The Flames return to their roots with their one and only visit to the Phiips Arena when they take on Dustin Byfuglien and the Atlanta Thrashers tonight (5PM MT, Sportsnet West). Coincidentally enough, the Flames haven't beaten the Thrash on the road since they left for Calgary back in 1980.
After a hot start in the first half of the season, the Thrashers appear to be crashing back down to earth as of late, going just 2-5-3 in their past ten games and dropping to eighth in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of ninth-place Carolina. They're also the only team in the top-eight in the East with a negative goal differential at -17, partly due to the fact that they've scored just 73 goals at home, which puts them in the bottom half of the league.
There has been quite a bit of talk about Thrashers defender Zach Bogosian around the Flames blogosphere of late, and for good reason. The third-year pro has been scratched recently, but has been buried in the defensive zone all season, making it difficult for him to be much of a difference-maker for the club in terms of offence, especially on a team like the Thrashers which has struggled at even strength and is has been underwater in terms of possession. Bogosian will play tonight, however, giving Flames fans an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the youngster.
With Niklas Hagman out tonight with an unknown injury after getting roughed up in Tuesday's game in Nashville, Steve Staios will play forward for the Flames in his return to the lineup. Lance Bouma has been called up from Abbotsford but could not join the club in Atlanta due to bad weather, so look for him to suit up Saturday when the Flames return home to take on the Kings. The 20-year old Bouma is currently tied with Greg Nemisz with the second-most goals on the Heat at 11. Other than that, there are no lineup changes for the Flames, who appear to be sticking with a winning formula, gunning for their sixth straight victory tonight.
Kiprusoff will start in net again tonight, and why not? He's been hot ever since getting pulled in that 6-0 loss to the Wild in January. Ondrej Pavelec will counter for the Thrashers.
Enjoy the game everyone and laugh at Steve Staios as he lags behind every other forward on the team in the comments. Go Flames.