Game Preview: Flames vs Nashville Predators

CALGARY FLAMES (9-10-4 22 points) vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (13-8-2 28 points) GAME 26

 

PREVIEW:

The Flames will look for their sixth straight win at the Dome tonight when they host the Nashville Predators. The Flames are coming off a huge third period against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday that saw them score three goals on their way to a 5-2 victory. The Preds come into town for the second game of a back-to-back after losing 7-4 to the Canucks last night in Vancouver.

If it was not for Miikka Kiprusoff in the first two periods, the Flames would not have even been in a situation to get the W against the Wings on Wednesday. The Flames were outshot 27-11 before taking advantage of a couple turnovers and bad goaltending in the third to get the two points.

Kiprusoff, who was ‘benched’ on Monday night against the Kings, proved, even though not many are sure why he had to, that he is the Flames best player and gives them the best shot at winning.

Curtis Glencross returned from injury against the Wings and was a spark plug, leading the Flames with a goal and an assist. Glencross and Lee Stempniak have been the Flames most consistent forwards this season and will have to continue their success together for the Flames to have a chance at the playoffs.

The Preds laid an egg last night in Vancouver, which saw Pekka Rinne get pulled after allowing 4 goals on just 12 shots.

Nashville has struggled to score goals, ranking 29th in the league, averaging just 2.22 goals per game, making Rinne that much more important.

Rinne has been the Predators MVP this season. He leads the league with 5 shutouts and ranks seventh with a 2.13 GAA to go along with a .913 SV%.

Rinne will be back in the net tonight and will look to redeem himself after last night’s performance.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Predators:

1- TANGUAY-CAMMALLERI -IGINLA                          1- BOURQUE-LEGWAND-BUTLER

2- HUDLER-BACKLUND-COMEAU                             2- ERAT-FISHER-KOSTITSYN

3- GLENCROSS-STAJAN-STEMPNIAK                      3- HALISCHUK-SMITH-BOYCHUK

4- JACKMAN-BEGIN-McGRATTAN                             4- YIP-SPALING-CLUNE

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-BRODIE                                      1- WEBER-JOSI

2- WIDEMAN-GIORDANO                                           2- BARTLEY-KLEIN

3- SMITH-BUTLER                                                       3- ELLIS-HANNAN

 

1- KIRPUSOFF                                                             1- RINNE

2- MacDONALD                                                            2- MASON

 

EXTRA- CERVENKA, SARICH, BABCHUK                 EXTRA- BLUM, MUELLER

 

INJURIES:

Flames: C- Paul Byron (Broken Hand- IR)

Predators: D- Hal Gill (Lower Body- IR), RW- Patric Hornqvist (Upper Body- IR), C- Colin Wilson (Upper Body- IR), C- Paul Gaustad (Upper Body- Day-to-Day)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

A. Tanguay

25

8

12

20

-8

J. Iginla

25

7

12

19

-4

M. Cammalleri

22

9

9

18

-8

L. Stempniak

25

7

11

18

6

J. Hudler

22

4

12

16

-2

 

Predators

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

C. Wilson

25

7

12

19

1

S. Weber

27

4

10

14

6

M. Erat

26

3

10

13

-4

D. Legwand

27

5

7

12

E

M. Fisher

27

5

6

11

6

 

PP-

Flames: 20.0% (10th)

Predators: 17.2% (17th)

PK-

Flames: 76.9% (29th)

Predators: 78.9% (22nd)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. CHICAGO

27

22

2

3

47

2. ANAHEIM

26

20

3

3

43

3. VANCOUVER

26

13

7

6

32

4. ST. LOUIS

27

15

10

2

32

5. LOS ANGELES

26

14

10

2

30

6. MINNESOTA

26

14

10

2

30

7. SAN JOSE

26

12

8

6

30

8. PHOENIX

27

13

11

3

29

 

9. DETROIT

27

12

10

5

29

10. NASHVILLE

27

11

10

6

28

12. DALLAS

26

12

11

3

27

12. COLUMBUS

28

10

12

6

26

13. EDMONTON

26

10

11

5

25

14. CALGARY

25

10

11

4

24

15. COLORADO

26

10

12

4

24

 

MY TAKE:

It hurts me to say this, but in all honesty, the worst things for the Flames right now are victories.

It could not be a clearer as it is now, for the Flames to start moving in a new direction. There needs to be change in this organization and it will be the main focus, front cover story until management actually steps up and does it.

Rumors have been flying around possible names who could be on the move, most notably captain Jarome Iginla, but there is not much to add to the Iginla debate that has not already been said.

The name that pops out the most at me when looking at players who could be on the move is Lee Stempniak.

Stempniak has had an outstanding season so far and could be a key piece for a team looking to add a top-9 forward heading into the playoffs.

Stempniak is a good player, I would take him on my team but I feel Stempniak’s stock might never be any higher than it is this season.

Stempniak is fourth in team scoring with 7 goals and 18 points in 25 games this season but what is most impressive to me is his plus/minus rating of +6, which ranks second behind Matt Stajan (+9).

Stempniak does have another year on his contract but at a reasonable 2.5 million dollar cap hit.

 

A look at the other side:

I will probably regret saying this but looking at the standings and seeing where the Preds sit, I have trouble seeing them cracking the top eight with all their struggles to score goals.

General Manager, David Poile will have some difficult decisions to make as the deadline approaches as the Predators probably need a legitimate top line forward to have any chance making a push for a playoff spot.

Case in point, there just is not many top forwards available.

I have a tough time seeing the Ducks trading Corey Perry with them being a legitimate Cup contender but one name, that has been linked to rumors lately, to think about is Marian Gaborik.

The Rangers are said to be looking to add a right-handed defensemen and some more grit in their bottom six forwards.

Could Nashville be a viable suitor for Gaborik?

Gaborik carries a 7.5 million dollar price tag for another season after this and for a salary strapped team, like Nashville, that could be tough to swallow.

The Rangers would obviously have to take back salary to make any trade with the Preds work.

Would a package of rugged Patric Hornqvist, right-handed defensemen, Jonathan Blum and maybe a draft pick be enough for the Rangers to pull the trigger and ship struggling Gaborik to the Music City?

I have not watched Blum enough to make a good judgment on him but he was a 1st round draft pick (23rd overall) in 2007.

Hornqvist on the other hand, would be perfect on the Rangers third line, adding both scoring and grit. Hornqvist has averaged 20+ goals the last three seasons, including a career high, 30, in 2009-10 and would give the Rangers another Ryan Callahan type player.

Gaborik would instantly give the Preds an elite scoring threat, something the Predators have not had since Peter Forsberg, and ensure guys like Rinne and Shea Weber that management plans on being contenders for years to come.

John Tortorella loves guys like Hornqvist, while Gaborik could have a lot of success in Nashville, where the pressure from media and outside sources is not as great.

Enjoy the game!

 

 

Follow me on Twitter: @NickSymon