About a week ago, the Calgary Flames (14-12-1) lost a one-sided game to the Toronto Maple Leafs (17-10-1). The Flames weren’t overly great and the crowd, wearing many Leafs jerseys, were firmly against them. Tonight the Flames go to the only place with more Leafs fans than Calgary: Toronto. They make their one and only trip of the season to the Air Canada Centre to visit the Leafs, and they have redemption on their minds after losing three times in the last week… all at home.
The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet West.
For a view from the other side, check out The Leafs Nation. (But expect a ton of articles about Auston Matthews…)
Projected lines for tonight, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Brouwer (A) – Stajan – Lazar
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the 1500th time this season. No, wait, the 25th time in 28 games. He’s 12-9-1 with a 2.79 goals against average and .916 save percentage. He’s given up five goals in each of the last two games. Before that he had a shutout. Hockey’s weird. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton. Jaromir Jagr will miss tonight’s game and is day-to-day with an undisclosed malady, which means Garnet Hathaway reunites with his AHL center Mark Jankowski.
Let’s face facts: the Flames haven’t been amazing as of late. They’ve lost three of their last five, and have been sort of all over the damn place since American Thanksgiving. That said, despite playing like blind children at times in the neutral zone, they’re still a couple games over .500. They’re facing adversity, but it’s probably better to face it (and eventually figure themselves out) now rather than in, y’know, April.
Small human being Johnny Gaudreau is two points behind Nikita Kucherov for the scoring lead of the entire NHL.
The Maple Leafs
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Hyman – Matthews – Brown
Marleau (A) – Kadri – Komarov (A)
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Marner
Martin – Moore – Nylander
Rielly (A) – Hainsey
Gardiner – Zaitsev
Borgman – Polak
Freddie Andersen starts for Toronto. He’s 15-8-1 with a 2.74 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He’s backed up by Flames legend Curtis “McBackup” McElhinney. Josh Leivo, Nikita Soshnikov and Connor Carrick are the healthy scratches. Tyler Bozak returns after missing Saturday’s game due to illness.
The Leafs won two of three of their Western Canada swing, beating the Flames and the Oilers – via Kris Russell goal – but losing 2-1 to Vancouver on Saturday in the finale. They’ve won three of their last five games and remain of the the toughest outs in the NHL, and they’re a team chock-full of young talent and also Patrick Marleau.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve. Jaromir Jagr (undisclosed) is day-to-day.
Toronto: Nathan Horton (back) and Joffrey Lupul (hernia) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
The Leafs beat the Flames by a 4-1 score a week ago. Michael Stone had the lone Flames goal.
Know Thy Enemy
Check out these folks who’ll tweet about the Leafs:
Sum It Up
The Flames get a chance at redemption against a team that utterly flummoxed them nine days ago back in Calgary. And it’s the first part of a back-to-back stretch that also sees them play in Montreal tomorrow evening.
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