(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)
We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.
Just two days after stinking one out against the Edmonton Oilers in the biggest game of their season to date on Saturday night, the Calgary Flames hit the road beginning tonight for a crucial three games (over four nights) that will see the club try to eke out points in three tough Canadian buildings. Their trek begins tonight in the center of the hockey universe, Toronto, as they face the (actually good) Maple Leafs.
The action gets started just after 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After Chad Johnson got yanked after four shots (and three goals) on Saturday, Brian Elliott gets the start tonight. He’s 8-11-2 with a 2.87 goals against average and .893 save percentage. He was quite good against Edmonton – in both of his last two outings – but will need to be rock-solid tonight to give the Flames a chance. In terms of other changes anticipated for tonight’s game: Brett Kulak makes his first NHL appearance since November 27, slotting in for Jyrki Jokipakka, while Freddie Hamilton replaces Micheal Ferland on the fourth line.
The Flames were okay against Florida on Tuesday but the Panthers were pretty bad, so they were able to win. They were bad against Nashville for much of the game and were pretty rough throughout Saturday’s game against Edmonton. To be blunt: hopefully they got all the gremlins out of their system, because they need to get down some wins and get back on pace in the playoff race.
Key to Calgary’s success, especially since they play six of their next seven games on the road, will be Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett looking like last season’s versions of themselves and not the driftwood they’ve been for much of this season. The Flames have had one line chipping in on a regular basis (the 3M Line); that won’t be enough.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After helping the Leafs capture a point on Saturday night, it sounds like Frederik Andersen starts for the home side. He’s been solid for the Leafs after a rough start early in the season. He’s 19-10-8 with a 2.69 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s going for his 20th win of the season.
Tonight’s game is in Toronto, so the Leafs will control the line match-ups. That seems sub-optimal, particularly given that the Flames controlled the match-ups against Edmonton and still got clowned. Beware of Auston Matthews. And Mitch Marner. And William Nylander. And Nazem Kadri. Uh… the Leafs have a lot of good young players.
If the Flames don’t have their act together, it’s gonna be a long night.
In 131 previous regular season meetings between the Flames and Maple Leafs, the Flames have a 62-56-13 record. This is the second of two annual meetings between these clubs. The Flames beat Toronto at the Saddledome 3-0. They scored three times early in the first period and then rode it out.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are just a select few of the kabillion Twitter accounts that obsess about the Toronto Maple Leafs:
SUM IT UP
The Flames are in danger of falling out of a playoff spot. They need points and really can’t afford to be too choosy about where they get them from. They’ll need to play with both structure and desperation against a talented Leafs club if they hope to slink away from Toronto with a win.