The Canes continue their Western Conference road trip, heading about 180 miles south to Cowtown. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since December 2011. That game was a barn burner with 7 goals scored in the 3rd period and Calgary holding on for the 7-6 victory. Caniacs might best remember that game as the one that Mike Murphy lost without even surrendering a goal. Carolina has not won in Calgary since December 12, 2002. Might this be an omen?
The Flames are a rebuilding team and currently 6th in the Pacific Division. But don't let that fool you, they have been competitive and have won a couple of games they probably shouldn't have. Like Carolina, they have a rather poor power play (14.7%) and a bottom half penalty kill (81.4%). They are led in points by Jiri Hudler, who is on pace for his best season ever. Hudler has also had some past success against the Hurricanes with 1 goal and 5 assists in 3 career games. We won't see Flame rookie sensation Sean Monahan, he's been out since November 28th with a broken foot.
In net for Calgary will either be with Karri Ramo, who is 1-2-0 with a 3.62 GAA in 3 games against the Hurricanes or Reto Berra, who has never faced Carolina, but does have a tie to the team. Carolina actually owned Toronto's 4th round pick in 2006, that pick was used as part of the deal that brought Doug Weight to Raleigh for the playoff run. That pick was used by St. Louis to select Reto Berra. Berra has started the past 2 games for the Flames, he has a 0.896 save percentage and a 3.18 GAA on the year.
The Flames are coming off an emotional game for their fans Tuesday night. It was the first time Jarome Iginla returned to Calgary and they battled the Bruins hard, but lost the game 2-1. They are 3-2-0 in their last 5 games and are without a regulation loss in 5 games against Metropolitan Division opponents. I would imagine that lineup will look similar to their game on Tuesday night. For more information on the Flames, visit their SB Blog; Matchsticks and Gasoline.
The Canes are coming off a game of jekyll and hyde. They started out extremely slow and found themselves down 4-1 to the Oilers. But the team never game up,fought back and got goals by Jordan Staal, Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner before losing in OT. The loser point was enough to move the Canes up to 3rd in the Metropolitan Division and currently in the playoff picture, but margins are extremely slim. Eric Staal's shorthanded goal in the 3rd period gave Carolina 6 shorthanded goals on the season. That leads the NHL and somewhat surprisingly, all 6 have been scored on the road.
Beside a shutout on Monday, the Canes have been scoring at a good clip lately. They have at least 4 goals in 4 of their past 5 games and are 3-1-1 in those games. Skinner has 8 points (6g, 2a) in those 5 games. Andrej Sekera has 10 points (4g, 6a) in his past 9 games and Eric Staal has 15 points (5g, 10a) in his past 14 games. Patrick Dwyer will be playing in his 300 career NHL game. And Justin Peters sports a 1.67 GAA in his last 10 games, only Ben Scrivens is lower among goalies with at least 8 games in that span.
The lines were juggled midway through the Edmonton game, with Jiri Tlusty moving up to play with Eric and Tuomo Ruutu and Skinner being put with Elias Lindholm. Through in the fact that Alexander Semin participated in regular practice yesterday and we could see a number of changes in tonight's lineup. I would suspect that Cam Ward gets the start in net, due to this being close to his hometown, but Peters is definitely the hotter goaltender right now.
The game thread will be open for business by 8:30 pm. It's a little earlier than the past 2 games, so turn the TV or computer on and lets cheer the Canes on to a much needed victory.
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