After a day of rest, the Calgary Flames complete their truncated two game home-stand tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome with a rare Sunday night game. They began their small string of home dates with a victory over Canada’s capital city, the Ottawa Senators, and now they face America’s capital city, the Washington Capitals. Washington played last night in Vancouver and looked impressive, so they should be a big challenge for a Flames club that’s still rounding into form.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
The Flames are riding a three game winning streak and enter this game at .500, which just sounds odd given how uneven their play has been to this point. There are no significant changes expected, so Brian Elliott (3-3-0, 3.15 goals against average, .893 save percentage) gets his fourth straight start.
The local club continues to have strong and weak spots. Alex Chiasson, Dougie Hamilton and a few others were quite good last game, with Chiasson making really smart plays in the offensive zone that led to goals by Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan, and Hamilton just shooting the puck a bit more (and looking a lot more confident after that first one went in).
But there are still some issues:
- The power play is bad.
- The penalty kill is bad (giving up two goals against Ottawa).
- The team took dumb penalties, to the point where Glen Gulutzan benched Bennett, Matthew Tkachuk and Kris Versteeg for much of the third period.
- The top guns (Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie) still haven’t really declared their presence this season with a game that makes you shout “Wow, those guys are pretty good!” Gaudreau’s looked really confident with the puck of late, but hasn’t yet had a breakout game.
So you could say there’s some work to do for the gentlemen wearing red this evening.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Washington played last night in Vancouver, winning 5-2 over the seemingly hapless Canucks. Given how hap-filled they seemed until last night, that should be setting off alarm bells. The good news is they have to play and then fly here, so they won’t be rested at all. Which is good, because Washington is a very good team.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) October 30, 2016
Translation: “We played poorly against Ottawa and managed to win. We cannot expect a similar result if our play is similarly bad tonight.”
Braden Holtby will start for the Caps. He’s arguably been Washington’s weaker goalie thus far, going 2-2-1 with a 2.38 goals against average and .910 save percentage. (Backup Phillip Grubauer, who won in Vancouver last night, has as many wins and currently bests him in GAA and SV%.
Other than Holtby rotating in, it’s unclear if there will be any other changes for tonight. Considering they’re coming off of a win, I’d doubt it.
All-time, the Flames are 43-34-14 against Washington (though those numbers are a bit skewed by the early Capitals expansion years in the mid-’70s when they were just awful). They played twice last year with each team winning once, with the road team winning each game – though Calgary won in overtime.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Recommended Capitals follows for tonight:
SUM IT UP
Let’s hope the Flames tighten up some of their sloppiness in all three zones, otherwise tonight’s game could be rough. But if they can tighten up, they can head back on the road with a four game winning streak and a record above the .500 mark.