Thursday, Mar 21, 2013, 6:00 PM MST
The Enemy: On The Forecheck
After falling 4-3 to the Dallas Stars on Monday night, the Flames get ready to take on the Nashville Predators for the second time in less than a week. When these two teams last met in Calgary on Friday, it was a 6-3 rout for the Flames fuelled by Curtis Glencross' white hat hat-trick.
This week, the Preds have lost four in a row and Pekka Rinne has been pulled in more than one of his recent starts. But the Flames have been pretty awful on the road in their past eight contests, and when they haven't been awful, they still haven't been getting the results they want and need to climb out of the Western conference basement.
After Colorado's win last night, the Flames are now tied with the Avs for last in the West again with 26 points, but they have two games in hand over their division rival. With a regulation win tonight, they could leapfrog the Preds. The Flames play the Blue Jackets twice, the Blues, the Avs, the Blackhawks, and the Oilers before the April 3rd trade deadline, and realistically they might win three of those six games if they can overcome their tendency for late-game collapses against the Avalanche. The playoffs still seem like a bit of a pipe dream, but this stretch of games is pretty crucial to determining what course of action Feaster and Co. decide to take at the deadline. If all goes well (i.e. the Flames are over .500), he'll stand pat at the best; at the worst, well: hello, (insert expensive rental player here).
Anyway, both teams are rested and have had some time to think about what went wrong in their last losses, both 4-3 to Dallas and Columbus, respectively. For the Flames, not getting behind the eight-ball in the first 20 minutes of this one will be crucial. They might have had a chance to win in Dallas if they hadn't played like hot garbage in the first period, and Miikka Kiprusoff returning to action after the birth of his son last weekend should help them out a bit too (I say should because the 36-year-old Finn is 36 different kinds of unpredictable in the twilight years of his career). For Nashville, they've scored 16 goals in their past five games, which is decent, but they pretty much just need Rinne to not suck.
So yeah. Another game that features two struggling teams. What could possibly go wrong?
Lines and Pairings:
Go Flames Go.