Boxing Flames

Ah yes, the familiar post-Christmas bout with the much-despised Calgary Flames.

Last year, if you recall, the home-and-home games against the Flames on Boxing Day and December 27 arguably rescued the Canucks season, which had been terrible leading up to Christmas. It began an 11-1 run catapulting the Canucks, in the end, into a Northwest Division title.

This year, the Canucks are in much better shape, comparatively speaking, but nevertheless in a tough fight for the Northwest Division title and advantageous playoff positioning.

In fact, the Calgary Flames, who seemed moribund a few short weeks ago under the coaching of ‘Iron Mike…er…Can’t Finish a Season, Keenan’, have somehow managed to go on an impressive run of late, winning six games in a row on their most recent road trip. (Fortunately, two straight losses at home have cooled the Flames, somewhat.) The Flames now sit only three points back of the ‘Nucks.

In other words, the annual Canucks/Flames post-Christmas matchup is as much a need-to-win as it ever is between these division rivals.

Game Preview

According to Vancouver media, both Mattias Ohlund and Ryan Kesler are expected to sit out tonight. Ohlund previously missed the most recent game in Denver against the Avalanche, while Kesler was hurt in that game during the third period.

Fortunately, the Canucks have grizzled sniper Trevor Linden to carry Kesler’s usual responsibility of shutting down Jarome Iginla, all the while filling the net on breakaways.

I am not going to bother talking about the Flames as, frankly, I could not care less about which clowns they are dressing tonight. Suffice it to say Iginla is terrorizing the league, Tanguay and Huselius are floating with the clouds, Owen Nolan is inexplicably still employed in the league with them, and Mikka Kiprusoff has been decidedly ordinary this season.

Predicition: The ‘Nucks more quickly shake off the effects of tryptophan and ride Luongo in the latter stages of the game to win 3-1. ‘Nucks goals by Daniel, Trev, and Markus Naslund; Flames goal by Joel Otto with the side foot from inside six yards.*

* Side historical note: Kirk McLean, Jim Robson, and anyone alive following the Canucks in 1989 still knows Otto kicked it in.

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