With memories of last year's 7-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in game 82 still lingering in their heads, the Calgary Flames are looking to close the 2010-11 campaign on a positive note.
"Obviously, it's the same situation. They're a team, they're going to be trying to get ready for playoffs so they're going to try and bring their A game," Mark Giordano said. "Obviously last year wasn't a good feeling. We want to have a better feeling going into the summer than what happened last year."
Head coach Brent Sutter believes the loss last year stayed with his club long after their season had finished and knows his team will use that as motivation tonight against their divisional rivals.
"It was a real stinger," he said with a shake of his head. "Just with our total, overall effort. That's what not what you want to see your team play like at any point in time. The stakes, I know, aren't the same as if you were getting ready for playoffs or fighting for a playoff spot but nonetheless, you want to see your team compete hard and play hard."
A big issue the team will be grappling with is knowing they are essentially playing for nothing. Olli Jokinen acknowledged this but was sure the club will be able to come through with a great effort.
"We're all professional athletes. We need to win this game to have a good feeling for summer. Obviously we're all disappointed that we didn't get in the playoffs. It's been really frustrating the last couple days to know the fact we're not in the postseason. On the other hand, we want to finish the season with 95 points. We want to leave here going for summer with a positive note and have that feeling for the whole summer. Have that positive feeling and feel after what we did here for the last 50 games for the next season and carry that over.
"I know it's a long summer and there's going to be changes, that's part of the game, but you've got to play for his logo in front of the jersey tonight. The way we play tonight is going to show a lot about what kind of team we have over here. I believe we have a high character team here and we have guys who want to win and want to be part of this team. Tonight is the last chance to show this."
On Wednesday, Miikka Kiprusoff tied a franchise record set by Mike Vernon for most wins by a goaltender. Many thought he would be in net against the Canucks to search for win #263 to break the record but Sutter has opted to hand Henrik Karlsson the goaltending reigns.
"Karl will play in goal tonight," he stated. "After having a discussion with Miikka and not being totally 100 per cent, I made the decision that we would go with Karl tonight."
With Lance Bouma and Greg Nemisz reassigned to Abbotsford, the Flames will be double-shifting forwards in order to fill holes up front. Niklas Hagman, who hinted at a possibility of returning to the lineup last week, has suffered a setback and will not suit up. Brett Carson has stepped in to play on the wing on the fourth line before and that may happen once again tonight.
The Flames didn't skate a fourth line on Friday but did complete line rushes for the other three. Here are our projected lines and defensive pairings from yesterday's full practice:
Tanguay - Backlund - Iginla
Bourque - Jokinen - Jackman
Glencross - Langkow - Kostopoulos
Carson - Stajan - X
Regehr - Bouwmeester
Giordano - Sarich
Babchuk - Staios