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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Flames Playoff Game Day: Looking to advance in Game 6 against Dallas (7:30pm MT, CBC/SN)

It’s a potential elimination game in Texas. The Calgary Flames (3-2; 1st place, Pacific Division) head back to the heart of Texas to play the Dallas Stars (2-3; 1st wildcard seed, Western Conference) in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series. The stakes are pretty clear; the Flames can advance to the second round with a victory, while the Stars need to win to force a deciding Game 7 on Sunday night. Can the Flames close the lid on the Stars?

The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. MT. You can catch the game on CBC and Sportnet’s national feed in Canada (with Rick Ball and Greg Millen), TNT in the United States (with Brendan Burke and Shane Hnidy), and over the airwaves on Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias)!

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Johnny GaudreauElias LindholmMatthew Tkachuk
Andrew MangiapaneMikael BacklundTyler Toffoli
Dillon DubeCalle JarnkrokBlake Coleman
Milan LucicTrevor Lewis – (Brett Ritchie or rotating)

Noah HanifinRasmus Andersson
Oliver KylingtonChris Tanev
Nikita ZadorovErik Gudbranson
(Michael Stone)

Jacob Markstrom [3-2, 1.21 GAA, .952 SV%] starts in net, backed up by Daniel Vladar. The scratches are expected to be goaltender Adam Werner, blueliner Connor Mackey, and forwards Ryan Carpenter and Adam Ruzicka, and either Michael Stone or Brett Ritchie. Once again, head coach Darryl Sutter offered zero hints regarding whether the team makes any lineup changes, so we’re presuming that they’ll go with the same 11 forwards/seven blueliner configuration that led to wins in Games 4 and 5.

The Flames have generally played fairly well in this series, but four of their past six periods (all of Game 4 and the third period of Game 5) have been just excellent. They’ll obviously need to weather the storm early against a desperate Stars team, but they’ve shown the ability to defend well and counter-punch in this series. One more good effort will earn them a date with Edmonton or Los Angeles next week.

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Nine players that we expect to play for the Flames tonight haven’t won a best-of-seven series in the NHL: Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Erik Gudbranson, Michael Stone, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane. Keep your eyes out for Lindholm and Mangiapane in particular: if either of them have a big game, it could be huge for the Flames’ hopes of advancing.

The Stars

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Michael RafflRoope HintzJoe Pavelski
Jason Robertson – Jamie BennTyler Seguin
Jacob PetersonVladislav NamestnikovMarian Studenic
Joel KivirantaRadek FaksaLuke Glendening

Ryan SuterMiro Heiskanen
Esa LindellJohn Klingberg
Joel Hanley – Jani Hakanpaa

Jake Oettinger [2-3, 1.63 GAA, .956 SV%] starts for the Stars, backed up by Scott Wedgewood. The scratches are expected to be goalie Adam Scheel, defencemen Andrej Sekera and Thomas Harley, and forwards Alexander Radulov and Denis Gurianov (plus a whole slew of Black Aces recalled from the AHL’s Texas Stars). There appear to be no changes from their Game 5 lineup.

It’s hard to really criticize the Stars too much for their performances in the first five games of this series. They’ve been good, but the Flames have been better at key times. Dallas head coach Rick Bowness put it succinctly after Game 5: the Flames had another gear they kicked their game into in the third period, and Dallas couldn’t match it. Expect the Stars to rely on the same style of play that’s brought them thus far. They’ll try to score first, keep the Flames to the outside of the ice, and grind the game out.

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If this turns into a game with a lot of scoring chances, that’ll play into the Flames’ hands.

The numbers

Calgary Dallas
Wins 3 2
Adjusted Corsi For 60.8% 39.2%
Expected Goals For 58.4% 41.6%
Power Play 10.5% 10.0%
Penalty Kill 90.0% 89.5%

Unfit to play

The Flames are without Sean Monahan.

The Stars are without Braden Holtby.

When last we met

The Flames won two out of three meetings in the regular season – their lone loss was in overtime – and they’ve won three out of five meetings in the post-season.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:

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