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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Flames, Saturday March 27th

The Bruins (33-28-12) will take on the last of their Western Conference opponents this afternoon, as they host Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames (37-28-9) at TD Garden for a matinee skate on Causeway St.

The hockey world just isn’t fair sometimes, and if you’re a Flames fan, those words could never be more true. If you compare these two teams and their records, you see that the Flames have a five-point edge on Boston. Yet, because of the Western Conference’s dominance in inter-conference games this season, the Flames find their 83 points on the outside of the playoff picture, six points behind eighth-place Detroit, while Boston’s 78 points is good enough to put them in control of their playoff destiny, two points up on Atlanta and three up on the Rangers for the East’s final playoff spot.

So with all that being said, needless to say both teams are treating today’s tilt as a must-win, in order to help out each of their playoff positioning.

With all that being said, let’s jump in head first and sink our teeth into some pre-game news and notes, leading up to today’s pivotal East vs. West matchup…

  • The Bruins’ struggles at home continued on Thursday night, losing to the lowly Lightning 5-3. Boston peppered Tampa goalie Antero Niittymaki with a season-high 50 shots on goal, but the Finn stood tall, topping his fellow countryman Tuukka Rask, who had an off-night, letting in five goals for the first time in what seems like forever. Boston is just 2-9-3 at home since the Winter Classic at Fenway.
  • Also struggling for Boston is their power play. Thursday marked the eighth straight game without a goal on the man-advantage, and extended a 1-for-24 streak since Marc Savard has been out of the lineup.
  • Speaking of Savard, he will address the media at noon today for the first time since March 7th’s hit to the head by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke knocked Savard out of action for likely the remainder of the season. Bruins’ management has said that the 32-year-old center has started to show signs of improvement recently, but they also have no timetable for his return.
  • Also sidelined with a head injury is center Vladimir Sobotka, who missed Thursday’s game with what is now being termed as a “mild concussion.” Sobotka did skate with the team yesterday however, and will be a game-time decision this afternoon. By league policy, he will have to undergo a neuro/psych exam before he’s able to return to the ice.
  • Focusing in on the Flames now, Calgary needs to win and win now, to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003. They blew a golden opportunity at two points on Thursday night on Long Island, when they blew a third period lead, only to lose 3-2 at the hands of the struggling Islanders. Calgary’s brief three-game East Coast road trip will round out with a back-to-back this weekend, as the Flames travel to Washington after today’s game to face off with the East leading Capitals tomorrow.
  • Sidelined for the Flames will be forwards Curtis Glencross (knee), Daymond Langkow (neck), and Christopher Higgins (foot).
  • Today’s likely starter for Calgary will be Miikka Kiprusoff (32-24-9, 2.22GAA), who is 3-1-0 vs. Boston in his career with a 1.76GAA. Kiprusoff is backed up by former Maple Leaf Vesa Toskala (9-12-3, 3.50GAA).
  • Scoring for Calgary is led of course by winger Jarome Iginla (32G, 36A), who is enjoying his eighth straight 30-goal season. Following Iginla is newly acquired center Matt Stajan (19G, 34A), and winger Rene Bourque (23G, 28A).
  • Scoring may be limited in today’s game, as these two squads both rank among the lowest scoring teams in the league. Boston of course still remains dead last in the NHL at 2.38 goals per game, while Calgary sits at 27th league-wide, with 2.51 goals per game.
  • Lastly, of all the days to match up with the Flames, Saturdays just aren’t the one. Calgary is 11-2-1 on Saturdays this season, while posting just a 26-26-8 record the rest of the week. Between that stat and the struggles at home, the B’s may be hard pressed to get two points out of this one.

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