Between the benches: Flames at Red Wings

Calgary Flames            @               Detroit Red Wings
32-24-9                                       31-22-12
73 points                                   74 points
9th West                                   8th West

Another day, another crucial game coming up for the Red Wings.

Crucial is a word you’ll be hearing a lot around Motown this final month, as the Wings battle for the last few playoff spots still up for grabs.  They’ll continue that quest tomorrow night, when the ninth place Calgary Flames invade Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit sits just one point ahead of Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot, but are also themselves just one point behind Nashville for the seventh playoff spot.  Detroit has won four of its last five games, but have been unable to shake the Flames.

How we got here

Detroit took two games over the weekend, but none was bigger than yesterday’s 5-4 comeback win over Chicago.  Detroit overcame a two goal first period deficit with a five goal explosion in the second period.  Andrew Ladd netted a hat trick for the Hawks, but it was not enough to recover from the second period implosion.

The Flames have been taking care of buisness as well, winning three of their last four games to stay on pace with the Red Wings.  The Flames beat the Minnesota Wild yesterday behind Jarome Iginla’s 10th career hat trick.  Vesa Toskala made 27 saves in his first start in Calgary, giving ironman Mikka Kippursoff the night off.

Players to watch

Pavel Datyuk–Datsyuk has picked up his play as of late, netting goals in his previous two games.

Todd Bertuzzi– Bertuzzi was having a solid game Sunday until he got injured, picking up two assists and providing a nice screen on Cristobal Huet during Detroit’s five-goal outburst.

Jimmy Howard– Howard’s been struggling of late, but still seems to have the support of Mike Babcock as the team’s starter.  This will be Howard’s biggest game thus far.

Jarome Iginla– He had a ridiculously good Olympics and recorded a hat trick on Sunday for the 10th time in his career.  Datsyuk or Zetterberg’s line will be on the ice whenever he’s out there.

Mikka Kippursoff– Kippursoff had a terrible game against the United States in the Olympics, and was rested last night in favor of Vesa Toskala.  There’s no doubt that the Flames’ ironman will start tommorrow, but it will be interesting to see which Kippursoff shows up.

Line Change
No major changes in the lineup, except for Jonathan Ericsson will be back in for Brett Lebda.  Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi both did not practice, but are expected to play.

L1: Franzen, Datsyuk, Holmstrom
L2: Williams, Zetterberg, Cleary
L3: Bertuzzi, Filppula, Miller
L4: Draper, Helm, Eaves

D1: Lidstrom, Rafalski
D2: Kronwall, Stuart
D3: Ericsson, Lilja

G: Howard(starting), Osgood

Editor’s note:  I will miss this game for sure so check out the blogroll at the left for excellent game coverage

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