Game #38 preview: Flames @ Canucks

Ten games to go. Amazing how quickly a short season can be – and how much better the twists and turns can be when it is such a season.

Tonight, the Abbotsford Heat Calgary Flames roll in to town.

To re-cap, the Flames no longer have Jarome Iginla. They no long have Jay Bouwmeester. They do still have Miika Kiprusoff, but they don’t have Blake Comeau.

Yes, this is a team that is done. Which, of course, means that they will be a threat.

Or will they? More on that, after the jump.

Broadcast Info:

Puck drop: 7:05 p.m.

Television: CBC Hockey Night in Canada (Hansen and Roy on After Hours)

Radio: TEAM 1040

Setup:

This is the proverbial two teams going in completely different directions. The Flames shipped out what they could at the Trade Deadline, moving their legendary captain, they once-a-star defenceman and a depth forward. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the Flames can’t score – they’ve still go the likes of Cammalleri, Tanguay, Stempniak and Glencross kicking around.

Scoring goals hasn’t really been a problem in Cow Town; stopping them, has. Outside of Danny Taylor – th number 1 in Abbotsford got into two games for the Flames – none of the three ‘regular’ netminders in Calgary has a save percentage above .890. Yes, that’s right, the Flames goalies are posting numbers from the 1980s. That’s bloody terrible.

The Canucks, on the other hand, are on the upswing. Since we know that Derek Roy can do no wrong, that upswing is entirely up to him.

I kid, of course. But there’ s no denying that the addition of Roy to the lineup has had major knock-on effects. For starters, we knew he’s a dominant possession player; but did anyone really think he’d eat Sam Gagner for breakfast, lunch and dinner, like he did on Thursday? Roy was on the ice for 11 shots for and just 1 against. Not only that, but he was a threat with nearly every touch of the puck. Yes, I can see that you are all salivating about the possibilities.

The Sedins weren’t bad on Thursday either.

When we remember how good the Canucks can be on the attack, do we feel a touch sorry for the horror show that might happen in the Flames’ end? For some of you, maybe. For me, who remembers some of the chaos of the early 90s, as wrought by the likes of Fleury and Suter, I don’t feel sorry for the Flames at all. 

Defensively, the Canucks continue to be a solid team – as long as they get solid goaltending, that is. But that’s pretty much the deal with defence, your goaltending is the most important aspect. The Flames can certainly confirm that. Their goaltending has been so bad, the Flames have the worst PDO in the league. Even the fact that they are middle-of-the-pack in their possession numbers can’t help them (yes, I’m being generous in saying they are ‘average’).

Dale Weise and Mason Raymond return tonight; Raymond will play with Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian (can you tell who will join that line next?) and Weise will skate on the 4th line with Tom Sestito and Max Lapiere. The Sedins with Burrows and the Higgins-Roy-Hansen trio will both remain intact.

Keith Ballard’s foot apparently still isn’t ready, so Cam Barker will again partner Chris Tanev on the third defensive pairing, behind Hamhuis-Garrison and Edler-Bieksa.

NUMBERS GAME: 

  Flames Canucks
Team Record 13-19-4 20-11-6
Goal Differential -31 +5
PP % 21.7% (8th) 13.1% (28th)
PK % 79.0% (24th) 81.7% (15th)
FO % 47.2% (28th) 47.2% (27th)
Corsi % 49.3% (19th) 52.9% (5th)
Fenwick Close % 49.2% (19th) 53.8% (6th)
Team PDO 96.7 (30th) 101.0 (7th)

 GAME DAY LINKS: