Kings/Flames Preview [Game #73]
Kings Roster Notes: (IN) Jonathan Quick (2.23 GAA, .918 SV%), Kevin Westgarth, Brad Richardson. (OUT) Peter Harrold, Davis Drewiske, Scott Parse, Kyle "It's nothing" Clifford.
Flames Roster Notes: (IN) Miikka Kiprusoff (2.64 GAA, .906 SV%). (OUT) Raitis Ivanans (concussion), David Moss (ankle), Adam Pardy (shoulder), Fredrik Modin (back), David Langkow (neck), Brendan Morrison (knee). For more info, see Matchsticks and Gasloline.
With Langkow and Morrison out, rookies Lance Bouma and Mikael Backlund now play at center for the Flames. When Backlund was jarred by a high hit by Corey Perry (quelle surprise), Curtis Glencross, usually a LW, was also shifted to that position. Backlund is apparently OK, but Sutter has another option to work with now.
Even with those challenges, offense hasn't been a problem for Calgary of late; goaltending has. Miikka Kiprusoff, the usual workhorse for the Flames, hasn't been great lately. To top it off, he was pulled after giving up three goals in the first period on Saturday. Backup Karlsson is a good young goalie -- like Bernier, one of The Goalie Guild's favorite talents to watch -- but Sutter had earlier declared that Kiprusoff would get the majority of the starts down the stretch, and confirmed that Kipper will "absolutely" be in net again tonight.
The Kings, on the other hand, are looking to build on the positives from their last outing despite a tough OT loss. Frustrating as that was -- especially since it featured yet another waved-off goal -- they should remember that they've only had 4 regulation losses in the last 25 games, and keep their chins up. I also wish the players (and the crowd) would calm down on power plays. Anxiety-fueled cries of SHOOOOOOOT seem to result in blasts from the point over and over instead of opting for a simple wrister. Deep breaths, everyone. Feel the zen. May the force be with you.
Terry Murray has broken up the Smyth-Stoll-Brown line by swapping in Michal Handzus. While I expected some line juggling, his moves usually manage to surprise me. Is it because Zeus and Brown connected for a goal? Because Ryan Smyth doesn't really fit anywhere outside the top six? In any case, the line matchups in this physical contest should be intriguing.
A Flames loss at this point would likely be a death knell to Calgary's playoff hopes, but LA's position is far from secure either. This should be yet another hard-fought match with playoff intensity. A win could put the Kings back in 5th -- and, more importantly, 2 points closer to the postseason.