For the first time since the opening two games of the season, the Calgary Flames (23-12-3, 49 points) face an old rival at the Scotiabank Saddledome when they host the Vancouver Canucks (18-18-4, 40 points). The Canucks have been a tough out throughout the first half of this season, while the Flames are hoping to capture two big points and give themselves some breathing room atop the Pacific Division.
The action begins at 8 p.m. MT in the late game on Hockey Night in Canada. It’s on CBC, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 360, City TV and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
For a view from the other side, check out Canucks Army!
Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff (plus some guesswork on our part):
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Bennett – Backlund – Neal
Tkachuk – Jankowski – Czarnik
Dube – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
David Rittich is back between the pipes for the Flames, backed up by Mike Smith. The healthy scratches are Dalton Prout and Michael Frolik. Andrew Mangiapane skated in place of James Neal, who was taking the morning off for maintenance, but he’s on the injury reserve and won’t play.
There are good amount of changes in the Flames lines today. Functionally-speaking, Mikael Backlund and Mark Jankowski are swapping lines, Austin Czarnik is in for the departed Alan Quine, and Dillon Dube slides in for Frolik. Head coach Bill Peters explained that decision after morning skate:
Well, you know what? Coming off four days off we’ve shuffled the deck. We’ve changed our pre-game skate. We’re trying to get the brains engaged a little bit, emotionally get attached to the game. We talk about after practice yesterday who the goaltender was going to be: it’s going to be Ritter. We’ve made those decisions. We’re going to get comfortable with the decisions we’ve made here this afternoon. Could we change it before eight o’clock? We probably could. But do we anticipate doing that? I don’t know.
(Peters is asked about why he’s making the changes.)
It’s stale. It’s gone stale. Our group’s gone stale a little bit. We haven’t liked our starts. We haven’t liked the energy that we’ve played with for 60 minutes. We’re trying to get a little energy back into our room.
Update: The Flames went with status quo lines in warm-up.
The Flames are coming off an okay game against Winnipeg where their goaltender (and Johnny Gaudreau) got them two big points. They’re 18-7-3 since their walloping at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the Flames are engaged, they’re a scary-good team. When they’re not at their best, they’re very reliant on their goaltending to bail them out.
Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Eriksson – Horvat – Virtanen
Goldobin – Pettersson – Boeser
Baertschi – Granlund – Leivo
Roussel – Beagle – Motte
Edler – Tanev
Hutton – Stecher
Pouliot – Gudbranson
Jacob Markstrom starts for Vancouver, backed up by Anders Nilsson. The projected scratches are Michael del Zotto, Alex Biega and Tim Schaller. (Adam Gaudette was the odd man out and is expected to be sent back to the AHL’s Utica Comets later today to open up a roster spot for the returning Sven Baertschi.) Update: Gaudette was sent down.
The Canucks just beat Edmonton. They’ve been a win-one, lose-out team over the last while, but they’ve been a pretty solid hockey team throughout much of December. They’re not a slam-dunk playoff team, but they’re in the mix and playing well above expectations.
The Flames are without Juuso Valimaki, Andrew Mangiapane and Michael Stone.
The Jets are without Derek Dorsett, Sven Baertschi and Brandon Sutter.
Tonight is the third of five meetings this season. The two clubs split their first two meetings – Vancouver won the opener 5-2 and Calgary won the next game 7-4 – with the home side winning each game so far.
Know Thy Enemy
Your Canucks Twitter follows for tonight:
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