The Chicago Blackhawks can take it easy Friday night as the Calgary Flames visit the United Center in the final days of the regular season.
Chicago sits atop the National Hockey League as the winners of the President’s Trophy, the award that goes to the team with the most points at the end of the regular season, with just three days remaining until the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The insurance of home-ice advantage, top-seed in the West, and a no-pressure weekend, Chicago expects to rest some of its major stars and save them for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Calgary is has no such luck. The Flames are officially out of playoff contention this season and Friday night’s game in Chicago will be their last of the season. Calgary had a poor season overall and the organization seems to be – pun incoming – going down in flames. Trade deadline moves of the faces of the organization, Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, have taken away a little bit of consistent thunder in Calgary. Missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season doesn’t help either. This opens plenty of space for rookies like Roman Cervenka and Mark Cundari to make a name for themselves during the Calgary rebuild so desperately needed.
Tonight’s game may not be the most exciting of the season, especially considering the race for 8th place in the West. But take a good look at the most recent addition to the President’s Trophy winners – Drew LeBlanc. The youngster found a quick foot right off the bat and recorded three shots-on-goal in his first game in the National Hockey League. LeBlanc recently received the Hobey Baker Award, which goes to the top college player in the country.
Ray Emery will not play tonight against Calgary due to a frustrating lower-body injury that caused him to leave Wednesday night’s game in Edmonton. Patrick Sharp is expected to rest before the playoffs begin, and likely would have been out anyway due to his recurring upper-body injury. To date, Sharp has missed nearly a quarter of the shortened season. Dave Bolland is questionable for Friday night’s match-up.
Calgary is injury-ridden: Derek Smith, Alex Tanguay, and Curtis Glencross are all out with knee injuries and have combined for a total of 22 missed man-games this season.