Don't look now, but the Flames are on a two-game winning streak.
Mike Cammalleri's miraculous last-minute goal vaulted them to victory last Saturday in Los Angeles, and the home team overcame a shaky first period to defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-1 at the 'Dome on Wednesday evening.
Tonight, they face a Colorado team that got walloped 8-2 by the Oilers last night at Rexall Place.
Unsurprisingly, the Avs have fallen in the standings after their strong start this season. The Flames' stateside Rocky Mountain counterparts are an even 5-5-0 in their past 10 games, but that includes an impressive run where they won three in a row over the Blackhawks, Coyotes and Kings before falling 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues on November 27.
The Avs also beat the Wild in back-to-back games before becoming the collective whipping boys for Dallas Eakins' squad last night.
Forward Matt Duchene is back in the lineup for the Avs after missing three games with an oblique injury back in November, but the 22-year-old has just one assist since returning to the lineup on November 27th. He still shares the scoring lead with captain Gabriel Landeskog, however, who has five points in his past five contests. Both will play on a line with first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon tonight, who was amongst the players not released to Team Canada for the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Former Flame Alex Tanguay remains out of the lineup with a knee injury while Cory Sarich looks to draw back into the lineup tonight in replacement of Jan Hejda. Sarich has appeared in 24 games with the Avs so far this season and has one goal and five points in those games.
In net for the Avs will be J.S. Giguere, noted Flame-killer and possessor of a thus far untarnished record. The 36-year-old is 6-0-0 this season with a GAA of 1.62 and an SV% of .949. Those are unreal numbers. Semyon Varlamov was in net for last night's blowout loss to the Oilers, and is of course still awaiting sentencing as a result of charges stemming from an October 30th domestic assault on his girlfriend.
Lines and Pairings:
For the home team, forward Lane MacDermid will make his big-league debut tonight after being acquired from the Dallas Stars for a sixth-round pick back in November. MacDermid replaces Brian McGrattan, who left yesterday's practice with an undisclosed injury/issue. Upon recalling him, the Flames also sent forward Max Reinhart back down to the Abbotsford Heat.
With Giordano's return to the lineup, the Flames' defensive pairings are looking a lot more balanced, and with McGrattan out of the lineup tonight their fourth line actually looks somewhat respectable, at least in an "energy line" kind of capacity.
Ramo will start again tonight and rightfully so, as he has allowed just two goals in his past two starts, despite being penalized twice in Wednesday's victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.