(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)
We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.
The Calgary Flames have not had a great start to the 2016-17 season. They’ve lost twice, by a combined 12-7 score, to the Edmonton Oilers. Either their play has fundamental issues or Edmonton has their number. Regardless, they play their third divisional game in four nights (in three cities) tonight against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (not to be confused with Rogers Place, which is said to be much nicer). It’s Vancouver’s home opener, too, so expect pomp and circumstance.
You can catch all the festivities on the mothership, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, beginning at 8 p.m. MT (with Dave Randorf and Louie DeBrusk). If you’re more inclined to listen to the game the old fashioned way, via the radio, Sportsnet 960 The Fan has it with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias.
The local hockey club won’t skate prior to tonight’s game, so here are last night’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
Most likely backup goalie Chad Johnson, a spectator for the first couple games, slots in against Vancouver due to the back-to-back situation. Beyond that, who knows? Glen Gulutzan did shuffle his lines a bit in the third period, with Kris Versteeg ending up with Stajan and Ferland, Brouwer with Monahan and Gaudreau, Chiasson with Backlund and Frolik, and Tkachuk sort of playing a bit with everybody. Granted, it was the third period and Gulutzan seemed to be doing anything he could to create offense so maybe don’t put too much stock into it.
The big challenge for the Flames? Maintaining their special teams. Their penalty kill has been doing good things, attacking the puck carrier and actually generating some chances of their own (rather than just hanging out in a box formation and hoping the other team gets tired of passing and shooting, as Bob Hartley’s teams did). The power play? They moved the puck really well early in Friday’s game, but they went 0-for-5 because they stopped doing those things in subsequent periods and couldn’t gain the zone with any confidence.
Wideman out tonight. Kulak in. Johnson starting in net.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) October 15, 2016
It’s the first game of the season for the Canucks, who are technically the final team in the NHL to begin their schedule. Lines for tonight care of Daily Faceoff:
Ryan Miller starts between the pipes.
Vancouver’s not a wildly deep team, but that top line – particularly when they’re on the power play – seems scary. Sedin, Sedin and Ericsson could be deadly. They’re not amazingly deep aside from that top line, but most of their players are fast and they could be a challenge for the Flames bottom pairing defenders, who generally lack speed (other than Brett Kulak).
All-time against the Canucks, the Flames are 111-76-39 since they’ve moved to Calgary. Last season they lost their home opener to Vancouver, then beat the Canucks in their next four meetings. Mikael Backlund led the Flames in scoring against Vancouver last year, and generally seems to love playing against the Canucks.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Your recommended follows from the other side for tonight:
SUM IT UP
The Flames are still winless, and they have a third chance to get their first W against a divisional rival. It’s probably not time to panic yet, but they really need to play a fuller game (or at least show some semblance of progress). They could be in tough against a rested, motivated Canucks team tonight.