Let's get this out of the way: Once upon a time, like, seven weeks ago, the Flames were in the not-that-far-away land of Vancouver to play a hockey game. Then a line brawl broke out. Then everyone stood around for a while, waiting for penalties to be sorted out. Then they went back to playing hockey. The Flames lost in a shootout. The end.
Tonight, the Flames are back in Vancouver to take on their western Canadian rivals.
Calgary Flames (25-31-7, 6th in the Pacific Division)
Things are fun for the Flames right now! Due to injuries and trades, the Calgary Heat have seen a lot of youth lately. For example, last night's win over the Islanders featured centres who were 24, 19, 20, and 23 years old. That's a lot of youth down the middle. Most of their wingers were about that age as well. And some of the defencemen. Oh yeah, and the starting goalie is 22 years old. And already has an assist to his name.
In short, the Flames are half-prospect half-veteran at the moment, and it's been a lot of fun to watch. The Flames are currently riding a two-game winning streak, in which the main contributors - Markus Granlund, Joe Colborne, Sean Monahan, and of course, Joni Ortio - are all rookies.
Four different players have made their NHL debuts since returning from the Olympic break (Ortio, Granlund, Corban Knight, and most recently, Tyler Wotherspoon). And they've been winning.
The Sparks will try to keep those winning ways going as they face an opponent in a state all-too familiar to us...
Vancouver Canucks (28-27-10, 5th in the Pacific Division) (One of us, one of us)
Being a Canucks fan seems like a sad thing nowadays. The team is a mess that doesn't seem too interested in playing much hockey anymore, but at least they finally traded Roberto Luongo.
That's new starting goaltender Eddie Lack he's referring to. Lack is 26, which is actually way older than I thought he was. He started all the Canucks' games following the Olympic break, including the Heritage Classic, which apparently was a problem.
The Canucks are currently riding a four game losing streak, during which they have scored four goals. This is probably all Luongo's fault.
Notable Canucks youngsters include Zack Kassian (whose dumb ass just got suspended for three games for this hit), Jordan Schroeder (three points in 14 games, otherwise known as the same number of points Granlund has in five games), and Chris Tanev (who I understand is kind of their TJ Brodie, only with fewer points and less awesome). And maybe Ryan Stanton and newly-traded-for-guy Jacob Markstrom? And... that's it? Oh. Oh my.
The last time a Sedin scored a point it was January. Alex Burrows has yet to score a goal this season. David Booth, who still has a $4.25 million contract for next season, has five goals and 12 points over 49 games. Their highest scoring defenceman is Jason Garrison, who has 30 points in 65 games (Mark Giordano has 34 in 45, in case you were wondering).
Sorry, just engaging in a moment of schadenfreude.
If you want to learn more about the opponent, be sure to go to Nucks Misconduct!
Puck drop is 8 p.m. tonight on Hockey Night in Canada. I'm hoping for an Ortio/Lack duel, because why not pit two young, charismatic, attractive goaltenders against one another? Should be fun!