Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011, 8:00 PM MST
Toying with potential playoff elimination, the Flames are in San Jose tonight for the last game of their California road trip and their last game of the season against the Sharks, and it's no less important than their past two contests. With overtime losses in both Anaheim and Los Angeles, the potential to "salvage" the trip tonight with two points still exists, but it's extremely unlikely.
The Sharks have surged to first in their division and third in the conference after competing for a playoff spot not too long ago, and had a bit of a slow start which included a lengthy six-game losing streak in January. The Sharks are coming into this one having won three in a row, however, and rookie sensation Logan Couture should be back in the lineup tonight after leaving Saturday's game with an injury, which will provide an added offensive spark to a team that is in no way lacking in firepower.
No one player is putting up gaudy point totals for the Sharks, who appear to be taking more of a "score by committee" approach this season--even Joe Thornton is scoring at a rate below his typical PPG pace--but the team still has five 20+ goal scorers to its name. The Flames recently lost another player to injury in Niklas Hagman (concussion), and probably won't be able to match San Jose offensively unless their top players have a big night, so if they hope to get at least a point out of this one they'll have to play a controlled, defensive style of game like they did Monday in Los Angeles--and count on Kiprusoff to come through.
Tonight also marks the NHL debut of Greg Nemisz, who didn't get to play the last time he was called up from Abbotsford. On a team where no one player is really lighting it up this season, Nemisz has 14 goals and 32 points 65 AHL games, which puts him second on the team in scoring. All things considered, I don't have many complaints about the way the rookie has performed so far this season.
Enjoy the game everyone and cheer on Nemo in the comments. Go Flames