223

FGD 59: The Fancy Cats visit (8pm MT, SN West)

After nearly two weeks on the road, the Calgary Flames (30-20-8) are back on home ice! The Flames captured eight of a possible 12 points on the road, playing some pretty good hockey for the most part. They kick off a truncated home-stand tonight when they welcome the Florida Panthers (25-23-6) to town. The Fancy Cats aren’t quite as fancy as they used to be, as they’re eight games out of a playoff spot, but they’re still a fast young team.

The game starts just after 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund (A) – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lomberg – Stajan – Lazar

Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone

David Rittich starts for the Flames. He’s 6-2-2 with a 2.47 goals against average and .921 save percentage. He’s backed up by Jon Gillies. The expected healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Morgan Klimchuk.

The Flames’ special teams have caused a great deal of hand-wringing of late, but they were one of the reasons they won against Nashville on Thursday night. For only the third time in the last 10 games, the Flames didn’t allow a power play goal. And for the first time since Dec. 31, they scored multiple power play goals. The Flames are a good even strength team, but good special teams will give them some breathing room in their games.

Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in scoring and is second in the NHL, eight points behind fellow 2011 draft pick Nikita Kucherov. Gaudreau’s next goal will be his 20th, joining teammates Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Micheal Ferland in that club. Only two Flames score 20+ goals last season.

The Panthers

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Dadonov – Barkov – Bjugstad
Huberdeau – Trocheck – Malgin
McGinn – McCann – Mamin
Haley – MacKenzie – Sceviour

Ekblad – Yandle
Matheson – Pysyk
Weegar – Petrovic

Roberto Luongo makes his long-awaited return to the Panthers crease for his first game since Dec. 4. He’s 6-6-1 with a 2.61 goals against average and .928 save percentage. Tonight will be Luongo’s 982nd career NHL appearance, third all-time behind only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He’s backed up by James Reimer. The expected scratches are Ian McCoshen, Connor Brickley and Radim Vrbata.

The Panthers are eight points out of the last wild-card spot, but they’ve won five of their last six games. Their one loss was to the Los Angeles Kings. Sure, their wins have been against some of the league’s odds and sods, but they’re still beating them. Florida’s no great shakes this year, but they’re still a young, proud bunch and could be a tough out for anybody who takes them lightly.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip), Troy Brouwer (facial fracture) and Marek Hrivik (undisclosed) are on the injured reserve. Mike Smith (lower-body) is hurt but on the active roster.

Florida: The Panthers are healthy.

When Last We Met

Tonight’s game polishes off the epic two-game season series between these teams. The Flames won 4-2 in Sunrise back in January.

The Numbers

CGY FLA
Wins 30 25
Points 68 56
Adjusted Corsi 52.3% 49.4%
Power Play 17.4% 18.4%
Penalty Kill 80.0% 79.9%

Know Thy Enemy

Here are a few Panthers tweeters:

Sum It Up

The Flames continue their charge towards the playoffs as they head into the home-stretch of the season.

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