Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Calgary Flames (35-26-10) face a big test as they host a key game against a team they’re chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. Tonight, their opponent is the San Jose Sharks (38-23-9). The Sharks are a fair ways ahead of the Flames in the standings, but the locals can make their playoff hopes a bit closer to becoming a reality with a regulation win here. Heck, at this point a win of any type would be a big help.
The puck drops just after 7:00 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lazar – Stajan – Brouwer (A)
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone
Mike Smith starts for the Flames. He’s 24-17-6 with a 2.51 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The expected scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Nick Shore, Chris Stewart and Tanner Glass, while Matthew Tkachuk remains out with a suspected concussion. Kris Versteeg makes his return to the lineup for the first time since mid-November, and he’ll hopefully bring some speed, pep, and power play prowess to the proceedings.
The Flames begin the evening four points out of a divisional spot (chasing Los Angeles, who have one game-in-hand) and three points out of a wild-card spot (chasing Dallas). The Flames have won three of their last four games, and have points in four of their last five (3-1-1). Their recent success hasn’t put them in a playoff spot, but it’s kept them within striking distance. They need to keep stringing wins together.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Kane – Pavelski – Doonskoi
Hertl – Couture – Boedker
Meier – Tierney – Labanc
Karlsson – Fehr – Sorensen
Ryan – Burns
Vlasic – Braun
Dillon – DeMelo
Martin Jones starts for the Sharks. He’s 24-18-6 with a 2.48 goals against average and .917 save percentage. He’s backed up by Aaron Dell. The expected scratches are Paul Martin, Barclay Goodrow and Jannik Hansen.
Donskoi out tonight. Kane a game-time decision. Jones in goal
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) March 16, 2018
The Sharks survived a bit of a scare on Wednesday night, narrowly beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in overtime. But they’ve been playing some pretty good hockey of late. This month they’ve beaten Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Edmonton and only lost to non-conference foes Washington and Columbus. In short? They’re beating the teams they need to beat to give themselves some breathing room.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Marek Hrivik (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.
San Jose: Joel Ward (upper-body) and Joe Thornton (knee) are on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the third of four games between Calgary and San Jose this season. The Flames have lost both of them so far: a 3-2 regulation loss and a 3-2 shootout loss. They’ll play again in eight days in San Jose to close out the season series.
Know Thy Enemy
Check out these folks for sweet, sweet Sharks tweets:
Sum It Up
The Flames need 96 points to make the playoffs. They need wins, particularly against teams they’re chasing for spots.
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Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.
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