We hit the three-quarter mark of the National Hockey League exhibition schedule tonight, as the Calgary Flames dust off the welcome mat when they host the Colorado Avalanche.
Well, most of ’em. It is still pre-season, so outside of a few familiar names like Nathan MacKinnon, it’s not the full-scale Colorado Avalanche – no Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla or Alex Tanguay, for instance. But it represents a test for a Flames roster that’s beginning to take shape, and for a few key names that are hoping to be on the club when rosters are announced on October 6.
Puck drop is slightly after 7pm MT. There’s a video stream on Flames.com, and otherwise your pals Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias of Sportsnet 960 The Fan have the radio call.
Lines for this evening, via Randy Sportak of the Sun:
Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Granlund – Jooris
Byron – Shore – Hathaway
Giordano – Hamilton
Russell – Wideman
Wilson – Engelland
The Flames netminders are gonna split the game tonight, so look for a swap around the 10:00 mark of the second. Both have looked good thus far, with Ramo standing on his head against Vancouver (outside of letting in that Alex Friesen goal off his glove hand).
Notables trying to crack the team to watch tonight: #60 Markus Granlund (who’ll need to win some draws), #22 Drew Shore (likewise) and #64 Garnet Hathaway (who’ll need to continue to bring physical presence and energy). And it’s beginning to look more and more like the race for the spot on the left side of Deryk Engelland on October 7 is between Ryan Wilson (who’s in tonight) and Brett Kulak (who isn’t).
This is a reasonable facsimile of the opening night roster, aside from no Matt Stajan, Brandon Bollig and David Jones.
No lines are available right now, but here’s the roster that traveled to town from Denver (it’s actually pretty similar to the team the Flames saw earlier in the pre-season):
Goalies: Reto Berra and Calvin Pickard
Defense: Nick Holden, Chris Bigras, Nate Guenin, Zach Redmond, Maxim Noreau and Brandon Gormley
Forwards: John Mitchell, Blake Comeau, Marc-Andre Cliche, Mikhail Grigorenko, Andreas Martinsen, Andrew Agozzino, Nathan MacKinnon, Joey Hishon, Connor Bleackley, Cody McLeod, Borna Rendulic and Mikko Rantanen
The big question is whether former Flames F Curtis Glencross will suit up tonight. He recently signed a PTO with the Avalanche after getting his walking papers from Toronto, and reports are he’ll be here, but may (or may not) play.
Curtis Glencross expected to join #Avs in Calgary today. His former home. Not sure if he will play vs Flames tonight
— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) September 29, 2015
UPDATE: Curtis Glencross is reportedly In for the Avs tonight, wearing #50. No word yet who won’t be playing.
After Reto Berra got the start in Denver against his old mates, word is Calvin Pickard will get the full 60 minutes tonight.
SUM IT UP
The Flames are dressing their NHL roster, aside from a few notable exceptions. The expectation should be for the players dressed tonight to play a full 60 minutes and give the coaching staff a reasonable representation of the opening night roster. It probably won’t happen, because it’s the pre-season, but at the very least keep an eye out for the fringe guys – if they want to have a hope in Hell of knocking a veteran out of the line-up, they’ll have to stand out in games like tonight’s.