Game Preview: Flames vs Colorado Avalanche

CALGARY FLAMES (12-15-4 28 points) vs. COLORADO AVALANCHE (11-16-4 26 points) GAME 32

 

PREVIEW:

It is the battle of the basement dwellers tonight at the Dome with the 14th place Flames playing host to the 15th place Colorado Avalanche. The Flames enter tonight’s game coming off a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks last night in Chicago. The Avalanche on the other hand, come into Calgary on two days’ rest, not having played since Sunday when they went down to defeat to the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2.

Even though the score was relatively close last night, it did not dictate how much better the Blackhawks were than the Flames. The Hawks outshot the Flames 35-16, including 16-3 in the second period, and if it was not for Miikka Kiprusoff, the score would have been much worse.

People will argue that Chicago’s first goal was weak on Kiprusoff, I would not disagree but the Blackhawks were just playing with the Flames in the Flames zone and there were Hawks wide opened on blown defensive coverage all game long.

Kiprusoff has been the Flames best player for the last two games and has given his team a chance to win.

Having played last night and six consecutive games, Kiprusoff will take a seat in favor of Joey MacDonald tonight.

Things in Colorado have been just as bad as things in Calgary so far this season.

Luckily for the Aves, they have a young core and are at a completely different stage than the Flames are.

Matt Duchene has had a great bounce back year after struggling in his sophomore season (58GP, 14G, 28P). Duchene is averaging over a point-per-game this season and has found good chemistry with Colorado’s big off-season acquisition, P-A Parenteau.

Tonight will also mark the first time Ryan O’Reilly faces the Flames after the Flames signed the former RFA to an offer sheet, which the Aves quickly matched.

O’Reilly has been solid since returning to the Avalanche line-up with 11 points and a plus/minus rating of -1 in twelve games played.

Sergei Varlamov is expected to get the start for the Aves.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Avalanche:

1- TANGUAY-CAMMALLERI-IGINLA                           1- McGINN-DUCHENE-PARENTEAU

2- HUDLER-BACKLUND-CERVENKA                         2- LANDESKOG-O’REILLY-KOBASEW

3- GLENCROSS-STAJAN-STEMPNIAK                      3- McLEOD-MITCHELL-HEDJUK

4- JACKMAN-COMEAU-McGRATTAN                        4- PALUSHAJ-OLVER-BORDELEAU

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-BRODIE                                     1- JOHNSON-HEJDA

2- WIDEMAN-GIORDANO                                          2- HUNWICK-ZANON

3- SMITH-BUTLER                                                      3- O’BRIEN-BARRIE

 

1- MacDONALD                                                          1- VARLAMOV

2- KIPRUSOFF                                                            2- GIGUERE

 

EXTRA- BEGIN, SARICH, BABCHUK                        EXTRA- JONES, O'BYRNE

 

INJURIES:

Flames: C- Paul Byron (Broken Hand- IR)

Avalanche: C- Paul Stastny (Foot- Day-to-Day), D- Ryan Wilson (Ankle- IR), RW- Steve Downie (Knee Surgery- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

A. Tanguay

31

9

15

24

-12

L. Stempniak

31

7

16

23

6

J. Iginla

31

9

13

22

-7

M. Cammalleri

28

9

13

22

-12

C. Glencross

29

13

8

21

-4

 

Avalanche

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

M. Duchene

30

12

20

32

-5

PA. Parenteau

31

14

17

31

-4

P. Stastny

31

8

11

19

-11

J. Mitchell

30

9

7

16

7

J. McGinn

30

5

9

14

-11

 

PP-

Flames: 21.1% (8th)

Avalanche: 15.2% (23rd)

PK-

Flames: 80.0% (20th)

Avalanche: 79.8% (21st)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. CHICAGO

32

25

4

3

53

2. ANAHEIM

32

22

6

4

48

3. VANCOUVER

33

18

9

6

42

4. MINNESOTA

31

19

10

2

40

5. DETROIT

33

17

11

5

39

6. LOS ANGELES

32

18

12

2

38

7. ST. LOUIS

32

17

13

2

36

8. SAN JOSE

31

14

11

6

34

 

9. NASHVILLE

33

14

13

6

34

10. DALLAS

32

15

14

3

33

11. COLUMBUS

33

13

13

7

33

12. EDMONTON

32

12

13

7

31

13. PHOENIX

32

13

15

4

30

14. CALGARY

31

12

15

4

28

15. COLORADO

31

11

16

4

26

 

MY TAKE:

My focus today shifts from Jarome Iginla to Miikka Kiprusoff.

Yesterday, Sportnets Nick Kypreos reported that Kiprusoff would not report to any team this season if the Flames were to deal him before the April 3rd trade deadline, citing family reasons as his excuse.

Kiprusoff has one year left on his contract at a cap hit of 5.8 million dollars, but with a heavily front loaded contract, he is set to only get paid 1.5 million dollars in the final season.

Looking at that, there is no surprise why there would be interest surrounding Kiprusoff.

Kiprusoff refused to talk to the media after the game last night in Chicago, so he is obviously is trying to avoid the situation.

If the report is true, to me, I do not have any issue with Kiprusoff not wanting to be traded before the deadline. He has a new born son, who is only a couple of weeks old and it is not his fault that the Flames are in the position they are in.

As a matter of fact, without Kiprusoff, things would have been way worse and these conversations about Iginla and the rest of the team would have happened a long time ago.

He is the only reason the Flames have stayed competitive these last couple of seasons and for people to be mad at his decision to refuse a trade before April 3rd is crazy.

There is no guarantee Kiprusoff even plays next season, he signed his contract before he was 35 so he could simply retire, go home and the Flames would not be on the hook for his cap hit next season.

I still think Kiprusoff is an elite goalie in the league but with so much uncertainty going into next year and underperforming numbers this season (I blame the team in front of him), I do not think that teams would be willing to give much for him at the deadline.

So what is worse?

Kiprusoff asking the Flames not to trade him? Or the Flames trading him and getting less than value in return?

I think fans would be angrier with getting less in return.

There is still the off-season to try to work on a trade for Kiprusoff, which I think is the better option.

Kiprusoff can figure out his future past next season and with the possibility of big changes coming to the Flames organization, there could be a new management group who hopefully has a better idea what to do with this Flames hockey team.

Yea Kiprusoff could retire and we would lose him for nothing, but do you not think he deserves to stay in Calgary for another 16 games with his family?

At least there is a possibility we will get to see one legend retire in a Flames uniform after so many serviceable years.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @NickSymon