Just 48 hours after suffering a crushing loss at the hands of the best team in the Western Conference, the Calgary Flames (25-17-8) are back at it at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tonight they host the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning (34-13-3), proving that the hockey gods – or ScheduleTron 3000, their schedule-making robot – aren’t without a sense of humour.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff. For fun, games played since their last even-strength goal are listed in [brackets].
Gaudreau  – Monahan (A)  – Ferland 
Tkachuk  – Backlund  – Frolik 
Bennett  – Jankowski  – Brouwer (A) 
Lazar  – Stajan  – Hathaway 
Giordano (C)  – D.Hamilton 
Brodie  – Hamonic 
Kulak  – Stone 
Kulak is due.
Mike Smith starts for the 43rd time this season. He’s 20-14-6 with a 2.41 goals against average and .925 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich, who really should be starting more often as the team starts a stretch where they play basically every second day for over a month. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Andrew Mangiapane and Ryan Lomberg.
The Flames didn’t score a ton at even strength in January:
- 5 ES goals: Matthew Tkachuk
- 4 ES goals: Dougie Hamilton, Sean Monahan & Micheal Ferland
- 2 ES goals: Mark Giordano & Mark Jankowski
- 1 ES goal: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Troy Brouwer, T.J. Brodie & Matt Stajan
- 0 ES goals: Mikael Backlund, Marek Hrivik, Ryan Lomberg, Michael Frolik, Michael Stone, Curtis Lazar, Garnet Hathaway, Brett Kulak, Travis Hamonic & Andrew Mangiapane
That’s not great. During the same span, they had four power play goals. By percentage, only two teams (Edmonton & Tampa Bay) were less productive in January than the Flames. They need to get things going. Consequently, only two teams had a more effective penalty kill than the Flames in January.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Namestnikov – Stamkos – Kucherov
Gourde – Point – Johnson
Kunitz – Paquette – Callahan
Killorn – Peca – Bournival
Hedman – Dotchin
Sergachev – Stralman
Coburn – Girardi
Andrei Vasilevskiy starts for Tampa Bay. He’s 29-9-2 with a 2.18 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He’s backed up by Louis Domingue. The healthy scratches look to be Slater Koekkoek, Andrej Sustr and Cory Conacher.
The Lightning were basically a .500 team in January – including a home loss to Calgary – but they were comfortably enough in the Eastern Conference lead that a month of them basically running in place hasn’t really hurt them all that much. They were bound to go through adversity, and it’s probably better for that group to do it in January than in April.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve.
Tampa Bay: Peter Budaj (lower-body) and Ondrej Palat (lower-body) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the second of two meetings between these teams this season. The Flames beat Tampa Bay 5-1 a few weeks ago, putting together arguably their best road game of the season.
Know Thy Enemy
Here’s a brief look at Tampa Bay Lightning Twitter:
Sum It Up
The Flames are on a five game skid. They’ve fallen out of a playoff position. They need some wins.
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Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
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