Photo: AP

I tell you, the last time I had that much fun, I was getting a barium enema. Last night’s game against Edmonton made my intestines seize up in exactly the same way. Hopefully tonight against Calgary we can maybe back off the severity to manual rectal exam.

The Flames team that we face tonight has a slightly different look than when we visited them back in November. Gone is former Blackhawks power winger Rene Bourque, and in comes former Canadiens’ center Mike Cammalleri. The impact has been minimal so far, with Cammalleri notching 2 goals in the 6 games he’s played with Calgary. Also gone is center Brendan Morrison who was traded to… well, to us! He’ll be taking on his former team for the first time tonight at the ScotiaBank Saddledome.

The Flames are chasing a playoff spot right now, sitting 5 points back of 8th-place Minnesota in the Western Conference. Calgary GM Jay Feaster is trying to make a few last-minute moves to shore up his roster for the push to the finish, though he has stated for the twelve-thousandth time that he is not trading Jarome Iginla. In case you were wondering…

Calgary’s roster does have many familiar names on it, including Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, and Jay Bouwmeester. Those guys are earning their kibble, sitting atop the stats sheet with Iggy and Cammalleri. But even those guys’ numbers aren’t really doing the trick, more on that in a minute.

And we all know who we’re facing in goal: the holy-crap-does-this-guy-EVER-take-a-break workhorse Mikka Kiprusoff, who will be starting his 10th straight game, 45th appearance of the year in what will be the Flames 52nd game. Un-freaking-real. Not surprisingly, when Kiprusoff takes the ice tonight he will become the Flames franchise leader in games played, surpassing the venerable Mike Vernon. He eclipsed Vernon in the most-wins category in October of 2010.

The Flames have always been streaky: their month of January consisted of losing 3, then winning 3, then losing 2, then winning 2, then losing 2. They come into tonight having lost to Detroit 3-1, their third straight home loss. In the last month, when Calgary loses, they either score one goal or none at all. Offense is the weak spot right now, as evidenced by the fact that nobody in the lineup has cleared 40 points as yet this season. Look at the Blackhawks’ stat sheet, you’ll find 4.

So it’s got to be defense, defense, defense tonight when the puck is dropped — something the Blackhawks were slightly, well, SUCKY at against the Oilers last night. Captain Jonathan Toews said it best after the Edmonton massacre: “All we’re thinking about is scoring goals. We’re not worried about our own end.”

One must remember, however, the terrific defensive performance put on against Vancouver on Tuesday. The key there was back-checking by the forwards. Against Edmonton, by the second period the ‘Hawks forwards were being out-skated in both directions by a speedy Oilers team whose conditioning is plainly far better than Chicago’s. That’s something you can’t solve in a day, but if the Blackhawks want to go anywhere in the playoffs this season, Head Coach Joel Quenneville needs to address that issue in a big way.

Administrative nonsense: Calgary will be without the services of forwards Curtis Glenncross and David Moss, and it was just announced that Lee Stempniak will miss 6 weeks with an ankle injury. Glenncross and Stempniak have tallied a combined 30 goals and 27 assists this year, and this announcement turns the pressure up full blast on GM Feaster to make a trade. For Chicago, winger Andrew Brunette left the Edmonton game after the first period with an upper-body injury. When asked if the injury was serious, Coach QStache replied that he was “not sure” — which means that it very likely could keep him out of the game tonight. Look for Michael Frolik to be inserted in the lineup if that’s the case, but that will likely be the only roster change from yesterday. As mentioned, Kipper gets the call in net for Calgary; Ray Emery gets his first post-All-Star start for Chicago.

8:00pm start tonight in Calgary. Comcast SportsNet has the game in the Chicagoland area, and for the third game in a row the Blackhawks will be live coast-to-coast on TSN in Canada. You Canadian ‘Hawks fans have to be loving this. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, as is tradition; XM subscribers will find the game on channel 214; and Sirius Premiere listeners should tune in on channel 213.

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