Calgary Flames Game Day 34: Getting ready for the holidays in Hollywood (8pm MT)

Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
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It’s the final game before the Christmas break in the schedule, and the Calgary Flames (14-14-5, 33 points) have clawed their way back to the .500 mark and have points in each of their past five outings (3-0-2). But if they want to head home for the holidays on a happy note, they’ll need to be at their very best as they face the Los Angeles Kings (18-7-4, 40 points), one of the Western Conference’s very best teams.
The broadcast begins at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West, CBC, and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames are +135 underdogs against the Kings on Betway.

The Flames

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Mangiapane – Lindholm – Sharangovich
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman
Greer – Ruzicka – Dube
Weegar – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Gilbert – DeSimone
We’re projecting Jacob Markstrom to start in goal, backed up by Dan Vladar. The projected extras are Jordan Oesterle and Walker Duehr. We’re not expecting any changes from the lineup of a team that’s riding a decent little streak lately.
This is the 15th and final game of what’s been termed “the gauntlet” run, a string of games where the Flames were scheduled to play a lot of good teams in fairly rapid-fire succession. We’ll dig into what we’ve learned about the hockey club over the past month after this run is fully over, but they’re 7-5-2 through 14 games so far. They’re guaranteed to finish this meat-grinder of a schedule over .500. That’s pretty impressive.
If you’re wondering if the Flames are good enough to make the playoffs as currently constructed: yeah, they probably are. If you throw out their awful October, they’re playing pretty consistently at a playoff pace. If you’re wondering if they can beat good teams once they make the playoffs, their recently close losses to Vegas and Colorado suggest maybe not. The Kings are a big test, and a strong performance against them could make some of the doubters start to believe a bit.

The Kings

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Moore
Laferriere – Dubois – Kaliyev
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Lewis
Anderson – Doughty
Moverare – Roy
Englund – Spence
After splitting a back-to-back set, we’re projecting Cam Talbot to start in net, with David Rittich backing up. (All things being equal, Talbot has carved out a spot as the Kings’ #2 goalie.) The extras for the Kings are Tobias Bjornfot and Calgary product Jaret Anderson-Dolan.
The Kings are a really good hockey team. Structurally and spiritually, they’re what the Flames probably aspire towards becoming. They’ve won Cups. They’ve held onto a few key core veterans – hey there, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty – and integrated some young players as they’ve gone. They’re a possession monster. They’re a strong defensive team. They score just enough to win most of the time.
This is a measuring stick game for the Flames in the Pacific Division.
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Unavailable players

The Flames are without Oliver Kylington, Jakob Pelletier and Kevin Rooney.
The Kings are without Viktor Arvidsson, Pheonix Copley and Vladislav Gavrikov.

The numbers

33 (.500)Points (%)40 (.690)

Head to head

This is the first of four meetings between these teams this season. They’ll face each other once in each of February, March and April.

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