The Calgary Flames had a tough start to the 2012 NHL season, but they’ve crept out of last place in the Western Conference after a seven-goal effort against the Dallas Stars. The offensive explosion temporarily displaced talk of rebuilding efforts, as the Flames are now .500 at 4-4-3 through eleven games and squarely in contention for one of the eight playoff spots in a highly competitive conference.
The St. Louis Blues have fallen apart since Jaroslav Halak went down with a groin injury. In increased minutes, Brian Elliot has gotten crushed as the starter, and until Halak returns the St. Louis Blues defense remains a tremendous liability. The Blues got a win with their third string goaltender this week, but their defensive struggles have marked a difficult February for one of last year’s best NHL teams.
On Friday, a Flames offense that piled up seven goals on a strong Stars defense faces a St. Louis Blues defense that hasn’t stopped an opponent since their goaltender got hurt. The Flames must capitalize on the recent struggles of the Blues and come away with points when they host the Blues, who have already allowed an uncharacteristic 43 goals.
If the Flames are able to replicate the offensive continuity they showed against the Stars, they can exploit a floundering Blues team to get an upset victory at home. They penalty kill needs to be sharper, and Leland Irving certainly needs to play better, but against a Blues team that is struggling mightily, the Flames have an excellent opportunity to come away with a victory against a talented team.
When Miikka Kiprusoff was first injured, a game against the Blues seemed poised for a blowout – even at home. Given St. Louis’ struggles of late and the strong play of the Calgary offense, suddenly the Flames have a matchup advantage over the Blues. The Calgary Flames have a great chance to not only win on Friday, but to make a push up the standings going forward.