After a battle with the Nashville Predators last night in the Saddledome, the Calgary Flames (16-14-3) are back on the road for a quick visit to the Vancouver Canucks (15-14-4) at Rogers Arena. The Flames played well for much of last night’s game against the Predators, and now they face a team that’s been sitting at home since Friday. It’s a key divisional game for the Flames and, somehow, the final regular season meeting between these two rivals this season. (Yes, the Flames play four games against Vancouver before they play Vegas even once, because the NHL’s schedule is really weird.)
The puck drops at 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet West.
For a look from the other side, go visit our dear friends at Canucks Army.
Last night’s 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
David Rittich starts for the Flames, given that it’s the back half of a back-to-back. He’s 2-1-0 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. (For a trivia note, he’ll tie Eddie Lack for appearances this season as he suits up for the fourth time this year.) He’s backed up by Mike Smith. The healthy scratches last night were Matt Bartkowski, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton. I’d expect some changes for tonight, but they’ll become more clear when the team has its media availability in Vancouver.
The Flames have played pretty well over their last seven or eight games. Heck, if you look at Natural Stat Trick’s “high-danger chances” – which are as close as we can find for a metric that resembles the coaching staff’s “scoring chances” – they’ve out-chanced their opposition at five on five 10 times in their last 12 games. Unfortunately, combinations of wonky bounces, frustrating special teams and a few goaltending gaffes have translated those 12 games of pretty decent hockey into a four wins.
It’s hard to justify after four wins in 12 games, but the best bet for the Flames – at even strength – is to stay the course. If they can keep plugging away and the bounces start normalizing, the pucks will start going in.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
D.Sedin (A) – H.Sedin (C) – Vanek
Eriksson – Gagner – Boeser
Goldobin – Burmistrov – Virtanen
Granlund – Dowd – Gaunce
Edler (A) – Pouliot
Hutton – Stecher
del Zotto – Biega
Jacob Markstrom starts for Vancouver. He’s 9-10-3 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He’s backed up by Anders Nilsson. The healthy scratches are Ashton Sautner and Michael Chaput.
The Canucks are almost the opposite of the Flames. In the same span where the Flames have out-chanced their opponents in 10 of 12 games, the Canucks have done so just twice. They’ve also won four games, but their record is arguably more “earned.” At the same time, man, these guys have been hammered by injuries. They’re missing six regulars right now. It’s a minor miracle that they’re anywhere close to the playoff picture – and a bit of a triumph for their remaining players and coaching staff.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve.
Vancouver: Derek Dorsett (neck), Erik Gudbranson (upper-body), Brandon Sutter (undisclosed), Bo Horvat (foot) and Sven Baertschi (jaw) are on the injured reserve. Chris Tanev (groin) is also out, but remains on the active roster.
When Last We Met
This is the fourth and final game between these teams this season. The Flames have won two out of their three meetings this season, most recently a 4-2 win in Calgary eight days ago.
Know Thy Enemy
These folks will be tweeting about the Canucks tonight. Try to be nice to them.
Sum It Up
Coming off a bit of a heartbreaking loss roughly 22 hours ago, the Flames look to bounce back as they finish off their season series with one of their top rivals.
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