The youth movement has started to take over for the Calgary Flames, as they’ve added another fresh face to their lineup tonight. The Flames will look to snap their franchise record 13 game road losing streak and their five game skid overall this evening when they finish off a three game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche (7 pm, Sportsnet 960 and Sportsnet West).
This game is interesting if you’re a Flames or Avalanche fan, but likely skippable if you cheer for any other team. A battle between the 14th and 15th placed teams in the Western Conference isn’t going to draw a ton of eyeballs from elsewhere, but the fact Calgary is in line for a top three draft pick for the first time in franchise history. Many Flames fans hope their team can play well and play with some pride, but also lose most of the games they’re playing in. It’s a very odd dilemma, and a brand new one for fans in this city.
Calgary’s elimination number is 5 heading into action tonight.
The lines above are nothing but projected and possible, as the Flames have made a ton of lineup changes for this game tonight. Glencross returns to the lineup after missing Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Canucks with a lower body injury. It was a fairly minor injury and with very little to play for down the stretch, Calgary wouldn’t be putting Glencross in the lineup unless he was just fine. The Flames will have Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and Jiri Hudler (upper body) out of the lineup this evening.
The team will welcome Baertschi back to the lineup after he was called up on Sunday morning. This will be his second stint in the NHL this season after starting the season with the Flames before being sent down to Abbtosford at the beginning of March. Before getting the recall yesterday, Baertschi had eight points in 11 games with the Heat. Currently, Baertschi is up on emergency recall but could turn into a regular recall when players start to become healthy again. That’s important knowing the recall sitaution teams are in following the Trade Deadline.
Teams are allowed four recalls between the Deadline and the end of the regular season, and Calgary has already used three on Carson, Horak, and Reinhart. If/when Baertschi turns into a regular recall, the team will have used up all four. The forwards on recall, especially, are all pieces that Flames fans hope will be a big part of the future. Horak continues to evolve as an NHL forward while Reinhart impressed in playing over 16 minutes in his NHL debut on Saturday. The expectations remain very high on Baertschi, Calgary’s first round pick in 2011.
Joey MacDonald will get the start in net tonight.
The injuries continue for the Avalanche, as they’ll be without a number of regulars once again tonight. Colorado will welcome David Jones back to the lineup, as he’s missed five games with with a knee injury. The Avs remain without Paul Stastny (foot), Milan Hejduk (shoulder), Chuck Kobasew (torso), and Ryan Wilson (ankle). Early in the season, Steve Downie had season ending knee surgery.
Colorado has had a dreadful go of things the last month or so, going 2-11-1 over their last 14 games, plumetting to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. What’s interesting is that they stayed fairly quiet at the Trade Deadline, making just the one move. The Avs sent defenseman Ryan O’Byrne to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 4th round draft pick. This team has a pretty decent core, which is why this season has been as disappointing as it’s been.
Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net tonight, his 32 start of the season.