The Calgary Flames have lost 10 of their last 11 games, and every single one of their last seven games. They’ve lost each of the first three games of this road trip and now they head into the Steel City of Pittsburgh for an afternoon game against the Penguins as their final game of this trip.
The Penguins are five points up for the last wild-card spot in the East and desperately want in. The Flames? They’re 29th overall. Let’s just say it doesn’t look good.
The puck drops at 1pm MT on Sportsnet West (with BOB COLE and Greg Millen) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
The Flames have zero extra healthy skaters right now, so here’s the exact same roster they put out in Buffalo. In goal there a change, as the winless Joni Ortio slots in. He’s 0-6-2 with a 3.34 goals against average and .901 even-strength save percentage. He’s been fine, but nothing about his play or his numbers really breeds a ton of confidence or suggests he’s a long-term answer.
The local hockey club has been playing juuust bad enough to lose over the past month, and it’s brought them crashing down into the NHL basement. It’s also given Bob Hartley confidence to mix up lines and whatnots, which is actually interesting because why didn’t he just do this earlier? Anyway, expect lines to get shuffled here and there and the Flames to put up a good fight.
If they could only figure out how to kill penalties (or not take so damn many) and to exit their own zone with regularity, maybe they could make some noise.
Projected lines from your friends at Daily Faceoff:
Marc-Andre Fleury starts for the Penguins. He’s 27-14-6 with a 2.31 goals against average and .929 even-strength save percentage. He struggles with consistency sometimes, but he’s still quite good compared to the rest of the NHL’s netminders.
The Penguins are missing five or six regulars, but they’re still a terrifying hockey club when they get things going. Their defense isn’t amazing, but they have three strong forward lines and a handful of the best players in the world.
Good luck, Flames.
WHEN LAST WE MET
Calgary beat Pittsburgh pretty decisively at home in November, trouncing them 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan all had multi-point games.
The Flames are 39-43-19 in 101 previous meetings with Pittsburgh.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
Toronto faces Ottawa later tonight and maintains their game in hand on the Flames. It’ll be hard for anybody to withstand all the games-in-hand the Oilers have accumulated for everyone else. Except by losing, that is.
SUM IT UP
Only 17 games left to go after tonight! The Flames are playing out the string, and let’s hope they don’t pick up too many bad habits or hurt their draft positioning too much.