FGD 73: Trying to out-gun Columbus (7pm MT, SN West)

With their playoff position solidified, the local hockey club will try to get closer to a divisional crown tonight.

The Calgary Flames (44-21-7, 95 points) welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets (40-28-4, 84 points) to the Scotiabank Saddledome. Considering their last meeting featured 15 goals, this one could be wild. Thankfully it’s not in Columbus, so viewers don’t have to worry about that wacky cannon going off.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames opened as a moderate (-205) favourite per Oddshark’s moneyline.

The Flames

Guesswork projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Ryan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Quine – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Lazar – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson

David Rittich starts tonight, backed up by Mike Smith. Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and James Neal are expected to miss the game due to injury and/or illness, while Dalton Prout, Oliver Kylngton and Michael Stone are your healthy scratches. If Bennett or Monahan are able to slot in, Lazar will be scratched and returned to the AHL due to his emergency recall status.

With 10 games remaining, the Flames are masters of their own destiny. Their magic number to clinch top spot in the West is any combination of nine wins and Sharks losses. If the Flames win the games they need to win, they’ll finish in top spot. We’re going to learn a lot about the make-up of this team over the next couple weeks as they try to lock things down.

The Blue Jackets

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson
Dzingel – Duchene – Anderson
Sedlak – Nash – Jenner
Dubinsky – Wennberg – Bjorkstrand

Werenski – Jones
Nutivaara – Savard
Harrington – McQuaid

Sergei Bobrovsky starts for the Blue Jackets, backed up by one of Joonas Korpisalo or Keith Kinkaid – the Jackets are carrying three goaltenders, because they can. The expected scratches are Dean Kukan, Marcus Hannikainen and Eric Robinson the extras. Ryan Dzingel missed practice yesterday but should play. If he doesn’t go, likely Robinson slots in on the fourth line and Dubinsky would move up.

Few teams made more big moves at the trade deadline than Columbus, adding Kinkaid, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. But they have yet to go on a run with their revamped group, wobbling just around the .500 mark since their adds. They’re a deep, talented group, and if things click for them they could be a formidable group in the post-season.

The Numbers

Wins 44 40
Points 95 84
Adjusted Corsi 53.8% 50.1%
Power Play 21.3% 15.0%
Penalty Kill 79.9% 84.6%

Injury Report

The Flames are without James Neal, who’s close to a return.

The Blue Jackets are without Nick Foligno (personal) and Ryan Murray

Season Series

This is the second of two annual meetings. The Flames won a wild 9-6 game in Columbus earlier this season.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Blue Jackets 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.