VANCOUVER -- It's Hockey Day in Canada and the final game of the celebration features two Western Conference rivals in the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks.
While the Canucks have been on cruise control this season and battling for first overall in the National Hockey League. The Flames have battled themselves back into a playoff position.
The Flames arrived here late Friday after hosting Anaheim at home and falling 5-4 in overtime. They held a meeting at the hotel here but were not required to report to the rink for a morning skate. Although Alex Tanguay is on the road trip, there was no word prior to the game on whether or not he will dress and he remains day-to-day with a neck strain injury.
Calgary has put together an impressive string lately and, during their push to the playoffs, they knocked off Vancouver in a shootout at Rogers Arena January 5. That's a rare feat this season as the Canucks are 19-4-5 at home with 100 goals for and just 65 against.
The Flames currently hold down the eighth and final playoff spot, although it should be noted that they have played more games than any other team in the Western Conference. They are a team playing relaxed and confident hockey and have gained points in their last 10 games.
When these teams meet it is usually a tough, hard-fought affair. So, it's not surprising in the three games the Flames have played Vancouver this season that rugged Tim Jackman has scored in all three games. He also has an assist to lead the Flames in points this season against Vancouver. Not bad for a guy who is averaging 7:39 in ice time against the Canucks.
The Flames are playing .500 hockey on the road with a 12-12-5 record and have won their last three away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Vancouver holds a decided stats edge in tonight's match-up. They have outscored the Flames 13-7 in three previous games, outshot the Flames 101-97, held the Flames power play to just one goal in 12 attempts and scored three power play goals in 15 tries against the Flames.
Vancouver will welcome back the oft-injured Sami Salo tonight. The defenceman has missed the first 55 games of the season with an Achilles tendon tear.
"Originally, when it first happened, talking to friends who've had similar injuries in different sports, they say it is not an easy injury to come from," Salo told the Vancouver Sun. " They said it would take a lot of mental toughness - you don't see a difference on a daily basis, or even a weekly basis, so you have to be really patient and eventually it will pay off. But, you know, it's not an easy road to go through, I can tell you that."
NOTES: Vancouver will be rested as they did not play Friday. However Calgary is 4-4-1-0 in the second game of back-to-back games this season, including a win in Vancouver in January in a shootout...Cory Search played in the 800th game of his career Friday against Anaheim. Earlier in the week fellow defenceman Robyn Regehr reached the same mark. Regehr has played all his games with the Flames. Oh, and by the way, he is on a five-game point streak.
FLAMES SCRATCHES: D Adam Pardy (upper body) is out indefinitely, F Alex Tanguay is day-to-day with a neck strain. Daymond Langkow (neck); Raitis Ivanans (head) remain out indefinitely.
Bourque- Morrison- Iginla
Mikkelson or Staios-Babchuk
GAMETIME: 8 p.m. (MT), Rogers Arena. CBC and The Fan 960