Game Preview: Flames vs Chicago Blackhawks

CALGARY FLAMES (1-3-1 3 points) vs. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (6-0-2 14 points) GAME 6

 

PREVIEW:

Things do not get any easier for the Flames as they welcome their toughest test of the season to the Dome, the Chicago Blackhawks. The two teams are on the opposite end of the spectrum in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation and are tied for 1st with 14 points, while the Flames have got off to a terrible start and sit in the West’s basement.  

The Flames will look to rebound after a terrible performance against the Avalanche on Thursday night, falling 6-3. The 6-3 score did not completely explain how the game went as the Aves pulled away in the final ten minutes of the third, scoring three goals, after an evenly played game.

On the positive side, Jiri Hudler was by far the best Flame, registering two goals and an assist, and added much needed skill the Flames brass has been looking for.

On the negative side, the Flames top players were once again invisible. Jarome Iginla is now goal-less in the first five games, while Miikka Kiprusoff was not at his elite status. The usual slow start for the Flames top guns is once again evident this season and in a 48 game season the Flames are already losing ground.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 2-1 SO loss to their arch rivals, the Vancouver Canucks last night but have registered at least a point in all of their eight games this season. Unlike the Flames, the Hawks have been led by their top players, most notably Patrick Kane who has 11 points so far this season.

The Flames will look to extend their four game home winning streak against the Hawks, as they have outscored them 18-6 during the process.

Kiprusoff will get his sixth start of the season, while the Hawks will counter with Ray Emery after Corey Crawford started last night in Vancouver.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Blackhawks:

1- CAMMALLERI-TANGUAY-IGINLA                           1- STALBERG-TOEWS-HOSSA

2- GLENCROSS-BACKLUND-STEMPNIAK                2- SHARP-BOLLAND-KANE

3- CERVENKA-STAJAN-HUDLER                               3- BICKELL-SHAW-FROLIK

4- COMEAU-JONES-JACKMAN                                  4- BOLLIG-KRUGER-SAAD

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-GIORDANO                                1- KEITH-SEABROOK

2- WIDEMAN-BRODIE                                                 2- ODUYA-LEDDY

3- SMITH-BUTLER                                                      3- HJALMARSSON-ROZSIVAL

 

1- KIPRUSOFF                                                             1- EMERY

2- IRVING                                                                     2- CRAWFORD

 

EXTRA- BEGIN, SARICH                                            EXTRA- MAYERS, BROOKBANK

 

INJURIES:

Flames: D- Anton Babchuk (Shoulder- IR), LW- Sven Baertschi (Hip Flexor- Week-to-Week)

Blackhawks: LW- Dan Carcillo (Lower Body- Out Indefinitely), D- Steve Montador (Concussion- IR), RW- Rostislav Olesz (Knee- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

C. Glencross

5

3

2

5

-3

A. Tanguay

5

3

2

5

-3

L. Stempniak

5

3

2

5

2

J. Hudler

2

2

2

4

E

M. Backlund

5

2

1

3

-1

 

Blackhawks

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

P. Kane

8

3

8

11

3

M. Hossa

8

5

4

9

2

J. Toews

8

4

3

7

5

P. Sharp

8

2

5

7

E

N. Leddy

8

1

4

5

E

 

PP-

Flames: 25.0% (8th)

Blackhawks: 21.2% (15th)

PK-

Flames: 66.7% (29th)

Blackhawks: 96.8% (1st)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. SAN JOSE

7

7

0

0

14

2. CHICAGO

8

6

0

2

14

3. VANCOUVER

8

4

2

2

10

4. ST. LOUIS

8

6

2

0

12

5. ANAHEIM

6

4

1

1

9

6. EDMONTON

7

4

2

1

9

7. DETROIT

7

4

2

1

9

8. MINNESOTA

8

4

3

1

9

 

9. NASHVILLE

7

2

2

3

7

10. DALLAS

8

3

4

1

7

11. LOS ANGELES

6

2

2

2

6

12. COLORADO

7

2

4

2

6

13. PHOENIX

8

2

4

2

6

14. COLUMBUS

8

2

5

1

5

15. CALGARY

5

1

3

1

3

 

MY TAKE:

As even as the game was until the final ten minutes of the third on Thursday night, it should not have been close from the get go.

The Aves came into Calgary having played the night before in Vancouver and on a three game losing streak where they had been outscored 11-1. The Flames on the other hand came off a four day rest; one that Bob Hartley called ‘their second training camp.’

Two things that jumped out at me when I saw the Flames schedule before the season, was that four day break before Thursdays game and the Flames top players perennial slow starts.

Hartley was right by saying the Flames could have a second mini-training camp during their four day break but to see the same team we have watched for the last three years come out after it, raises huge concern with me.

The other thing of concern is the Flames perennial slow start. Iginla and Mike Cammalleri have done all but nothing offensively, while Kiprusoff has not been at his best and in a 48 game season, the Flames simply cannot afford these slow starts.

The Flames are already behind the eight-ball, with the only positive being that they have games in hand on every team in the West. Saying that, sitting 15th with only three points, even when they make up the three-games in hand, having to win them all, on the 8th place Minnesota Wild, they can only match them with 9 points.

Things need to change in this organization and fast. It is only five games in but I cannot say I have confidence that anything is going to change anytime soon.

The Flames are going to need to bring their A++ game tonight if they have any chance to get their second win of the season.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @NickSymon