Greetings all from London, England! I will not be watching this game because I'm already quite jet-lagged and it won't be on until just after 2 a.m. my time, but I will be counting on some degree of conversation to allow me to follow the events of the game tomorrow, although I know most of you probably have more enjoyable things to do on a Friday night!
Anyway, the Flames take on the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season tonight at the Dome. The Blues are currently 7-5-1 in 13 games in 2012-13, good for seventh overall in the Western conference. Roman Horak makes his return to the Flames lineup tonight after being sent down to Abbotsford by the club nearly a month ago. The Flames have tried desperately to replace Mikael Backlund ever since the centre went down with an MCL sprain, and somehow Horak ended up being the last resort behind Ben Street and Paul Byron, who broke his hand in his first game after being called up, and I'm still not sure why.
Backlund's Vasteras teammate Patrik Berglund has six goals and eight points in 13 games so far this season, but is somehow sixth overall in Blues scoring on what appears to be a fairly deep St. Louis team that hasn't been getting the offensive results (or the defensive results) they've wanted recently after losing five straight contests before beating the Red Wings in overtime on Wednesday.
At the centre of some of this controversy has been Jaroslav Halak, who remains out with a groin injury and will not be between the pipes for the Blues in tonight's game. Instead, Brian Elliott will take on the challenge. Elliott was in net for one of the Blues' three victories against the Flames last season and their lone defeat, and the Flames will hope to build on Wednesday night's offensive outburst to start the season series off on a high note.
The two sides are pretty evenly matched on special teams, with both possessing strong powerplays and not-to-hot penalty killing units, so this contest will likely be a careful one as neither team will want to risk going down a man and giving the other team's PP a chance to go to work.
Leland Irving will start again tonight for the Flames while Anton Babchuk and Derek Smith return to the lineup as the third pairing on the blueline. Horak will likely suit up in a bottom-six role to start the game, but the Bob Hartley Line Blender has been in full force for the past few games and I wouldn't expect things to go any differently tonight.
Go Flames Go.