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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FGD 82: The end of the beginning (8pm MT, SN West)

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final game of the 2016-17 regular season for the Calgary Flames. The season began with 16 games of ugly, ugly hockey but somehow, someway, will continue on Wednesday when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. But before all the pageantry and excitement of the playoffs, we have one last game left as the Flames visit the San Jose Sharks.

The game could be utterly meaningless in terms of determining seeding depending on what happens in the early games, but it’s still a game against a divisional rival and another playoff team. Moreover, it’s meaningful spring hockey in a city that hasn’t had a heck of a lot of it in recent years (and didn’t look like it would based on how the season began).

The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

After Jon Gillies made his NHL debut and got a big win for the Flames, he’s back in Stockton and starting tonight. Instead of Gillies, David Rittich will ride the pine and watch Brian Elliott start. Elliott’s making his 45th start of the year. He’s 26-17-3 with a 2.55 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He’s been consistently good and occasionally very good down the stretch.

Glen Gulutzan rested a trio of regulars against the Kings (Lance Bouma, Matt Stajan and Michael Stone), but expect the Flames to treat tonight as effectively a dress rehearsal for the playoffs. There will probably be some lineup changes pending morning skate. The extras, probably, are Rasmus Andersson, Dennis Wideman, Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar but it’s possible that one of them could find their way into the lineup depending on what happens in Nashville’s game.

UPDATE: Mark Giordano, Deryk Engelland, Kris Versteeg and Mikael Backlund are getting the night off tonight. They’re being replaced by Dennis Wideman, Rasmus Andersson (making his NHL debut), Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton. The Tkachuk-Lazar-Frolik line could be really fun to watch.

THE SHARKS

Sunday night’s lines via Daily Faceoff:

After a loss to the Oilers on Thursday, Martin Jones rests up for the post-season tonight and so Airdrie’s Aaron Dell goes against the Flames. He’s 10-6-1 with a 2.06 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. He started (and lost) against the Flames back in January. The Sharks will only go as far in the playoffs as Jones carries them so it makes sense to go with Dell tonight and keep him fresh.

The Sharks were without Logan Couture and Joe Thornton on Thursday, and their healthy extras were Timo Meier and Dylan Demelo. Since then they’ve recalled Tim Heed and Danny O’Regan from the AHL’s Barracuda. Expect them to rest as many regulars as they can, particularly since they’re basically locked into a series with the Oilers regardless of whatever happens tonight.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES SHARKS
Wins 45 45
Points
(Pct.)
94
(.580)
97
(.599)
Power Play 20.5% 16.4%
Penalty Kill 81.8% 80.4%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.5% 51.9%

HISTORY LESSON

In 116 regular season games, the Flames are 61-42-13 against San Jose. The Flames have won three of their previous four meetings this season, including a win last week to clinch a playoff spot.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Your Sharks follows for tonight’s contest:

PLAYOFF SEEDING

The Flames and Nashville are tied with 94 points. Nashville plays in Winnipeg in the early game at 5 p.m. MT. If Nashville loses, the Flames are locked into the first wildcard spot and will play Anaheim. If they win, the Flames need to win or else they’ll face Chicago.

SUM IT UP

It’s the final game of the regular season! Depending on what happens in the 5 p.m. games, this 60 minutes of hockey could be very important or completely irrelevant.