NHL on NBCSN: Flames conclude painful season vs Blackhawks

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Calgary Flames at the United Center at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Flames won’t just be finishing up their fourth straight season without a playoff berth on Friday, they will be finalizing the end of an era.

Jarome Iginla has been traded and Miikka Kiprusoff, 36, might announce his retirement this summer. For years the Flames had those two star players, but they weren’t able to build around them.

In 2003-04 Miikka Kiprusoff broke out and led the sixth-seed Flames all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before ultimately losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, Calgary hasn’t been able to win a postseason series.

Things couldn’t be more different for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews era is still young, but it’s already led to one Stanley Cup championship. This season they captured the Presidents’ Trophy by a comfortable margin and now have their sights on bigger prizes.

The question going into tonight’s game is if the Blackhawks will prevent any of their top players from participating as they try to find a balance between giving some veterans a breather and maintaining momentum going into the playoffs.

As it happens, this game has more meaning for Calgary because a loss might result in them getting a better draft position. That being said, Calgary has won six of their last 10 games, so they haven’t exactly been tanking.

Probable goaltenders: CGY – Joey MacDonald (8-8-1, 2.87 GAA, .901 SV%) | CHI – Corey Crawford (18-5-5, 1.98 GAA, .925 SV%)

Top scorers: CGY – Mike Cammalleri (13-19-32, 43 GP) | CHI – Kane (22-32-54, 46 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Calgary – Forwards: Steve Begin (upper body), Curtis Glencross (knee), Alex Tanguay (knee) Defensemen: Derek Smith (upper body)
Chicago – Forwards: Dave Bolland (groin) Goaltenders: Ray Emery (lower body)