Calgary’s 5-0 victory over Nashville a couple of weeks ago was the high water mark of the season for the club so far. Since then, the two teams have gone in opposite directions: NSH is 6-1-2 in those nine games, scoring 38 goals. The Flames are, in contrast, went 3-4-1 with 15 GF to their name (yikes).
This afternoon will be an interesting test of coaching on either side. One of the primary reasons the Flames railroaded the Predators in Nashville was that Trotz stuck with his usual strategy of matching a line of pluggers against Calgary’s “#1 line”, freeing up his scorers to face ostensibly easier opposition. As a result, Iginla et al. faced the likes of Ward and Smithson while Langkow and Bourque took on Arnott and Dumoont. Unfortunately for Trotz, that strategy plays right into the Flames hands – as we’ve shown repeatedly around here, Langkow’s line is far more capable of taking on the big boys this season.
Of course, this contest is in Calgary where Brent Sutter has often waffled between the PvP match-up and sending out Langkow against the heavy lifters (with predictable results from shift to shift), mostly preferring the former to the latter for whatever baffling reason.
So the question is – will both coaches ignore prior evidence to pursue favored strategies? Will Sutter send Iginla out against Arnott or will Trotz try to find a way to get Legwand and Smithson out against Jokinen? or will the bench bosses actually adhere to the object lesson they had in the previous meeting between the two clubs?
by Kent Wilson