After a quick homestand lasting one game, the Calgary Flames (16-12-2) are on the road again. Quietly one of the best road clubs in the National Hockey League, the Flames are back on the road for a one game jaunt to the Twin Cities to face off against the Minnesota Wild (15-11-3). The Wild are just a point behind the Flames in the jam-packed Western Conference and the Flames need every bit of breathing room they can get as they head towards the half-way point of the 2017-18 season.
The puck drops at 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet West.
Projected lines, 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 once again for the Flames. He’s 13-9-2 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton. No Jaromir Jagr again due to a nagging lower-body injury.
The Flames are 2-2-1 in December, but they’ve played four good games in a row and have points in three straight. Their power play still isn’t any great shakes, but their penalty kill has improved and there’s no way their PP can be this listless forever… right? Look for Mark Jankowski, crown jewel of the 2012 NHL Draft, to get more PP time tonight.
Johnny Gaudreau was held off the scoresheet against Vancouver and has just three points in his last five games, but he’s in a four-way tie for fifth in the league in scoring. Keep an eye on him tonight, particularly given he’s playing in the same building where his hand got mangled roughly a year ago.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Zucker – Koivu (C) – Coyle
Niederreiter – Staal (A) – Granlund
Ennis – Eriksson Ek – Stewart
Foligno – Cullen – Mitchell
Suter (A) – Dumba
Brodin – Murphy
Reilly – Prosser
Devan Dubnyk gets the start for the Wild. He’s 12-8-3 with a 2.73 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He’s backed up by Alex Stalock. Jacob Olofsson and Daniel Winnik are the projected healthy scratches.
Remember Ryan Murphy? He was Flames property for roughly 24 hours, acquired in the Eddie Lack deal and bought out the next day. He’s with Minnesota now. If you spread out his remaining buyout cap hit across the full season, the Flames are paying him $1,200 to play against them tonight.
The Wild have won three of four games in December, but all by one goal (and two in overtime). They’re well-coached and have good special teams, but they’ve been hurt by injuries.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve. Jaromir Jagr (lower-body) is day-to-day.
Minnesota: Zack Parise (back) is on injured reserve. Tyler Spurgeon (groin) is out but remains on the active roster.
When Last We Met
These teams previously met in Calgary back in October and beat the Flames 4-2. They’ll meet once more in St. Paul in January.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are several nice people that can tell you about the great soup at the St. Paul Hotel (and also the Wild probably):
Sum It Up
It’s another game against a Western Conference opponent for the Flames. They sure could use the points.
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