On Saturday, the Calgary Flames (26-18-8) broke out of their recent funk and snapped their six game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Tonight, the Flames kick off a six game, two week road trip against the very same Blackhawks (24-20-8). It’s a chance for the Flames to give themselves some breathing room in the Western Conference playoff race and put some distance between themselves and the Hawks.
The game starts after 6:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Brouwer (A)
Lazar – Stajan – Hathaway
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the 45th time this season. He’s 21-15-6 with a 2.52 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches tonight are Matt Bartkowski, Ryan Lomberg and Marek Hrivik. Brett Kulak and Mark Jankowski slide back into the lineup after being scratches on Saturday night.
Heading into tonight, the Flames are the second-best road team in the NHL (by percentages). They’re top 10 on the road in both power play and penalty killing efficiency. While this seems peculiar, the simple truth may be that the Flames play a simpler, smarter game on the road. They have no control over match-ups, so they just avoid getting too cute with their play and play a direct, north-south style of hockey. (It’s good, too, because it’s covered up for their woeful home record.)
The Flames had a shaky start on Saturday against Chicago, but man, they were superb in the second half of that game. If the Flames can play the same style of game and avoid the gaffes that kept the game close, they should be in good shape.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Debrincat – Toews – Duclair
Anisimov – Schmaltz – Kane
Sharp – Hartman – Saad
Hinostroza – Kampf – Jurco
Keith – Oesterle
Gustafsson – Seabrook
Kempny – Rutta
Jeff Glass gets the start for Chicago again. He’s 3-3-3 with a 3.24 goals against average and .908 save percentage. He’s backed up by Anton Forsberg, who is not quite as good as Glass. The projected scratches are Connor Murphy, Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.
It’s safe to say that the Blackhawks aren’t what they were a couple seasons ago. While they used to be world-beaters, they’ve faced the problems of modern cap management. Chicago has five players making $6 million or more, and that quintet represents almost $40 million. That left them with $35 million for the remaining 18 players on their roster. As a result, Chicago’s roster has been back-filled by a lot of players that aren’t exactly household names and it’s creating some challenges – especially when injuries are factored in.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Kris Versteeg (hip) are on the injured reserve.
Chicago: Michal Rozsival (upper-body), Marian Hossa (allergic to equipment) and Corey Crawford (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the final game between these teams this season. The Flames have won each game by a 4-3 score in overtime.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some Chi-Town tweeters:
Sum It Up
It’s the first game of a six game trek for the Flames. It could determine the course of the rest of their season. Wins and points are all that matter right now.
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Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
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