Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 79: The battle for the Pacific crown (6pm MT, SN West)

Welcome to the biggest game of the season (so far).

The Calgary Flames (48-23-7, 103 points) are in Silicon Valley to visit the San Jose Sharks (44-25-9, 97 points). The Flames have a six point cushion on the Sharks. If the Flames win – in any way, shape or form – they will capture top spot in the Pacific Division and Western Conference.

The puck drops at 6 p.m. on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames opened as a slight (+110) underdog on OddsShark’s moneyline.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Hamonic
Brodie – Prout

Don’t expect any significant changes from the Flames lineup that trounced Anaheim on Friday. Mike Smith starts, backed up by David Rittich. The scratches look to be Oscar Fantenberg, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone and Alan Quine. Sam Bennett is likely out tonight, but is expected to play potentially as soon as Monday night in Los Angeles.

The Flames have gotten past the “win and you’re in” point of playoff desperation. But they can clinch top spot in the West – and home ice in several rounds potentially – with a win tonight. Or potentially a win in any of their three remaining games after this. Or with a San Jose regulation loss in any of their remaining three games after this. The Flames have lots of options at their disposal, but the best one is probably beating the Sharks and ending the waiting game.

The Sharks

Last night’s lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Meier – Couture – Nyquist
Kane – Hertl – Donskoi
Sorensen – Thornton – Labanc
Gambrell – Goodrow – Haley

Vlasic – Burns
Dillon – Braun
Ryan – Heed

Since Martin Jones played last night, presumably Aaron Dell starts tonight. Their extra bodies last night were Jacob Middleton, Melker Karlsson and Lukas Radil.

The Sharks once were a powerhouse, but they’ve been very iffy lately. They’ve dropped seven of their last eight games, moving them from being a huge thorn in the Flames’ side to being destined for a first round match-up with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Sharks snapped a seven game losing skid last night in overtime against Vegas, but needed a big third period push to do it.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Sharks have left in the tank for tonight.

The Numbers

Wins 48 44
Points 103 97
Adjusted Corsi 54.2% 55.5%
Power Play 20.4% 24.2%
Penalty Kill 79.4% 79.6%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Sam Bennett.

The Sharks are without Erik Karlsson, Radem Simek and Joe Pavelski.

Season Series

This is the final regular season game between these two teams. The Sharks have won two of the previous three meetings. The lone Flames win was a wild 8-5 victory on New Year’s Eve.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Sharks Twitter follows for tonight:

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