For the first time in 22 months, the Calgary Flames (13-4-5, 31 points) are headed to California! On Thursday evening, in the first of four consecutive games in the Pacific time zone, they visit the Los Angeles Kings (9-8-4, 22 points) at Staples Center for what should prove to be a tight-checking, physical 60+ minutes of Pacific Division hockey.
It’s a late game tonight, even by west coast standards. This game gets rolling at 8:30 p.m. MT. You can catch the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Yesterday’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Coleman – Backlund – Mangiapane
Dube – Monahan – Pitlick
Lucic – Richardson – Lewis
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Tanev
Zadorov – Gudbranson
We’re expecting Jacob Markström to start for the Flames, backed up by Dan Vladar (who presumably plays in Anaheim on Friday night). The projected extras are Michael Stone, Juuso Välimäki and Adam Ruzicka.
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It’s a homecoming for former Kings head coach Darryl Sutter and three former Kings players – Milan Lucic, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis – who all won Stanley Cups with that franchise in the past. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of welcome the quartet gets from the Kings faithful.
The Flames have been superb this season, but it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the speed and physicality of the Kings.

The Kings

Yesterday’s lines via Daily Faceoff:
Kempe – Kopitar – Brown
Iafallo – Danault – Arvidsson
Moore – Andersson – Kupari
Grundstrom – Lizotte – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Edler – Roy
Bjornfot – Durzi
Cal Peterson for the Kings, backed up by Jonathan Quick. Their projected extras are Olli Maatta and Kale Clague. Brendan Lemieux is currently suspended for biting Matthew Tkachuk’s little brother, Brady, over the weekend.
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The Kings have dealt with injuries and inconsistency at times this season, but when they’ve been healthy and on their game they’ve been very much what you would expect them to be. Their blueline group is a bit lean and their forward group is really missing Quinton Byfield, but they’re fast, smart and play a strong two-way game. The Flames will need to be engaged from puck drop if they want to get two points from this match-up.

The numbers

Calgary
Los Angeles
Wins
13
9
Points (%)
31 (.705)
22 (.524)
Adjusted Corsi For
57.7%
51.1%
Expected Goals For
55.0%
48.7%
Power Play
24.6%
18.3%
Penalty Kill
87.0%
76.5%

Unfit to play

The Flames are without Brett Ritchie.
The Kings are without Quinton Byfield, Andreas Athanasiou and Sean Walker.

When last we met

These clubs haven’t played each other since Feb. 2020, when the Flames visited Staples Center and lost 5-3. Alexander Yelesin made his NHL debut and Elias Lindholm scored two goals.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:
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