Calgary Flames Game Day 54: Returning home to host the Sharks (7pm MT)

Photo credit:Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
2 months ago
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After four games away from home, and about 10 days off before that, the Calgary Flames (25-23-5, 55 points) are back at home! And they’re beginning a lengthy stretch of mostly home games when they host the San Jose Sharks (14-33-5, 33 points), who are playing the back-half of a back-to-back with travel. Is this a trap game for the Flames against a lowly opponent after a long road trip? Or is it a scheduled win for the home side?
The broadcast begins at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames opened as -350 favourites against the Sharks on Betway.

The Flames

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Kuzmenko
Zary – Kadri – Pospisil
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Schwindt – Rooney – Duehr
Hanifin – Tanev
Weegar – Andersson
Kylington – Pachal
It sounds like Dustin Wolf starts for the Flames, backed up by Jacob Markstrom. The projected extras are Jordan Oesterle and Dennis Gilbert. Jakob Pelletier is expected to miss the game, but he’s not expected to miss much time after a hit from Jacob Trouba on Saturday. Dan Vladar skated today at an optional morning skate, but isn’t eligible to be activated from the injury reserve quite yet.
The Flames are, quite simply, playing some damn fine hockey. They’re rolling lines, they’re using all of their players well, and everybody seems to be performing very well. It helps that they’re getting very good goaltending, but a lot of parts of their game are working nicely right now, more parts than at any other time this season. They’re coming back from a long road trip, which can be a bit of a trap in the first game back, but they’re also seemingly returning home with a ton of swagger.
This is the first home game in a stretch between now and March 5 that sees the Flames play seven of eight games at home – and the lone road game is in Edmonton. If the Flames are going to make a push, or at least make life interesting for the rest of the teams in the playoff race, it’s either going to be now or it’s just not going to happen this season.

The Sharks

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Zetterlund – Granlund – Duclair
Barabanov – Eklund – Kunin
Hoffman – Sturm – MacDonald
Bailey – Carpenter – Zadina
Ferraro – Rutta
Vlasic – Emberson
Burroughs – Addison
Mackenzie Blackwood is the projected starter in net, backed up by Kaapo Kahkonen, who was busy in Winnipeg and only allowed one goal on Wednesday. Wednesday’s extra skaters were Kevin Labanc and Nikita Okhotiuk. We’ll see if the Sharks make any changes.
Let’s call a spade a spade here, friends: the Sharks aren’t very good this season. No team has scored fewer goals for. No team has allowed more goals against. Their possession underlyings aren’t great. Their power play isn’t all that good. Their penalty kill is lousy. They’re frequently out-shot. They’re missing tons of bodies due to injury.
If the Flames fancy themselves a playoff team, or anything close to it, this is a game they need to win.
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Unavailable players

The Flames are without Dillon Dube, A.J. Greer, Dan Vladar and Jakob Pelletier.
The Sharks are without Tomas Hertl, Henry Thrun, Matt Benning, Givani Smith and Logan Couture.

The numbers

55 (.519)Points (%)33 (.317)

Head to head

Believe it or not, this is the first time these teams have met this season. It’s the first of three games between them. They’ll meet twice more in April: once in Calgary and once in San Jose.

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