September 21 2010 12:28PM
The Vancouver Canucks head to Calgary to face the Flames. Then, an hour later, the Canucks host the Flames at Rogers Arena. How's that?
The Canucks and Flames are playing a unique split-squad double-header tonight, where each city hosts a game tonight.
Here's the lowdown.
In Calgary tonight, the Canucks lines should be as follows:
Ballard – Baumgartner
O’Brien – Ramsay
Zimmerman – Alberts; Polasek
Weiman & Lack
In Vancouver, the home town squad plans to ice the following setup:
Connauton – Bieksa
Oberg – Tanev
Ellington – Hannay
Schneider & Shantz
As you can see by both rosters, there are not a whole lot of veterans playing tonight. In fact, I would argue that apart from Malhotra and Torres, everyone playing tonight is fighting for a roster spot. There was an earlier Canucks report listing Alex Friesen as the 2nd line C here in Vancouver. However we know now that Friesen was sent back to his QMJHL team, NIagara.
There are a few more familiar faces playing the blueline in both games, but that's mostly because the Canucks don't have as many guys truly fighting for roster spots.
As for the Flames, they are planning on playing a far more veteran roster, especially in Calgary, where regulars like Iginla and Jokinen, among others, are expected to play.
Given that the almost every Canucks player is trying to earn themselves a paycheque, I expect that both games will be spirited, physical affairs.
With the strength of the Flames lineup in Calgary, the Canucks will likely struggle to win. They're going to be in tough in Cow Town. However, at home, the Canucks should have a much more even match-up, if not a slight edge - especially up front, where Vancouver is showcasing some players that have quite a bit of NHL experience.
I'm personally watching tonight's game in Calgary (on Sportsnet, not in person) to get a better sense of which players might actually make up that elusive 4th line for the Canucks. With the defense and the top 3 lines pretty much baked, the real battle for roster spots is the 4th line and there are plenty of guys who want that spot.
We've heard how Sergei Shirokov has improved both physically and mentally (from Ben Kuzma, The Province), how Brendan Morrison would love to return home for a legitimate chance at a Cup (Kuzma) and how Victor Oreskovich removed himself from the game to rediscover his passion and appears to have found it in spades (from Hosea Chung-24Hrs). Let's hope for the Canucks' sake, they all the make the impression they want to leave.