|Evidence of the craziness that is the Western Conference playoff picture right now: the Calgary Flames are one of five teams separated by three points in the standings, and with just 10 games remaining on their regular-season schedule, it’s safe to say the Flames will be in desperation mode tonight against the Blue Jackets. |
The last two weeks have been kind to the Flames, who surged up the standings with a five-game winning streak that ended two nights ago at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Calgary would have liked a win against the 14th-place club in the conference, but stumbled to a 3-1 defeat and saw several teams around them pick up at least a point before the weekend games began. During their five-game winning streak, the Flames picked up wins over teams playing very well of late: Montreal, Winnipeg, Minnesota, San Jose and Phoenix.
Calgary’s “Sea of Red” was in a fervor during that streak as rookie forward Sven Baertschi was recalled on an emergency basis from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. The locals called it “Svensanity,”playing off the instant fame of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin – and the 19-year-old did not disappoint in scoring three goals in the five-game stretch. With Lee Stempniak now back to full health and ready to return to the Flames lineup tonight versus the Blue Jackets, Baertschi was sent back to the Winterhawks on Saturday afternoon.
Despite missing key pieces like Mikael Backlund, Blair Jones and Chris Butler, the Flames have forged on and have received spectacular goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff throughout the season. Calgary has flipped between youngsters Henrik Karlsson and Leland Irving for the backup goalie job, and for now, it appears to be Karlsson who gets the No. 2 slot with Irving being sent back to Abbotsford (AHL).
For the Blue Jackets, they will look for their third win over the Flames in the season series. Columbus has defeated Calgary both at Nationwide Arena and at the Saddledome so far this year.
| || || |
|Nash (24) ||Iginla (31) |
|Prospal (33) ||Tanguay (35) |
|Nash (47) ||Iginla (62) |
|Dorsett (192) ||Jackman (88) |
|MacKenzie (+4) ||Tanguay (+9) |
|Sanford (10-18-4) |
|Kirprusoff (33-19-8) |
|Sanford (2.62) ||Kirprusoff (2.36) |
|Sanford (.911) ||Kirprusoff (.921) || |
|• The Blue Jackets enter tonight’s game having dropped four straight games. Prior to the skid, the club had a four-game winning streak Mar. 1-8, the first time the club has won four straight games since Nov. 17-24, 2010, when the club won five straight games. The Jackets have gone 9-10-1 the last 20 games after posting a 4-15-2 mark the previous 21 outings. |
• Derick Brassard had points in five-straight games after notching an assist Mar. 8 vs. Los Angeles. He has 1-5-6 the last eight games, while registering points in eight of the last 13 (3-7-10). He has collected 10-17-27 the last 38 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
• C Mark Letestu snapped a 16-game goalless skid with two goals Mar. 8 vs. Los Angeles. He had last scored Dec. 18 at St. Louis. The multi-goal game is the second of his NHL career and first since Dec. 8, 2010 vs. Toronto (with Pittsburgh), a span of 80 games. He had an assist last night at Vancouver to give him points in five of the last six games after being held pointless the previous five games.
• LW Vinny Prospal has points in 11 of the last 21 games after scoring his 12th goal of the season last night at Vancouver, his first goal in eight games. He had last scored Feb. 26 at Pittsburgh. He has tallied 3-12-15 the last 21 games after being held pointless the previous nine games. He leads the club in assists and ranks second in points and is third in goals.
D - #23
• Being traded to the Flames a few years back has proven to be one of the better career moves for Tanguay. He recently signed a five-year extension to stay in Calgary and he’s formed a solid pair with Jarome Iginla on the Flames’ top line.
D Radek Martinek (concussion); out for the season
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely
D Marc Methot (jaw); indefinitely
D Fedor Tyutin (hand); indefinitely
C Derek MacKenzie (concussion like symptoms); day-to-day