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Calgary Flames

Flames Game Day: No More Playtime



Calgary Flames vs. Nashville Predators

Sommet Center


Opposition: On the Forecheck

TV: Sportsnet West

After a successful week of slapping around tomato cans, the Flames get a proper test of their better play and new lines starting this evening in the Music City. I’m certainly as happy as anyone with the last few outings, but I still have to see things work against decent clubs on a regular basis before I’m buying in altogether. This next couple of weeks might start to reveal exactly what the Flames are all about, with a number of good teams on the docket.

That noted, tonight might be an interesting, if somewhat non-representative, night in terms of match-ups, since my fellow former Dauphinite behind Nashville’s bench doesn’t always go P v P, often choosing to sacrifice a line in order to get favourable circumstances elsewhere.

That could mean a good chance for Glencross-Iginla-Langkow to continue their nice work over the last few games. Iginla was the only guy going for the Flames the last time these teams met, and it was largely due to Trotz' insistence on the strategy I mentioned up top. If we see that again, expect a fair bit of Legwand's line out against the captain.

That sort of arrangement might mean Jason Arnott against Olli Jokinen, which would be interesting. I think Joker’s looked like a lot more of a threat with Bourque and Dawes, and since they did well against the Penner line last week, they might be OK if they end up against Sullivan-Arnott. I really think that the potential for a break out for Joker is right there. Maybe not tonight, but those scoring chance numbers give me hope that he might be due for a bit of puck luck.

The third line gets a switch due to Craig Conroy‘s lower body injury, with Dustin Boyd getting a bump up. Jason Jaffray gets a call from the farm to make up the numbers on the fourth line, and with Conroy on IR he might be around for a week or two. I’d also guess McG sits tonight in anticipation of another go-round with Derek Boogaard tomorrow in Minneapolis.

The other news from the Sun piece is that Phaneuf will likely go, leaving Cory Sarich more time to re-hab, although he did make the trip. If Sutter holds to form, he’ll try to match Phaneuf-Regehr against Arnott-Sullivan. That might leave Giordano-Bouwmeester behind the Iginla line, and with that a bit more freedom to jump into the offence.

Kiprusoff should get the start. He was a little off by his standards when these teams met a couple of weeks back, but he did shut out the Predators the last go-round in Nashville, in a game that was one of Calgary's best to this point. The Flames are starting one of those 4 in 5 night swings again, so McE will likely have a outing this week, possibly against Minnesota tomorrow or Columbus on Friday. 

Nashville is a team that rides it’s 5 v 5 play, because it has to. They might have the worst special teams in the game, with a PP running at 14.9 %, and a 76.3 % rate on the PK. Really, though, the Predators are a mostly average team in terms of GF, GA, goal differential, shots for/against and the other measures you might want to look at. Personnel-wise, they do have a very nice defence corps, with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber heading to Vancouver, and Kevin Klein, Dan Hamhuis and Francis Bouillon having decent years. Dan Ellis is slated to start for the Predators over Pekka Rinne, so the younger Finn won’t get a chance to out-shine his country’s number-one.

As I noted up top, games against the Preds are always a bit harder to read because of the way they choose to array their lines. No matter, it's still a good chance to see how the re-arranged top-six operates against a decent team, and it's also a chance, again, to get the PP off the schneid.

Game time is 6 MT via Sportsnet West.

by Robert Cleave