Friday, March 07, 2008

Preds @ Flames Pregame

Hey! We're in first place and we haven't really been playing that well! Yeah! Or something...

With the Wild losing to the suddenly surging Carolina Hurricanes (Joe Corvo can turn a season around...who knew?), the Flames suddenly sit in SOLE POSSESSION of first in the NW division and 3rd in the conference. Course, the difference between 3rd and 9th is all of three points right now.

And it could be even less after tonight. The Nashville Predators are the opposition tonight and they currently reside in 9th place with 76 points. With a win, the Preds could temporarily vault themselves into the play-off hunt with Vancouver (76 points) and Colorado (78 points).

What a clusterf***.

Calgary played like shit last game and only won thanks to some decent PKing and Kiprusoff. They were thoroughly outmatched by the Columbus Blue Jackets on home ice, despite the obvious urgency of the tightening play-off race staring them in the face. Yesterday, Keenan kicked the players of the ice in the middle of practice due to "lack of focus". This same crap happened with Nervous Jimmy last year and the team backed it's way into a play-off spot by losing every single regulation game in April (Sutter cracked the whip in Mid March, but the effect proved transient). The good news is, Jimmy's not in charge anymore and Keenan isn't going to puss out like ol' Canaryshirt did. Who knows if it will have any real effect on the ice, but at least Iron Mike refuses to "go gently into that good night".

The opposition tonight is also a tough team to figure out. They've had a pretty decent record since the new year, but still tend to have games (like last nights) where the the defensive zone seems like a totally foreign territory to their players. Chris Mason and and Dan Ellis have been playing the "who can get pulled in the first period more often?" game for awhile as well. One guy will become "#1" for a week or so, then allow 3 or 4 goals in the first 10 shots, giving way to the next guy till he does the same thing a week or so later. It's frustrating as hell for someone stuck with Mason in Mirtle's blogger pool, so I can imagine how Preds fans feel about it.

That said, Nashville is still a dangerous squad. The Arnott, Dumont and Radulov line has been eating the lesser lights for breakfast since it came together, so watch out for that trio tonight.

Flames line-up notes: Sarich likely back in, at the expense of either Warrener or Hale (please let it be Warrener!). Moss still hurt as far as I know, but has been practicing. Im sure Nilson will be healthy scratch again - again not for any clear reason. Therefore expect the forward lines to be unchanged.

Prediction - Flames 3, Preds 2. Iginla, Huselius and Tanguay for Calgary. Fiddler and Weber for Nashville.

Go Flames.