Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 18: A Bay Area measuring stick (7pm MT, SN360)

The Calgary Flames (10-6-1, 21 points) have shown flashes of brilliance through the first 20% of this season. Tonight, we may discover if they’re actually a good hockey team when they face arguably the top Pacific Division squad, the San Jose Sharks (8-6-3, 19 points) in the second half of a back-to-back.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Neal
Bennett – Ryan – Frolik
Hathaway – Jankowski – Czarnik

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic

Valimaki – Stone

Mike Smith makes the start, backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches look to be Anthony Peluso, Rasmus Andersson and Dalton Prout, with Michael Stone swapping in for Andersson (per Derek Wills). It’s a big game for Smith, who hasn’t been overly sharp during the last few weeks while Rittich has been the sharpest we’ve ever seen him.

This game is what’s known as a “schedule loss,” in that the Sharks have been waiting for the Flames while they’ve traveled. But the Sharks haven’t been overly great lately and the Flames have been playing some of their best hockey of the season.

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All season, our staff Slack chat has had a consistent question pop up: “Are these guys actually good?” We’ve seen the Flames play really good hockey on and off over the last three seasons, but the consistency just hasn’t been there – especially in situations like this, playing divisional rivals at the end of road trips. This is the type of game good teams, teams with the intentions of making noise in the post-season, find a way to win. Almost as much as their response to the 9-1 Pittsburgh shellacking eight games ago, this game will tell us a whole lot about the 2018-19 Flames.

The Sharks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Kane – Pavelski – Donskoi
Meier – Couture – Hertl
Sorensen – Thornton – LaBanc
Suomela – Suomela – M.Karlsson

Ryan – Burns
Dillon – E.Karlsson
Vlasic – Braun

Martin Jones starts, backed up by Aaron Dell. The extras look to be Rourke Chartier, Radim Simek and Tim Heed. It sounds like Tomas Hertl returns after missing a few games due to injury.

The Sharks have been idle since a back-to-back set of road games on Thursday and Friday that saw them lose to Dallas (4-3 on Thursday) and St. Louis (4-0 on Friday). Their defensive game hasn’t been amazing and, thus far, they haven’t gelled the way you’d hope a team with as many strong players would. But the Sharks are a proud group and they’ll know the importance of a strong showing against a divisional rival, so expect them to come out of the gates with a lot of gusto tonight.

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The Numbers

Wins 10 8
Points 21 19
Corsi Close 54.7% 57.5%
Power Play 17.2% 18.5%
Penalty Kill 75.0% 87.7%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Dillon Dube, who’s working through the concussion protocol.

The Sharks are healthy.

Season Series

This is the first of four meetings between these two clubs this season. The next time they’ll meet is New Year’s Eve in Calgary.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Sharks Twitter follows for tonight:

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