In every life, there are beginnings and endings. While the preseason schedule usually begins with excitement and wonder, as we’re seeing the first semi-meaningful hockey in months and months, it usually ends with the same general summation: thank goodness it’s over.
The Calgary Flames suit up for their seventh (and final) exhibition contest of the 2016-17 preseason tonight in Vancouver, where they face the Canucks. The game signals the end of a schedule of practice games that were dominated by three things: strong impressions by Matthew Tkachuk, bemusement at the glut of bottom-six forwards in camp, and anxiety over Johnny Gaudreau’s contract status.
Unlikely last night’s barn-burner between the Flames and Arizona, tonight’s game is televised. It’s on Sportsnet 360 with the Canucks broadcast crew, or you can join Wills, Loubardias and Steinberg on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Puck drop is just after 8pm.
The BIG NEWS tonight is that Sean Monahan will make his preseason debut tonight after sitting out much of the exhibition calendar with a lingering back strain. But he’s better now, so he’ll draw in.
Not playing tonight, per Sportsnet 960’s Derek Wills: Sam Bennett, T.J. Brodie, Troy Brouwer, Deryk Engelland, Michael Frolik, Garnet Hathaway, Mark Giordano and Matthew Tkachuk. That would make the players dressing look something like this:
- G: Chad Johnson (who’ll play the whole 60), backed up by Brian Elliott
- D: Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Jyrki Jokipakka, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brett Kulak & Nicklas Grossmann
- F: Sean Monahan, Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund, Alex Chiasson, Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan, Linden Vey, Brandon Bollig, Freddie Hamilton, Hunter Shinkaruk, Chris Higgins & Lauri Korpikoski
That’s a very AHL-level roster, so we’ll see which (if any) of the fridge bodies stand out. If you presume that the players not dressing tonight have jobs nailed down, Hathaway seems like a bit of a surprise to me.
UPDATE: Lines via Pat Steinberg:
Shinkaruk – Monahan – Vey
Higgins – Backlund – Korpikoski
Bouma – Stajan – Ferland
Bollig – Hamilton – Chiasson
Jokipakka – Wideman
Wotherspoon – Hamilton
Grossmann – Kulak
Lines tonight for the Canucks, per Jon Abbott of TSN 1040:
Sedin – Sedin – Eriksson
Rodin – Sutter – Hansen
Baertschi – Granlund – Virtanen
Burrows – Horvat – Skille
Edler – Tanev
Hutton – Gudbranson
Sbisa – Larsen
Largely this is an NHL-esque group, with a few young faces sprinkled in here and there. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is what Vancouver went to war with when the puck drops on October 12. That third line shall forever be dubbed The Calgary Connection, as Baertschi and Granlund were acquired from the Flames and Virtanen was drafted from the Hitmen.
WHEN LAST WE MET
Back on September 30, the Flames beat Vancouver 2-1 in thrilling exhibition action. It was a decent hockey game.
SUM IT UP
The preseason is almost over! Join us tonight to revel in the excitement of the last parts of meaningless hockey, and fret over the Flames roster as roughly every bubble player jockeys for position against a relatively NHL-level Canucks squad.