The Calgary Flames, fresh off a thrilling overtime win over the Oilers on New Year’s Eve, kick off the 2015 calendar year with a game tonight against the New York Islanders!
The Flames (21-15-3) have won four in a row! The Islanders (25-11-1) have only won two in a row, but they’re generally hotter of late and they are presently battling it out with the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Metropolitan Division! It should be another stiff test for the Flames, particularly given that the Islanders have a skilled, speedy team that are expected to contend for the East crown this year.
The puck drops at 7pm MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines from the third period from the Edmonton game:
Gaudreau – Jooris – Hudler
Glencross – Monahan – Colborne
Bouma – Granlund – Byron
Bollig – Stajan – Jones
Giordano – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Engelland – Diaz
The Flames really hit shuffle on their lines on New Year’s Eve, so this is how things ended.
I would presume nothing changes, so expect to see Mason Raymond, Brian McGrattan and Corey Potter as extras. Ladislav Smid and Mikael Backlund are getting there in their recoveries, but aren’t cleared yet by my knowledge.
Presumably Jonas Hiller gets yet another start. He’s been quite good lately. He’s 13-10-2 with a 2.31 goals against average, .917 save percentage and .932 even-strength save percentage. Tonight would be his 25th start of the season.
Fun Fact: two Flames (Jiri Hudler and Mark Giordano) are in the NHL’s top 20 in scoring.
Lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Presumably Jaroslav Halak will get the start. He’s 20-6-0 with a 2.26 goals against average, .917 save percentage and .932 even-strength save percentage. He’s excellent, and back-up Chad Johnson is appreciably worse. As long as Halak is hot, the team will be in the thick of things in the East.
Halak also smooths out some of the edges of a very young defense. Hickey, de Haan and Hamonic are all young but rapidly improving, and the additions of Leddy and Boychuk really balanced things out for them. Up front, the Isles have three good lines and a perfectly functional fourth line. Oh, and John Tavares is really, really good.
Like, really good.
SUM IT UP
The Islanders are really strong, and with their mix of size and speed, they’re another good example for the Flames to look towards in terms of how to build a team model properly. Tonight should be a nice measuring stick in terms of how the Flames match up with the NHL’s best, particularly when they’ve been playing really well of late and have some momentum on their side.
In other words – if you’re gonna go toe-to-toe with the Islanders, this is probably the best time to do it.