(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)
After beating the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, the Calgary Flames hope to keep their momentum going tonight in the confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome when they host Canada’s Team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s always a little special when the Maple Leafs come to town, if only for the loud, voracious boos towards Dion Phaneuf. (Until now…) Oh, and I guess a good ol’ fashioned Canadian team showdown. Neither team is amazing good this season; the Leafs are better fundamentally but the Flames have gotten slightly less bad goaltending and have the scoring machine known as Johnny Gaudreau to push them slightly over the top lately.
This is the last “easy” game for the Flames for awhile, as after this game they face San Jose, Arizona, Anaheim and Minnesota. (And then Vancouver again.) So if the Flames have any notions of making the playoffs, they need to grab these points and then go on a roll against some good teams.
The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines from your friends at Daily Faceoff:
After a pretty good performance in net against Vancouver, Jonas Hiller returns to the net for the Flames. He’s 6-5-1 with a 3.01 goals against average and .904 even-strength save percentage. He’s been pretty good as of late, and he’s deserved to get a few extra starts here and there. (Not to say Karri Ramo hasn’t been good, but neither guy has been October bad lately and with the hectic schedule this month, an actual goalie rotation makes sense.)
The Flames have alternated between strong efforts with good execution (Carolina, Vancouver) and games with iffy execution (Columbus), but they really need to keep focusing on puck retrieval and special teams. They still boast the NHL’s worst power-play and second-worst penalty kill, and executing better on the power play in particular would go a long way towards helping them eke out an extra win here and there.
And even if you’re on Team Tank, having good results to build off from this season (even if they’re just situational results and not scoreboard results) is going to really help the youngsters in the long run.
THE MAPLE LEAFS
Projected lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Note: These line projections were from before the Phaneuf trade. Presumably Jared Cowen won’t make it in time for the game, so presumably we get some shuffling and Martin Marincin in the line-up somewhere.
James Reimer starts for the Maple Leafs tonight. He’s 10-9-6 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .942 even-strength save percentage in 25 starts. He’s been quite good this season, even when the Maple Leafs haven’t been.
The Leafs got thumped by Ottawa on Saturday night, and have had a couple days off to stew about it. And to add insult to injury, the Leafs also lost Shawn Matthias, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul to injury, and had to recall Mark Arcobello, Rich Clune and Josh Leivo from the Marlies. When you look at their roster, suddenly their spot in the standings makes a lot of sense.
Keep an eye on “Uncle” Leo Komarov, Toronto’s leading scorer (and an All-Star).
WHEN LAST WE MET
This is the first of two meetings between Toronto and Calgary this season. Last season, the teams split their two games with the home side winning each time. In December in Toronto, the Flames lost 4-1 despite out-shooting Toronto. In March back at home, the Flames rolled over Toronto 6-3.
The Flames are 60-55-13 against Toronto all-time.
HOME ICE HERO
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and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero by clicking this link!
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
The Flames are 8 points back of the Anaheim Ducks for the final Pacific Division playoff spot, and are just 2 points up on the Blue Jackets, Oilers and Leafs in the NHL’s basement.
SUM IT UP
It’s not quite the battle between two bottom-dwelling teams that some may have anticipated, but tonight’s battle is still between two bottom-six teams. And if the Flames have any aspirations of escaping the draft lottery bunch, they need to keep stealing points and stringing wins together while there are still a bunch of games left on the schedule.