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Flames Game Day 35: Sam Bennett returns to Calgary (7pm MT, SN West)

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Photo credit:Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
10 months ago
The prodigal son returns! The highest-drafted player in club history, Sam Bennett, returns to town as the Calgary Flames (17-11-6, 40 points) host the red-hot Florida Panthers (26-7-5, 57 points)! The Panthers are a powerhouse these days, and they clobbered Columbus 9-2 in their last outing. Can the Flames fare better than they did in their prior meeting?
This game gets going at 7 p.m. MT. You can catch the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Coleman – Backlund – Mangiapane
Lucic – Monahan – Dube
Lewis – Richardson – Ritchie
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Tanev
Zadorov – Gudbranson
Jacob Markstrom starts, backed up by Dan Vladar. Michael Stone is the active extra, with Tyler Pitlick out day-to-day with an injury, while Adam Ruzicka is on the taxi squad.
The Flames have lost four in a row! And eight of their last 10 (albeit one was in overtime). Sure, they’ve had a tough schedule in that span, and sure, they had to deal with a team-wide COVID outbreak that resulted in 10 postponements and 19 days between games. Their routines and momentum were disrupted. But eventually, they’ll need to bounce back.
Head coach Darryl Sutter questioned the team’s emotion level after Thursday night’s loss to Ottawa, citing it in four consecutive answers to four consecutive media questions. The proverbial gauntlet has been thrown down to his players: can they respond a play a more engaged, cohesive game than we’ve seen lately? They will need to be at their best against Florida.

The Panthers

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Verhaeghe – Barkov – Reinhart
Huberdeau – Bennett – Duclair
Vatrano – Lundell – Mamin
Lomberg – Luostarinen – Hornqvist
Weegar – Ekblad
Forsling – Gudas
Juolevi – Montour
Spencer Knight is expected to start for the Fancy Cats, backed up by Sergei Bobrovsky. The projected extras are Joe Thornton and Lucas Carlsson, with Evan Fitzpatrick on the taxi squad. Mason Marchment comes into this game, but it’s unclear who he bumps to the press box.
By a lot of metrics, the Panthers are the best (or among the best) in the NHL. They’re structured, fast, and they’re able to beat hockey teams in a lot of different ways. The Flames were very defensively loose against the Panthers when they met last, and the Flames were punished for it. Can the Flames impose a structured game and try to throttle Florida’s speed and creativity?
The Flames have reportedly prepared a video package for Bennett, who was the fourth-overall pick in 2014 and played for the Flames for the better part of seven seasons.

The numbers

CalgaryFlorida
Wins1726
Points (%)40 (.588)57 (.750)
Adjusted Corsi For55.2%57.3%
Expected Goals For53.2%55.7%
Power Play21.2%19.7%
Penalty Kill84.2%81.2%

Unfit to play

The Flames are without Tyler Pitlick.
The Panthers are without Noel Acciari, Jonas Johansson and Markus Nutivaara.

When last we met

The Panthers thumped the Flames on their last road trip.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:

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