Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 56: Clash of the titans (5:30pm MT, SN West)

Back in December, two of the National Hockey League’s best teams met at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tonight at Amalie Arena, they’ll meet again. The Calgary Flames (34-15-6, 74 points) one of the top clubs in the Western Conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning (41-11-4, 86 points) are the top club in the Eastern Conference (and the best overall). The Lightning are in cruise control, while the Flames are trying to scrounge points and punch their ticket to the post-season.

The game starts at 5:30 pm. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

David Rittich starts for the Flames, backed up by Mike Smith. Dalton Prout and Austin Czarnik are the projected healthy scratches.

This morning, the Flames woke up in an unfamiliar place: second in the Pacific Division. The Sharks leap-frogged them last night with a pummeling of Michael Dipietro and the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames are a point behind the Sharks but have two games in hand.

The Flames are 1-2-1 since the All-Star Break and the only game that wasn’t close was their 5-2 loss to the Sharks. If the Flames can find their swagger again, they could be a dangerous team. But to do that, they really need to play better in their own end. Making life easier on their goaltenders will make life easier on everybody going forward.

The Lightning

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Hedman – Girardi
McDonagh – Stralman
Coburn – Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts for the Lightning, backed up by Louis Domingue. Their projected scratches are Ondrej Palat, Jan Rutta and Erik Cernak.

The Lightning keep rolling along. They have points in every game since the All-Star Break (4-0-1). They’ve played four one-goal games, and the only game that wasn’t as close was Sunday’s 5-2 win over Florida. They’re a deep, talented team, and they’re doing enough to win consistently every night.

They’re a tough out on every single night.

The Numbers

Wins 34 41
Points 74 86
Adjusted Corsi 52.6% 53.0%
Power Play 22.3% 29.1%
Penalty Kill 79.8% 85.0%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Michael Stone.

The Lightning are healthy.

Season Series

This is the second and final game of their season series. The Lightning beat the Flames 5-4 in a shootout back in December.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Lightning Twitter follows for tonight:

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  • Fat Tony

    I’ve stayed positive this whole season but I believe the flames have come back down to earth. Tampa is what a real contender looks like. Signing a James Neal type player in the offseason isn’t going to get you where you want to be. We need to start drafting better and build from within like the lighting. 90% of their team they drafted and developed and still have a great farm system with players waiting for their shot. What does ours look like? Aside from one or two guys we literally have no one. The flames look overwhelmed out there and it’s exactly what I didn’t want to see tonight because it only confirmed what was already going through my mind. We aren’t good enough.

  • Off the wall

    We’re facing the hottest team in the league. #1 in PP, #2 in PK.

    For the first time in a long period, we’re currently in 2nd place in the Pacific. Sharks are playing absolutely amazing hockey. Flames are in a slight slide. Time for us to put the chains on the tires and get some traction.

    Snow accumulations has brought our City ( Victoria) to a standstill. I don’t want to see that happening to our Flames after working so hard to get where they are.

    We talk about measuring sticks.
    Tonight is the perfect time to measure up for the postseason.

    I’m a bit concerned, but am hopeful we’ll see another great game!


    • Off the wall

      Sharks have also overtaken us in Goals for- 210 to our 202.
      Tampa has 217!

      We need the scoring to win this one. Our defensive play hasn’t been good since the break.

      I just noticed NYI have the lowest goals against- 131. Incredible job by Trotz!

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Sharks benefitted from VAN playing a junior goalie and playing EDM twice during a skid.
        19 goals in 3 games says less about the scoring team as the team they played. 2 of our recent losses have had Smith in nets. SJS has also played 2 more games than us.

        Enough excuses. We are a great team in spite of Smith and a bad stretch of Rittich. Brodie just needs to get his head back in the game. Yeah, and Hanifin needs to play less minutes in favor of Ras and the 3rd pairing.

    • Chucky

      Did you mange to get to the liquor store to stock up? I heard that they are running out because there are no trucks coming from the mainland and was worried you might not make it through the game this afternoon. If not better get the Canuck’s fan enrolled so she can look after supplies.

      • Off the wall

        Haha, Chucky!
        That was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen posted.

        I’m sure you’re experiencing the same thing. We can’t drive anywhere… so Mrs Otw walked to the store this morning, to pick up a few supplies. Bless her heart, she also picked me up a small bottle of Crown Royal.
        I think she overheard the link you posted…?

          • Albertabeef

            Judging by Victoria’s sidewalks last night I don’t think anyone here knows what a snow shovel is either lol. They are all lazy and wait three days till it melts away. I do miss Calgary’s bylaw enforcement for snow removal, don’t miss Calgary weather lol. Western Canada’s oldest city lacks decent modern thinking. So behind the times here. They give out needles like candy and close the weed dispensaries at 8pm so organized crime can still thrive. VicPD ignores crimes and feels like some people in power are getting their pockets lined from criminals. WOW! Crazy world we live in. Sorry rant over.

    • Eggy

      Last year we had a nice record at this time and fell off the rails this year is different let’s go out play hard and have killer instinct and put away a great team

    • deantheraven

      Orrwasbest! I just like saying your name. And exclamation marks!
      You pointed to the two things that have been inconsistent lately, especially in the first period. If they can’t get up for this one, Gelly won’t be watching in the booth. itwasin

  • everton fc

    Big game, huge opportunity for Rittich, and guys like Neal, Bennett, and Mangiapane – three guys we need to score. Add Jankowski, to that aforementioned trio.

  • Jobu

    “the Flames are trying to scrounge points and punch their ticket to the post-season”

    A two game winless streak in which the club still got 1 point, and were reduced to “scrounging?” That’s a pretty weak statement in Jobus opinion