GAMETIME: 8:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: CSN/WGN Radio720
Other Fire Starters: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Well, now comes the hard part. The Blood Feud Double against Calgary and then Vancouver. Granted, this is probably exactly the time you want to catch the Flames right now, as they've been downright awful recently. After a very impressive win in Vancouver (though it went to a shootout the Flames were all over them for most of the game) the Flames have lost all five since, including the last effort which was a 9-1 loss to the Sharks which you may have heard about. They've scored 8 goals in those five games, and that included four in one of them. As we all thought before this season when everyone wanted to crown them division champs and pretenders to the Western throne, this team is severely short on forwards. Jarome Iginla's search for a center worthy of his line is dragging into its fourth or fifth year. Olli Jokinen has been such a giblet that he's been dropped to the 3rd line. Only Rene Bourque is doing himself any justice. And when you're counting on Rene Bourque to get you goals, well, you know what that means.
On paper, the Flames should have a blue line to rival the Hawks. They would, if Dion Phaneuf wasn't so damn stupid. But he is, and that's hilarious. Both he and Jay Bouwmeester played themselves off the Olympic squad. Phaneuf watchend Manny Malhotra (!) skate right around him in San Jose, and I had so much beer come out of my nose I haven't had a sense of smell for two days. While boasting oodles of talent, Jay Bouwmeester has 18 points. That would put him 4th on the Hawks amongst d-men. Mark Giordano is having a very good season, but Robin Regehr is not quite up to his normal steady as a rock self. While Mikka Kiprusoff is playing awfully well, he's still playing far too much and will probably be his normal puddle come April. Some men you just can't reach.
As for the Hawks, I would expect them to be frothing at the mouth after their no-show in Ottawa. Every quote we've seen from them pretty much admits they didn't bother, and I highly doubt that would happen two games in a row. Anttii NIemi will start, as previously discussed.
I never know with Calgary any more. After an embarrassing loss, you'd think they'd have a point to prove. But I thought they would after last year's playoff exit to us. They did that, but for only 15 minutes. Then they blew a 5 goal lead. I thought the same again after that. The Hawks Belmont Transferred them 7-1. So while I think the Flames will be desperate to come out firing tonight, there are no guarantees.
And away we go....