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Flames at Islanders Game Preview: Woo?

There really aren't a whole lot of story lines entering this game. Calgary's winning streak ended on a sour note getting shutout by Carey Price in Montreal. The New York Islanders are still pretty bad, but not as interestingly bad as they were a few years ago.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Still, the game itself should be interesting. Both the Flames and the Isles are punching in the same class these days (Calgary has 49 points, New York has 52) , they have young players looking to improve, and goaltending that's, well, horrible.

Who's Who

Even with that nice little winning streak on the books, the Calgary Flames are probably still the Calgary Falmes. The only competent goalie is still injured, and while I haven't seen it announced yet, that probably means Berra will start again with Ortio backing him up.  The defense will be okay, but offense is still lacking, and blah blah blah. These are the Calgary Flames of 2014, folks.

The Islanders are something of a sad mirror for Calgary. They have fantastic top level forwards, but none of the depth a team needs to remain competent when the top level is off the ice. The best defenseman, Lubomir Visnovsky is returning from an injury (more on that in a bit), and the rest of the defense is guys like Andrew MacDonald (meh), Calvin de Haan (an even less impressed "meh"), Brian Strait (who?), Matt Donovan (seriously, are the Isles just making up players with bland names at this point?) and Thomas Hickey (wasn't that the guy Calgary was rumored to trade Iginla for for like 2 straight seasons?). Even if some of those players are playing competently this year, it's still a sad collection.

The forwards are much prettier: Tavares, Okposo, and Vanek make a top line that could really supplant any mid tier playoff team's top line. It's rare you see a top line like that on such an awful team (and with Vanek as good as gone at the trade deadline, you won't see it much longer), which really makes the suckitude on the Isles that much more impressive. Of course, the main reason for the horribleness is goaltending, something Calgary can more than empathize with.

Kevin Poulin and Evgeni Nabokov have basically been sharing the load 50-50 due to Nabokov's injuries, which is really unfortunate for NYI fans, since Poulin has an EVSV% of .900 versus Nabokov's .919. Fortunately for Islanders fans (and unfortunately for Calgary fans), Nabokov will be starting tonight.

What'll It Take To Win

In short, taking advantage of a poor defense. While Visnovsky is back from injury, it was a long concussion, and that can leave a guy a step behind unfortunately. The rest of the defense is those guys I made fun of earlier. Let Backlund et al run wild against such luminaries as Brian Strait and Matt Donovan, and Calgary can at least make it a game.

On Visnovsky

I rarely find player interviews interesting. That's usually because they tend to be the same bland things repeated over and over, but this one from the Voice of Russia is actually pretty good. There's a fair amount about watching and playing hockey while under the Warsaw Pact, which isn't a topic covered too much.

Questions To Be Answered

Is Lubo gonna mail it in since Garth Snow told him no on the Olympics?



Seriously, we're like days away from Olympic hockey and we have to watch this game? Thanks for reminding me, Backlund.