Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FGD 54: Big game hunting (7pm MT, SN1)

There are a few games on the schedule that will determine whether the Calgary Flames (34-14-5, 73 points) win the Pacific Division or not. Tonight’s clash with the second place San Jose Sharks (31-16-7, 69 points) is one of those games. Separated by just four points, a Flames regulation win will give them a six point cushion and a Sharks regulation win would pull them within two points.

This game with major playoff consequences kicks off just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360 The Fan. (The Oilers are playing at 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West.)

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Prout

David Rittich starts for the Flames, backed up by Mike Smith. Travis Hamonic is a game-time decision, which would bump Dalton Prout back to the press box. Austin Czarnik and Rinat Valiev are the other expected scratches – Valiev will probably be sent back to Stockton if/when Hamonic returns.

The Flames played a decent if uneven game against Washington but made mistakes at key times and lost. They were a lot better in Raleigh on Sunday and got a better result. The Flames are a talented group this season and you could make an argument that when they’re motivated they’re one of the very best in the entire National Hockey League. Playing against a team hot on the heels for the Pacific lead they should be a very motivated bunch.

The Sharks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Meier – Couture – Pavelski
Kane – Hertl – Donskoi
Sorensen – Thornton – Labanc
Goodrow – Gambrell – Karlsson

Simek – Burns
Vlasic – Heed
Dillon – Braun

Martin Jones starts for the Sharks, backed up by Aaron Dell (who is from Airdrie). Joakim Ryan and Lukas Radil are the likely healthy scratches.

The Sharks are coming off a dramatic overtime win on Tuesday, which was preceded by a dramatic overtime win against Arizona, the All-Star Break, and a dramatic overtime win over Washington. But the Sharks haven’t won a game in regulation in their last six games, so they’re getting points the hard way (if they are at all). That said, they’ve been clutch over the last few games so they should be a tough opponent for the locals.

Expect this game to be a very, very entertaining, emotional 60+ minutes of ice hockey.

The Numbers

Wins 34 31
Points 73 69
Corsi Close 52.3% 56.1%
Power Play 23.2% 24.5%
Penalty Kill 79.4% 82.5%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Michael Stone.

The Sharks are without Erik Karlsson.

Season Series

This is the third of four games between Calgary and San Jose this season. So far the home team has won – San Jose won 3-1 in November while the Flames won 8-5 on New Year’s Eve. They’ll meet one more time in Silicon Valley at the end of March.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Sharks Twitter follows for tonight:

FGD brought to you by ATB Financial

From peewee to the pros, Albertans love the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.