The last time the Calgary Flames (18-15-4) were in Anaheim, the game almost didn’t happen. The Southern California area was absolutely deluged with wildfires – which it thankfully is not anymore. The last time the Flames were in Anaheim, something unusual happened: they won. The Flames hope that bit of unusual continues when they meet the Anaheim Ducks (16-14-8) in their second game in as many nights to kick off the post-Christmas portion of their schedule.
It’s the latest start time of the season tonight! The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 960 The Fan and Sportsnet West.
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
Mike Smith starts tonight. He’s 14-12-3 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. Michael Frolik’s status is unknown for tonight after he took a Brent Burns shot to his face. In theory, if he’s absent his lineup spot likely goes to Curtis Lazar and his spot on the line with Backlund and Tkachuk probably goes to either Troy Brouwer or Jaromir Jagr, who took turns in his spot last night. (Lazar himself would be a decent fit with his speed, though.) Matt Bartkowski and Freddie Hamilton are the other healthy scratches.
The new-look Flames power-play scored a goal. They also had many chances to score another one, especially late in the game, but they could not. The club’s special teams have to be something that creates momentum. The Flames’ PP and penalty kill have progressed from “actively hands momentum to opponent” territory to “fine,” but they still have a way to go. Against the Ducks, those units will need to be sharp to help the Flames capture two points.
UPDATE: Per Kristen Odland of Postmedia (who’s on the trip): Frolik’s out, the third line stays intact but the team has some players who are game-time decisions so there will be some lineup shuffling (aside from keeping that third line together).
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Rakell – Getzlaf (C) – Kase
Roy – Henrique – Silfverberg
Cogliano – Kesler (A) – Wagner
Ritchie – Vermette – Shaw
Lindholm – Manson
Fowler (A) – Bieksa
Beauchemin – Montour
John Gibson starts for the Ducks. He’s 11-12-4 with a 2.78 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. He’s backed up by Ryan Miller. The healthy extras are Korbinian Holzer, former Flame Derek Grant and Andy Welinski.
The Ducks haven’t been themselves this year, wobbling around .500 due to some inconsistency. That said, their inconsistency probably stems from the fact that they literally have not been themselves this season due to a slew of injuries. Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler have recently returned – pause for boos for the returning Ryans – but the Ducks still closed off their pre-Christmas schedule with a 4-1 loss to the powerhouse Vegas Golden Knights. They’re almost healthy, aside from Patrick Eaves and Corey Perry, but it’ll take them a bit to get their chemistry and confidence back.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve.
Anaheim: Mike Liambas (undisclosed), Patrick Eaves (Guillain-Barre syndrome) and Corey Perry (lower-body) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the second of four meetings between these clubs. The Flames broke the Honda Center Curse back in October by way of a 2-0 Mike Smith shutout. Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund scored goals. There was a parade, I think.
Know Thy Enemy
These nice folks will tweet about the Ducks tonight:
Sum It Up
The Flames hope to bounce back from last night’s effort in San Jose with a win tonight. Or, at the very least, another point would be nice. But after this, the schedule gets easier… Oh wait, nope: the next five games are Chicago, Los Angeles, Anaheim again, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. The Flames better grab the points they can wherever they can.
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Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
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