In case you haven't heard, Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are in town (7:30 PM, TSN).
It's kind of a big deal. Sid can't even leave his hotel room for fear of being mauled by hockey-crazed Calgarians. Can you blame us? We're having trouble remembering what a potential fifty-goal scorer looks like.
I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a huge Crosby fan myself, and shamelessly jumped on the Penguins bandwaggon when the Flames were ousted from the playoffs last spring.
The 'Dome is being swarmed by giggling tweens in Crosby and Malkin baby tees and starry-eyed pee-wee players eager for a glimpse of their favourite playoff performers as we speak.
Outscoring, and subsequently beating, the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight will likely require a miracle. The Pens' forwards are fast, skilled, and waiting to exploit every mistake made by the opposition. A quick glimpse at the Penguins' top-six is enough to make any Flames fan burst into tears; inferiority is an understatement. Every man on the bench, including the coaches, will have to play a virtually error-free game and execute their game plan to a tee if they hope to come out on top.
The defence will have to be perfect, Kiprusoff will have to be exeptional, and the forwards will have to be relentless. While the Flames' recent performance in terms of outshooting and out-chancing the opposition is encouraging, they still have to focus on turning in a sixty-minute effort and sustaining the style of play that makes them successful throughout the game. Any lapse in their compete level against a team like the Penguins will kill them.
As for the lineup, the Flames comfirmed speculation that Jamie Lundmark would indeed be back a day after being sent down to Abbotsford with the news of Craig Conroy's return from injury, after defenceman Staffan Kronwall cleared waivers and was subsequently demoted to the Heat. He will once again get the chance to suit up on the Flames' top line alongside Jokinen and Iginla, who has been held pointless in his past four games despite recent inspired efforts.
It'll be interesting to see if McGrattan draws into the lineup, and will likely depend on whether or not the Penguins dress fellow goon and former Flame Eric Godard. If there is one area where the Flames out-shine the Pens, I dare say Gratts is ever-so-slightly better at hockey than Godard. That, and their powerplay might just be worse than Calgary's, if you can believe it. That being said, the Flames don't want to provide the Penguins with too many opportunities to break out of their man-advantage funk, and will have to avoid the kind of boneheaded penalties that got them in trouble Monday night against Colorado. To make matters worse, the now infamous Stephane Auger will be sharing officiating duties tonight.
The Flames have been a slump-buster of sorts for struggling teams recently, and that trend could very well extend into tonight's contest. I've been pleasantly surprised by this team before in games against great teams; I don't anticipate this being such an occasion.
Go Flames Go.