(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
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The Calgary Flames have been rough since about January 13 when they lost to the New Jersey Devils. Including that game, they’ve played mediocre to poor hockey in their last seven games (and have gone 1-5-1 in that span). With the All-Star Break looming, the Flames are hoping to avoid dropping below .500 tonight when they close out their eastern road trip against the Ottawa Senators.
The puck drops tonight at 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
After Chad Johnson gave up five goals against the Canadiens on Tuesday, Brian Elliott suits up in an effort to turn the tide. He’s 8-12-2 with a 2.92 goals against average and .891 save percentage this season. He hasn’t been great, but at this point the Flames will probably try anything to get a win.
The Flames remain without Ladislav Smid (LTIR) and Garnet Hathaway (upper body), while it appears that Jyrki Jokipakka and Micheal Ferland will be their healthy scratches for tonight. The biggest lineup news is that the Flames have broken up their best line: Alex Chiasson has now with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, while Michael Frolik joins Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Obviously the hope is they can get the expensive players going, but the fear is that now they’ll have two lines that don’t do anything of value rather than just the one.
The Flames are a fragile bunch right now. They’ve lost four in a row and six of their past seven. They have given up the first goal in nine consecutive games. They’ve generated next-to-nothing at even strength. And as of this morning, they’ve fallen out of a playoff spot. The Flames desperately need to generate some momentum, or at least throw the brakes on this runaway train of unimpressive, uninspired hockey.
Against the Oilers, the Flames were “embarrassing.” Against the Canadiens, they were “pathetic.” Let’s hope that Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan doesn’t have to dig into his bag of adjectives again after this one.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Mike Condon likely gets the start for the Senators. He’s 14-7-4 with a 2.38 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s been huge for Ottawa since coming over in a trade with Pittsburgh, particularly since the Sens are missing a pair of netminders in Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond. Fun fact: former Calgary Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger is Condon’s backup.
The Senators have missed goalies and solid players like Clarke McArthur and Mike Hoffman as of late (though Hoffman’s back tonight), but they’ve kept chugging along. A lot of the credit has got to go to Condon, who hasn’t been a Vezina caliber goalie but has consistently been good enough to get Ottawa some points. His performances have varied from great shutouts to allowing seven goals in one game (but still getting an overtime point). Erik Karlsson leads the team in scoring, which is both a commentary on how good Karlsson is but also one on how hard-up these guys are for offensive firepower. Thankfully they’ve got a hot goalie.
This is the 39th regular season game between Ottawa and Calgary. The Flames are 18-13-7 all-time against the Senators. They met in the Saddledome in October, with the Flames winning 5-2.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are some Sens-related follows for this evening:
SUM IT UP
The Flames desperately need points.They even more desperately need a solid game so they can go into the All-Star Break with some semblance of confidence or momentum. Against a tough Ottawa club, that may be easier said than done.