The Calgary Flames are beginning a stretch where they play six of their next seven games, and eight of their final 11 regular season contests, away from home. When you factor in that the Flames have just 10 road wins in 2015-16 – worst in the entire National Hockey League in that regard – it seems like they may get some help on their way to a good draft pick.
That said, the Flames are playing some of their best hockey in a long time and occasionally look formidable. Factor in that they’re visiting a city that the club historically does well in, and that the Canadiens lost 5-0 to Ottawa last night and have looked woeful lately, and you may have a recipe for a pretty interesting hockey game this evening between Calgary and Montreal.
The puck drops at 5pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Last game’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
(Fourth line center is Freddie Hamilton, not Sena Acolatse.)
Niklas Backstrom makes his first start since January 13, 2015. He has a career .915 save percentage goaltender, but his last two seasons in Minnesota he posted an .899 and .887. Until he proves himself otherwise, expect him to be an older,
Swedish Finnish Jonas Hiller. Keep your expectations low, gang.
So here’s the gist for tonight’s line-up: Sam Bennett is back in, replacing Freddie Hamilton and causing a bit of a line shuffling in the forward ranks. Lance Bouma gets the plum job along the 200-foot duo of Backlund and Frolik, Jooris gets moved to play with Monahan and Gaudreau, and all is right with the world. However, Deryk Engelland’s wife just had a baby so Engelland is headed off to see to that wonderful situation, so Freddie Hamilton has yet to be officially reassigned because (a) the Flames are still shorthanded as (b) a defenseman might not get to Montreal from Stockton in time. So Hamilton might play, as the Flames might go with 13 forwards and 5 blueliners.
Lignes projetées de Daily Faceoff:
Mike Condon starts. He’s 17-21-6 with a 2.61 goals against average and .909 even-strength save percentage in 47 appearances. Montreal’s missing Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Daniel Carr, Tom Gilbert, Brian Flynn, David Desharnais, Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher and Mark Barberio, all due to injury. Yikes.
Remember Paul Byron? Calgary waived him at the beginning of the season because they wanted to keep Mason Raymond (and Brandon Bollig). Byron got claimed by Montreal, has had a great season, and just signed a contract extension. Raymond has been buried in the AHL and still has a year left on his awful, awful contract, while Bollig keeps puttering around in Calgary. A rare misstep by Brad Treliving.
Speaking of awful? Montreal’s been pretty bad without both of Carey Price and P.K. Subban. They don’t score a ton to begin with and they’re so decimated by injury that they’re basically dressing half of the St. John’s Ice Caps. Well, except for John Scott, because for some reason they haven’t called him up.
WHEN LAST WE MET
(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
The day before Halloween, the Flames got lit up by Montreal and lost 5-2. Dale Weise scored a hat trick, and the Flames had to sit on their own bench while the ice crew collected all the hats. There were that many hats thrown by opposing fans. It was rock-bottom for this season.
All-time, the Flames are 37-56-17 against the Habs.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
If the Flames win, they’ll join Buffalo and Arizona in the scary “not-good teams, but better than the bad teams” part of the standings.
SUM IT UP
This is going to be a peculiar game. The Flames are facing a team that has been awful as of late, but are dressing a goaltender that hasn’t played a game in 14 months. Will they win? Will they lose? Will they continue their stretch of pretty good efforts dating back to the trade deadline?
Your guess is as good as ours.