After being all-but-eliminated one night earlier, the Calgary Flames start a string of formality games to finish out their season. Friday’s 4-1 loss to Colorado was disappointing for a number of different reasons and now will have their professional levels tested against a team fighting for the President’s Trophy. For the fifth time this season, Calgary will tangle with the Vancouver Canucks this evening.
Calgary Flames 35-29-15, 11th Western Conference
Alex Tanguay-Mike Cammalleri-Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross-Olli Jokinen-David Moss
Blake Comeau-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak
Tom Kostopoulos-Blair Jones-Tim Jackman
Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Scott Hannan-Anton Babchuk
I have no idea if those lines and pairings will be what we see to start the game tonight, as Brent Sutter put his team in a blender after they fell down 2-0 last night. Those are the lines and pairings the team started with on Friday night, so it might be what we see to start this game. There won’t be any returns from injury this evening, however.
As for Karlsson getting the start, you knew he was going to get at least one before the season was over. Leland Irving is in Abbotsford right now helping Calgary’s AHL club in their playoff quest, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t stay there the rest of the season. The Flames know what they have in Irving, but there are more questions surrounding what the future holds for Karlsson in the organization. For that reason, giving him at least one start makes sense. I just thought the team might wait until they’re officially eliminated.
Speaking of which, the end could officially come tonight if the Flames lose in Vancouver. A loss by itself won’t eliminate the Flames, but a loss coupled with a Phoenix win will do it for the season. They’re elimination number is 1.5.
Knowing their season hung in the balance with a pair of home games this week against LA and Colorado, I was extremely disappointed with what we saw from Calgary. It was the third periods that bothered me most, as they both were just far too much of a formality. Playing in front of a dedicated group of fans, there is no excuse for an effort level that suggests resignation to the likely result. They probably weren’t coming back against Colorado, but at least show some push and show some urgency. Instead, we got listlessness and malaise. Disappointing.
Vancouver Canucks 48-21-9, 2nd Western Conference
Alex Burrows-Henrik Sedin-Maxim Lapierre
Mason Raymond-Ryan Kesler-David Booth
Chris Higgins-Samuel Pahlsson-Jannik Hansen
Andrew Ebbett-Manny Malhotra-Zack Kassian
Alexander Edler-Marc-Andre Gragnani
Dan Hamhuis-Chris Tanev
Andrew Alberts-Sami Salo
This beat up Canucks team has still won five straight games and now sits just a point back of the St. Louis Blues for the Western Conference lead. They’ve also lost two straight games against the Calgary Flames, so they’d love nothing more than to run things up on their division rivals at home. This one worries me for the visitors for that reason.
Vancouver is a tad injured and it starts with Daniel Sedin. They’re second leading scorer is on the shelf after suffering a concussion on an elbow from Chicago’s Duncan Keith and won’t likely play another game until the regular season is done. Their blueline is also hurting as they’ll play without Keith Ballard, Aaron Rome, and Kevin Bieksa in this one. Bieksa is the curious one as he’s missed the last few games with an undisclosed injury, but the feeling is he’ll be ready for the first round of the playoffs.