After a successful trip to California that saw them capture every possible point, the Calgary Flames (3-1-0) are back home for the first game of a back-to-back pair against Canadian teams. Tonight is the first of that series, featuring the one trip to Alberta this year from the Ottawa Senators (1-0-2). It’s both a chance for the Flames to extend their winning streak and bank some points against an Eastern Conference opponent and a game where Michael Stone plays against his little brother Mark while Curtis Lazar plays against the team that drafted him (and traded him) for the first time. In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: “I want you to fight, fight for your parents’ love!”
It’s a 7 p.m. MT start at the Saddledome! Catch the game live, or on Sportsnet 960 The Fan, or on Sportsnet Flames.
Here are projected lines for the Flames, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Lazar
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Bennett – Jagr
Ferland – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Bartkowski – Stone
No lineup changes are expected. Mike Smith starts for the fifth time this season – he’s 3-1-0, has started every game and has been Calgary’s best player (or close to it) in every game. He’s backed up by Eddie Lack. Brett Kulak, Tanner Glass and Freddie Hamilton are the extra bodies. Curtis Lazar gets a promotion to the top line after being a healthy scratch against Los Angeles, just in time to play his old team.
There’s been good and bad for the Flames over their first four games. They’ve given up a lot of chances. They’re among the worst teams in the NHL right now in terms of both shot suppression and creating scoring chances off the rush. But they’ve won despite all that, and boast four players (Gaudreau, Brodie, Monahan and Tkachuk) who are scoring at a point-per-game pace or better. Just imagine what they could do (a) when they learn to play decent D or (b) when Jaromir Jagr finds his legs.
Here are Ottawa’s projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Smith – Turris (A) – Dzingel
Ryan – Brassard – Stone (A)
Pyatt – Pageau – Hoffman
Thompson – rotating – Burrows
Phaneuf (A) – Wideman
Borowiecki – Chabot
Claesson – Ceci
Craig Anderson starts once again for Ottawa. He’s faced roughly 30 shots per game with eerie consistency. He’s backed up by Mike Condon. Alex Formenton, Johnny Oduya and Logan Brown look to be the extra bodies, though things have been all over the place with Ottawa lately line-up wise. They rolled with seven defenders against Vancouver and per Bruce Garrioch is sounds like they’ll be doing so again.
Every single Ottawa game has gone to a shootout. Despite a glut of injuries, they continue to scrap and claw (and take advantage of some strong goaltending) to get points in tight games. They’re not going to be an easy out for the Flames.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) is on the injured reserve.
Senators: Clarke McArthur (concussion), Colin White (wrist), Erik Karlsson (foot), Johnny Oduya (lower-body) and Ben Harpur (upper-body) are out.
When Last We Met
The Flames beat Ottawa twice last season; a 5-2 win in Calgary in October and a 3-2 overtime victory in Ottawa in January.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some Senators Twitter accounts for added fun this evening!
Sum It Up
It’s an All-Canadian match-up! And the Stone brothers collide, as the Flames try to figure out part of their game and grab some points in any way they can.