(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
A few days removed from a big road shutout win in Colorado, the Calgary Flames are back home and back in action tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Could this be the last time Steven Stamkos visits the Saddledome wearing a lightning bolt jersey? Can the Flames take advantage of all the chaos surrounding the Lightning and get a much-needed win?
We’ll find out at the usual time (7pm MT) and the usual places (Scotiabank Saddledome, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan)!
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff!
For the 28th time this season (and 25th time in the last 28 games), Karri Ramo starts for Calgary. He’s 14-12-1 with a 2.60 goals against average and .910 save percentage. He just had a shutout in Colorado. He’s been good, occasionally better than good, since basically Halloween. And at this point, even if Ramo was incapacitated, the Flames would probably string him up, Milhouse-style, rather than go with Jonas Hiller.
Alas, no Jiri Hudler or Michael Frolik tonight, as both are out with injuries and we get to see just how thin the right side is without them.
The Flames have seen Johnny Gaudreau kept off the scoresheet for the past three games, but they managed to get some much-needed secondary scoring against Colorado and they managed to get two points. If they want to go toe-to-toe with Tampa, they need to play another structured game as they did in Denver – and they probably need both Gaudreau’s offense and some secondary scoring to get two points.
Either that or they need to hope that Tampa’s potent line-up goes ice-cold.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Tampa ace Ben Bishop suits up for the 32nd time this season (making his 31st start); he’s 15-12-3 thus far with a 2.06 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. If you think his numbers probably should lead to a better win-loss record, you’re right, and Tampa has struggled to score at times due to injuries to a lot of their secondary players. (Mathias Ohlund is the only guy on the sidelines for Tampa right now.)
The Lightning are finally healthy now, after missing important players like Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, as well as role guys like Nikita Nesterov and Cedric Paquette. They’re back at a full complement, and the only big thing that could derail them right now are off-ice distractions (in the form of Jonathan Drouin’s trade demands and AHL demotion, or Stamkos’ contract saga) or, heaven forbid, more injuries.
Now that they’re healthy, there’s one word to describe Tampa Bay: deep. If they can get their swagger back, they could be really dangerous in the Eastern playoff race.
WHEN LAST WE MET
Back in November, the Lightning beat Calgary 3-1 in Tampa. The game was tied at 1-1, but Tampa’s potent power-play scored 28 seconds after Mark Giordano took a third period minor and that was that. (This was during the period where Calgary was out-and-out bad and found weird ways to lose games.)
The Flames and Tampa Bay are dead-locked in their all-time series – aside from seven games in the 2004 playoffs that we will not speak of – with the Flames holding a 13-13-1-4 record in 31 games.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames got themselves back into the playoff mix with a nice run of home wins. They play four straight starting tonight at home, with two of them (Arizona and San Jose) against Pacific Division foes. If they want to stay in the playoff mix after losing a pair of tough division games at home, going on another nice run of home wins would definitely help them out.