After two days off, the Calgary Flames (7-1-3, 17 points) are back in action tonight as they begin a very, very busy stretch involving nine games in 15 days (in eight cities). They begin this gauntlet with the fifth and final game of their current homestand against the San Jose Sharks (6-4-1, 13 points), my cousin’s favourite team.
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on television via Sportsnet One (with Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey) or on radio via Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Coleman – Backlund – Pitlick
Lucic – Dube – Mangiapane
Richardson – Monahan – Lewis
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Tanev
Zadorov – Gudbranson
It was an optional morning skate, but all evidence points to no lineup changes for the locals. So presumably Jacob Markström starts, backed up by Dan Vladar. The projected extras are Walker Duehr, Juuso Välimäki and Michael Stone.
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The Flames are off to a really hot start, if you forgive the pun, and they’re among the top teams in the Western Conference. They haven’t played perfect hockey, but they’ve played smart, structured, composed hockey, and they’ve been able to make adjustments in games when they’ve stumbled out of the gate.
If the Flames have a flaw right now, it may be that they’re a tad top-heavy offensively, as their top trio of Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm are easily their most offensively potent unit.

The Sharks

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Bonino – Couture – Dahlen
Balcers – Hertl – Barabanov
Cogliano – Weatherby – N.Merkley
Gadjovich – Pederson – Leonard
Ferraro – Burns
Kniazev – Meloche
Megna – R.Merkley
Adin Hill starts for the Sharks, backed up by James Reimer. The projected extras appear to be Santeri Hatakka, Joel Kellman and Alexander Chmelevski. Probably.
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The Sharks are dealing with COVID-19 issues, which have taken a bite out of their line-up. They initially powered through it, but they’ve recently lost two in a row (one via shootout). Expectations aren’t high right now, but they’re a scrappy bunch that win games by out-working their opposition.

The numbers

Calgary
San Jose
Wins
7
6
Points (%)
17 (.750)
13 (.591)
Adjusted Corsi For
57.5%
46.1%
Expected Goals For
54.5%
45.3%
Power Play
26.2%
22.2%
Penalty Kill
85.3%
89.3%

Unfit to play

The Flames are without Brett Ritchie.
The Sharks are without a ton of guys, primarily due to COVID-19 protocols: Nikolai Knyzhov, Matt Nieto, Erik Karlsson, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, Jacob Middleton, Radim Simek, Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier. Oh, and Evander Kane, too.

When last we met

The last time the Flames played San Jose was in February 2020, when they won 6-2 in San Jose.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest: