Tonight, the Calgary Flames (17-8-2) host the San Jose Sharks (13-10-4) at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s the finale of the most recent three-game homestand which has already seen the Flames win two games, so it’s an attempt at a home sweep.
It’s also the final game of the latest seven-game segment. Flames coach Bob Hartley has split the season into seven-game segments in attempt to move things along internally by getting the players into a playoff mindset. It’s not entirely the same, obviously, but so far the approach has paid some dividends and arguably kept the team focused on the task at hand. Calgary has won five of the first six games of this latest segment, so this game is a chance for them to resoundingly win these seven games, as well as bank points against a divisional foe before the potential PDO course correction does (or does not) happen.
The puck drop is at 8pm MT. The game is on CBC (with Dave Randorf and Greg Millen on the call) and on Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias). If you head down to the friendly confines of the Saddledome, it’s Flames Foundation for Life Awareness Night, so let me mention that the Flames (as a team and on an individual player basis) do a heck of a lot of charity work in the Calgary area.
The locals have won four in a row and eight of their last ten, and continue to surprise the NHL by winning games when their underlying numbers say they should really not being so.
Daily Faceoff has lines!
Karri Ramo gets yet another start because he keeps winning games. He’s
Matt Stajan returns to the line-up, so Sven Baertschi rotates back out. I believe Rapha Diaz may be playing in Engelland’s place – per some tweets from practice – so those are the two roster changes. Brian McGrattan is the other scratch.
The Diaz insertion seems to indicate that the coaching staff feels they need to play a speed game to beat the Sharks. Diaz, by coincidence, last played in San Jose against the Sharks on the last road trip, in a game that was dictated by speed.
San Jose has won three in a row and five of their last ten. They had a rough start but are just now starting to find their legs.
Lines from Daily Faceoff, good sirs and madames:
Antti Niemi is expected to start. He’s 10-7-3 with a 2.56 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
The Sharks are my cousin’s favourite team – he named one of his cats Pavelski – but admittedly, they’re pretty good as long as it’s not the playoffs. They’ve seemingly worked on their defense a bit, and it’s not amazing but it’s a work in progress: I quite like the Dillon addition, and Justin Braun is also good.
And Barclay Goodrow has the best name in the NHL, hands down.
SUM IT UP
The Flames began their recent run with a strong game in San Jose against the Sharks, rolling four lines and doing their best to stifle them at every turn. They weren’t amazing in their victory over Colorado on Thursday, and I’d hope they can get back in form tonight against a familiar foe.