It’s a double header tonight and it’s fixing to be a good one as two classic rivalries heat up tonight. Starting at 5:30pm, I’ll be ready.
A few weeks ago @that_angela thought it would be a good idea for some Flames and Canucks fans (read Team Canada fans) to get together to watch the two hockey games tonight. Thanks to the miracle of technology, and a couple good connections, a special event was created and a venue was secured. Tonight, the cool kids will be at Flames Central, watching Team Canada play Team Russia for the gold medal in the World Junior Hockey Championships. After Canada get’s our gold, we’ll be changing jerseys as the Calgary Flames take on the Vancouver Canucks.
The puck drops in the gold medal game at 5:30pm and it’s showing on TSN. The Flames-Canucks game starts at 8pm and is on SNET-CGY.
Since they’ve already avenged last year’s loss to USA by relegating them to the bronze medal game with a 4-1 win yesterday, all that is left for Canada’s junior men is to capture the gold medal. Look for Brayden Schenn and Ryan Ellis to lead Canada on the scoresheet, while Mark Visenten looks to keep his 1.00 GAA intact. Canada’s game plan should be to score as many goals as possible (like 6 or 7) while doing their best to frustrate the Russians and keep them out of their end. Canada has 3 of the top 10 scorers, incuding Schenn who leads all skaters with 16 points.
The Russians, who sneaked into the gold medal game with a late 3rd period comeback-turned-shootout-win over Sweden, will look for balanced scoring from their players and possibly some Russian grit. Team Russia has 4 of the top 10 scorers in the World Junior Championships though they have only scored 19 goals in the tournament (Canada has scored 28 so far), and they have been getting better as the tournament has progressed.
Whatever strategy each team chooses, it’s going to come down to a hot goaltender and which team wants it more. Canada has been in this position a lot recently, playing in 10-straight gold medal games. But Russia has everything to prove. Don’t forget that we knocked them out of the Olympic gold medal race and we’re their biggest international hockey rival. While Canada seems to be everyone’s rival, the Russians only have one team to beat and it’s Canada.
Later in the night, the Flames head out to the West Coast to face the red-hot Vancouver Canucks and it’s a game of opposites. The Canucks are unbeaten in their last 13 games and currently sit on top of the NHL. The Flames, who struggled throughout much of November and December are at the bottom of the Western Conference, only ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.
Though the Flames are technically only 6 points out of a playoff spot at the midway point of the season, they have a lot of work to do if their dreams of another post season appearance are to be realized. They put a string of 4 wins together to celebrate Darryl Sutter’s departure, but lost their last game against the League-worst New York Islanders. The Flames have recalled Mikael Backlund from the Abbotsford Heat and he is expected to play tonight.
In contrast, the Canucks have a bit of space to breathe with top spot in the NHL locked up (for the moment) with games at hand over the next few teams. In fact, the Canucks are so unstressed right now that they could potentially focus their attention on some loftier goals, like scoring the Canucks 10,000th goal in franchise history (thanks to @daniel_fung for that one).
Like I said, it’s fixing to be a good night for hockey and I hope you’ll be watching. If you make it out to Flames Central, come say hi.