The Calgary Flames (30-21-9) make a little bit of history tonight as they head down to the Las Vegas Strip to face the Vegas Golden Knights (39-16-4) for their first-ever game at T-Mobile Arena. The Flames are in the midst of a bit of a rough stretch and are trying to solidify their playoff hopes and dreams, while the Golden Knights are the best expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League and will probably win the Pacific Division. Life’s funny, sometimes.
The puck drops around 8:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The women’s gold medal game is on at around 9 p.m. MT on CBC, so prepare yourselves appropriately. (Put on some coffee at the very least.)
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lazar – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
David Rittich starts for the Flames. He’s 6-3-3 with a 2.68 goals against average and .915 save percentage. He’s backed up by Jon Gillies. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Ryan Lomberg. Troy Brouwer returns after missing a couple weeks after taking a puck to the damn face (and finishing the game).
The Flames have been alternating wins and losses for much of the last month. Their mediocrity comes at a rough time, as the playoff race is getting very tight and they’re getting basically zero help on the out-of-town scoreboard. More frustratingly, the Flames have shown the ability to play with good teams – their game in Nashville and much of Monday’s game against Boston showed that. But they’ve shown a lack of killer instinct and an inability to grab hold of a game early on and maintain control.
This group has immense potential, but the clock is ticking on their ability to live up to it.
The Golden Knights
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Perron – Haula – Tuch
Carpenter – Eakin – Nosek
Hyka – Matteau – Lindberg
McNabb – Schmidt
Engelland – Sbisa
Miller – Hunt
Marc-Andre Fleury starts for Vegas. He’s 19-7-2 with a 2.07 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He’s backed up by Maxime Legace. Brendan Leipsic is the lone healthy scratch, while it’s yet to be seen if Shea Theodore or James Neal will return to the lineup after battling illnesses.
The Golden Knights are very good. They basically have a team made up of second and third lines and play an up-tempo, high-paced system. Their next win will be their 40th. They’ll probably win the Pacific Division.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Marek Hrivik (undisclosed) are on the injured reserve. Mike Smith (lower-body) is hurt but on the active roster.
Vegas: David Clarkson (back), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Clayton Stoner (lower-body), William Carrier (undisclosed), Jon Merrill (undisclosed), Malcolm Subban (hand) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (hand) are on the injured reserve. Shea Theodore (illness) and James Neal (illness) have both missed recent games but remain on the active roster.
When Last We Met
In the first-ever meeting between the Flames and Golden Knights, the Flames blew a third period lead and lost in heart-breaking fashion. They’ll visit Vegas one more time for a game the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
(* – nice)
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some Golden Knights accounts to check out:
Sum It Up
The Flames are in a slide and face a big test against the top team in the Western Conference. They really, really need points.
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