March 30 2014 10:32AM
The Calgary Flames are set to begin their last big road trip of the 2013-14 season today in Ottawa with a rather rare Sunday matinee tilt with the Ottawa Senators.
This is the second of two meetings between the Flames and Ottawa this season, the previous being a 4-1 Flames home win just hours after the NHL's trade deadline. Here we are a few weeks later, and the teams have fare a bit differently: Calgary's gone a respectable 7-5-0 since then, while the Sens are a rather uneven 3-4-3. Both clubs are coming off impressive home wins against playoff teams – Calgary over the Rangers and Ottawa over the Blackhawks.
The puck drops at 3pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
THE PESKY FLAMES
The Flames (31-36-7) are really hoping to shore up their iffy road record (13-18-4) before season's end.
Lines partially from Daily Faceoff and partially via Roger Millions.
Cammalleri – Backlund – Byron
Glencross – Stajan – Hudler
Bouma – Monahan – Colborne
Westgarth – Galiardi – McGrattan
Brodie – Giordano
Butler – Russell
Billins – Wotherspoon
Chad Billins replaces Ladislav Smid and T.J. Galiardi slots in for Kenny Agostino. Bryce van Brabant will wear #48, but he's a healthy scratch along with fellow ex-NCAAers Ben Hanowski and Agostino. Dennis Wideman, David Jones and Markus Granlund are all still out with injuries, but each have a locker stall once more.
Despite everyone thinking "Man, Calgary won't win," Calgary continues to win, probably out of a combination of gumption, hard work and spite. Most of the offense has been generated by the top two lines - and a bit by McGrattan and Westgarth - so returning Bouma to the third line may be a move to generate more scoring out of Monahan and Colborne.
THE PESKY SENS
You may be shocked to learn that Ottawa (30-29-14) has fewer wins than Calgary does, but it's true. They also aren't great at home. They couldn't get anything going on deadline day, but were strong in a 5-3 win over Chicago on Friday. They'll need more of that to salvage what's left of their season.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Michalek – Spezza – Hemsky
MacArthur – Turris – Stone
Greening – Smith – Neil
Hoffman – Zibenejad – Condra
Methot – Karlsson
Cowen – Gryba
Wiercioth – Ceci
The Sens got Craig Anderson back for the Chicago game after missing seven games. He won, so he probably goes here. The locals are without Chris Phillips and Bobby “Intensity” Ryan. Matt Kassian may or may not draw back in after being scratched against Chicago.
The Sens have a roster that includes an elite goalie, strong defenders and good forwards. Their issues have historically been consistency, injuries and depth - when guys get hurt, guys beneath them are forced into roles they're not accustomed to, which spells disaster. But they've missed just 61 man-games, which tells me consistency is the culprit. (Calgary's lost 247 man-games.)
SUM IT UP
There are 8 games left for the Calgary Flames - 2 at home and 6 on the road. Their road trip begins this afternoon, and includes subsequent stops in Toronto, Florida, Tampa Bay and New Jersey.
Boston College's regional final game with U-Mass Lowell also begins at 3pm MT (on ESPN U and TSN Go), while the Abbotsford Heat play the Toronto Marlies beginning at 2pm MT on Sportsnet 360.
Sunday afternoon hockey! Yay!