Big opportunity tonight for the Flames as they face off against the Dallas Stars. A little mini road trip has them headed to the Lone Star State with a quick stop in L.A. before starting a 4 game home stand.
The Flames have not been a strong road team this year with an 11-14-6 record. This game like the last several is pivotal. The Flames have crawled their way back up into the thick of the race and hold their best playoff odds all season at the current moment.(SportsClub)
Facing a direct competitor for the final spot makes this game loom large. This is the first of four meetings of the two teams this season. Not much has changed for the Flames since the game against Toronto. They are still a largely depleted squad going up against a fellow bubble playoff team.
Would a win tonight be huge? Yes - understatement - and a loss would mean a slip on the hard fought ground of inches in points.
Every point does matter at this point and the Flames have to hope the 1st line continues to produce and Miikka Kiprusoff stays strong.
Your One on One to watch tonight is Jamie Benn vs Olli Jokinen. The two Centres should be matched up.
Benn has really emerged this season as a leading player in the NHL. He is a big part of the reason the Stars are where they are given the exit of Brad Richards last off-season. Old friend Eric Nystrom will be in the house as well.
How the AHL trio of Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos does against the Stars veteran third line of Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak will be another line battle to keep a eye on.
Dallas has the 27th ranked PP in the NHL as opposed to the Flames rising PP, currently ranked at 15th. Dallas also has the 21st ranked PK to the Flames 10th ranked PK, so in the battle of special teams the Flames should hold the edge.
The Flames should have the edge in net with a red hot Kipper but the significant difference will be in the forward line match ups. Aside from the first lines, Dallas should be out stepping Calgary all the way down to the 4th line.
Note: Teams to cheer the win for tonight - Rangers over Blackhawks, Jets over Wild and just a clean regulation win by either the Coyotes or the Kings. The worst case scenario there is a three point game.