Game Preview: Flames vs Montreal Canadiens

CALGARY FLAMES (29-25-12 70 points) vs. MONTREAL CANADIENS (25-31-10 60 points) GAME 67

 

PREVIEW:

Two struggling teams meet at the Dome tonight as the Flames and Montreal Canadiens finish off their season series in their second meeting. The Flames took the first game, in Montreal, 4-1 as Miikka Kiprusoff became the all-time franchise leader in goaltender wins, surpassing Mike Vernon. The Flames come into tonight’s match-up after another heart breaking loss to the Dallas Stars, 3-2 in a SO on Sunday afternoon. The Canadiens on the other hand only have pride to play for at this point as they will look to play spoilers the rest of the way, sitting in 15th place in the Eastern Conference.

I was fortunate enough to go to the Flames-Stars game Sunday afternoon and other than a slow first period from both teams; I thought it was a pretty good hockey game. Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen were brilliant for their respective teams but I thought overall the Stars just have a whole lot more skill than the Flames do. With the likes of Jamie Benn, Louie Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro, the Stars clearly had the upper hand in the shootout. The Flames managed to get the single point but have gone 1-3-3 since defeating the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 19th moving them into the 8th and final playoff spot for maybe 24 hours.

The Canadiens have been nothing more than a disappointment this season, as a 5-8-1 month of February basically diminished any hope they had at making the playoffs. Carey Price has once again had a solid season with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage but he can only do so much as the last line of defense. The Canadiens top line of Erik Cole, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty has also been a bright spot for the Habs this season as the trio are the Canadiens top three scorers. What went wrong in Montreal this season? Off the bat I would say bad coaching, but past that I thought the Canadiens had a very solid line-up coming into the season, one that I thought would possibly be able to go on another magical playoff run. The trades to acquire Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque were head scratchers to me and make me wonder if the Canadiens are also mis-managed.

It hasn’t been pretty in Montreal this season and for the Flames not to take advantage of that would simply be embarrassing. The Flames have once again seen their already injured riddled line-up take more hits as Mike Cammalleri and Lance Bouma were both injured in the game against Dallas and neither will play tonight. Cammalleri and Bouma join a long list of injured Flames, including Blake Comeau, who looked to injure his shoulder Friday night in Anaheim. In the wake of those injuries, the Flames were forced to summon, Guillaume Desbiens, Krys Kolanos and Greg Nemisz from Abbotsford on emergency basis. The three will make up the Flames fourth line, while Matt Stajan will see an increased role, filling in for Cammalleri, in between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. As I say it would be an embarrassment for the Flames to lose tonight, they can’t look past the Canadiens either especially with all their injuries. It is going to take a complete team effort and another solid performance from Kiprusoff for the Flames to collect the two points tonight. The Flames currently sit 3 points back of the 8th place Sharks with the Sharks having two games in hand. It’s now or never (again) for the Flames.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Habs:

1-TANGUAY-STAJAN-IGINLA                                     1-COLE-DESHARNAIS-PACIORETTY

2-GLENCROSS-JOKINEN-MOSS                              2-WHITE-PLEKANEC-GEOFFRION

3-KOSTOPOULOS-HORAK-JACKMAN                     3-BOURQUE-ELLER-LEBLANC

4-DESBIENS-KOLANOS-NEMISZ                              4-STAUBITZ-ENGQVIST-NOKELAINEN

 

1-BOUWMEESTER-SMITH                                        1-GORGES-SUBBAN

2-GIORDANO-HANNAN                                              2-EMELIN-WEBER

3-BRODIE-SARICH                                                     3-KABERLE-CAMPOLI

 

1-KIPRUSOFF                                                              1-PRICE

2-KARLSSON                                                               2-BUDAJ

 

EXTRA- BABCHUK                                                       EXTRA- DIAZ

 

INJURIES:

Flames: C- Mike Cammalleri (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), LW Lance Bouma (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), RW Blake Comeau (Shoulder- Day-to-Day) Chris Butler (Lower Body- IR), C- Mikael Backlund (Upper Body- IR), C- Blair Jones (Ankle- IR), RW- Lee Stempniak (Ankle- IR)

Habs: C- Scott Gomez (Eye- Out Indefinitely), RW- Aaron Palushaj (Eye- Day-to-Day), LW- Mathieu Darche (Dizziness- Day-to-Day), RW- Michael Blunden (Lower Body- IR), LW- Travis Moen (Upper Body- IR), RW Brian Gionta (Bicep- IR), D- Andrei Markov (Knee- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

O. Jokinen

66

20

33

53

2

J. Iginla

66

25

27

52

-7

A. Tanguay

50

10

30

40

6

C Glencross

51

22

15

37

-5

M. Cammalleri

59

15

18

33

-10

 

Habs

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

D. Desharnais

66

14

37

51

10

M. Pacioretty

63

26

23

49

-2

E. Cole

66

23

23

46

7

T. Plekanec

65

12

30

42

-20

T. Kaberle

66

2

27

29

-20

 

PP-

Flames: 17.2% (14th)

Habs: 14.3% (29th)

PK-

Flames: 83.0% (10th)

Habs: 89.2% (1st)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

WINS

LOSSES

OTL

POINTS

1. VANCOUVER

66

41

17

8

90

2. ST. LOUIS

66

42

18

7

89

3. DALLAS

66

35

26

5

75

4. DETROIT

66

43

20

3

89

5. NASHVILLE

65

38

20

7

83

6. CHICAGO

67

36

24

7

79

7. PHOENIX

66

33

24

9

75

8. SAN JOSE

64

33

24

7

73

 

9. L.A

65

30

23

12

72

10. COLORADO

67

34

29

4

72

11. CALGARY

66

29

25

12

70

12. ANAHEIM

67

29

28

10

68

13.MINNESOTA

66

28

28

10

66

14.EDMONTON

65

25

34

6

56

15. COLUMBUS

65

20

38

7

47

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last ten games: Flames 3-3-4, Habs 2-7-1
  • Tom Kostopoulos will play his 600th career game tonight.
  • Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay have once again found that chemistry that has made them so successful in the past. Both players are currently on a three game point streak (Iginla 2-2-4, Tanguay 1-3-4).
  • Matt Stajan is one goal away from 100 for his career.
  • Tonight’s game will be Rene Bourque’s first game back to the Saddledome after he was traded by the Flames to the Canadiens for Mike Cammalleri in January. Bourque played three and a half seasons with the Flames.
  • Miikka Kiprusoff and Carey Price are tied for third among NHL goalies with 57 games played. Kiprusoff is on pace to once again play 70+ games for the seventh consecutive season, while Price eclipsed the mark for the first time last season.
  • David Desharnais has been red hot for the Canadiens of late. Desharnais is currently on a four-game point streak, registering 3 goals and 4 assists during that span.

 

GAME DAY QUOTE:

“You embrace it. This is the fun part of the year. You're driving for playoffs. We need the two points. We're going to be a desperate hockey club. Obviously you don't control who you're playing with but you can control what you do out there. I've got to focus on my game, do what I need to do. Hopefully we find some chemistry here early in the game."

 – Flames Matt Stajan on playing an increased role in between Iginla and Tangauy

 

 

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