Game Day: Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche

 

Keep your eyes on Alex Tanguay and Paul Stastny

 
 
 
 
Alex Tanguay, right, celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
 

Alex Tanguay, right, celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Jim Mone, Associated Press

Calgary Flames (7-7-4) at Colorado Avalanche (7-8-3)

7 p.m., Pepsi Center

TV: Sportsnet Calgary

Radio: FAN 960

THE FLAMES

Keep Your Eye On

Alex Tanguay — Fresh off his 900th game, and with four points in his past three outings, he returns to the rink where he’s produced 213 points.

The Lines

* Tanguay Stajan Iginla

* Glencross Cammalleri Stempniak

* Baertschi Comeau Hudler

* Aliu Begin Jackman

The Pairings

* Giordano Bouwmeester

* Brodie Wideman

* Butler Sarich

The Goalies

* MacDonald

* Taylor

The Injuries

* G Miikka Kiprusoff (knee), C Mikael Backlund (knee), C Paul Byron (hand)

THE AVALANCHE

Keep Your Eye On

C Paul Stastny — One-time hotshot, the 28-year-old has only four goals, and just one in his past 10 appearances on behalf of battered Avs.

The Lines

* McGinn Stastny Parenteau

* Landeskog Mitchell Jones

* McLeod Olver Hejduk

* Bordeleau Kobasew Palushaj

The Pairings

* Hejda Barrie

* Hunwick O’Byrne

* O’Brien Zanon

The Goalies

* Varlamov

* Giguere

The Injuries

* D Ryan Wilson (leg), D Erik Johnson (head), C Matt Duchene (groin), C Ryan O’Reilly (unsigned), RW Steve Downie (knee)

5 THINGS TO WATCH

1. RETURN OF BOB (PART 3) — This is the team for whom coach Bob Hartley captured the 2001 Stanley Cup. This is the team for whom Hartley bagged 193 of his 336 career wins. This also marks the third time Hartley has returned to the Pepsi Center. Good news for Flames fans — he’s never lost while pacing the visitors’ bench.

First time back, scant months after being sacked in December 2002, Hartley and his Atlanta Thrashers won 4-3 (Marc Savard doing the OT honours). Of the homecoming, he said post-game: “I knew one thing — if I would coach in the NHL again, it would have to happen sometime. It happened tonight and I’m glad it’s over.”

In Hartley’s next visit, February 2007, Atlanta prevailed 6-3.

2. NOT EXACTLY NEW TERRITORY — With their mediocre mark of 7-7-4, the Flames have 18 points. How does that stack up to recent opening 18-game allotments?

Well, 17 points in 2011-12; 16 points in 2010-11; 26 in 2009-10; 19 points in 2008-09; 17 in 2007-08; 20 in 2006-07; 20 in 2005-06.

In other words, the team’s predicament is not much different than past years — with the exception of 2009-10 when the record had been a glowing 12-4-2 (en route, oddly enough, to the first of three playoff misses) — except that only 30 games remain.

3. DRAW WEIGHT — The team’s beleaguered faceoff men are on a real slide, even by their standards. Their winning percentages from the past handful of dates — 40 at Phoenix, 35 versus Los Angeles, 41 versus Minnesota, 43 versus Phoenix, 37 at Minnesota.

With natural centremen mouldering in Abbotsford — Blair Jones, Roman Horak, Ben Street — the Flames are trying to slide by with wingers. Numbers speak for themselves.

Calgary, with its 46.2 per cent efficiency at the dot, is 27th. And falling. Boston, at 57.0 per cent, is the class of the league. Minnesota, Detroit, Phoenix are tops in the Western Conference.

4. LIFE OF THE SCRATCH — D Shane O’Brien is suiting up these days only because of the Avs’ injury bug. Chatting to the Denver Post, he had little in the way of explanation. “That’s something I think you’d have to ask (coach Joe Sacco) right now,” O’Brien told the Post. “Nobody likes sitting out, but it is what it is. They’re giving some young guys a look and a chance, and that’s part of the game. At the same time, I feel like I can still play. Whenever I get my chance, I’ve got to prove that again.”

Presumably, Calgary D Cory Sarich, another established defender with edge, is embracing the same mindset. Sarich has been scratched for six of the past seven contests. He may draw in Thursday.

“There’s guys sitting out all over the league,” said O’Brien. “But as a player, there’s a time you’ve got to play. You can’t be sitting in the press box all the time. We’ll see what happens moving forward here.”

5. INS, OUTS, WHAT-HAVE-YOUS — Colorado tops the league in blocked shots, with 337. Leading the way are D Greg Zanon, No. 2 in the NHL, and D Jan Hejda, No. 13. Overall, Calgary is 21st. D Dennis Wideman is 26th . . . Calgary, at 3.22, is 28th in goals-against — and the worst in the Western Conference.

 
 
 
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Alex Tanguay, right, celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
 

Alex Tanguay, right, celebrates a goal against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Jim Mone, Associated Press

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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