After spending a month on injured reserve, former Shark Miikka Kiprusoff will return to the Flames lineup tonight between the pipes, closing the revolving door of third-string goaltenders Calgary had been forced to ice for the past few weeks. Kiprusoff, as you'll recall, was in net when these teams faced each other on the season's opening weekend and the Sharks emerged with a 4-1 victory, their first of seven in a row to start the year.
Those were simpler times. The Flames actually dominated the Sharks for the first period of that game before presumably remembering that they're the Calgary Flames and getting boot-stomped the rest of the way. That contest more or less foreshadowed their season to come; they were a very effective territorial team through the first ten games of the season, albeit one that received dreadful goaltending from a combination of Kiprusoff and his legion of backups. Then Mikael Backlund, perhaps the most underrated player in the league, got hurt and the Flames fell off quite a bit in possession and the standings.
With points in four of their last five games, things might finally be looking up for Calgary. Also they didn't lose two draft picks for the right to watch Ryan O'Reilly wear a Blue Jackets sweater for the next two years so consider that a win as well. San Jose has a "lengthy" (by truncated season standards, anyway...it'll last about 75 hours) break coming up so it might be easy for them to overlook this game but things might not turn out so well if they do. The Flames are a deceptively competent team. Go Sharks.
|11-6-4, 26 points
||8-8-4, 20 points|
|5th in Western Conference||13th in Western Conference|
Projected Sharks Lineup
Logan Couture - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Tim Kennedy - Patrick Marleau - Ryane Clowe
James Sheppard - Scott Gomez - Bracken Kearns
Andrew Desjardins - Michal Handzus - Adam Burish
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brad Stuart
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Jason Demers
Projected Flames Lineup
Jiri Hudler - Roman Cervenka - Jarome Iginla
Alex Tanguay - Mike Cammalleri - Sven Baertschi
Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Lee Stempniak
Blake Comeau - Steve Begin - Brian McGrattan
Mark Giordano - Jay Bouwmeester
Chris Butler - Dennis Wideman
T.J. Brodie - Derek Smith