So, I was gonna do my usually somewhat thorough job of researching the Flames for tonight's game. Then I visited Matchsticks and Gasoline and saw the scores from their last handful of games and I couldn't look away from the abject horror. 2-0 Loss to the Lightning, 4-1 loss to Philly, 2-0 loss to the 'Nucks, 2-0 loss to the Oilers, and a then, waaaay back on Christmas Eve they got a gift 4-3 win in the shootout over the Blues of all people. That's the bulk of their 2-6-2 record in their last ten. So nobody in a Calgary jersey is what you'd call "hot" (that's a pun, son) right now. Leading goal scorer is Mike Cammalleri (12g), while Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan have 11 goals each. I'm projecting Reto Berra (5-11-2) and his 0.903 S% and 2.92 GAA average will get the start tonight.
So I feel pretty good going into the game, even if the boys in burgundy are still without P.A. Parenteau and Alex Tanguay. I have no idea what bottom pair of d-men that Roy is gonna roll out tonight, but if he sticks with what's gotten the team the last two W's at home, I imagine Wilson and Barrie are gonna be watching another one. He could surprise us all and throw Holden and Sarich on nachos, so who knows. There are a few things I do know though:
- Erik Johnson is playing like a boss with 7 goals and 12 assists this year, including points in 4 straight.
- Semyon Varlamov (19-8-4, 3-0-1 in his lat 4) is playing some great hockey (0.927 S%).
- Matt Duchene (38 points in 38 games, including points in the last three) and Nathan MacKinnon (12g, 14a) are exciting to watch.
- So far, Big Meat is capitalizing on his top 6 opportunities with a goal in each game since moving up the depth chart.
The Avs are now midway through this "Make a Statement and Control Your Own Destiny" homestand, taking 7-of-8 possible points. The Sharks and Flyers (both regulation W's) were considered the challenges of this stretch of games. But surely the Avs aren't the kind of squad that would get up for good teams and play down to less good teams, right? There's no way that they overlook the hapless fLames, the wildly-inconsistent Sens, or the "We're already in next year guys" Isles, right? Well, now I'm worried about the game...
Avalanche Projected Lines:
Max Talbot - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn
Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
fLames Projected Lines:
Cammalleri - Monahan - Jones
Stempniak - Backlund - Hudler
Byron - Stajan - McGrattan
Westgarth - Colborne - Galiardi
Giordano - Brodie
Smid - Wideman
Butler - O'Brien