The second reign of Darryl Sutter behind the bench begins tonight for the Calgary Flames (11-23-3, 25 points) as they face the red-hot Montreal Canadiens (12-6-7, 31 points). The Flames are trying to reel in a playoff spot and they begin this pair of games six points back of the Habs, with Montreal holding a game in hand. Can the return of Sutter right the ship immediately and get them back into the win column?
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet West or on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Mangiapane
Bennett – Ryan – Leivo
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Valimaki – Nesterov
Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich. The projected active extra is Dominik Simon, while Joakim Nordstrom is dealing with a suspected lower body injury after blocking a shot. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo and Derek Ryan, who will be activated for the game.
It’s the first game as Calgary Flames head coach for Darryl Sutter since the Flames bowed out in the opening round of the 2006 playoffs. Now, nearly 15 years later, he rides back into town trying to inject some life (and consistency) into a team that’s long on talent but just can’t seem to put together three consistent periods. Let’s hope the Jolly Rancher can change those habits.
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Oh, and the Flames are wearing their swank black jerseys tonight.

The Canadiens

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson
Toffoli – Kotkaniemi – Gallagher
Tatar – Danault – Armia
Byron – Evans – Perry
Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Kulak – Romanov
Jake Allen starts for Montreal, backed up by Carey Price (who played last night). Their extras are Artturi Lehkonen and Victor Mete. Their taxi squad is Charlie Lindgren, Xavier Ouellet, Laurent Dauphin, Michael Frolik. We’ll see what changes they make from the team that beat Vancouver late last night, but with Ben Chiarot out presumably either Mete or Ouellet comes in. (The game started at 9 p.m. MT and finished at 11:38 p.m. MT, and then they traveled to Calgary.)
The Habs haven’t lost a game in regulation this month and they have points in six consecutive games (3-0-3). They changed up their coach, but have found some consistency and just play a smart, structured, even-keel game. They’re deep and talented and a tough out on most nights.
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Jeff Petry is quietly having the kind of season that recalls Mark Giordano’s Norris Trophy year a couple campaigns ago.

The numbers

Calgary
Montreal
Wins
11
11
Points (%)
25 (.481)
29 (.604)
Adjusted Corsi For
50.4%
56.8%
Expected Goals For
49.5%
55.7%
Power Play
21.1%
22.7%
Penalty Kill
79.8%
77.5%

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 an 11-12-3 record, 25 points, and a .481 points percentage. They need 40 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season with 30 games remaining, which would translate to a .667 points percentage over the remaining games.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are healthy.
The Canadiens are healthy.

When last we met

The Flames and Habs have split their first two meetings of the season. Including tonight, they’ll meet seven more times.

Know thy enemy

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