Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 40: Flames close out 2018 against the Sharks (7pm MT, SN1)

The Calgary Flames (23-12-3, 50 points) have had an up-and-down 2018. But they head into their last game of the calendar in first place in the Pacific Division. If they want to finish 2018 in first place they’ll need a strong performance against the San Jose Sharks (21-12-7, 49 points), who sit one point back of the Flames.

The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski –  Neal
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 Austin Czarnik.

Flames head coach Bill Peters has crafted a lineup that looks pretty close to what the team’s “ideal” composition probably is these days. Michael Frolik is reunited with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund on the shutdown line, while the rest of the lineup is basically status quo. The Sharks are a deep team, so the move makes a lot of sense.

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Peters hopes the Flames can simplify things offensively, noting after Saturday night’s overtime loss to Vancouver that they need to play more direct and make less cute plays. We’ll see if the imposing threat of the Sharks creates a bit more urgency in their game.

The Sharks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Radil – Couture – Meier
Sorensen – Thornton – Pavelski
Kane – Hertl – Labanc
Donskoi – Goodrow – M.Karlsson

Vlasic – Braun
Simek – Burns
E.Karlsson – Dillon

Aaron Dell starts for the Sharks, backed up by Martin Jones. The projected scratches are Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed and Rourke Chartier.

The Sharks are coming off a 7-4 win against Edmonton on Saturday night. They’re on a big roll, with just three regulation losses in December and on a 7-1-2 clip over their last 10 games. They’re finally finding their stride after a bit of a sluggish start and they’re finally looking like the team everyone expected to see.

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The Numbers

Wins 23 21
Points 50 49
Corsi Close 53.5% 57.3%
Power Play 21.0% 22.7%
Penalty Kill 80.2% 84.3%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Juuso Valimaki, Andrew Mangiapane and Michael Stone.

The Sharks are healthy.

Season Series

This is the second of four meetings between these rivals this season. The Flames lost 3-1 to San Jose back in November, but that was also on the second half of a back-to-back on the road.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Sharks Twitter follows for tonight:

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