After losing an overtime heart-breaker to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night – bringing their losing skid to four consecutive games – the Calgary Flames (32-25-10) continue their road trip tonight when they visit the lowly Buffalo Sabres (21-34-11). While the Flames got a moral victory (and a point) from their strong performance against the Penguins, they desperately need to turn moral victories into actual ones. They’re at the point now where they need to beg, borrow or steal wins wherever they can find them.
The puck drops just after 5:30 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 – Hathaway
Lazar – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Given that Jon Gillies took the L on Monday, David Rittich starts for the Flames. He’s 6-5-3 with a 3.11 goals against average and .900 save percentage. He’s been rather iffy since Mike Smith went down. But hey, Smith’s traveling with the team now. He won’t dress tonight, but he’s getting closer. The projected healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Tanner Glass, Nick Shore and Chris Stewart.
Has anybody seen the Flames top line lately? Johnny Gaudreau has no primary points in five games and Sean Monahan has none in four games. While Micheal Ferland’s absence (and uneven play before his injury) definitely doesn’t help things, the team’s two best offensive players need to be better.
The Flames enter tonight’s games three points back of the last wild-card spot and five points back of the last divisional playoff spot. Everybody they’re chasing has games in hand on them. They have a lot of work to do.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Girgensens – O’Reilly – Reinhart
Wilson – Larsson – Pominville
Griffith – Pouliot – Baptiste
Nolan – Josefson – Okposo
Scandella – Ristolainen
Guhle – Nelson
Beaulieu – Antipin
Calgary Flames legend Chad Johnson, who had that one great November last year, starts for the Sabres. He’s 7-10-3 with a 3.17 goals against average and .898 save percentage. He’s backed up by Robin Lehner. The projected scratches are Josh Gorges, Justin Falk and Danny O’Regan. Kyle Crisuolo and Evan Rodrigues are dealing with injuries but remain on the main roster.
The Sabres are not good. They have not made the playoffs since 2011. If the Flames cannot beat the Sabres, they shouldn’t make the playoffs.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip), Marek Hrivik (upper-body) and Mike Smith (lower-body) are on the injured reserve.
Buffalo: Zach Bogosian (lower-body), Jack Eichel (ankle) and Jake McCabe (shoulder) are on the injured reserve. Kyle Crisuolo and Evan Rodrigues are dealing with injuries but remain on the main roster.
When Last We Met
This is the second of two meetings between these clubs. The Flames lost to Buffalo 2-1 in overtime in Calgary back in January.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some Buffalo tweeters:
Sum It Up
The Flames really, really need two points out of this game. And also out of another 10 games this season. And for a few teams ahead of them to start losing frequently.
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