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:

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.

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.

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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  • Captain Ron

    Congratulations on the win NHL officials. Another fine sequence by the worst officials in pro sports. 3 missed calls in the last 2 minutes of a game. How is that delay of game call missed at the very least. It was so obvious. Kane slashing and Burns tripping WTF?

  • MontanaMan

    Tough game. Flames didn’t play bad but didn’t deserve to win. Good to see Smith turning his game around and Jankowski played well but was snake bit around the net. Still need secondary scoring and need to see some offence out of Neal, Czar, Ryan, Backlund, etc.

  • Flamesforever

    Those refs man.. at least be consistent in calls you make. I’m fine with losing, we looked tired, missed some Grade A’s in the 3rd. But to have no power plays in an entire game?! Wtf is that guys!

  • Day1-Cfan

    Some very disappointing events in the third period tonight. From a pee poor job by the referees, bad hockey from 5 point some million dollar hockey player that can not put a puck in an empty net to save his teams life and bad luck Bennet with a penalty shot that would embarrass an atom player.
    Wow wish we could have put more than one puck in the net these last 2 games.

  • Skylardog

    Top line 1 GF in the last 5 games at 5v5 and only 2 in the last 9 games. Remain a fixture despite doing very little. That’s a 0.91GF/60 over the last 5 and just a 1.31 over the last 9. Not getting it done in any way. (Mony was on with Janko and Backs made the block that created the Mony goal tonight).

    Guys struggling, but rather than put them on a line that can help them pick up their play, sit them on the bench.

    Give plugs shifts at the end when the team needs a goal. Hath and been good all game and was involved. He sits, as does the guy brought in for his offense, Czar. Neal is a no brainer when you need a goal, is he not? Even when struggling on the 3rd line with plugs, he is a threat when out with the Flames best players. Not saying he has earned it, but neither has Ryan.

    Really confused as to what Peters was trying to accomplish with the lines tonight. And that started right when the puck was dropped.

  • Speed Kills

    Could have beat the Sharks tonight~! But there was No Way to beat the Reffs, Seriously this was the worst reffed game so far this year (2nd to the Montreal game) Why are the Flames Coaches and Players Not up in the Grill of the Reffs and Call them on their $#!T … How can you win against a team that gets away all night long with non-calls, even on video replay its Obvious… Isn’t there a video review for things like the kane over the glass non-call? wtf… Peters would be better served to throw a little “John Tortorella” or a stick or two on the ice~! C’mon show some passion for @#$%s sake! This one is on the Reffs and the Lack of care about it by the Flames!

  • The Real SlimBrodie

    Stop your damn complaining. We got good goaltending..we score lots of goals.. this will continue throughout the year and eventually goal scoring and goaltending will line up. Sheesh

    • The Real SlimBrodie

      I do agree with the reffing being bad, but also it’s in the past already.. we cant get our Stanley cup back from 04 and we cant get this game back either….on to the next game. Gfg