(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
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Riding a four game point streak, the Calgary Flames are likely hoping to continue their momentum tonight as they head into South Florida to take on the fanciest team in the National Hockey League, the Florida Panthers.
The leading employer of Nation Networks alumni in the league, the Cats have gotten extremely hot of late as they’ve gotten healthy, found their stride and won a bunch of games. As a result, they’ve risen up the Eastern Conference standings and are now in the thick of the playoff picture. Coming off a win last night in Tampa Bay, the Flames are probably hoping they can keep cobbling together points as they attempt to return to the post-season.
The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
It’s the final back-to-back scenario of the season, so the Flames are opting to start Chad Johnson since Brian Elliott was in last night. Johnson is 17-13-1 this season with a 2.55 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He might be extra keyed-in because net has functionally been given to Elliott due to the latter’s strong performances down the stretch.
There’s no skate today so we won’t get an idea of any possible changes until the warmup skate. Extras yesterday were Dennis Wideman, Jyrki Jokipakka and Freddie Hamilton. Based on the fact that there were no apparent injuries and that last night’s crew played pretty well, don’t anticipate any significant changes.
Last night the Flames scored scored their first power play goal after a five game dry spell, but they also allowed a power play goal for the second straight game. The team’s even strength play has had to carry them this month and it’s worked out rather nicely. The Flames are 6-2-1 so far in February and have conveniently gotten hot just as the bottom has fallen out of Los Angeles’ game.
The Flames head into tonight four points up on the Kings (who have a game in hand) for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
It sounds like Roberto Luongo will start for the Fancy Cats. He’s 16-14-6 with a 2.69 goals against average and .915 save percentage. He’s been almost as sharp in net lately as the wit he’s shown on his Twitter.
The Panthers got hot right around the time Jonathan Huberdeau returned from injury. His unit with the ageless Jaromir Jagr and young Sasha Barkov has been superb over the past couple of weeks. They’ll be a tough match-up for Mikael Backlund and his trio tonight. Also keep an eye on full-grown, bearded youngster Aaron Ekblad, who has been rock-solid on the blueline.
This is the 31st regular season meeting ever between Calgary and
Florida. The Flames are 16-9-5 thus far against the Panthers, with their latest victory coming in Calgary back in January.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Your Panthers follows for this evening:
SUM IT UP
The Flames have points in all three of their games on this five game road trip. All that matters right now is to keep cobbling together points. They need 22 points in 21 games to hit 88 points and probably clinch a playoff berth. All the can do is just keep cobbling with a win against the fancy cats.