(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames hope to go into the All-Star Break not with a whimper but with a bang tonight as they host the Nashville Predators.
The bad news for Calgary is that they’ve lost five of their last seven games and just finished off a tremendously mediocre road trip that saw them go 1-3-1. Oh, and the Predators are a much better team than Calgary based on the season-to-date. However, Nashville played last night in Vancouver and hopped a plane into town, so the Predators are probably as fresh as the Flames are. That’s good news, because the Flames are now in desperation mode and need points anyway they can get ’em.
The puck drops at 7:30pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Monday night’s lines from Daily Faceoff:
The Flames are back in action after losing four of five games on the road, and then getting a day off to regroup and refocus. Karri Ramo will get yet another start in net. He’s 16-16-1 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .916 even-strength save percentage, and is by far Calgary’s better goalie this season. The Flames remain without Micheal Ferland, who suffered a concussion against Columbus – so even when the Flames won on the road trip, they still lost. Joe Colborne and Josh Jooris were absent from morning skate and are game-time decisions, and if they can’t go expect Mason Raymond to be on the top line because the Flames are seemingly keeping that spot ready for one of the Finnish kids in this year’s draft. (Or something.)
What can we say about the Flames that we haven’t discussed already? They’re pretty bad (but slightly better than they were before) at killing penalties, and dead-last at the power-play. On their road trip, they had one game (in New Jersey) where they scored twice, and three games where they went 0-for-5 and lost. And this is after the Flames seemed to get their act together with the extra man and had some momentum, so it’s doubly confusing and likely frustrating for all involved.
This is the Flames’ last game in January. They’re 8 points out of the playoffs. They need a win. They need points. They need something to give them momentum heading into the break.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
The Predators are coming off a 2-1 win over Vancouver by way of a late third period goal by James Neal. Pekka Rinne started and won his 19th game of the season. Since the Predators played last night and flew into Calgary they won’t have a pre-game skate, so my best guess is that Rinne starts again because he’s a robot from the future who tends goal. Nashville remains without Gabriel Bourque and Colin Wilson, son of notable Flames alumni Carey Wilson.
Nashville’s had some relatively disappointing results on the scoreboard, but they’re one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the league. They’re either slightly better than the Flames in most metrics…or significantly better than the Flames in most metrics. But thankfully for the Flames, they eked one out and then had to travel, so the locals may have a decent shot tonight.
WHEN LAST WE MET
Back in mid-December, Calgary went into Nashville and beat the Predators 2-1 in overtime. It was a really tight game, both Karri Ramo and Pekka Rinne were really good, and it was a pretty good low-scoring game.
All-time against Nashville, the Flames are 30-27-6.
Calgary and Nashville have had a few wild games at the ‘Dome over the past few years, including a game where Eric Nystrom scored four goals (but Nashville somehow lost), and one where they combined for 11 goals.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames have arrived in a land known as Desperation Mode…and before the All-Star Break, even. They need wins anyway they can get ’em.