Tonight, the Calgary Flames (19-27-7) try for their fourth straight victory when they host the San Jose Sharks (34-14-5) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames have won their last three games, all of which have come on home ice. The three-game winning streak is the Flames longest winning streak of the 2013-14 season. It has been nearly two years since the Flames have won four or more games in a row. The last time the Flames won four straight games was March of the 2011-12 season when they actually won five games in a row from March 6, 2012 to March 15, 2012. Puck drops at 7:00 pm MT on Sportsnet West.
The Flames last three victories have all come in very different ways. Last Wednesday, the Flames scored early on the Phoenix Coyotes and got up by a few goals. The Coyotes fought back in the third but didn’t have enough to get past the Flames. Friday, against Nashville, the Flames came back from a 4-2 deficit late in the 3rd to tie the game while registering three powerplay goals in the game, eventually taking the game in the shootout. Tuesday, the Flames were involved in a seesaw battle with the league’s best, the Chicago Blackhawks. After quickly squandering a 4-2 lead in the second period to a very good Blackhawks team, the Flames came out victorious in overtime. Hopefully they have another recipe for success in the chamber to keep the streak going as San Jose will be no small feat.
The Sharks are big, fast and very skilled and always pose a problem for the Flames. In the last four meetings between the two teams San Jose has won every one of them. However, looking at the scoresheet for the Sharks in their last couple of games, you might notice that they haven’t scored a goal in over 120 minutes. Everything’s looking good for that fourth straight win! Not so fast … San Jose is still 7-3-0 in their last ten. Furthermore, San Jose absolutely destroyed the Oilers yesterday. Ben Scrivens, however, played out of his mind and stopped 59 shots, many of which were very good scoring chances. The Sharks are likely to bring their all in this game to end the minor shutout streak that plagues them.
As always, thanks to our dudes at www.dailyfaceoffs.com for the line-ups.
- Hudler – Backlund – Stempniak
- Colborne – Monahan – Galiardi
- Bouma – Stajan – Jones
- Westgarth – Street – McGrattan
- Brodie – Giordano
- Russell – Butler
- Smid – Wideman
Michael Cammalleri will be returning this evening after sitting out the last 5 or so games with a mild concussion. He should slot in with Monahan and Galiardi on the second line. With Cammalleri coming back, Joe Colborne’s stint at wing has concluded for the time being. He looks to center the fourth line with Westgarth and McGrattan, reuniting what must be the biggest line in the NHL, with an average height of just over 6’4’’ (Burkie approves, I`m sure).
Alright then, scratch that whole paragraph as Cammy’s out for tonight. So things should be the same as Tuesday in terms of line combinations. Byron could take Street’s place in the line-up at which point he’ll slot in on the Monahan line and Colborne will come down to center the 4th.
Matt “Would You Like Franchise With That” Stajan has been excellent since inking his new four year deal. He’s been great in all three zones, even notching a few points (4 points in the 4 games since signing the deal). Bouma, Stajan and David Jones have served as essentially the Flames 3rd line for the last number of games and appear to have some pretty good chemistry together.
Backlund, playing in between Hudler and Stempniak on the first line, has also been dynamite of late. In fact, Backlund has been very good since about late November, especially from an offensive perspective. Since November 22, 2013, Backlund has registered 17 points in 29 games. If we forget the start of the season, this Mikael Backlund that we are seeing today would be on pace for 48 points in 82 games. There is a rumbling that perhaps Backlund wins himself a reserve spot on the Swedish Olympic team as they look to have a few injuries to some of their key personnel. It is probably not all that likely but it would be great to see the kid get a shot to play for his country.
Ramo will get the start today. Interestingly, the Flames have won their last two games and have pulled the starting goalie in both games. Ramo was pulled in the Friday game after Eric Nystrom registered his 56th goal of the game (I believe it was actually Nystrom’s 3rd goal). Berra was pulled after the second in the Chicago game after giving up four goals over the first 40 minutes. That’s certainly an odd situation that you don’t see too often.
- Pavelski – Thornton – Nieto
- Marleau – Wingels – Burns
- Desjardins – Kearns – Kennedy
- Brown – McCarthy – Hayes
- Demers – Vlasic
- Stuart – Braun
- Boyle – Hannan
The Sharks are a little banged up right now with Hertl, Torres, Burrish and Couture all on the shelf. Also, the often injured Martin Havlat is also out and doesn’t even appear on the Sharks injury list. Is he still in the NHL? Who knows.
Pavelski has been playing out of this world pretty much all season, showing why the Sharks shelled out huge money to re-sign him last year. He`s scoring at a point a game clip on the year and has 21 goals in his last 24 games. He had a few goals and was dangerous all night when the Flames faced off against the Sharks on January 18th. The Flames will need to contain him tonight to keep the streak going.
Niemi went last night against Edmonton so we could see back-up Alex Stalock in the pipes tonight.
SUM IT UP
The Flames, on their current season long five-game home stand, will try for their fourth straight win of the season. A feat they haven’t reached in nearly two years. Achieving the fourth straight victory will be a tall order against the always dangerous San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are going to be extra hungry tonight as they try to ensure they are not shutout for their third straight game. The Flames, as a result, will need a strong performance from everyone if they are to keep the streak alive.