The Calgary Flames (12-8-0) are in the midst of their longest road trip of the season. They’re halfway through the trip and have won two of their three games. They can guarantee a .500 record on their trip with a win tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets (13-7-1). The Jackets have been hot lately, riding a four game winning streak and pushing for the Metropolitan Division lead. It’ll be a tough test for the Flames in a trip that’s full of them.
The puck drops at 5 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet 360.
Here are tonight’s projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Jagr
Versteeg – F.Hamilton – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the 19th time in 21 games. He’s 11-6-0 with a 2.61 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He’s backed up by Eddie Lack. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Curtis Lazar and Matt Stajan. The elder Hamilton brother sticks around after slotting in against Washington.
Johnny Gaudreau has scored points in 10 consecutive games and scored goals in six consecutive games. He’s got the longest active scoring streak in the league – second longest by anybody this season – and he’s third in the NHL in scoring. He’s been Calgary’s best player and anchors a pretty strong top six that’s been performing rather well lately.
The Flames power play scored twice against Washington and has scored goals in four consecutive games. Their penalty kill shut down Washington entirely, running the table for the first time since Nov. 5 against New Jersey. They’re still dead-last percentage-wise in the NHL, but they’re making some (minor) progress.
The Blue Jackets
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Jenner (A) – Dubinsky – Atkinson
Panarin – Dubois – Anderson
Milano – Foligno (C) – Bjorkstrand
Motte – Sedlak – Schroeder
Werenski – Jones
Johnson (A) – Carlsson
Murray – Nutivaara
Sergei Bobrovsky starts for Columbus. He’s 12-4-1 with a 2.02 goals againt average and .933 save percentage. He’s backed up by Joonas Korpisalo. The healthy scratches are Scott Harrington, Marcus Hannikainen and Alexander Wennberg. Lukas Sedlak returns to action after being out with an illness.
The Blue Jackets are a strong possession team with a pretty strong lineup, coached by old Flames nemesis John Tortorella. The Flames will need to be at the top of their game if they want to capture some points tonight.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) is on the injured reserve.
Columbus: Matt Calvert (upper-body) is on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the first of two meetings between these teams in 2017-18. Last season, they split their two meetings with the road team winning each game: Columbus won 4-1 in Calgary and the Flames beat them 2-0 in Columbus.
Know Thy Enemy
Check out these Blue Jackets-related accounts tonight!
Sum It Up
The Flames can guarantee a .500 record on a lengthy road trip – and set the table, potentially, for a winning record. Columbus is a legitimately good team, but the Flames have played up to their competition this season at times. If they can do that again, they could capture two more points against an Eastern Conference foe.
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