GAMETIME: 7:30 PM Central
TV/RADIO: CSN / WGN 720
Pyromaniacs Anonymous: Matchsticks and Gasoline
After a somewhat unsatisfying victory in Columbus, the Hawks face another underperforming team in the second night of this back-to-back set. The Calgary Flames are off to another slow start this year as they sit at 13th place in the Western Conference, with a record of 6-7-1. The big issue for Cowtown has been finding the back of the net. The Flames rank 24th in the league in Shots/game and 28th in Goals/game with 27.4 and 2.14, respectively. Mirroring the slow start of his team is Captain Jerome Iginla, who's managed just 4 goals and 8 points in 14 games. Team leading scorer Alex Tanguay has produced on the offensive end, but he and Iginla have yet to create the magic that was prevalent in the second half of last season.
Flames workhorse netminder Mikka Kiprusoff is off to another strong 1st half start, and has kept his team in some tight games. It's tough to know which Kipper the Hawks will see. If there is little Hawks' net traffic, we might see the guy who can turn away a high volume of shots, especially on 2 days rest. At the same time, if the Hawks can get a couple in on Kiprusoff, we've seen that he is susceptible to momentum swings (not Lu-susceptible, but you get the point.) On the back end, the Flames are serviceable, but unspectacular. Bouwmeester's been alright (is 6.7 million worth of "alright" really what you're looking for though?), but Giordano, Hannan, and Babchuk have been underwhelming.
On the Indianhead side of the ledger, we're obviously looking for two points anyway we can get them on the 2nd night of a back-to-back with a "show me" game coming up on Sunday night against the Oil (who like a young Marty McFly, are just trying to get back to 1985). Although I've yet to see anything official, I'm guessing that Emery will get the start tonight, and if the Hawks can stay out of the box and Marlboro 72 and crew can shutdown Tangiggy, the Flames will continue to have a tough time scoring at even strength. With that said, Rene Bourque (who might still have Hammer's number 4 tramp-stamped into his back) and waffle consumer extraordinaire Olli Jokinen occasionally achieve annoying levels of productivity against the Men of Four Feathers. Hammer and Leddy could see a lot of the Glencross-Jokinen-Bourque line, which might be a matchup to keep an eye on.
Offensively, there seems to be a theme developing in this young season: "My line has Marian Hossa, and yours doesn't." While Captain Marvel and Stalberg deserve their fair share of credit for that line's success last night, right now any line that features Hossa seems to be a mismatch for the opposition. With Hossa moving up to the top line, I'm interested to see what kind of production we'll get out of Kane's line over the weekend. Prior to last night's cherry pick, Kane had gone a couple games without a point, and I'm looking for Eights to bounce back with a multiple point effort.
Barring a special teams disaster, the Hawks are the better team and should come away with two points on home ice tonight.