April 23 2013 03:29PM
This could be a very peculiar game tonight. The 12th place Flames take on the 14th place Predators and both clubs will be earnestly trying to lose to secure a favorable draft position.
So, in stark contrast to your average game, this will be an entirely different contest of wills: who can out-suck whom? Who can take more penalties, give up the puck at the blueline more often and dress more replacement level bodies? I'd feel sorry for any folks paying money to see the pending debacle tonight, but it might be morbidly interesting as a sort of rare, grotesque spectacle.
As discussed at length recently, Calgary's ill-timed goalie regression and subsequent winning streak has crippled their chances of finishing inside the top-5, so there really is an urgent need to score a few own goals over the next few games. That would have been easier against another non-tanker, but Nashville is in the same boat and even closer to the brass ring with 38 points. They can practically start penciling in at least one of the big names onto their prospect list right now.
As such, no one should be surprised if goons start skating on top lines, if whatever remaining vets there are suddenly need to "leave the game" for mysterious maladies and, in the end, if defenders accidentally start rifling the puck into their own net as time winds down.
It's the sporting equivalent of The Producers.
I wouldn't have bothered with this otherwise, but Calgary's roster tonight is, uh, noteworthy:
- Baertschi - Reinhart - Cervenka
- Hudler - Horak - Aliu
- Bancks - Byron - McGrattan (!)
- Hanowski - Street - Jones
- Brodie - Cundari
- Giordano - Wideman
- Butler - Babchuk
Carter Bancks makes his NHL debut. As laughable as this situation may seem to be, he's one guy who probably doesn't find it funny. Bancks isn't really an NHL level talent, but by all accounts he's a tireless worker and excellent teammate, so it's nice to see him get a cup of coffee - even if it's in service of less than honorable ends.
Babchuk's re-appearance in the line-up is self explanatory.
- Kostitsyn - Spaling - Bang
- Mueller - Henderson - Butler
- Fisher - Forsberg - Legwand
- Clune - Smith - Halischuk
- Weber - Josi
- Klein - Bartley
- Blum - Gill
In case you thought this would be a slam dunk (loss) for the Flames, take a look at what the Preds will probably be icing. There's a few more recognizable names in that line-up, but not many. Although Mr. Bang should get a few points simply for having one of the most hockey-ish last names ever.
Sum it Up
What happens when both boxers have been paid to throw the fight? Tonight we'll find out.