(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames hit the half-way point of the 2015-16 season tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome as they host the San Jose Sharks in a crucial divisional match-up.
The Flames (19-19-2) enter the fray two points back of the Vancouver Canucks for the final Pacific playoff spot with two games in hand. The Sharks (19-18-2) are tied with the Flames in points but have played one fewer game, so tonight is one of their three games in hand on Vancouver and they could really use the points, too. Given that neither team has played flawless hockey in the first half of the season and face a second half full of possibilities despite their uneven performances thus far.
All that adds up to a pretty interesting match-up tonight as the Flames play Game 41 and turn the corner towards the second half.
The puck drops after 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Because the sun is in the sky and the stars twirl above said sky, Karri Ramo will start for the Calgary Flames. Ramo was the only real reason the Flames had a shot at getting points against Arizona on Thursday and he’ll start for the 30th time this season come rain, sleet or snow. He’s 15-13-1 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Jonas Hiller will don his usual stool on the Flames bench, where he will do Sodoku all game.
The name of the game for the Calgary Flames lately has been finding somebody to play the right side of the top line. Already short Michael Frolik and Jiri Hudler, the team’s basically been forced to cram Joe Colborne into that role. And whatever you wanna say about Colborne as a player, it’s pretty unfair to throw him into the deep end and then blame him when he can’t play up to Johnny Gaudreau’s level. So Micheal Ferland gets his chance in that role tonight and we’ll see if he can continue his energy playing against the big dogs.
Keep an eye on that second line, though. Bennett’s bound for a breakthrough, while Granlund and Jooris are likely keeping an eye on sick bay and hoping they can play well enough right now that Brad Treliving sends Brandon Bollig to the AHL when everybody’s healthy instead of them.
Projected lines via your pals at Daily Faceoff:
Former Calgary Hitmen tender Martin Jones will man the cage for the visitors tonight. He’s 17-13-2 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. He’s been a bit inconsistent lately but he’s also been a lot better than Alex Stalock.
The Sharks have shown flashes of greatness at times this season, but they haven’t quite gotten everything clicking all at once and have hit injuries at odd times. And rather than getting big leaps forward from their younger players, they’ve occasionally sputtered and the team’s had to rely on the older guys to carry the mail.
Incidentally: man, Brent Burns is just an impressive dude. Keep an eye on him tonight, especially when Johnny Gaudreau’s on the ice.
WHEN LAST WE MET
This is the third meeting this season between Calgary and San Jose. Each team has a win on home ice. The Flames lost in San Jose by a 5-2 score in November and beat them in Calgary 4-2 in December.
The Flames are 57-40-8-4 against San Jose all-time.
HOME ICE HERO
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SUM IT UP
Game 41 is going to be a fairly meaningful game with playoff implications. If the Flames hope for, say, Games 70-75 having the same stakes, they should try to rack up some points when they play these divisional games. A win tonight would be a great start.