(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
A team that’s battling the flu (yet somehow is on a winning streak) hosts a team that gave up seven goals to the Edmonton Oilers last night. The Calgary Flames (12-14-2) have someway, somehow managed to claw back to the brink of the .500 mark. They face the New York Rangers, fresh off a 7-5 loss to the Oilers last night in a game that had very little “defensive” hockey in it.
Can the Flames run the table on their current five-game homestand? Can they kick off their new seven-game segment with a victory? And can they take advantage of yet another reeling hockey club on their way kicking and screaming back to the .500 mark?
Find out tonight! The puck drops at 8pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. For the curious, Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson have the TV call.
The Flames didn’t practice yesterday because of the flu running through the team, so here’s the lines they were gonna go with against Buffalo before everyone got sick via Daily Faceoff:
According to Bob Hartley at morning skate, his goaltenders will be a game-time decision based on which guy feels less flu-like (in terms of symptoms). For what it’s worth, Jonas Hiller worked the starter’s net the most at morning skate. Hiller’s 3-4-0 with a 3.75 goals against average and an .862 save percentage, but he was good enough for the win against Buffalo. Karri Ramo’s numbers are much better: 9-8-1 with a 3.00 goals against average and a .901 save percentage.
Kris Russell is a game-time decision for tonight, which would push Wideman down to the third pairing and bump Smid to the press box. For all you Markus Granlund fans, good news, as Hartley indicated that Lance Bouma isn’t close to returning quite yet and so the Flames don’t need to make a decision on how to open a roster spot for Bouma for a little while longer.
The Flames were AWFUL in October, going 3-8-1 and really putting themselves behind the eight-ball. But after a respectable November that saw them go 5-6-1, the Flames are undefeated in December (4-0-0) and are (a) two games below .500 and (b) just three points behind San Jose for the last Pacific Division playoff spot. It’s kind-of remarkable that they’ve managed to almost salvage their season, but you can thank the awful Pacific Division for making it all possible.
Tonight’s the last “bonus points” game against the Eastern Conference for the Flames in 2015, as their next seven games are against Western Conference foes – including a three-game homestand after Christmas against Edmonton, Anaheim and Los Angeles that could play a huge part in getting the Flames over the proverbial hump and into the playoff picture. Or it could sink their chances, because in this league, things tend to go one way or another.
Lines from last night’s loss to the Oilers up in Edmonton via Daily Faceoff:
The Rangers used both goalies last night, but presumably Antti Raanta gets the start as it’s his turn in the rotation. Raanta is 4-2-0 with a 1.48 goals against average and a .945 save percentage on the season. He was in net when the Flames lost to the Rangers back in October.
Like the Buffalo Sabres, who came through Calgary on Thursday, the Rangers are in the midst of a Western Canada trip…and have lost twice already through stops in Vancouver and Edmonton. The Rangers have won just once in December.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames lost 4-1 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden back during their awful October.
All-time, the Flames are 54-38-15-5 against the New York Rangers.
Down in the heart of Texas, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Calgary Flames – the Stockton Heat – try to push themselves over the .500 mark when they face Dallas’ AHL squad, the Texas Stars. The puck drops on that contest at 6pm MT.
HOME ICE HERO
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SUM IT UP
The Flames have a chance to run the table on a five-game homestand and creep closer to a playoff spot. Considering that they have a big three-game road trip coming up next week through Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis (and their bad road record), making the most of their home dates against non-conference opponents could really help them out.