The Calgary Flames have another big game tonight as they travel to Pittsburgh to face a red-hot Penguins team that is also fighting for positioning in the post season.
The Penguins are looking to rebound after their first regulation loss in 12 games, while the Flames look to keep their winning ways going following a 5-3 win vs. Detroit on Monday.
The Flames will need to play tight defensively to stop 2 of the NHL’s top scorers. Evgeni Malkin (105 pts) and Sidney Crosby (95 pts) currently lead the league in points and they have been on an offensive tear lately.
While they are from opposite divisions, and rarely face each other, there are a couple Pens players who are familiar with the Flames Style of hockey.
Ex-Calgary tough guy Eric Godard moved to Pittsburgh last season when his services were no longer deemed necessary on the Flames. “When I was there, the identity they wanted to have was of a hitting team that worked hard and played physical every night,”Godard said, “With them it is just pretty much working hard to make sure you’re not giving the other team anything.”
Regina native, Chris Kunitz, who played several seasons with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to Pittsburg before the trade deadline faced the Flames many times and had this to say: “They’re definitely an aggressive team that comes after you. I always remember them … just pounding and pounding and pounding.”
Ex-Chicago Blackhawk, (and current Penguin) Craig Adams also had a comment on the Flames team. “They play physical, but they can skate so everything with them comes at you fast,” he said. “We’ve got guys who can play a physical game and come at you fast, so this should be a good test to see how we match up.”
Indeed this will be a great test for both teams as they head towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flames and Pens are statistically very similar, with 90 and 86 points, respectively. Calgary averages 3.26 goals-per-game, compared to Pittsburg’s 3.07, but the Penguins have the edge in goals-against (2.92 to 3.04).
So look for a tight checking, physical battle with plenty of offensive chances from both teams. I’m predicting that the Flames will out-score and out-hit the Penguins (watch out for a big hit from Sarich!) and that there will be an Andre Roy – Eric Godard fight. Of course it will be initiated by the Penguins tough guy, and unfortunately for Roy, Godard is an animal, so he’ll have to come out swinging and be ready for some punishment!!