(David Banks / USA Today Sports)
We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends. The Calgary Flames (1-4-1) are back at it this evening in the first game of a super-quick, super-tough two game road trip that consists entirely of back-to-back games against really tough Central Division opponents. First up? The Chicago Blackhawks (3-3-0), who have won three Stanley Cups in recent memory and are off to a slow start. The Flames know a thing or two about slow starts, and likely hope to help the Blackhawks continue theirs.
The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines, courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Brian Elliott is most likely start tonight, getting his fourth game in this season. He previously played both games against Edmonton (and against Carolina) and was fairly good but victimized by a few defensive lapses (and a few great Connor McDavid efforts). Most likely this means that the former St. Louis Blues goalie will play zero games against his old team in a span that sees the Flames play two of three against them. Odd.
No changes in the Flames lineup were evident at Sunday’s practice, though Glen Gulutzan indicated that they may shuffle up the first power play unit. I would presume we see how they fare in the first PP before they make any tweaks, though. There are a few in-lineup tweaks, including Deryk Engelland being swapped to play with Brodie and Alex Chiasson rejoining the top line.
Keep an eye on Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. If they can finally shake the rust off, the Flames may have a fighting chance in this one. If they remain as off-kilter against Chicago as they have been in the five previous games, it’ll be a long night.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Scott Darling gave up four goals against Toronto but held on for the comeback shootout win. He was decent, but not great. Corey Crawford likely starts tonight at home. Crawford is a fundamentally sound goalie that gets paid really well because his team wins a lot and he’s able to make the right save at the right time.
Chicago trailed 2-1 and 4-2 to the Leafs, but managed to claw their way back because they’re a pretty strong hockey club. They have three pretty good lines, and Niklas Hjalmarsson is on their third pairing (and he’s quite good). Because of their cap situation the Hawks continually have to complement their expensive core with cheap youngsters, but they’ve been successful at it over the years.
In Flames history, they’re 65-68-31 against Chicago. They played three times last season, with the Blackhawks winning twice. The lone Flames win was a 2-1 overtime win in Calgary in November. Johnny Gaudreau scored the OT winner. All-told, the Flames scored four goals against Chicago last season.
The Flames are usually good for one “statement game” victory against Chicago per year. Reto Berra beat Chicago in one of his first games for Calgary. Jonas Hiller did the same in his first season, too.
KNOW THY ENEMY
There are a ton of interesting Blackhawk follows:
Jen doesn’t tweet exclusively Blackhawks, but she’s very good at making analytical stuff accessible (so she’s great). And CM Punk is fairly curmudgeonly and may ban you at random if you tweet negativity at him, but he’s basically Chicago’s most crazed fan.
As an added bonus, expect tons of Chicago Cubs tweets from all of the above as well. Their first appearance in the World Series since 1945 begins on Tuesday night.
SUM IT UP
As the previous six were, this is a big game for the Flames. The hope is they can put together a full 60 minutes of good habits, as we’ve all been hoping they would since October 12. They’re facing a Blackhawks team that’s talented but hasn’t yet clicked their settings over to “dominant” yet, so they have a decent enough chance at a good showing tonight.