Game Preview: Flames vs Toronto Maple Leafs

CALGARY FLAMES (26-22-8 60 points) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (28-22-6 62 points) GAME # 57

 

PREVIEW:

On a busy 9-game schedule in the NHL, no game could be more important than tonight’s match-up between the Flames and Leafs. Both teams are battling for the last playoff positions in their respective conferences, as the Leafs currently sit 8th in the East while the Flames are trying to gain ground on the 8th place Phoenix Coyotes, sitting 3 points back. Tonight will be the second and final meeting between the clubs as the Leafs took the first game back on October 15th at the Air Canada Centre, 3-2.

It should be a playoff type atmosphere down at the Dome as the Flames will look to build off a huge 3-2 SO victory against the Canucks on Saturday. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories for the Flames but all that matters is that they managed to get the two points and continue their point streak as they now have points in five straight games, going 3-0-2 during that stretch. Once again Miikka Kiprusoff was the difference for the Flames on Saturday versus the Canucks as the Flames squandered an early 2-0 lead. There was a time when I was watching the game where I thought it was only a matter of time before the Canucks took the lead in the third. I thought the Flames played well in the 1st; taking advantage of the Canucks who really sat back but things took a full 360 after that as the Canucks showed why they are once again battling for top spot in the West. Moral of the story, thank god for Kipper.

The Leafs will look to turn things around as they are currently on a 3 game skid and coming off an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.  I was able to watch the majority of that game as well and boy did the Leafs look average. I have a couple of buddies who are Leafs fans and as we talked about their strong finish last year, I told them I thought they will live and die with James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson as I don’t think either goalie is a number one nor will they carry the Leafs anywhere if they do in fact make the playoffs. Reimer was below average on Saturday and has a 4.90 GAA and .852 save percentage in his last two starts. I always thought it was a huge risk for the Leafs to rely on Reimer after he was fourth on their depth chart to start the 10/11 season. Look for Gustavsson to get the start tonight as the Leafs kick off their three-game Western Canada road trip.

Injuries continue to pile up for the Flames as it just doesn’t seem like the team can catch a break. Mikael Backlund, who stepped into fight Andrew Alberts after a questionable hit on Saturday, injured what looked like his shoulder on the play and will be out 4-6 weeks. GM Jay Feaster was once again forced to make another call to Abbotsford as Paul Byron will join the Flames tonight and for the foreseeable future. Byron has appeared in 18 games this season for the Flames, registering 2 goals and 3 points. Backlund joins a long list of injured Flames, as the Flames brass and fans hope the list doesn’t continue to grow. Never the less, you can’t use injuries as an excuse and some of these young players are sure getting their shot, being thrown right into the fire. The Flames have to continue to play a simple team game, getting pucks on net, getting traffic and taking chances offensively when they are presented to them. I think the Flames are in tough in their last 25 games of the season to make the playoffs but they can really show some resiliency and heart if they can pull it off and squeak into that last and final playoff spot. Here’s hoping as you always hear, just get in and you have a shot.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                         Leafs:

1-TANGUAY-JOKINEN-IGINLA                                     1-LUPUL-BOZAK-KESSEL

2-KOSTOPOULOS-CAMMALLERI-COMEAU              2-MacARTHUR-GRABOVSKI-CONNOLLY

3-BOUMA-HORAK-KOLANOS                                     3-KULEMIN-LOMBARDI-CRABB

4-BYRON-STAJAN-JACKMAN                                     4-BROWN-STECKEL-BOYCE

 

1-BOUWMEESTER-BUTLER                                       1-PHANEUF-AULIE

2-GIORDANO-HANNAN                                               2-FRANSON-LILES

3-BRODIE-SARICH                                                      3-GARDINER-SCHENN

 

1-KIPRUSOFF                                                              1-GUSTAVSSON          

2-IRVING                                                                       2-REIMER

 

EXTRA- BABCHUK                                                EXTRA- KOMISAREK, ARMSTRONG, ROSEHILL

INJURIES:

Flames: C- Mikael Backlund (Upper Body- 4-6 Weeks), C- Blair Jones (Ankle- Out Indefinitely), RW- Lee Stempniak (Ankle- IR) LW- Curtis Glencross (Knee- IR), C- David Moss (Lower Body-IR), D- Derek Smith (Ankle- IR)

Leafs: D- Carl Gunnarsson (Ankle- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

O. Jokinen

56

17

29

46

2

J. Iginla

56

21

23

44

-5

C. Glencross

45

18

15

33

-4

A. Tanguay

39

6

22

28

1

M. Cammalleri

48

12

14

26

-13

 

Leafs

PLAYER

GP

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

+/-

P. Kessel

56

30

30

60

7

J. Lupul

56

22

36

58

6

M. Grabovski

50

18

21

39

6

T. Bozak

47

12

22

34

6

D. Phaneuf

56

8

25

33

-3

 

PP-

Flames: 17.5% (15th)

Leafs: 19.4% (7th)

PK-

Flames: 83.5% (11th)

Leafs: 76.4% (29th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

WINS

LOSSES

OTL

POINTS

1. DETROIT

57

38

17

2

78

2. VANCOUVER

56

35

15

6

76

3. SAN JOSE

54

31

17

6

68

4. ST. LOUIS

55

34

14

7

75

5. NASHVILLE

56

32

18

6

70

6. CHICAGO

56

29

20

7

65

7. L.A

57

27

19

11

65

8. PHOENIX

57

27

21

9

63

 

9. CALGARY

56

26

22

8

60

10. COLORADO

57

28

25

4

60

11. DALLAS

55

28

24

3

59

12.MINNESOTA

55

25

22

8

58

13. ANAHEIM

55

22

24

9

53

14.EDMONTON

55

22

28

5

49

15. COLUMBUS

56

16

34

6

38

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Last ten games: Flames 5-2-3, Leafs 5-4-1
  • The Flames will look to push their point streak to 6 tonight. The last time the club did that was a stretch between Jan. 21- Feb. 11, 2011 when they went 8-0-2.
  • Miikka Kiprusoff is easily one of the best, if not the best player in the league right now backstopping the Flames. In his last four starts, Kiprusoff has posted a 3-0-1 record with a .938 save percentage.
  • Kiprusoff is 6-0-1 with a 2.57 GAA in his last 8 starts against the Leafs and needs just one victory to tie Turk Broda for 25th all-time (302).
  • Mike Cammalleri will shift to center tonight to fill in for injured Mikael Backlund. The last time Cammalleri played center full-time was during the lockout year when he played for the Kings farm team, the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL.
  • The Leafs haven’t won in Calgary in nearly 9 years as they last victory at the Dome came way back on Dec. 27, 2002.
  • Dion Phaneuf and Matthew Lombardi will both make a return to the Dome tonight in Leafs colors. Phaneuf is 5th in team scoring with 33 points, while Lombardi has 6 goals and 12 points so far this season.
  • James Reimer is the complete opposite of Kiprusoff as he has allowed 8 goals in his last 5 periods of play.
  • The Flames will sport their retro 3rd jerseys tonight. The Flames plan to wear the jerseys five more times this season (Feb. 25th vs. the Flyers, Mar. 4th vs. the Stars, Mar. 6th vs. the Habs, Mar. 9th vs. the Jets & Apr. 7th vs. the Ducks).

 

GAME DAY QUOTE:

"I think coming up, you've just got to do whatever it takes to help this team win, every game is important now. Every team is in playoff hockey. You watch every game on TV and they're intense. You've just got to come up and prepare for that."

– Flames most recent call-up Paul Byron

 

 

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