After an arduous one game road trip that spanned the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Calgary Flames (16-12-3) are back at home for a couple games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The Flames begin a stretch of three games in four nights (all against Western Conference foes) when they host the San Jose Sharks (16-10-3). The Flames have points in four games in a row, but they’ve played three overtime games in that span and eventually playing that much high-leverage hockey will tire ’em out. It sure would be nice, for their stamina and the hearts and minds of fans, if they could win a game handily in regulation for a change.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet Flames. If you’re coming to the game, two notes: (1) Please bring a toy for the Flames Better Halves toy drive and (2) there will be free Tim Hortons beverages to celebrate that beverage retailer returning to the Saddledome after an absence of a few seasons. There will also be a hockey game.
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 for the 28th time this season. He’s 13-9-3 with a 2.61 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton. No Jaromir Jagr once again due to a nagging lower-body injury, though he’s back participating in practices.
The good news? The Flames have allowed just two power play goals since December began. The bad news? They’ve also only scored two power play goals since December began. Considering that Johnny Gaudreau has so many points – 38 in 31 games – and he’s such a big part of the team’s success at even strength (and in overtime), it’s a bit incredible that the PP is so bad.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Karlsson – Thornton (A) – Pavelski (C)
Hertl – Couture (A) – Labanc
Meier – Tierney – Donskoi
Hansen – Sorensen – O’Regan
Dillon – Burns
Vlasic – Braun
DeMelo – Heed
Airdrie native Aaron Dell starts for the Sharks. He’s 5-3-1 with a 1.72 goals against average and a .939 save percentage. He’s one of the best backups in the NHL. He’s backed up by Calgary Hitmen alumnus Martin Jones. Joakim Ryan and Joel Ward are the Sharks healthy scratches.
The Sharks are a pretty good defensive team that’s also been the recipient of some great goaltending – they’re second in the league in goals against average. They haven’t gotten a ton of offense this season, and if you look at their lines they thin out pretty quickly after their top six, but it’s been good enough for them so far.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve. Jaromir Jagr (lower-body) is day-to-day.
San Jose: Mikkel Boedker (undisclosed) and Barclay Goodrow (lower-body) are on the IR. Paul Martin is with the Sharks’ AHL team (also in San Jose) on a conditioning stint.
When Last We Met
This is the first of four games between these clubs this season. They played five times last season, with the Flames winning three out of five.
Know Thy Enemy
Check out these folks for sweet, sweet Sharks tweets:
Sum It Up
The Flames kick off another busy stretch with a game against a divisional opponent! Once again, they could sure use the points.
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