Game Time: 6:00 Central
TV/Radio: WGN for both... or NHL Network(US)
Cow Town Comrades: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Ever since the Hawks took out the Flames in the playoffs and then stormed back in the home opener to start the next season, we've been waiting for the Flames to hand it to the Hawks. And well.. there you go. The Hawks sandwiched two DLR appearances on the Canadian swing of the circus trip with an embarrassment in Calgary. So it goes. We're sticking with our story that the Hawks were caught looking ahead because there's simply no excuse for what happened that night.
To put it in the simplest terms (and far less venomously than Lambert did in the lost interview), the Flames are not a good team. Since the beatdown they handed the Hawks they've gone 3-3-2 and dropped down to the bottom of the Western Conference... which really hurts for a team that doesn't have much wiggle room with the salary cap and a roster without the potential young talent of Edmonton (who shares the basement spot with Calgary). They have won 3 of their last 5 though but needed two shootouts to do so.
One of the many problems for this Flames team has been the play of Miikka Kiprusoff who may have finally broke completely after 5 straight seasons of 73+ games played. His 2.82 GAA puts him at 30th in the league and his Sv% is even worse (32nd overall). None of this has stopped the Flames for putting him back out there for 22 of their 26 games thus far this season though. Even a solid game from the rarely seen backup Henrik Karlsson on Friday isn't good enough to start a goalie merry-go-round that we're all too familiar with here in Chicago. This is even more confusing when you consider Kipper's godawful stats in the United Center. In 11 games here in Chicago his GAA jumps up to 3.47 and Sv% drops to .891.
The team in front of Kiprusoff isn't doing much better. Calgary's defense is solid and tough but shouldn't be able to keep up with the Hawks speed if the men of four feather's actually give a shit. In what could be nothing more than upping his trade value, Jarome Iginla is actually turning his season around quite nicely. Last time we saw him he was a -7 with 3 goals. Since then he's improved to only -2 and added 6 goals and 12 points overall, including 4 in the last 3 games. Alex Tanguay leads the Flames with 23 points (6 in the last 5) while Rene Bourque has sputtered out after a hot start. Olli Jokinen continues to be an absolute cancer on any line he's put on and he'll likely be dragging down Niklas Hagman and Mikael Backlund tonight.
As for the Hawks - I still have trouble getting worked up over Friday night's shutout but would expect them to come out with a snarl to make up for both that game and shellacking they took in the last meeting with the Flames. As you likely know, we're back with Corey Crawford as the starter which shouldn't surprise anyone given what we've seen from Q in his time here in Chicago. Hossa and Pisani are still out so expect Morin (yay) and Scott (meh) to fill in once more. The Hawks have handled Calgary pretty well for the better part of two years now and I'd expect them to start that once more tonight.
Lets Go Hawks