The last time we saw the Flames, Alex Ovechkin was blowing up Dion Phaneuf, a pair of Z's scored a pair apiece, and Olie Kolzig was a wall, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
Seventeen months later the Z's are gone, but Olie Kolzig will be back in net tonight and you can bet that Alex Ovechkin will be hitting everything that moves (provided, of course, that he's actually somewhere in the neighborhood of 100% healthy) and taking aim at crossing another off the list of NHL team's he's scored against (which would leave only L.A., Minnesota and San Jose unscathed). His next goal will give him more than Glenn Anderson or Pat LaFontaine ever scored in a single season, and the air only gets more rarefied from there.
Calgary comes to town for the first of back-to-back games against the Southeast Division (they're in Atlanta - where it all began - on Thursday night), trying to complete a five-game sweep of the SED (they already have 2-1, 9-6 and 4-3 wins over Florida, Tampa and Carolina, respectively) and trying to hold on to first place in the Northwest Division (they have a one point lead over Minny).
Led by Hart hopeful Jarome Iginla (who on Monday became the team's all-time leading goal scorer), the Flames score more than the Flames you might remember (though not so much on the power play) and are a tough visitor, sporting an 18-13-1 road record. To top it all off, they're hot (7-1-2 in their last ten), despite scoring two or fewer goals in six of their last eight games.
The Caps playoff hopes, as we've documented over the past couple of days, are on life support. But we're told that there's still a heartbeat. Tonight, you'll see whether or not the team truly believes that.
Why The Flames Will Win:
In a moment of confusion, Nicklas Backstrom will think he's actually Flames' draft pick Mikael Backlund and thus shoot yet another puck into his own net. No? Okay... Calgary natives Mike Green and Jeff Schultz will be so enamored to be playing on the same ice as their hometown heroes that they will get stuck in a time warp, thinking they are playing pond hockey with their buddies (all of whom are wearing Flames red) leading to an even larger moment of confusion where upon finding themselves so close to the opposing team's net (read: Caps) that they will shoot the puck into the net instead of defending. Or maybe the Flames are just better. :P Alright, I don't want to die too horrible of a death by the hands of CapsChick so I will retreat quietly now." - Double D(ion)Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Happy 31st Birthday to Brent Johnson.... What the hell has gotten into Jeff Halpern? He now has four goals and five assists in eight games for the Bolts (and why do I feel like he's going to do the Caps in in one of those late season games?).... Despite no goals, one assist and a minus-four rating in his last five games, Mike Green = good.... One year ago today we ran down a checklist to see whether the Caps were actually an AHL team.
- Hart: Dany Heatley (3G, including the game-winner, A, +2, 6 SOG)
- Ross: Dany Heatley (4 points)
- Norris: Pavel Kubina (2G, including the OT game-winner, +3, 6 SOG, 2 BkS)
- Vezina: Carey Price (38-save shutout win)
- Richard: Dany Heatley, Vincent Lecavalier (3G each)
- Calder: Carey Price (38-save shutout win)
- Aiken: Johan Hedberg (L, 5 goals allowed on 23 shots against in two periods of work)