which means they're probably primed for a breakout some time in the near future. The Flames will certainly be hard-pressed to score seven goals on nineteen shots tonight, as Lunongo allowed just one on 46 Sharks shots in the Canuck's last game, a shootout loss to San Jose on Thursday.
The visitors will need to tighten things up in their own zone if they hope for some degree of success tonight, especially in the first half of the first period. The Canucks tend to strike early in their games against the Flames, and if Calgary can weather the storm early and limit the damage, they might just stand a chance. Unlikely, but possible.
Lines and Pairings:
Tom Kostopoulos returns to the lineup tonight after serving his six-game suspension without any indication of who might sit tonight in his place, and along with the fact that Miikka Kiprusoff will start tonight are the only lineup changes of note for the Flames. After David Moss' heroics against the Stars he could potentially move up the lineup, and we'll almost certainly see some tinkering from Brent Sutter if tonight's affair starts to go downhill. I'm not sure the team practiced this morning after playing last night and flying to Vancouver after the game, but here are the lines and pairings from yesterday evening.
Luongo will counter for the Canucks.
Enjoy the game everyone and express your frustration about excessive "Looouuuuu"-ing in the comments. Go Flames.