Your Calgary Flames have won five games in a row. Five! At home, no less—where they previously couldn't buy a goal, and now can't seem to stop themselves. Their opponents tonight, the Montreal Canadiens, are a rough 3-6-1 in their last 10 and are struggling mightily under the questionable guidance of Michel Therrien.
Dating back to when the franchise was in Atlanta, the Flames and Habs have faced off 106 times in the regular season. Since the move to Calgary they've met 72 times, and they're 32-32 with 8 ties (remember when those happened?). Tonight, the tiebreaker!
We'll be seeing our old friend Rene Bourque tonight, who you'll remember was traded mid-game for Mike Cammalleri two years ago last month. Cammy's days as a Flame are very likely numbered as the trade deadline approaches—hopefully he isn't feeling any lingering effects from the concussion that sidelined him in January, because he'll be on full trade showcase in the next few games leading up to the Olympic break. There aren't very many games left until the March 5th deadline.
They've only faced each other once, on October 9th, and the Flames won it 3-2. Sven Baertschi was still here then!
Tonight will be the final meeting of these two teams for the season. Inter-conference adventures.
The Habs are fourth in the Atlantic with 64 points, two points behind the Leafs with a game in hand. They're narrowly hanging on to a wild card spot (does anyone find it super weird to be saying that in hockey now?), not helped at all by their last two games—a regulation loss and an OT loss—so they're probably going to be scrambling until the Olympic break to try to gain some ground.
Calgary is comfortably at second-last in the Pacific with 49 points, five ahead of the Oilers with three games in hand. The Coyotes are way ahead with 62 points. The Flames' recent win streak has them tied in points with the Panthers, and they now sit at 27th in the league, if we're looking ahead to the draft. My gut tells me they're going to fall back to 28th real soon, but we'll see how the week goes. Like we've said before, that's probably the best we can hope for, since it's going to be impossible to be worse than the Oilers and the Sabres.
Know your enemy
At EOTP, Andrew Berkshire examines why Therrien changed the system and what should happen next. The discussion about yesterday's Diaz for Weise trade is still going strong; take a look at why trading Diaz was a mistake for Montreal and what they got in return.
Montreal is currently missing Davis Drewiske, Ryan White and Alex Galchenyuk. The Flames are still rolling without Curtis Glencross and are now also missing Karri Ramo after his early exit with a knee injury against the Wild; Joni Ortio has been called up to take his place. Reto Berra is supposed to start tonight but it's possible Ortio will make it in anyway.
Backlund rules and will continue to rule tonight
Just had to add that for this (by Ari):
We're on East Coast primetime tonight: the game starts at the Bell Centre at 5:30 MT / 7:30 ET. Catch the Flames broadcast on Sportsnet West and the Habs side on RDS and TSN.
More Canadiens coverage can be had at Eyes On The Prize.