After playing four of their previous five games against the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames (6-5-1, 13 points) are now shifting to a new focus: the Vancouver Canucks (6-10-0, 12 points). The Flames will play four in a row against their most common foe, including three in a row in the relatively warm weather in scenic Vancouver. It’s a big opportunity for the Flames to get some traction in the (Scotia NHL) North Division.
The puck drops just after 8 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet West or on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
For a view from the other side, visit the fine folks over at Canucks Army!

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett
Lucic – Backlund – Mangiapane
Nordstrom – Froese – Leivo
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Valimaki – Nesterov
Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich. The active extras are Brett Ritchie and Dominik Simon. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Connor Mackey, Oliver Kylington, Glenn Gawdin, Zac Rinaldo and Buddy Robinson.
The Flames have won two in a row (and three of five in February), and have played two largely strong games in a row – the first period against Edmonton notwithstanding. Flames players frequently talk about how talented the team is – at least on paper – and have bemoaned their lack of consistency, a hallmark of the team over the past few seasons. If they can find a way to play consistent 60 minute games, suddenly the Flames seem like a much different (and impressive) team.
We’ll find out a heck of a lot about their fortitude over the next week with four games against a struggling Canucks squad.

The Canucks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Boeser – Pettersson – Miller
Pearson – Horvat – Hoglander
Bailey – Gaudette – Sutter
Roussel – Beagle – MacEwen
Edler – Schmidt
Juolevi – Myers
Hughes – Benn
Tkatcher Demko starts for the Canucks, backed up by Braden Holtby. Their active extras are Jalen Chatfield, Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson. Their taxi squad is Michael DiPietro, Guillaume Brisebois, Jack Rathbone, Brogan Rafferty and Marc Michaelis. (Eriksson likely gets moved to the taxi squad after clearing waivers this morning.)
The Canucks have lost five in a row, and while they did so against some good opposition in Toronto and Montreal, they were largely out-worked and out-played. This upcoming four games is probably even bigger for them as it is for the Flames, as losing four games while the remainder of the North Division creeps along could be death for their fading playoff hopes.

The numbers

Points (%)
13 (.542)
12 (.375)
Adjusted Corsi For
Expected Goals
Power Play
Penalty Kill

The drive to 65

If you peruse most standings projections, it becomes apparent that 65 points probably gets you into the playoffs. That’s a 32-23-1 record, or thereabouts, or a .580 points percentage.
The Flames have a 6-5-1 record, 13 points, and a .542 points percentage. They need 52 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season, the equivalent of a .591 points percentage over the remaining 44 games.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are without Derek Ryan.
The Canucks are without Tyler Motte, Travis Hamonic, Micheal Ferland and Jayce Hawryluk.

When last we met

The Flames beat Vancouver twice about a month ago by 3-0 and 5-2 scores.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest: