After coming out of their COVID-19 pause with back-to-back wins over a couple of the National Hockey League’s lesser lights, the Calgary Flames (17-7-6, 40 points) face a big test on Tuesday night – the first of three big tests – when they visit the Florida Panthers (21-7-4, 46 points) in scenic Sunrise, Florida. It’s the first meeting between these clubs in nearly two full years!
This game gets going at 5 p.m. MT. You can catch the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Lucic – Backlund – Coleman
Mangiapane – Dube – Pitlick
Richardson – Monahan – Lewis
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Tanev
Zadorov – Gudbranson
We’re expecting Jacob Markström to start in net, backed up by Dan Vladar. The projected extras are Michael Stone and Brett Ritchie. (Adam Ruzicka and Byron Froese are on the taxi squad.)
The Flames have won two in a row. They’re five points behind Vegas for the Pacific Division lead with five games in hand. The Flames are in a good position to take advantage of these games in hand, but they’re also in a position to see what strengths and weaknesses they have heading into the meat of the season’s schedule as they begin a span of three games in four nights (in three different cities) against three of the league’s best teams in Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina.
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Do the Flames have what it takes to hang with the East’s big dogs? And if they don’t, this is arguably the ideal time – with the team fully healthy, albeit dealing with players recovering from COVID at different rates – since if they identify deficiencies now, they can deal with them before the trade deadline hits. It’s a series of measuring stick games that arguably come at a great time for the Flames.

The Panthers

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Verhaeghe – Barkov – Maxim
Huberdeau – Lundell – Duclair
Vatrano – Luostarinen – Tippett
Thornton – Lomberg – Hornqvist
Weegar – Ekblad
Forsling – Gudas
Carlsson – Montour
It sounds like Sergei Bobrovsky starts, backed up by Jonas Johansson. It doesn’t sound like the Panthers are carrying any extra healthy bodies based on the number they’re missing right now, though they’re carrying Spencer Knight, Chase Priskie and Matt Kierstad on their taxi squad.
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The Panthers are playing really well, despite missing a bunch of players for various reasons. Most recently, Sam Bennett has been suspended for three games and Sam Reinhart and Mason Marchment have been placed on the COVID-19 protocol. So the Panthers are dipping into the depth a bit and hoping they can keep chugging along. We’re missing out on the Sam Bennett Revenge Game storylines, but if he dresses tonight it’ll be Ryan Lomberg’s first game ever against the Flames.
Even missing a few key players, the Panthers are a really fast, smart, sharp hockey club.

The numbers

Calgary
Florida
Wins
16
21
Points (%)
40 (.667)
46 (.719)
Adjusted Corsi For
56.6%
57.1%
Expected Goals For
53.6%
56.4%
Power Play
23.6%
17.1%
Penalty Kill
85.4%
80.8%

Unfit to play

The Flames are healthy.
The Panthers are without Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara, Olli Juolevi, Sam Bennett, Mason Marchment and Sam Reinhart.

When last we met

These teams haven’t played in a long while. They last met in March 2020, when the Flames beat the Panthers 3-0 at the ‘Dome.
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Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:

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