After failing to close out the series on the road on Thursday, the Calgary Flames have a second chance to close out their first round series with the Vancouver Canucks tonight. This time, it’s a home date at the Saddledome, where the Flames have played much, much better than they have on the road.
The key to victory for the Flames? Desperation and execution. They were sloppy in Game 5 in Vancouver and blew their chance to close out the series, and thus are back home looking to cash in on their second chance. But they really need to play the physical brand of hockey that brought them this far, and execute the game-plan that has made the Sedins an after-thought in games in Calgary.
The Flames are sixty minutes of effective hockey away from their first trip to the second round since 2004. It would be truly frustrating for all involved if they couldn’t close this series out, particularly because while they have been quite good at home, they haven’t been all that good at Rogers Arena, and a return trip there probably isn’t in their best interests.
The puck drops after 7pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
No significant changes are expect for the locals. Jonas Hiller makes his sixth start of the series, with Karri Ramo dressing as his understudy. Your healthy regulars on the sidelines are Drew Shore, Markus Granlund and Corey Potter. Injured Flames include Lance Bouma, Mark Giordano, Ladislav Smid, Raphael Diaz and Paul Byron.
The crowd will be on Calgary’s side. Last change at home means that the match-ups will be on Calgary’s side. And history in this series has taught us that home ice really matters, and because of various factors, both teams have played well in their own barn.
If David Jones, Michael Ferland and Matt Stajan can be as effective as they were in Games 3 and 4, and perhaps the Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund and Joe Colborne line can create some offense, then the Flames can win this game. We know that they’ll get good goaltending from Hiller.
The rest is up to them.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
No changes are expected from the line-up that beat Calgary and forced a Game 6 in Vancouver on Thursday. So we’ll see Ryan Miller in net. Ryan Stanton, Linden Vey and Brandon McMillan are the healthy scratches, and Alex Burrows and Zack Kassian are injured.
The Canucks have done a good job doing whatever they can to negate Calgary’s top line this series. But in the games in Calgary, Bo Horvat’s line has been the most consistently dangerous. Somehow, they have to get the Sedins some breathing room, or the series will end tonight.
SUM IT UP
The Flames are a confident bunch who feel they let a big opportunity slip from their fingers on Thursday in Vancouver. They are bound and determined not to let it happen again, particularly on home ice.
The Canucks are one loss away from their season ending tonight. They are desperate for a win.
It should be an excellent sixty minutes (or more) of ice hockey.