For the seventh time this season, the Calgary Flames (16-18-3, 35 points) are playing one of their most bitter rivals, the Vancouver Canucks (16-18-3, 35 points). The Flames have slid down the standings since these teams last met, and now they’re tied in the standings with identical records. Neither team has realistic playoff ambitions, but the Canucks and Flames would probably be equally satisfied tanking each others’ dwindling post-season hopes. That’s the fun of a long-standing rivalry: it doesn’t take much to make 60 minutes of hockey a success.
The puck drops just after 8:30 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on Sportsnet West (and the national feed) or on Sportsnet 960 The Fan. It’s the latest start of the year, so put on some coffee!
For a view from the other side, visit the fine folks over at Canucks Army!

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Bennett
Nordstrom – Ryan- Dube
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev?
Nesterov – Stone? Valimaki?
Jacob Markstrom is tonight’s starter, backed up by David Rittich. According to our pal Pat Steinberg, Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki are back in tonight so Josh Leivo and a defenseman are out. Chris Tanev is a game-time decision, so his health will determine who comes out. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Oliver Kylington, Alex Petrovic, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo and Dominik Simon.
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The Flames are 5-6-0 through 11 games under Darryl Sutter. They seemed energized, structured and executed well in his first few games, but their execution has become a bit spotty of late and they’ve also become fairly unlucky as they’ve gotten a bit sloppier – they make a handful of mistakes with puck management per game, but they all seem to end up in their net.
The remainder of the season will likely be all about building habits and structures for next season – similar to how Sutter used the tail-end of 2002-03 – so the little things will be pretty big as the new bench boss seeks to cement his core pieces heading into next season.

The Canucks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Hoglander – Horvat – Boeser
Vesey – Miller – Virtanen
Motte – Sutter – Boyd
Roussel – Graovac – Hawryluk
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Edler – Schmidt
Hughes – Hamonic
Benn – Myers
Thatcher Demko starts for the Canucks, backed up by Braden Holtby. The Canucks are going to be without Adam Gaudette (due to a COVID-19 positive test) and waiver claim Travis Boyd looks to be rotating in. The projected extras look to be Jalen Chatfield, Marc Michaelis and Zack MacEwen. Their taxi squad is Michael DiPietro, Olli Juolevi, Ashton Sautner, Brogan Rafferty, Loui Eriksson and Tyler Graovac (who probably gets activated today).
The Canucks have been off for the better part of a week, enjoying some time off after a hectic schedule to this point. The big questions are how healthy they are – even independent of Gaudette’s COVID status and those implications – and how rusty they could be after a long layoff. Either way, the Canucks are a young, fast, skilled team and they’ll be a tough night at the office for a Flames group that does not score that much lately.
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The numbers

Calgary
Vancouver
Wins
16
16
Points (%)
35 (.473)
35 (.473)
Adjusted Corsi For
51.4%
46.6%
Expected Goals
51.7%
47.1%
Power Play
20.5%
19.8%
Penalty Kill
80.8%
78.6%

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 16-18-3 record, 35 points, and a .473 points percentage. They need 30 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season, the equivalent of a .789 points percentage over the remaining 19 games.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are healthy.
The Canucks are without Justin Bailey, Micheal Ferland, Elias Pettersson, Jay Beagle and Tanner Pearson. Adam Gaudette is on the COVID-19 protocol list after a positive test.

When last we met

The Flames have won four of six games against Vancouver this season. Their last meeting was a 5-1 loss back on Feb. 17 where the Flames didn’t look particularly great.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:
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