The Flames haven’t had the start to their 3-game southern road trip that they were hoping. They lost in regulation time in Nashville and then scraped one point out of Tampa. Tonight’s stop in Florida is their chance to make it a .500 road trip and head home a .500 hockey team before facing some of the league’s best teams, including Chicago, Detroit and divisional rivals Minnesota and Vancouver.
It is because of the Flames following 4 opponents that we should expect Leland Irving to start his first NHL game tonight. The young netminder will most likely make his NHL debut tonight to give Kipper a rest. Irving has been playing well as the Abbotsford Heat’s starting goalie and takes the place of injured Flames backup Henrik Karlsson, who has been out with a knee injury since Tom Kostopolous crashed into him a couple weeks ago. Irving has 15 wins with the Heat with a 2.30 GAA and a.914 save percentage.
The Flames will need to put some goals in the net if they hope to be successful tonight. After a short point streak, the Flames seem to be sputtering in their past couple games. Though they are at the top of the Southeast Division, the Panthers are in a similar position. They have lost their last 3 games, but only once in regulation. They have points in 5 of their last 6 games and are 5 points ahead of the Washington Capitals in the SE Division race.
Don’t forget that this is an early one tonight. Puck drop is 5:30 so set your PVRs now!!