It’s Halloween and the Calgary Flames hit the ice for their sixth home game and an encounter they hope will be anything but scary. On their Road Trip of Doom (on which they went 4-2-0), the locals managed to beat Nashville – a good team – on Nashville’s home ice via a great 60-minute effort and some timely stops from their goaltender.
Tonight, they hope to do the same against a Predators club (6-1-2) that’s been playing extremely well of late and has just a single regulation loss. And is probably still made about one of the few blemishes on their record being from the boys in red.
Puck drops at 7pm MT (as per tradition on weekdays) and is on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
You may need a program to keep track of all the movement in and out of the Flames line-up tonight. The locals (5-4-2) have made it through their first 11 games a shade over the .500 mark, despite having just awful possession numbers. That luck will be tested tonight.
Lines, via our main pals at Daily Faceoff:
Jonas Hiller gets the start in net – his seventh this season and second in a row – while Karri Ramo backs him up.
Lots of changes since the Montreal game. Four bodies in (Michael Ferland, Markus Granlund, Brian McGrattan and Devin Setoguchi), four bodies out (Joe Colborne, Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund and Josh Jooris). Ferland and Granlund are making their season debuts – Ferland his NHL bow – while Setoguchi plays his first game since October 19 and McGrattan since October 17.
Coach Hartley continues his “pairs” in terms of forward assignments: Bollig stays with Bouma, Gaudreau stays with Byron and Ferland sticks with his AHL running mate Granlund for his first NHL game. The big question here is “Who gets the tough minutes?” It’s probably the Monahan line, which will be a very interesting test for the 20-year-old center.
Speaking of centers, career face-offs taken among Calgary’s centers tonight: Monahan (1223), Byron (142), Bouma (119) and Granlund (54). If there’s a storyline to follow tonight, watch to see if this group gets behind the eight-ball in terms of their face-off totals.
So, Nashville’s pretty good. They’re embarking on the second game of a western road swing and are fresh off beating Edmonton like a drum (4-1) on Wednesday night.
Lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Presumably Pekka RInne gets the start, with Carter Hutton backing up.
If there’s one thing Nashville has, it’s depth. They can roll four lines and three defensive pairings quite effectively, and when you can do that, it gives you the chance to really ride your key players when it’s crunch time. Unfortunately that depth hasn’t translated into a lot of offensive depth – only 10 guys have goals through 9 games, compared to Calgary getting goals from 13 different sources in 11 – but with their possession numbers as good as they are (Corsi Close north of 51%), these guys are bound to get some bounces sooner or later.
And heck, they have lost once in regulation through their first nine games. That’s very impressive. Presuming this group can continue to gel and implement Peter Laviolette’s systems, they’ll only get more dangerous as the season wears on.
SUM IT UP
Tonight’s the first time the Calgary Flames are meeting up with a team they’ve already played this season – for the curious, it’ll happen in each of their next four games. They managed to beat Nashville last time out based on a complete 60-minute game, some key goaltending and some bounces.
With an injury-depleted line-up – especially at center – they’ll need a lot of hard work and a few bounces to have that happen again tonight.
But hey, crazy things tend to happen on Halloween – and Hiller’s starting – so I wouldn’t rule it out.