After closing out 2017 with a victory over the Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames (19-16-4) kick off the 2018 portion of their calendar against the Los Angeles Kings (24-11-5). The Kings are perhaps the Flames most bitter recent rival (aside from the Canucks), and the majority of their most important regular season games in recent years have been against the gentlemen in black and silver from So-Cal. With the Flames in need of differentiating themselves from the clump of mediocre Western Conference clubs they’re mired in, this could be another important clash between these two teams.
The puck drops shortly after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Brouwer (A)
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Mangiapane – Stajan – Lazar
Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the 34th time this season. He’s 15-13-3 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and the newly-recalled Marek Hrivik. Jaromir Jagr is dealing with a nagging lower-body injury and once again won’t be available tonight. Other line-up tweaks may happen tonight as well.
Since the beginning of December, the Flames have been a streaky team: three losses, two wins, three losses, two wins, three losses and, on New Year’s Eve, another win. The Flames will need roughly 95 points to make the playoffs, so they’ll need to grind out 53 points in their remaining 43 games – that’s a .616 points percentage. Long story short, they’ll need to win roughly two out of every three games – by hook or by crook – from here on out. The streakiness absolutely has to end.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Pearson – Kopitar – Brown
Gaborik – Kempe – Toffoli
Clifford – Shore – Lewis
Iafallo – Mitchell – Jokinen
Muzzin – Doughty
MacDermid – Martinez
Forbort – Gravel
Jonathan Quick starts for Los Angeles. He’s 19-11-2 with a 2.20 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. He’s backed up by Darcy Kuemper. The healthy scratches are Oscar Fantenberg, Andy Andreoff and Jonny Brodzinski.
The Kings have the best goals against average and the best save percentage in the entire NHL. Quick and Kuemper have been lights-out and they’re playing on a team that gives up an average amount of shots. It’s not like they’re an incredible possession or defensive team, they’re just a team that plays a smart game and gets strong goaltending.
Los Angeles beat Edmonton 5-0 in their last outing, so they’re not all bad.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Michael Frolik (jaw) are on the injured reserve.
Los Angeles: Jeff Carter (ankle) and Christian Folin (lower-body) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the second of four games between these teams this season. The Flames won their first meeting, back on Oct. 11 in Los Angeles, by a 4-3 score in overtime. Sean Monahan scored the winner.
Know Thy Enemy
These fine So-Cal peeps will presumably be tweeting about the Los Angeles hockey club:
Sum It Up
It’s a key divisional game between the Flames and one of their most bitter recent rivals, with the locals desperately needing points to get back into the playoff pack.
FGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL
Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
Enter the Vegas Breakaway for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and tickets to a Golden Knights game. Enter to win at atb.com/vegas