Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images
The scene pictured above is one of elation and gratification when the Calgary Flames trounced the Predators a week ago. On a night where the fans were given cowboy hats, Curtis Glencross helped them to doff their chapeau and celebrate with a 6-3 victory. Nashville has been horrid on the road this year and especially in their last 11 away games going 1-9-1. They are playing too little too late hockey and it’s becoming a broken record that many fans are simply wanting to throw away and replace with new vinyl.
The Flames continue to play even keel hockey going 4-4-0 in the month of March and one spot above the Western Conference floor. Nashville is only two points ahead of Calgary but the Flames have three games in hand on the Predators. Alex Tanguay and Mike Cammalleri continue to pace the Flames with 22 points. Curtis Glencross leads the Flames with 12 goals and has 5 goals in his last 5 games (with the hat-trick against Nashville).
The goaltending, once a source of praise and reliability for Calgary, has become an unsightly terror. Sky high GAA and SV% has been the reason the Flames have dropped so many games this season. In their March losses, the Flames were outscored 17-6 calling into question the defensive scheme alongside sub-standard netminding. Only two players retain a positive plus/minus rating, Stajan at +10 and Stempniak at +7.
The Predators and their fans are happy to be back home where Bridgestone Arena has been more than accommodating. The road has been unkind this season and the next four home games will be critical in determining if the Predators are going to make a late season push for the playoffs or be mired in dispassionate play and outcomes becoming sellers at the trade deadline.
Pekka Rinne continues to do all he can in net to keep the games close but questionable defensive play and the lack of offense until the dying minutes of a game has made it a slippery slope for the Predators to gain any traction or upward movement in the West. The kids are responding quite well to their call-ups and insertion into the lineup. Chris Mueller scored his first NHL goal the other night and Gabriel Bourque is continuing his torrid pace of goal scoring breaking the double-digit mark against Columbus with 10 goals on the year.
Kostitsyn was benched for the Columbus game and after the response from players like Beck and Mueller getting their shot at NHL ice time, look for Kostitsyn to get the press box treatment another few games. Reports have Gill and Hornqvist hopefully returning soon with Wilson still being evaluated. If the Predators two explosive scorers (Wilson and Hornqvist) can get back on the ice soon, fans might see a different, more potent team to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. Some quick mending with players, style and winning games can be just the panacea the fans filling 501 Broadway are looking for to get behind their team.
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