FGD #19: A Tale of Two Cities (8pm MT; CBC)

Tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Flames (10-6-2) host the visiting Ottawa Senators (8-4-4).

The Senators are a very similar team to Calgary right now. They have strong goaltending (from Craig Anderson) and a well-constructed team, anchored by some strong players on their back end (notably Norris contender and former winner Erik Karlsson). They’re coming off an overtime win in Edmonton that saw them gain a 3-0 lead, nearly blow it entirely, and then win in overtime.

Calgary? Replace “Craig Anderson” with “Jonas Hiller” and “Erik Karlsson” with “T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano” and they’re basically the same. Heck, both teams seem to really enjoy beating the Oilers in Edmonton to the point that the home side gets booed off the ice.

It should be quite the battle at the ‘Dome tonight. Puck drops at 8pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Per Sportsnet, Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Glenn Healy have the TV call.

THE FLAMES

The hometown heroes are finally getting some home games under the belt after a lot – 11 to be precise – of road games. Their 5-3 win over Arizona on Thursday night represented their 10th win, and it saw the team show some resiliency as they fought off a hungry Coyotes team and really managed the game well in the third period.

UPDATED Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Karri Ramo makes his seventh start of the season – and first since getting lit up and pulled against the Florida Panthers on the road trip. He’s 2-2-1 with a 2.85 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Sample sizes are small and Ramo’s probably due for a strong outing.

Up front: Bollig subs in for McGrattan (Setoguchi stays out). Bob Hartley is seemingly trying guys out for fourth line duty nowadays and with Michael Ferland (concussion) returning imminently, hopefully that pushes the Bolligs and Setoguchis of the team to impress. The other injured Flames – Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Joe Colborne and Mason Raymond – remain out.

The top three lines are unchanged from against Arizona, which makes complete sense considering all three lines were pretty effective. Now, if only Paul Byron can learn to bury his breakaway chances…

THE SENATORS

The Senators have had an awful couple of days off ice – with the announcement of GM Bryan Murray’s terminal cancer diagnosis and, to a MUCH LESSER EXTENT, their plane breaking and them having to bus it down the QE-2 to Calgary. One is obviously worse than the other, and hopefully neither has a negative impact on the team.

Not shockingly, Bryan Murray isn’t on this trip, but apparently he has been working in the Senators offices this entire time, because he’s a bad-ass.

Lines, from Daily Faceoff.

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Per the Senators official Twitter, Craig Anderson gets the start. He’s 5-2-3 with a 2.05 goals against average and a .943 save percentage. He’s basically a not-Swiss Jonas Hiller this season, right up to the unsustainably high save percentage.

More weird Flames/Senators parallels? Rookies sprinkled across their line-up, including one (Mike Hoffman) who leads their team in plus/minus…just like Johnny Gaudreau with the Flames! Well, Gaudreau leads among forwards at least. The Senators are completely healthy, though, while the Flames have many, many injuries.

Lots of youth, speed and skill throughout the Ottawa line-up, as well as key veterans in key spots. This is a well-constructed, well-coached team. And possession-wise, they’re just a wee bit better than Calgary, with a 46.3 Corsi Close percentage to Calgary’s 45.1.

Both of Ottawa’s games on this western swing have gone to overtime. (They lost in Vancouver 4-3 and won in Edmonton 4-3.)

SUM IT UP

It’s always fun when Calgary faces another Canadian team on Hockey Night in Canada. It just feels right. With their 10th win under the belts, the Flames hope they can keep the good times rolling at the Scotiabank Saddledome. With a goaltender in Karri Ramo hoping to bounce back from a sub-par game against Florida, hopefully that seed of motivation grows into another strong 60-minute effort from the home side.