This game isn't the season, don't overreact either way with a win or loss tonight. It is an opportunity for both teams. One will take advantage, the other will not. Both teams currently sit just outside the playoffs but the season is not lost for either team tonight.
It is the final match-up of the Sharks and Flames this season. San Jose has won two, the Flames one. All games have been won by one goal margins. So expect a close one.
The story going in has to be the Sharks implosion. They are starting to look like the West's version of the Washington Capitals. Projected to be in the top of the West but sitting on the bubble with a very realistic chance of missing the dance. The Flames in contrast are exactly where everyone expected them to be, the glass half full unicorn fan, that rarely is seen around here, would even say that is a tremendous success for a team with 300+ man games lost to injury but I digress.
Prior to playing the lowly Oilers last night, the Sharks have been on a terrible streak. Losing 5 in a row and even with the win last night against the Oilers they are holding a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games. That isn't going to get them in the playoffs. They are a better team than their record indicates BUT they simply are not winning.
They may end up being just another enigma for advanced stat heads or they may wake up. Hopefully tonight is not the night for the numbers to balance out for them with the results.
The Flames continue to muddle along with their depleted line-up. Chris Butler, Blair Jones, Lee Stempniak, Mikael Backlund, Mike Cammalleri, Tim Jackman, Lance Bouma, and TJ Brodie all out. By the numbers the Flames should not win with such a depleted corps but with a strong game from Kipper and continued production from Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla and a little luck amongst the D corps, the team may pull out a critical win tonight.
The Sharks in contrast are 100% healthy excluding Martin Havlat.
The big vulnerability tonight for the Flames has to be their D. When ever you see Cory Sarich on the top pairing you have to worry immediately. Babchuk looked very rusty in his last game and the Flames will need a wing and a prayer tonight.
The Sharks have shown a weakness in scoring lately and they only put up three goals against the lowly Oilers last night and their even more pitful D. That bodes well as does the fact this is the second game of a back to back for them. All I am saying with all of that is there is a chance for the Flames to win, but for a betting man, the odds are not in the Flames favor.
Even with the Flames 100% healthy the odds on paper would still tip to the Sharks.
Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - David Moss
Tom Kostopoulos - Greg Nemisz - Sven Baertschi
Krys Kolanos - Roman Horak - Guillaume Desbiens
D - Pairings
Jay Bouwmeester - Cory Sarich
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Anton Babchuk - Derek Smith
The Flames need continued magic from Curtis Glencross and well lets face it they need luck. Something they seem to have had with Iggy fanning on shots left, right and center but they are actually resulting in goals for and not against for the Flames.
Lucky Save after an Iggy whiff
Iggy whiffs on a shot but still gets a goal
Iggy whiffs again and Tangs cleans up for a goal
And Iggy Whiffs yet again and ends up sending it over to Glencross for a goal - this folks is pure luck and it is what the Flames need to continue for the win.
Go Wings - beat those Kings
Go Wild - keep those Stars within reach