Calgary Flames (27-22-8, 62 pts) @ Dallas Stars (28-25-3, 59 pts)
7:30 PM CT, February 16, 2012
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Four points. That’s all that separates the Stars from a playoff spot right now but with the losses slowly starting to pile up, those four points are starting to look like 14 points. Dallas gets a chance to right that ship tonight against the Calgary Flames, a team that is sitting one point out of the playoffs as of today. Somehow, Dallas has gone this entire season without playing the Flames (or the Vancover Canucks for that matter). This game and the remaining three games in this series will have a huge hand in deciding the fate of the Stars.
Dallas was on the wrong end of history in their last game, a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings and their stupid home winning streak. The first twenty minutes were all the difference in that game. Detroit came out possessed and Dallas allowed the Wings to bullly them around. That led to two goals for the Wings in the first ten minutes and a lead that Dallas couldn’t overcome.
The Stars actually played pretty well the rest of the game, but they were always pressing in an attempt to make up those two goals. Dallas spent nearly the entire first six minutes of the third period in the Wings zone (offensive pressure, amazing how much that helps to prevent goals).
The message of effort has been said over and over again but it just doesn’t get through to the players (the repeated terrible turnovers do not help at all either). Hoping for full out effort from start to finish in this game might be too much to ask for but that’s exactly what Dallas needs tonight. The Flames aren’t a pushover team and have had a good string of games lately.
Expect another Kari Lehtonen start tonight (with hopefully Bachman in the next game, don’t want to tire Lehtonen out).
Brenden Morrow will miss another week or two with his neck problems. It seems Sheldon Souray’s foot injury is a little bit more serious that previously thought and he might be out another game or two.
more after the jump
The Flames have had a Stars-like season this year. Like Dallas, they have been up and down all season. Unfortunately for the Stars, they catch the Flames while they are on one of their upward trends of the season. Calgary has won four of their last six games, but have gotten at least one point in each in of these games which has put them ahead of the Stars. Their last game was an impressive 5-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The guys to watch out for on this team are pretty obvious. Jarome Iginla continues to toll his career away in Calgary and has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last six games and is the leading goal-scorer on this team.
The one with the most points though is Olli Jokinen. The Finnish veteran is on a tear recently, tallying 10 points the last seven games (six goals, four assists) and is playing his best hockey since mid-November.
Alex Tanguay has also been playing well. He has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last six games. He also leads the team in assists on the power-play so whenever the Flames are on the advantage, Dallas needs to rotate quickly to where he is and cut off the passing lanes.
The Flames have been riding goalie Miikka Kipprusoff all season so that shouldn’t change tonight. He’s been playing stellar lately, stopping 104 of the last 108 shots he’s faced (he made 41 saves in that game against the Leafs). If nothing else, Dallas needs to pepper him with shots, force him to make saves and hope he tires at some point.
The Flames are ravaged by injuries, mostly in the ankle area. They are missing five forwards: Curtis Glencross (MCL tear), Lee Stempniak (ankle), David Moss (ankle), Blair Jones (ankle) and Mikael Backlund (arm). Also out is defenseman Derek Smith (ankle).
Notes and thoughts:
- Dallas is 15-11-2 at home this season.
- Calgary 11-14-6 on the road this year. They are 3-0-3 in their last six road games.
- Not to be a downer, but the Flames swept the Stars last season.
- In their last five road games, Calgary’s PP is 4 of 18 (22%). In their last three games though (1 road, 2 home), Calgary is 0 of 10.
- Jamie Benn has been held pointless in four of this last six games. He’s been shooting the puck a lot though with 15 shots in his last four games.
- Alex Goligoski has been playing very well lately. He’s moving the puck well and his skating ability has helped tremendously in attacks. He has five points in his last four games (one goal, four assists).
- Eric Nystrom has been held goalless and pointless in the last seven games. His shots on goal are also down. He’s had more than one shot in only two of the eight games this month and hasn’t had more than two shots on goal since January 12.