Game Preview: Flames vs Nashville Predators

CALGARY FLAMES (19-21-4 42 points) vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (15-21-9 39 points) GAME 46

 

PREVIEW:

With the season winding to an end, the Flames head into Nashville tonight to face the Preds, looking for a season-high fourth straight win. The Predators on the other hand have struggled down the stretch, going 1-7-2 in their last ten, and currently sit in 14th place in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Flames have done everything their fans have not wanted them to do, and are now winning games, moving them up the standings and farther away from a top three pick, everyone thought they would have, after unloading around the trade deadline.

Saying that, with all the young guys drawing into the Flames line-up, the Flames have no other choice but to try to bring them into a winning environment and who can blame their efforts.

Sven Baertschi is currently riding a 5-game point streak, while Roman Horak, Mikael Backlund and TJ Brodie have played extremely well, giving the Flames and Flames fans some hope for the future.

The line-up will continue to get younger tonight, as it looks like Mike Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak, Mikael Backlund, Tim Jackman and Matt Stajan will all get the night off.

The Predators are a mess lately, losing 11 of their past 12, and have plummeted down the standings.

It is a weird situation for the Preds to be in, as Barry Trotz always seems to get the most out of his group and has them in contention every season. This season is different, Ryan Suter is proving to be even more valuable than people might have thought and the lack of goal scoring has really come to bite them this season.

The Preds moved Martin Erat at the deadline for promising prospect Filip Forsberg and will the likelihood of a top pick at this year’s draft; the Preds should be able to add another young offensive prospect.

Do not expect the Predators to be in this situation again next season. They still have the right pieces to build around with Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne, and with Trotz behind the bench, it is hard to imagine them not being right back in the hunt next season.

Kiprusoff will get the start for the Flames, while the Preds will counter with Rinne.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Predators:

1- BAERTSCHI-REINHART-CERVENKA                     1- KOSTITSYN-LEGWAND-BUTLER

2- HUDLER-HORAK-ALIU                                           2- HALISCHUK-SPALING-FORSBERG

3- BANCKS-BYRON-McGRATTAN                              3- CLUNE-WATSON-SMITH

4- HANOWSKI-STREET-JONES                                  4- HENDERSON-MUELLER-BANG

 

1- WIDEMAN-GIORDANO                                             1- WEBER-JOSI

2- BRODIE-CUNDARI                                                   2- KLEIN-BARTLEY

3- BUTLER-BABCHUK                                                 3- GILL-BLUM

 

1- KIPRUSOFF                                                             1- RINNE

2- MacDONALD                                                            2- MASON

 

EXTRA- CAMMALLERI, STAJAN, JACKMAN                EXTRA-

STEMPNIAK, BACKLUND, SARICH, IRVING, CARSON

 

INJURIES:

Flames: C- Steve Begin (Hand- Day-to-Day), LW- Curtis Glencross (Knee- Done for the season), LW- Alex Tanguay (Knee- Done for the season), D- Derek Smith (Upper Body- IR)

Predators: C- Mike Fisher (Hand- Day-to-Day), RW- Brandon Yip (Lower Body- Day-to-Day), RW- Patric Hornqvist (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), RW- Taylor Beck (Upper Body- Day-to-Day), LW- Gabriel Bourque (Knee- Done for the season), C- Paul Gaustad (Shoulder- Done for the season), C- Colin Wilson (Shoulder- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

M. Cammalleri

42

13

19

32

-14

L. Stempniak

45

9

22

31

3

A. Tanguay

40

11

16

27

-13

C. Glencross

40

15

11

26

-8

J. Hudler

40

10

16

26

-12

 

Predators

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

S, Weber

45

8

16

24

-1

D. Legwand

45

11

12

23

-4

M. Fisher

36

9

10

19

5

C. Wilson

25

7

12

19

1

R. Josi

45

5

12

17

-6

 

PP-

Flames: 20.7% (8th)

Predators: 16.7% (19th)

PK-

Flames: 81.6% (14th)

Predators: 75.8% (29th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. Z- CHICAGO

45

34

6

5

73

2. Y- ANAHEIM

46

29

11

6

64

3. Y- VANCOUVER

46

26

13

7

59

4. X- LOS ANGELES

45

26

14

5

57

5. SAN JOSE

45

24

14

7

55

6. ST. LOUIS

45

26

17

2

54

7. MINNESOTA

45

24

18

3

51

8. COLUMBUS

46

22

17

7

51

 

9. DETROIT

45

21

16

8

50

10. DALLAS

45

22

19

4

48

11. PHOENIX

45

19

18

8

46

12. CALGARY

45

19

22

4

42

13. EDMONTON

45

17

21

7

41

14. NASHVILLE

45

15

21

9

39

15. COLORADO

45

15

23

7

37

 

MY TAKE:

Tonight became even more interesting after hearing that Cammalleri, Stajan, Stempniak, Jackman and Backlund will all take a seat in favor of the top two lines of the Abbotsford Heat.

The Flames brass is doing everything they can to help themselves lose, and it is clear that they, like everyone else, want a high pick in June’s draft.

I have not wanted the Flames to win games but I will admit, I have been pleased with the young line-up and have been extremely impressed with Brodie, and have liked the play of Baertschi, Horak and Backlund.

I have said it before, it is amazing what happens when you put youth into your line-up, it brings enthusiasm and work ethic, and it has proved that it is a key to win games in today’s NHL.

I’m not saying the Flames are on their way back to the playoffs next season, but with the right moves by Flames management, the key to success is having the right mix of veterans and youth.

It is a fight for the bottom tonight, with both teams playing more for a top draft pick than the two points.

 

 

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