Despite showing a pretty pathetic effort in Vancouver, the Flyers road trip has been pretty successful thus far. Let's hope that trend continues tonight in Calgary.
The Flyers probably shouldn't have won last night's game against the Canucks. They were outshot, outplayed, and were just awful defensively. Hell, Tom Sestito scored a goal, which was just a real head scratcher (thanks, Andrej Meszaros). But Steve Mason's stellar play -- stopping 41 of 44 shots! -- and some beautiful goals by the forward corps kept them in the game, allowing a rare win in the shootout.
9 tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta
TV: CSN Philly, SNET-W | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Flames' perspective at Matchsticks & Gasoline
The long and short of it is that the Flyers need to start playing a little better. Their most recent (competitive) wins have been characterized by taking advantage of a few key opportunities despite being rolled over in possession by the opposing team. That strategy might give them a couple of wins over a short stretch of time, but it's really no way to establish dominance in a competitive league.
That being said, I can't think of a better opportunity to start setting the tempo than against a team like the Calgary Flames.
The Flames are, well, bad. Going into this season they were widely regarded as one of the worst teams in the NHL, and they haven't disappointed. After the whole Jay Feaster/Brian Burke fiasco, the team has yet to find solid footing now or a clear direction for the future. They're seriously just a laughable franchise right now, which makes Lanny McDonald's mustache ever so sad.
Calgary's leading scorer is Jiri Hudler, and that is just adorable. There is no forward that has really stood out on this team since Jerome Iginla's departure, and it's not like there is defensive talent to fill the void -- Mark Giordano is their number one defenseman, which, again, is just adorable. I know they are really bullish on Sean Monahan, but he's still too young to be a real threat on the ice.
Seriously, look at those line combinations and tell me you recognize any of those names. You don't? My point exactly.
It's hard to imagine a team that is in more disarray than the Flames. I'm finding it hard to preview what this team is like other than by simply saying they are bad. Very bad. Hopefully the Flyers don't blow this.
Anyway, our boys have been grabbing some wins lately and we should only hope that they don’t need to rely on facing an awful team like Calgary to secure another. Claude Giroux has been an absolute beast (did you see that goal against Vancouver?), and the first line has been humming like hell lately. I'm almost at the point where I'm willing to admit that the Flyers are better than mediocre. It feels so strange, but so right, but also still a little premature. Am I crazy, here?
Look for Ray Emery to get the start for the Flyers, as Steve Mason played his little heart out in Vancouver last night. Emery has been, well, meh, but it's not like Calgary has the offensive guns to really test him.
Reto Berra will between the pipes for Calgary, and he's been nothing but serviceable for the Flames, stopping 90.5% percent of shots for them in just 17 total NHL starts. He's certainly not an elite goaltender, but definitely not the Swiss cheese that the Flyers have seen lately.
Game starts at 9:00 because Canada is huge. Calgary sucks. Go Flyers.