The woes at home continue for the Calgary Flames, and those woes need to be rectified in short order. After Monday's 2-1 shootout loss to Minnesota, the Flames have just one win in six games played at the Scotiabank Saddledome as they continue a three game home stand tonight. Calgary will welcome Dallas, a team who is playing by far their best hockey of the season (7:30 pm, Sportsnet 960).
There just wasn't much there on Monday night, as the Flames and Wild turned back the clock and gave us a game that resembled something the teams would have played in 2003. Scoring chances were way down, there wasn't always a ton of flow, and it seemed like both teams were content to get the game to extra time and earn the extra point.
The problem, for the Flames anyway, has been their lack of success beyond 65 minutes. Calgary fell to 0-3 in the shootout this year and now sit 3-12 dating back to last season. Head Coach Bob Hartley wants to see his team approach the shootout with more swagger and more confidence, but the question is: how do you get that swagger until you win a game?
Calgary Flames 3-4-3, 14th Western Conference
Jiri Hudler-Alex Tanguay-Roman Cervenka
Curtis Glencross-Paul Byron-Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri-Matt Stajan-Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau/Steve Begin-Blair Jones-Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano-Jay Bouwmeester
Dennis Wideman-T.J. Brodie
Chris Butler-Cory Sarich
Byron makes his season debut with the Flames after being recalled by the team on Monday; he replaces Ben Street in the lineup. Street was re-assigned to Abbotsford after playing a pair of games with Calgary. All reviews have been positive when talking about Byron's play with the Heat this year. He's scored six goals and put up 15 points in 35 games with the team, and his speedy game may fit well with how Hartley wants this team to play. In 22 games with the Flames last year, Byron had three goals and five points. Just like Street, Byron is going to get an opportunity to succeed, being put on a line with Glencross and Iginla.
Cammalleri makes his return to the lineup tonight after missing three games with a hip flexor injury. While much of the talk has been centered on Iginla's lack of scoring, the production also hasn't come from Cammalleri. In seven games this year, he's yet to score a goal while putting up five assists. The fact Cammalleri has put up points in just three of the seven games he's played, however, is a little more telling. He needs to be more of an impact player.
The lines above are what the team went with at practice on Monday. Neither Stajan nor Byron were present, as the latter was en route and the former had a maintenance day. Those two could be swapped on the lines above. Then again, the way we've seen Hartley shuffle things, we'll likely be taking an eraser to those lines at some point tonight. Derek Smith and Anton Babchuk look to sit out on the blueline. There's no word who will sit up front.
Leland Irving will start his third straight game in net tonight. While not outstanding, he's given the Flames a chance in the games he's played thus far. Backing him up will be Joey MacDonald, who was claimed on waivers Monday morning. The goaltending news has been plentiful of late and continued this morning when Danny Taylor cleared waivers and was re-assigned to Abbotsford. All this shuffling comes as Miikka Kiprusoff remains on the sideline with a grade two MCL sprain; he's expected out another couple weeks.
Dallas Stars 7-5-1, 7th Western Conference
Brenden Morrow-Jamie Benn-Jaromir Jagr
Loui Eriksson-Derek Roy-Michael Ryder
Reilly Smith-Cody Eakin-Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Ryan Garbutt
Stephane Robidas-Brenden Dillon
Alex Goligoski-Philip Larsen
Aaron Rome-Trevor Daley
Those lines were what the Stars went with last night in an impressive 4-1 win in Edmonton. The win was good for their fourth straight win and fifth in six games. After starting the season 2-4-1, Dallas has elevated themselves back into the playoff picture with balanced scoring and by allowing just six goals in their four consecutive wins.
At 40 years of age, Jagr continues to be one of the league's most intriguing stories. He leads the team with nine points so far and has contributed at key times. The only unfortunate thing with Dallas is knowing that his ageless teammate is out of the lineup. Ray Whitney remains on the sidelines with a broken foot with a fairly loose timetable for returning. He had six points in eight games before going down with the injury.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Benn has shown no signs of rust despite missing all of training camp and five regular season games in a contract dispute. He has eight points in the eight games he's played and I don't think it's much of a coincidence the Stars have seen much better results since his return. Benn signed a five year, $26.25 million deal with Dallas as a restricted free agent.
The goaltending in Dallas has been outstanding thus far. Kari Lehtonen has been stellar and his numbers back that up. His 2.17 goals against average is the third best number in the NHL and his 0.933 save percentage is nothing to scoff at either. Lehtonen has been pretty solid since joining the team in 2010 and he's been at his best so far this season. That said, Dallas didn't come to the rink this morning and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Richard Bachman in this evening as Lehtonen got the start in Edmonton last night.