The local sports team faces an important test in their quest to become a contender. The Calgary Flames (34-15-7, 75 points) are hoping to bounce back from a close loss on Tuesday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning (37-13-6, 80 points) at the Saddledome tonight. The Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, and they’re more or less what the rest of the National Hockey League hopes to be when they grow up. Can the Flames beat the champs? Or will this be a learning experience for the locals?
The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT. Catch all the action on Sportsnet West or Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
@Johnny Gaudreau – @Elias Lindholm – @Matthew Tkachuk
@Blake Coleman – @Mikael Backlund – @Trevor Lewis
@Andrew Mangiapane – @Adam Ruzicka – @Tyler Toffoli
@Milan Lucic – @Sean Monahan – @Dillon Dube
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@Noah Hanifin – @Rasmus Andersson
@Oliver Kylington – @Chris Tanev
@Nikita Zadorov – @Erik Gudbranson
@Jacob Markstrom is slated to start after @Daniel Vladar started against Washington on Tuesday. The expected extras are @Michael Stone, @Brad Richardson and @Brett Ritchie. The lines get reshuffled a bit, returning to Monday’s configuration after Dillon Dube spent Tuesday night with Mangiapane and Ruzicka. Head coach Darryl Sutter is still looking for some traction with his bottom three lines and he continues to tweak, tinker and shuffle. (Trevor Lewis that high up the rotation is A Choice, but he’s quietly had a very nice season and his defensive play has earned him a ton of trust from Sutter.)
The Flames didn’t get drubbed by the Capitals on Tuesday, but they looked tired – playing their fifth game over eight days in March – and they made a bunch of mental mistakes in their own zone that led to scoring chances and goals. (Make a puck brainfart with Alex Ovechkin in your zone and life will turn out poorly for you, unfortunately.) They’ll hope to be a bit more energetic and rely on their structure after getting a bit scrambly on Tuesday.
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Per Hockey Reference, the Flames will be looking to rack up their 1,800th win in franchise history. Blake Coleman welcomes his old team to his new home, too.

The Lightning

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
@Anthony Cirelli – @Brayden Point – @Nikita Kucherov
@Alex Killorn – @Steven Stamkos – @Ondrej Palat
@Patrick Maroon – @Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – @Corey Perry
@Mathieu Joseph – @Ross Colton – @Taylor Raddysh
@Victor Hedman – @Jan Rutta
@Ryan McDonagh – @Erik Cernak
@Mikhail Sergachev – @Zach Bogosian
We’re expecting @Andrei Vasilevskiy to start for Tampa, backed up by @Brian Elliott. Their active extras are @Boris Katchouk and @Cal Foote.
The Lightning are a model team. The worse thing you can say about them is they don’t really have any cap space. But they’ve had two parades and have a team that’s deep and talented, so it’s hard to really argue with their approach. Their “weak spot” is arguably their fourth line, but their top six is unreal, their blueline is unreal, and their goaltending is unreal.
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They are a very, very good hockey team.

The numbers

Calgary
Tampa Bay
Wins
34
37
Points (%)
75 (.670)
80 (.714)
Adjusted Corsi For
57.0%
51.5%
Expected Goals For
55.5%
53.4%
Power Play
23.0%
20.8%
Penalty Kill
85.0%
80.3%

Unfit to play

The Flames are healthy.
The Lightning are healthy. They’re technically without Brent Seabrook, who’s on LTIR but has never played a game for the franchise.

When last we met

These clubs met in Florida back in January. The Flames lost 4-1 to Tampa and weren’t awful, but they were lacking a bit of oomph in their game.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest:

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