FGD 36: Measuring sticks (7pm MT, SN West)

The Calgary Flames (22-11-2, 46 points) are a pretty good hockey team. We’re not quite sure how good, but they’ve taken a step from last season. The veil of mystery surrounding the Flames will be lifted somewhat as they face a stiff test in the form of an old rival, and the best team in the National Hockey League, the Tampa Bay Lightning (26-7-2, 54 points). Just how good are the Flames? We might get some clues tonight.

The action begins at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund –  Bennett
Quine – Jankowski – Neal
Lomberg – Ryan – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

David Rittich starts for the Flames, backed up by Mike Smith. The projected scratches are Dalton Prout, Austin Czarnik and Buddy Robinson. Sam Bennett and James Neal will return to the lineup after missing the Dallas game, though that’s pending approval from the team’s medical staff.

Despite their 2-0 loss in Dallas on Tuesday evening, the Flames are among the top teams in the Western Conference. They’re tied with Winnipeg and Nashville for the top spot in the West and they lead the Pacific Division by three points.

While the Flames have been good, they haven’t been perfect. They’ve been a bit sloppy defensively. But they’re facing a really deep, dangerous team, and they’re going to have to tighten things up to survive. We’re going to learn a lot about the team’s makeup by how they approach this game.

The Lightning

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Palat – Stamkos – Gourde
Johnson – Point – Kucherov
Killorn – Cirelli – Miller
Erne – Paquette – Callahan

Hedman – Girardi
McDonagh – Cernak
Stralman – Sergachev

Louis Domingue starts for Tampa Bay, backed up by Andrei Vasilevskiy. The projected scratches are Slater Koekkoek, Braydon Coburn and Danick Martel.

Tampa Bay has a strong, deep, weirdly consistent team. The last time the Lightning lost in regulation was Nov. 27. They’re in the midst of a 10 game point streak. They have two really terrifying forward lines and a third line that’s pretty impressive in its own right.

The Numbers

Wins 22 26
Points 46 54
Corsi Close 53.9% 54.2%
Power Play 22.6% 29.5%
Penalty Kill 79.8% 84.0%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Juuso Valimaki, Michael Frolik and Michael Stone.

The Lightning are without Mathieu Joseph.

Season Series

This is the first of two games between these two teams. They’ll meet one more time in Tampa Bay in February.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Lightning Twitter follows for tonight:

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  • buts

    Something has got to give with Neal. I know as a coach you can’t make management look bad but come on. This guy if tired should be sent away on physical to many playoff game rehab……then sent packing as he can’t keep up, can’t handle the puck and looks worse than any player on the ice. Other than that it was an entertaining game.

  • Off the wall

    Still in total darkness here in Victoria. ?
    It’s great to hear the Flames came back and at least get a point in this game.

    7 OT shooters? Wow. Sounds like I missed a great game!

    I might as well be in the bush with WW. It’s pitch black here.
    Kinda eerie, kinda cool…

  • Spider you muda&@#ker

    Have to hand it to Domingue there he made some huge stops in the third and man he looked like gumby in the shootout still dont know how he got his leg on Jankowskis deke. Game of the year it had everything you would want as a hockey fan this team is not only good but it is exciting as hell!