(Matt Kartozian / USA Today Sports)
Winners of six consecutive games, the Calgary Flames will try to continue their winning ways this afternoon in an odd matinee affair with the visiting New York Islanders. Why an afternoon game? Nobody’s really sure.
The Flames are seven points up on St. Louis right now and are arguably the most comfortably in a playoff spot they’ve been all season. A win today sets a season high for a winning streak. They’ll be challenged by the Islanders, who are in the last wildcard spot in the East and being pursued by Toronto and Florida right now.
The puck drops at 2 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan! (It’s also on Sportsnet Flames.)
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Coming off another strong effort against Detroit, he made 35 saves, Brian Elliott starts again. He’s 17-13-3 with a 2.67 goals against average and .903 save percentage. His numbers are still worse than Chad Johnson’s, but he has almost as many wins and he’s performed a lot better than he did earlier in the season. For what it’s worth, I asked him after Friday’s win if he’s doing anything differently and he said he’s not. He seems a lot more confident in net, though.
Don’t expect any changes in the lines or lineup, given that the team’s undefeated with the current configuration. That means that Dennis Wideman, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton remain the extras today. After his goal in overtime on Friday, Mikael Backlund leads the team in scoring (by three points over Johnny Gaudreau) and is one point away from tying his career high. He’s been excellent and should win the Selke Trophy.
The Flames had a good game from their special teams groups last game, scoring on the power play (via a Kris Versteeg one-timer) and shutting down Detroit’s power play. For a team that’s been really reliant on their even strength play for wins lately, it’s a nice change of pace. Ideally they’ll eventually get a game where everything is clicking, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Thomas Greiss gets the start for the Brooklynites. He’s 21-12-4 with a 2.48 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s arguably the brightest light for a team that’s been weirdly inconsistent all season.
I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be more offended by Josh Ho-Sang wearing #66 as we were by T.J. Brodie doing so in his rookie season, but it’s the controversy du jour in the NHL right now. It’s much ado about nothing, and it’s nice to see a guy who’s been maligned for so many different non-hockey reasons over the past few years at least getting some time in the big league.
The Flames are 44-46-23 all-time against the
Islanders. They lost in overtime in Brooklyn back in November in Mark Jankowski’s NHL debut.
KNOW THY ENEMY
Here are some Islanders accounts worth following for tonight:
The Flames enter this afternoon with a magic number of 14.5. Any combination of 14.5 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth.
SUM IT UP
Following a Los Angeles loss to Vancouver last night, the Flames can do themselves all sorts of favours with a win this afternoon.