Motivation to write this preview for today’s afternoon clash between the Flames and Dallas Stars is pretty low to say the least. The disappointment of Thursdays loss to the Minnesota Wild along with the Flames current four game losing skid, where the team has lost to the bottom three teams in the West, still lingers inside of me and many Flames fans. With 6 games remaining and still only two points out of a playoff spot, the Flames still have a chance. This afternoon’s matinee kicks-off a crucial home and home series between the Flames and Stars as both teams are fighting tooth and nail to make the playoffs. The Stars have won both match-ups against the Flames this season as both games were 3-2 and both needed extra time (OT on Feb. 16th, SO on Mar. 4th).
Beep… Beep… Beep. The Flames playoff heart is still beating but with their current three game losing streak, the blood flow is slowing down.
The Flames head into Minnesota tonight to face the struggling Wild in a game where a W is a must. This will be the 6th and final meeting between the clubs this season and facing the Wild could be exactly what the Flames need to get back on the playoff track. After losing their first meeting of the season, the Flames have won the last four meetings against the Wild, outscoring them 14-7 in that process.
Whoever isn’t enjoying this latest Flames run can’t call themselves a hockey fan. Another victory last night against Phoenix gave the Flames five straight as they moved within one point of 7th and 8th place, which the Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche currently hold with 81 points apiece. The Flames have to get right back on the horse tonight as they travel up north to duel their provincial rivals for the 6th and final time this season. The Flames have been simply dominate over the Oilers the last couple of years and other than a lackluster 6-1 loss the last time the two teams met, the Flames have won 16 of the last 18 meetings. If the Flames continue to play like they have the past five, tonight’s game shouldn’t be an issue. Saying that the Oilers have nothing but pride to play for at this point and the Flames can’t look past them. The Flames could jump to 7th place in the West with a victory tonight.
Some of the Flames best play has come against the Sharks this season and they will look to continue that as they host the Sharks in the fourth and final meeting of the season. The Sharks hold a 2-1 series lead but every game has been decided by one goal with two games needing extra time. The Flames have had a great month of March so far with a 4-1-1 record and even with all the injuries up front, have found their groove offensively, averaging 4.5 goals per game this month. The Sharks on the other hand recorded their first victory in 6 games last night, defeating the Oilers in Edmonton, 3-2. The Flames have done a good job this month taking advantage of struggling teams as they hope to catch the Sharks on the wrong foot tonight.
Injuries have been the big story for both teams all season long as the Flames head into Minnesota to face the Wild this afternoon. This will be the fifth of six meetings between the clubs as the Flames have taken three straight over the Wild. Minnesota has been on a downward spiral ever since they had a league best 20-7-3 record on Dec. 10th, now sitting in 13th spot in the Western Conference and 8 points out of the final playoff spot. The Flames on the other hand, while being inconsistent have gone on a nice run recently, going 3-1-1 in their past five games and now only sit 2 points back of the 8th seeded Colorado Avalanche with two games in hand.
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.
Every game is important for the Flames at this point but tonight’s contest against the Stars is pretty much their season. This will be the second of four meetings between the clubs with the Stars taking the first meeting on Feb. 16th 3-2 in overtime. That meeting sent the two teams on two separate paths. Before that February meeting, the Flames held a 3 point lead over the Stars but with a 2-3-3 stretch, the Flames now find themselves 4 points back of the Stars for the 8th and final playoff spot. The Stars have been red hot since then going 6-1-2 and are current on a six game point streak (5-0-1). Make note this game is a 4 pm start.
Life for the Calgary Flames doesn’t get any easier tonight as they head into Anaheim to face the Ducks, to conclude their mini two-game road trip. The Flames return to Anaheim for the second time this season, a place where they haven’t won since 2004, going 0-9-5 during that stretch. This is the third of four meetings between the two clubs, as they have split the first two games, each winning on home ice. Both teams are scratching and clawing, trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Flames, after their victory in Phoenix last night, got within two points of the 8th place Dallas Stars, while the Ducks currently sit 7 points back.
TEAM% ChanceCOSTSelanne40High Pick/ProspectParise5Top two lines + picks + prospectsNabokov0High Pick/ProspectVisnovsky15Roster Player + PickMoen20Pick/ProspectPahlsson40Pick/ProspectRuutu10High Pick + ProspectNash52 Roster Players + High Picks/ProspectsIginla0Not Likely to be DealtGrossman60Pick ProspectKnuble15Mid range draft pickZidlicky10Mid range draft pickSuter0Top two lines + picks + prospectsHemsky30Picks + ProspectsWeber-100Arm/Leg
So up there is a chart that I made up illustrating some probabilities of players coming to Detroit AT THE DEADLINE. Not free agency; that's a whole different ball game. Maybe this can squash some...
It should be a playoff type atmosphere in Phoenix tonight as the Flames head into the Desert to play the Coyotes. This is the first of four meetings between the clubs this season, with all of them coming in the next five weeks. The Flames come into Phoenix to play the back-end of a back-to-back after defeating the San Jose Sharks 4-3 last night in the Shark tank. The Coyotes on the other hand come in tonight red hot, defeating the Dallas Stars on Tuesday 4-1, for their 3rd win in a row. The two teams are neck and neck in the playoff race as the Coyotes sit 9th with 58 points and the Flames now sit in 10th with 57 points after their victory last night. Depending on how Minnesota does against Vancouver tonight, the winner of this game could find themselves in the final playoff spot for the time being.