(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)
After a disappointing end to their four-game road trip, the Calgary Flames try to end their pre-Christmas schedule with a home date with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets are about as good as the Flames so far this season, and they’re coming off a disappointing result last night up in Edmonton against their local hockey club. Hopefully the Flames can get off to a better start than they did on their road trip.
Oh, and bionic Lance Bouma returns from a broken leg tonight (and missing 30 games).
The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Karri Ramo probably starts tonight for the 23rd time this season. He’s 11-10-1 with a 2.82 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He hasn’t been the reason the Flames have won big games this season, but he also hasn’t been the reason they’ve lost games either. He’s been fine, which is a huge upgrade over Jonas Hiller.
The good news for the Flames? They ended up finally scoring a power-play goal against Detroit, and their penalty kill didn’t give up any goals. That concludes the good news. They played a pair of uneven games in St. Louis and Detroit and made it tough for themselves to win. They’ve been a lot better at home than away this season, and they’ll need to be more consistent from period to period and shift to shift if they want to keep racking up points at the Saddledome. That said, even though Johnny Gaudreau wasn’t fantastic on the road trip, he’s still racking up points.
And in terms of line combinations, Lance Bouma’s return from the IR pushes Michael Frolik to the IR (Bouma takes Frolik’s spot on the active roster) and pushes Josh Jooris to the sidelines. I don’t really like that, especially considering how strong Jooris was on the PK last game. To be blunt: I’m not sure what role Micheal Ferland or Joe Colborne are serving on this team, as they’re not great at anything right now besides getting the puck into the offensive end and then doing…not much with it. That new fourth line is money (and I love lines with players with consecutive jersey numbers), but everything else is just a mess until Frolik returns.
But at least Markus Granlund remains in the line-up, because I was terrified he’d be jettisoned back to the AHL once Bouma returned. It may still happen when Frolik gets healthy, though.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Connor Hellebuyck started in Edmonton last night but got pulled mid-game after giving up three goals, so we’re going to see Michael Hutchinson in goal tonight after he mopped up in relief up in Shelbyville. Hutchinson is 5-7-1 with a 2.88 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. I was hoping to see a rattled Hellebuyck start rather than Hutchinson, but that’s just me.
The Jets lost 3-1 to the Oilers last night. They had six power-plays, didn’t generate a whole heck of a lot and really didn’t have a good night. They’ll be looking for redemption tonight, but it’s also the last game before Christmas and they’re on the road, so they might just have visions of sugar plums clouding their hockey-playing minds this evening.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames lost to Winnipeg back in October by a 3-1 score. They were right in the game before Karri Ramo let in a bad goal from a bad angle from Dustin Byfuglien late in the third period.
The Calgary Flames lead the Battle of Teams That Used To Be In Atlanta with a 10-9-1 record.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames polish off their pre-Christmas schedule with a game against a Canadian rival. And they need a win to get back to the .500 mark before they get a few days off. After a couple tough road losses, a win tonight would go a long way towards restoring their confidence.