With the trade deadline dealt with, the Calgary Flames (32-22-9) kick off the final 19 games of the season deep in the heart of Texas against the Dallas Stars (35-23-4). The Flames begin the homestretch tied for the second wild-card position with Los Angeles, but they’re both (a) within striking distance of a couple divisional playoff spots and (b) within striking distance of a few other teams that are trying to get into the playoffs. Every game is huge from here on out but the Flames have put themselves in a position where they don’t need to be the best team in the Western “pile,” they just need to be better than a couple teams.
The game kicks off just after 6:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Stewart
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lazar – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
It’s the first half of a back-to-back: it likes from morning skate like Jon Gillies starts against the Stars. He’s 2-0-0 with a 2.54 goals against average and .914 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich, who likely starts tomorrow in Denver. The healthy scratches look to be Matt Bartkowski, Tanner Glass and Nick Shore, who didn’t arrive in Dallas in time for morning skate. Micheal Ferland didn’t travel with the team and will miss his second game in a row with an upper-body injury.
The Flames power play has been en fuego lately. They’ve scored goals in eight of their last nine games, dating back to Troy Brouwer briefly being forced from the lineup with his facial injuries which forced Glen Gulutzan to put Dougie Hamilton on the top power play unit. Since then? 11 power play goals in 41 opportunities, with Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk accounting for seven of those 11 markers.
As we head into the homestretch, Johnny Gaudreau is fifth in the NHL in scoring (and leads all left wings), while linemate and best buddy Sean Monahan is tied for 22nd. Joining them on the top line tonight? Chris Stewart, most recently of the waiver wire and 12 healthy scratches in Minnesota. Life’s funny sometimes.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Elie – Seguin – Janmark
Roussel – Benn – Radulov
Shore – Faksa – Pitlick
Smith – Spezza – Ritchie
Lindell – Klingberg
Hamhuis – Pateryn
Methot – Johns
Ben Bishop gets the start for the Stars. He’s 24-17-3 with a 2.53 goals against average and .915 save percentage. He’s backed up by Atlanta Thrashers legend Kari Lehtonen. The projected scratches look to be Julius Honka, Jason Dickinson and Martin Hanzal. (Hanzal’s dealing with an unspecified injury, the other two are healthy.)
The Stars have been super streaky in their last month. They began by winning five in a row, then have lost four of their last six – coinciding with their power play going ice cold. They did nothing at the trade deadline, opting for solutions within their own locker room. Their playoff position is as tenuous as the Flames’.
Devin Shore is not related to Nick Shore.
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.
Dallas: The Stars have no major injuries.
When Last We Met
This is the final meeting between the Flames and Stars this season. Dallas has won the other two games by 2-1 and 6-4 scores.
Know Thy Enemy
Check out these Stars-centric accounts:
Sum It Up
It’s a collision between two teams mired in playoff uncertainty. The homestretch begins tonight, as does 19 games where the Flames need to play playoff quality hockey to make it into the postseason.
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