Some familiar faces will return to the lineup tonight when the Calgary Flames continue their final home stand of the season tonight against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 pm, Sportsnet 960). Both Matt Stajan and Miikka Kiprusoff will get back into game action tonight as the Flames play their second last home game of the season. They finish off their home schedule on Friday night when they welcome the Anaheim Ducks.
This is the final time these two teams will meet with the Red Wings serving as a Western Conference opponent, as they’ll switch to the East for next season with realignment. These two teams have had some memorable playoff series over the last while, including Calgary’s 2004 upset win in the second round. A few years later, Detroit dispatched of Calgary in six games in one of Kiprusoff’s more memorable playoff appearances.
If the Flames lose this game in any fashion, they will officially be eliminated from playoff contention.
Calgary Flames 16-22-4, 14th Western Conference
Stajan returns to the lineup after missing four games with an upper body injury. As a result, Roman Cervenka will sit out as a healthy scratch; he’d been playing mostly fourth line minutes over the last few games. It’ll be big for Stajan to get back in for the final few games, just to get get things back in a groove before the off season. He suffered the injury last Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Miikka Kiprusoff will get the start in net after Joey MacDonald started the last three games for the Flames. Head Coach Bob Hartley confirmed Kiprusoff will get the start in net tonight and on Friday against the Ducks; for those who believe this is the swan song at the Saddledome for Calgary’s longtime number one, this will give an opportunity to bid farewell. Kiprusoff maintains he hasn’t made a decision on his status for next season.
Brian McGrattan could return to the lineup on Friday, but won’t play tonight. He’s missed the last five games with a shoulder injury.
Detroit Red Wings 20-15-7, 8th Western Conference
The Red Wings enter action tonight in a tenuous playoff spot at best. With 47 points, they technicall hold down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they’ve got the Columbus Blue Jackets hot on their tail. A Red Wings loss coupled with a Blue Jackets win in Anaheim tonight could see Detroit out of the top eight for the first time in a while. If they do not make the playoffs, it will snap a streak of 21 consecutive years in the NHL postseason dance.
The Red Wings are healthier than they’ve been in a little while, but continue to be without a few important members. Both Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi have been out long term with back injuries, with Helm missing 38 games and Bertuzzi missing 32 to this point. Mikael Samuelsson has missed seven games with an upper body injury. Detroit will scratch Jordin Tootoo tonight and Carlo Colaiacovo this evening while putting Eaves and Quincey back in in their respective spots.
Jimmy Howard gets the start in net for Detroit after officially signing a six year contract extension with the team yesterday.