DENVER -- The Calgary Flames wrap up a two-game swing through the Northwest Conference with a game against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.
To say the least it was an eventful morning at the Pepsi Center.
First, word spread that Peter Forsberg, who had been attempting a comeback, had decided to retire.
Then, following Flames practice, it was revealed that Alex Tanguay, the Flames forward who has been out with a neck strain, had been cleared to play and would be flying to Denver today to join the team for tonight's game. Head coach Brent Sutter said Tanguay playing would be a game time decision but hoped that he wasn't making the trip just to have his "pom poms on."
For the morning skate Lance Bouma skated with Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison on the top line. If Tanguay is able to play -- and there is every reason to believe he will play -- Bouma may be the healthy scratch in the forward ranks.
Heading onto the game the Avs, a young team that surprised many last season, were eight points back of the Flames in the Western Conference -- not out of the playoff race but needing a serious string of wins to get back into the playoff picture.
They sit in 13th spot in the Western Conference -- exactly where the Flames were in December. A big push since that time has catapulted the Flames into playoff contention and a win tonight would put Calgary back into a playoff spot.
The big news in Denver was the retirement of Forsberg. The one-time superstar, plagued by injuries in recent years, was slated to abort his comeback attempt at a 2:30 pm MTN news conference at the Pepsi Center.
Forsberg, out of the NHL for two seasons, played two recent games with the Avs, averaging about 17 minutes a game. He went pointless and was minus four with three shots on net.
"Obviously I was surprised by the decision," said Avs head coach Joe Sacco. "I thought he played hard every time he stepped on the ice."
While Forsberg's comeback was a short one, Sacco said it was something the Avs fully backed for a player who is likely headed to the Hall of Fame and who remains one of the best players the organization has seen. "There was really nothing to lose for us," said Sacco. "For me it was a no-brainer. I have no regrets."
The Avs rode the outstanding goaltending of Craig Anderson last season. This season Anderson is merely mortal with a 13-15-3 records and a 3.19 goals against average. Tonight the Flames will see Peter Budaj who has a 12-10-3 record this season. He is 1-1-0 against the Flames this season.
Calgary will start workhorse Miikka Kiprusoff who is 2-0 against the Avs this season.
Colorado is on a seven-game losing streak, the longest such streak since the Avs moved to Denver from Quebec City on 1995. So we can expect to see a desperate team and tightly contested match-up. After all, nine of the last 10 games between these two teams have been decided by one goal.
FLAMES ROSTER: D Adam Pardy (upper body), Daymond Langkow (neck); Raitis Ivanans (head) remain out indefinitely.
FLAMES PROJECTED LINES:
Mikkelson or Staios-Babchuk
GAMETIME: 8 p.m. (MT), Pepsi Center, Sportsnet West and The Fan 960