The last time the Calgary Flames hosted the Anaheim Ducks, it was at the midway point of the season and Glen Gulutzan threw a stick into the 13th row of the Saddledome’s lower bowl. Hope of a playoff berth was very much a tangible thing. Tonight, the Flames (35-29-10) host the Ducks (37-24-12) as they begin to play out the string after a trio of regulation losses have effectively doused their playoff dreams. That said, it’s still a significant night: Matt Stajan plays his 1,000th NHL contest this evening and the gents in red will probably be energetic as they try to commemorate the occasion with a W.
The puck drops just after 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. (It’s the second half of a double-header, following Montreal vs. Pittsburgh.)
Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Bennett
Brouwer (A) – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lazar – Stajan – Glass
Giordano (C) – Hamilton
Stone – Hamonic
Kulak – Andersson
Mike Smith starts for the Flames. He’s 24-20-6 with a 2.63 goals against average and .917 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The projected healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Nick Shore, Kris Versteeg and Chris Stewart. The Flames remain without the services of Matthew Tkachuk and TJ Brodie due to upper-body injuries of unspecified severity.
It’s the 1,000th career game for Matt Stajan, but it’s also an occasion to celebrate a couple individual efforts. Johnny Gaudreau sits 7th in the NHL in scoring and he has 82 points, ensuring that he’ll remain known as “Point-Per-Game Johnny.” Dougie Hamilton now leads NHL defenders in goal-scoring, so that’s neat and fun as well.
The Flames are mathematically alive, which has the same general implication as “medically alive” – near-death. They’re six points back of Anaheim for the last wild-card spot and seven back of Los Angeles for the last divisional spot. And they have Dallas and St. Louis between them. Their “tragic number” is 5.5 – any combination of 5.5 Anaheim wins or Flames losses kills Calgary’s playoff hopes dead.
Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Rakell – Getzlaf – Perry
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Ritchie – Henrique – Kase
Kelly – Grant – Chimera
Fowler – Montour
Holzer – Lindholm
Beauchemin – Bieksa
John Gibson starts for Anaheim. He’s 28-17-6 with a 2.48 goals against average and .925 save percentage. He’s backed up by Ryan Miller. The projected scratches are Josh Manson (who’s nursing an injury), Antoine Vermette and J.T. Miller.
The Ducks are a streaky bunch. They’ve won three in a row, which was preceded by a three game losing skid and another three game winning streak. The Ducks are in search of both consistency and a playoff spot, and might find both before season’s end.
Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Marek Hrivik (upper-body) are on the injured reserve. Matthew Tkachuk (suspected concussion) and TJ Brodie (upper-body) are both out but remain on the active roster.
Anaheim: Patrick Eaves (Guillain-Barre syndrome) is on the injured reserve.
When Last We Met
This is the fourth and final game between these teams this season. The Flames have won two of the previous three meetings. All three meetings have been close: 2-0 and 3-2 wins for the Flames and a 2-1 win for the Ducks.
Know Thy Enemy
These folks will likely be tweeting about the Ducks tonight:
Sum It Up
The Flames are playing out the string, but hopefully they can play spoiler to the Ducks’ playoff hopes.
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