The Calgary Flames (0-1-0) did not play well in their first game of the season. They lost 3-0 to Edmonton and did not look like a world-beating team. The Winnipeg Jets (0-1-0) know exactly how they feel. They lost 7-2 to Toronto and also did not look good. Two teams that really want to bounce back from a rough start meeting tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome looking for a second chance for a first impression. For the Flames, they’d probably just settle for scoring a damn goal.
It’s the home-opener, so puck drop will be a little bit after 8 p.m. MT. (If you’re coming to the game, make sure you’re in your seat promptly at 8 p.m. so you see the player introductions and also some laser shows and stuff like that.) Catch the game on the radio on Sportsnet 960 The Fan with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias, while Rick Ball and Cassie Campbell-Pascall have the call on Sportsnet One and CityTV.
Here are projected lines for the home side, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Bennett – Lazar
Glass – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Bartkowski – Stone
Mike Smith makes his second start for the Flames, following a 42-save performance against Edmonton. Eddie Lack dresses as backup, and Brett Kulak, Freddie Hamilton and Jaromir Jagr are the healthy scratches.
The big story is the absence of Jagr from the line-up, as he’s only had two full practices to get up to speed and he’s opted to give himself a little bit more time to get ready. It could be Monday in Anaheim or next week that we see Jagr pull on a Flames jersey for the first time. As a result, Lazar gets his first game action of the season (and Brouwer gets bumped to the fourth line anyway after playing with Versteeg and Bennett in Edmonton). Brouwer will continue to get power play and penalty killing time, though.
The Flames’ record in home-openers isn’t good recently: they’ve lost six in a row, with their last home-opener win coming 2010.
Here are Winnipeg’s projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Ehlers – Scheifele (A) – Wheeler (C)
Perreault – Little – Laine
Matthias – Lowry – Petan
Tanev – Copp – Armia
Kulikov – Trouba
Morrissey – Byfuglien (A)
Enstrom – Myers
It sounds like Steve Mason will get the start tonight, despite giving up five goals and 20 shots on Wednesday and getting pulled. He’s the Jets’ top gun, their Mike Smith, and so it makes sense to go back to him in an attempt to get him going. Tucker Poolman, Ben Chiarot and Marko Dano look to be the extras, while Connor Hellebuyck is the backup.
Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault scored for Winnipeg, but that’s where the list of positives for their home-opener end. They lost 7-2 to Toronto, going 0-for-8 on the power play after terrorizing their opponents with the extra man in the preseason – Calgary included. If they can get back to what made them successful during the exhibition calendar, they could be a very tough out for the Flames this evening.
Flames: Farmhands Marek Hrivik and Daniel Pribyl are on the injured reserve right now after being hurt in camp, though Hrivik is skating again (and might be headed to Stockton quite soon).
Jets: Right now, the Jets are healthy (aside from Matt Hendricks starting off on the injured reserve).
When Last We Met
The Flames played Winnipeg three times last year (twice in Winnipeg), winning two of their three meetings. Their last meeting was in Winnipeg in March, with Calgary winning 3-0. Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Alex Chiasson scored, while Brian Elliott made 31 saves.
Know Thy Enemy
If you’re looking to beef up your Twitter experience, here’s a few Jets accounts to check out:
Sum It Up
Two teams coming off very disappointing opening nights meet at the Saddledome, hoping to turn their fortunes around. You can never make another first impression, but you sure can try to bounce back to .500.