Following the conclusion of a three-game slide, it's hard to read too much into the Flames' last victory--an easy two points against a down-and-out Avalanche team. Tonight's game will be a much bigger test after the club was bounced down to 10th place in the West following the conclusion of last night's games--including a contest in which the Ducks were victorious in overtime.
The Flames face an Anaheim team that is 7-2-1 in its past ten games without starting goalie Jonas Hiller, who remains out due to dizziness. The Honda Center has not been kind to the Flames, as they dropped their first contest there this season by a score of 3-2 back in December and Miikka Kiprusoff has lost his past eight starts at the Duck Pond. The Ducks have been very good at home this season, with a record of 22-12-2.
As the Flames learned in last weekend's loss to Vancouver, they have to be on their game against teams that excel with the man advantage--and Anaheim is one of those teams, with the league's fifth best powerplay coming into tonight's game. The Ducks are a team that can hurt you in a lot of ways when they're healthy, and the Flames will have the full arsenal to contend with tonight; it'll be interesting to see how Brent Sutter choses to divvy up the responsibilities of shutting down the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Teemu Selanne.
The Ducks are one of the few teams in the league with a worse faceoff percentage than the Flames, so if the visitors can figure out a way to use that to their advantage against a tired opponent, especially in the offensive zone, they could potentially come out on top. The Ducks allow a lot of shots--about 3.9 more than they take per game--so the Flames will need to be sure to pepper Ray Emery with shots consistently.
There will be lineup changes of note for the Flames tonight; Daymond Langkow has accompanied the team on the trip and continues to practice, although it's unlikely he will play. Kiprusoff will start in net tonight--a trend that is expected to continue for the duration of the regular season with each game becoming more and more significant.
Enjoy the game everyone and hope that Brent Sutter can come out on top in the battle of the line matches in the comments. Go Flames.