After a day off and a day of practice, the Calgary Flames return to the ice for a regular season contest. Tonight’s task? Get back to the .500 mark with a potential victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators. After a few weeks of tumultuous play in all three zones, the Flames rattled off a pair of big statement wins over Chicago and St. Louis on back-to-back nights. A win against Ottawa would be huge for the club with a big game against Washington looming on Sunday night.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. If you’re headed down to the ‘Dome tonight, it’s the annual Hockey Fights Cancer fundraiser night. Bring some extra cash for the 50/50, since it’s going to a good cause.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Brian Elliott gets the start, making his third consecutive appearance (and sixth start overall). After being a victim of circumstance, bounces and some bad defensive decision-making team-wide in his first few starts, Elliott was lights-out against Chicago and St. Louis. And considering he used to play for Ottawa, why not continue the easy narrative of him playing ex-teams than having him go again tonight? (Related: Alex Chiasson plays his former club, and Dave Cameron coaches the PP against his former club.)
Other than Jyrki Jokipakka rotating back in (bye bye Nicklas Grossmann), no other changes are expected for tonight. The Flames have seemingly turned their power play around after a couple games with goals on early man advantages, but I sure would like to see a game where they can bring as much pressure on the PP late in the game as they do early on. They seemed to lay back a bit after scoring against Chicago and St. Louis.
Troy Brouwer took a tumble into the boards yesterday and left practice early, and he was absent from today’s optional morning skate, but all indications are that he’ll be good to go for tonight.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Andrew Hammond will get the start here, as Craig Anderson has left the club to attend to an undisclosed personal matter. (Hopefully all is okay.) But Anderson is being temporarily replaced by former Calgary Hitmen goaltender Chris Dreidger. Hammond has played one game this season, gave up five goals and took the loss.
Like the Flames, the Senators brought in a new coach in Guy Boucher, but the transition has seemingly been a lot more gentle. Ottawa’s had a series of solid efforts. They have a team with a decent amount of balance and a nice mix of youth and veterans. They’re far from contending quite yet, but they’re a tough two points to get for anybody in the NHL.
2003 Flames first round pick Dion Phaneuf returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for seemingly the zillionth time. He was traded away in January 2010 in a mega-deal with the Leafs that netted the Flames several buckets worth of pucks and Matt Stajan.
Who has more missed shots in the game: Dennis Wideman or Dion Phaneuf?
All-time, the Flames are 17-13-7 against the Senators.
This is the first of two meetings between these clubs this year. Last season, the Flames lost both games against Ottawa (once in regulation and once in a shootout). Their game in Ottawa at the end of October saw Sam Bennett’s first NHL goal and Jonas Hiller suffering a lower-body injury that led to the return of Karri Ramo from the AHL. In February, they were merely lit up in the third period by Mika Zibanejad.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are some Sens-related follows for this evening:
SUM IT UP
To paraphrase Lou Brown: The Flames won on Monday and then they won on Tuesday. If they win tonight, that’s called “a winning streak.” It has happened before, but not yet this season. Better yet, a “winning streak” would also get the Flames back to the .500 mark before a big game against Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals on Sunday night. If the Flames hope to keep pace with the team up Highway 2, continuing to string together strong efforts and capturing points here and there would go a long way towards that goal.