FGD #21: Hosting the Hawks (7pm MT; Sportsnet Flames)

After facing – and ultimately passing – a big test against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames hit the ice for the fourth game of their five game homestand when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Flames are somehow 12-6-2 and sit 7th overall in the entire National Hockey League after the first quarter of the season. (I swear, I’ll eventually preview games without writing “somehow” before the Flames record.) The Blackhawks are the Blackhawks – they’re a strong, deep team who have some sure-fire NHL stars and some sure-fire NHL firepower. They sit 10-7-1, and are sub-.500 on the road so far this season.

The puck drops at 7pm MT and this clash of titans airs on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

The Flames are on a three-game winning streak, and have a 6-2-0 record in the month of November. They’re also both getting healthier and getting more injured, which led to a bit of confusion at practice this morning given who’s playing tonight.

In short: the top six has consensus, but the scratches could be anybody in that bottom six/eight group.

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Jonas Hiller (9-4-1, 2.33 goals against average, .920 save percentage) gets his 14th start of the season. He made 49 saves in Calgary’s 2-1 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago on October 15.

David Jones (upper body) has been placed on the IR. Again. But Michael Ferland is off the IR and plays tonight, so presumably the scratches are some combination of Brian McGrattan and either Max Reinhart or Devin Setoguchi. With some many bodies back sooner or later, the Flames have some decisions to make. Kris Russell remains day-to-day with his lower-body injury, while Matt Stajan, Joe Colborne, Mason Raymond and Mikael Backlund are now joined by Jones in the IR. Sam Bennett is in town rehabbing his shoulder and remains on Calgary’s non-roster injured list. I stubbed my toe yesterday, but I’m playing through it.

In other news, Flames 2013 third rounder Keegan Kanzig was acquired by the Calgary Hitmen from the Victoria Royals last night in a swap that sent Greg Chase to the Royals.

THE BLACKHAWKS

The Blackhawks are on the road and embarking upon a six-game trip that begins in Calgary and stops into Edmonton, Vancouver, Denver, Anaheim and Los Angeles before they return home to the United Center on December 3.

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Starting for Chicago in net is Corey Crawford (7-4-1, 1.88 goals against average, .929 save percentage). On the shelf for the Blackhawks are Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Upside: Adam Clendening slots in for his first career NHL game, which must be a thrill for the 2011 pick.

The Blackhawks, even with some injuries, are a deep, deep team. Deep. They are fast and talented and strong, and they pose a MASSIVE challenge for a Flames club that is missing Kris Russell and Mikael Backlund, two of their key pieces for shutting down fast, talented, strong teams.

AND NOW, THIS

SUM IT UP

I feel like I’ve written about measuring-stick games and statement games and all that stuff a zillion times this season, but Chicago is probably the best challenge the Flames have faced this season. They are immensely talented, well-coached and deep.

But the Flames do have last change, so I’ll be very interested to see how the Flames manage their match-ups and the minutes for their key shut-down players (Monahan, Glencross, Giordano and Brodie). It should be an exciting game down at the ‘Dome tonight.

  • MattyFranchise

    Well, aside from the first ten minutes this was a game that the Flames deserved to win. I guess it’s just karma for that heist they pulled in Chicago last time.

    Re: Sven. He had a very solid game, got some PP time, not sure how much he played in the third although I don’t really recall seeing him out there that much but the kid was doing his damnedest trying to make something happen with his ice time which was increased by nearly three minutes (just shy of 10). Definitely a better performance than the last game.