After a fairly successful road trip, the Calgary Flames (34-25-10) are back at home and trying to win some games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tonight they begin their final 13 games of the season with a game with the New York Islanders (29-29-10), themselves a team that’s fighting desperately for their playoff lives. But the good news is that Mike Smith is expected to play today for the first time in a month.
The puck drops just after 5:00 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
After missing 13 games (and a month of action), Mike Smith makes his return to the crease. He’s 23-16-6 with a 2.53 goals against average and .921 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The expected scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Chris Stewart, Tanner Glass and Nick Shore.
The Flames have been streaky all year, but they seem to have turned a bit of a corner on their road trip. They’ve gotten production from throughout their lineup and their depth players have chipped in with key goals during their last stretch. But they’ll need their big guns to be strong tonight, as they’re facing a desperate Islanders club.
The Flames open the evening two points out of the last wild-card spot (behind Colorado) and two points out of the last Pacific Division spot (behind Anaheim).
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Lee – Tavares – Bailey
Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle
Ladd – Nelson – Fritz
Johnston – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Leddy – Boychuk
Hickey – Pulock
Pelech – Davidson
Christopher Gibson gets the start for the Brooklynites after performing well in a loss in Edmonton. He’s 0-0-2 with a 1.86 goals against average and .953 save percentage – but he’s had just two appearances, so keep sample sizes in mind. He’s backed up by Jaroslav Halak. He’s backed up by Chris Gibson, who played against Edmonton. The expected scratches are Sebastian Aho, Dennis Seidenberg and Chris Wagner.
The Islanders have yet to win a game since Feb. 16 (going 0-4-4) and have gone to overtime in each of their last three games… and lost. They begin the night well out of the playoffs – 8 points out of the wild-card and 13 points out of a divisional spot – and they’re essentially playing spoiler at this point. They’re a dangerous team because they have nothing left to lose, really.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Marek Hrivik (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.
NY Islanders: Nikolay Kulemin (upper-body), Thomas Greiss (lower-body), Shane Prince (undisclosed) and Calvin de Haan (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the second of two meetings between these clubs. The Flames beat the Islanders 3-2 in Brooklyn exactly one month ago – it was the game that Mike Smith left with an injury with two seconds left.
Know Thy Enemy
Here are some nice folks that discuss the Isles:
Sum It Up
The Flames need points to stay in the Western playoff race and they’re playing a team that’s well out of a playoff spot. This is a game they need to have.
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