On tap tonight: The Vancouver Canucks.
The Flames have a lot to prove tonight. A big rivalry game should be all the fuel needed to re-stoke the fire under this hockey team, but with this group you just never know. Brent Sutter has been surprisingly calm and collected over the past week and is preaching patience with the new system. If this pace continues, however, you would expect him to start calling some players out a la big bro Darryl. Calgary fans have been treated to a competitive team over the last 5 years and are expecting immediate results, which is rational considering the makeover to the roster and coaching staff, but perhaps, Brent and this group needs to be given some time to work out the kinks left behind from the Keenan regime and get this defensive "system'' in place.
It looks like there will be a new look lineup tonight. The most interesting change, has Jarome Iginla once again re-united with center Craig Conroy. Iginla has always had success playing alongside his close friend and I like this move. Flanking them on the left will be the speedy Glencross, balancing the line with a bit of everything. Jokinen, off to a subpar start, will centre energy players Sjostrom and Nystrom, while the others will remain the same. Dawes-Langkow-Bourque and Prust-Boyd-McGratten. The Phaneuf-Regehr duo seems to be staying together. So far this pairing, as with previous years, is not working out. Regehr has had to change his game in order to keep a watchful eye on Dion and is not able to focus properly......patience.
Who to Watch:
Calgary:Where to start? Look for Iginla to have a good effort tonight. Even if he doesn't produce, expect a lot of shots and a more inspired effort. Craig Conroy should have a good game also. He loves playing with Iginla and had his best success in that spot. On defense, the duo of Regehr and Phaneuf is till looking to find chemistry, and need to find it quick if this pairing is going to work. Jay Bouwmeester's skating is a thing of beauty, but he slipped somewhat during the two game road trip. Look for a good game from the big blueliner.
Vancouver: Look for the duo of Burrows and Kesler to continue their aggrevating ways tonight. Both are known to be a thorn in the sides of the Flames, especially Jarome Iginla. With Daniel Sedin out of the lineup, the offense will need to come from somewhere and this yappy twosome will look to provide that. The Mitchell-Iginla battle is always fun to watch and should be on display again tonight as Iginla tries to get his game going.
It's always a fierce and entertaining battle, and the Flames can't afford to take the night off. The Canucks come in with a sudden rash of injuries to top end players Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo, however, that doesn't make it any easier. The Flames need to come out strong and get on top of Luongo quick. Giving Roberto confidence as the game goes on plays right into his hands, and the the Flames will just get tighter. An early goal would do wonders for their confidence. In addition, they will need a complete game of 60 minutes tonight, hopefully they've learned their lesson in that regard. They need to find the killer instinct, and the ability to go for the jugular when they have a team down and out. Getting a lead and then hanging on for dear life till the end of the game just doesn't seem to be working so far. In addition, the grinders and foot-soldiers can only carry them so far; they need the big guns to show up. Jokinen is a big talent and Kipper will need to outplay Luongo, because as we've seen early this year he will probably be facing a lot of rubber. Expect everyone to show up in a big way. Iggy pots one tonight and the flames win 4-2 with an empty netter.