After a disappointing start yesterday in St. Louis derailed their winning streak, the Calgary Flames are back in action tonight in Detroit as they face the Red Wings in their last road game of 2015.
The Flames (15-15-2) have had a fairly successful road trip thus far, at least by their meager standards, having gone 2-1-0 over their previous three games in Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis. Ending their trip on a winning note will at least guarantee that they’re at least at the .500 mark when they break for Christmas. And after a game where they played pretty well in St. Louis, aside from a bad start, two points tonight would go a long way towards maintaining their confidence away from the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Tonight’s game goes at 5pm MT on Sportsnet’s national feed (with Rick Ball and Garry Galley) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Here’s yesterday’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
Even though it’s the second game of a back-to-back, I really don’t expect the Flames to put Jonas Hiller in net. As a result of Hiller’s shaky play this season, expect to see Karri Ramo again. He’s 11-9-1 with a 2.81 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He’s easily better than Hiller right now, and the big question is whether fatigue will make him that much worse than he was yesterday. (Spoiler: probably not.)
The extra healthy bodies yesterday were Ladislav Smid and Brandon Bollig. One or both could get rotated in, but given how the Flames pushed back and really played well through the latter part of the game I wouldn’t expect many changes.
Ramo goes again. Smid in, Engelland out versus Detroit. #Flames
— Aaron Vickers (@AAVickers) December 20, 2015
Anyhoo, the Flames power-play is bad. It needs to be better. Their penalty kill hasn’t amazed, but it’s been better lately – in part because Ramo’s goaltending has solidified that position. The power-play is probably bound for a big break-through, eventually, but they didn’t score any with the man advantage against Detroit and gave up a pair to their power-play. That might not bode well.
THE RED WINGS
Projected lines via your pals at Daily Faceoff:
It sounds like Petr Mrazek will start for the Wings. He’s 9-5-3 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. He’s been slightly the better of Detroit’s two goalies – the other being veteran Jimmy Howard – and he’s consistently given the Wings a chance.
Detroit hasn’t been a world-beater this year – they lost to Calgary for heaven’s sake – but they’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL at bringing young players into the fold and incorporating them into their line-up, so they’ve never had a massive drop-off. Keep an eye on Dylan Larkin and Riley Sheahan, as they’re always fast and dangerous. Their defensive group is arguably their Achilles’ Heel, and if the Flames can use their speed to get deep into the Wings zone, they can create some chaos.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames beat Detroit 3-2 (in overtime) at home back in October, in arguably their first good game of the season. (Their 5-2 win on that home-stand was against Pittsburgh, not Detroit.)
All-time, the Flames are 68-66-16-5 against the Red Wings.
SUM IT UP
The Flames polish off their road trip with a game against a team they already beat fairly handily back when they were playing their worst hockey. A win tonight guarantees that the Flames get to head to the Christmas break at the .500 mark, and that they head home with a winning record on a road trip for the first time all season.
Whether or not they’re tired after yesterday’s game in St. Louis, they aren’t going to get a better set up for road success than today’s game.