After nine games of the 2015-16 schedule, the Calgary Flames are in trouble. They’re looking for some rhythm, some rhyme, and to figure out what the heck has happened to their meat-grinder of a game.
Tonight, they get a golden opportunity for a course correction in Ottawa against the Senators. The Flames (2-7-0) haven’t been great, but the Senators (3-3-2) are hardly a world-beater and are on a losing streak. And given their injury-ravaged state, there’s no better time than the present for the Flames to take advantage of a diminished foe.
And thankfully, tonight’s (probably) the long-awaited return of T.J. Brodie to the Flames line-up!
Puck drops just after 5:30pm MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Lines from the morning skate via Daily Faceoff:
After Joni Ortio’s loss in Brooklyn, Jonas Hiller starts tonight in Ottawa. It’ll be his sixth start and seventh appearance. He’s 2-3-0 with a 3.52 goals against average, .872 save percentage and .888 even-strength save percentage.
The Flames will get a boost tonight in the form of the return of T.J. Brodie, who is a game-time decision officially! He’s missed the first nine games (and the majority of pre-season) with a broken bone in his hand, but the upside is his cardio should be good and he’s been skating with the team. His return bumps Ladislav Smid to the press box, where he’ll join Jakub Nakladal and Matt Stajan tonight. To make room on the roster, Micheal Ferland gets bumped to the injured reserve (retroactive to last weekend), where he joins Lance Bouma.
Through nine games, what have the Flames done well? The polite answer is “not much with consistency.” The hope is they’ll take tonight as an opportunity to push the pace against a depleted Senators team, wear them down with cycling, skating and some hitting, and then take advantage of whatever odd-man or special teams opportunities they’re afforded. You generate chances and induce penalties by working harder than the other team for 60 minutes. We’ve only really seen that against Detroit so far.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Craig Anderson starts for Ottawa. He’s 3-2-1 with a 2.61 goals against average, .918 save percentage and .929 even-strength save percentage. He’s off to a very strong start for the Sens.
Ottawa is presently without Clarke McArthur, Curtis Lazar and Mike Hoffman, which has depleted their forward ranks a bit. Be honest: when you skimmed Ottawa’s lines, you had to run to HockeyDB to find out who a bunch of the players were. Shane Prince? Max McCormack? Ottawa’s stretched a little bit, but they’re still a talented team with a deep defensive group and some really good goaltending. That’s the key: if the Senators can get enough run support, they’re good enough on the back end to squeeze out their opposition.
For the Flames to have success against Ottawa, they’ll need to get to Craig Anderson early and get the Senators feeling uneasy about their defensive schemes. With the way Calgary’s been playing this season, though, that’s easier said than done.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames took three of a possible four points from Ottawa last season. They beat them 4-2 in November at the Saddledome, then lost 5-4 in a shootout in early March in Ottawa.
Overall, the Flames are 17-12-4-2 against Ottawa all-time.
SUM IT UP
The Calgary Flames desperately need wins, by hook or crook. They need to beg, borrow or steal points in the standings. They’re falling behind the pack, and time may be running out.