The Calgary Flames (16-13-3) have often been their own worst enemy this season. You could argue that they haven’t played a game where everything has been clicking for them yet this year, though they’ve had a few games where they’ve played a rock-solid 60 minutes of hockey. Well, hopefully they got their crazies out of their system on Thursday night because the Nashville Predators (20-7-4) are in town and they’re the top team in the West right now.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and CBC.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Brouwer (A) – Stajan – Jagr
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the 29th time this season. He’s 13-10-3 with a 2.62 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton. Jaromir Jagr returns after missing a few games with a lower-body injury.
The Flames are an offensively challenged team. Johnny Gaudreau is on the cusp of hitting 40 points. Sean Monahan has 30 points. Nobody else has 20 points. Monahan, Gaudreau and Micheal Ferland are the only players in double digits for goals. That’s probably a problem if they want to be a top team.
Keep an eye on Garnet Hathaway, who’s been a very nice fit on the third line with Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski. Bennett is scoring at about the same rate as Jankowski – and really got going once he was moved to the wing – but Hathaway’s so far boosted that duo to another level. We’ll see if they can keep it up.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Fiala – Turris – Smith
Forsberg – Jarnkrok – Aberg
Bonino – Johansen (A) – Arivdsson
Hartnell – Sissons – Watson
Josi (C) – Ekholm (A)
Emelin – Subban
Irwin – Weber
Pekka Rinne gets the start for the Predators. He’s 17-4-3 with a 2.34 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. He’s backed up by Juuse Saros. The healthy scratches look to be Anthony Bitetto, Miikka Salomaki and Cody McLeod.
The Predators gave up 46 shots against Edmonton, but still won handily because of their red hot power play (two goals on three opportunities) and Laurent Brossoit being a so-so NHL goaltender. They got doubled-up in shots by the Oilers yet still won by four goals. They probably felt like they dodged a bullet, and they’ll probably come out of the gates very strong tonight.
Nashville is second in the NHL in terms of points percentage and top in the West. They’re a tough out these days and will be a big challenge for the Flames.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve.
Nashville: Ryan Ellis (knee) is on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the second of four games between these teams this season. The Flames beat Nashville 3-2 in a shootout back on Oct. 24.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some Nashville-related accounts to follow, y’all!
Sum It Up
The Flames face a stiff test tonight against the top team in the West.
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