After their 5-2 smack-down of Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night, the Flames hope to continue their four-game winning streak at home and their unbeaten in regulation streak against Eastern conference opponents tonight when the Maple Leafs come to town.
The Leafs, who are also dealing with a injuries, are 6-4-0 in their past ten games and 9-4-0 on the season, and will play the second game of an Alberta back-to-back tonight after shutting down the Oilers 4-0 at Rexall Place on Tuesday evening. Toronto's $4.2M man Tyler Bozak will sit out tonight's contest with a lower-body injury, as will Nikolai Kulemin and Mark Fraser. The chronically injured Joffrey Lupul returned to the lineup last night after suffering a foot injury earlier in the season, and David Clarkson is back with the team after serving the remainder of his 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during a pre-season brawl against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Flames fired 33 shots on goal in their win over the Capitals on Saturday night, and it looks as if they have a good chance to repeat those totals tonight. The Leafs are second last in the league in shots allowed per game with an average of 35.5 shots against. The Flames are sitting in the middle of the pack after 11 games, as Joey MacDonald and Karri Ramo have seen an average of almost 31 pucks directed their way per game.
James Reimer faced 43 pucks in last night's contest versus the Oilers, and his team is also near the bottom of the barrel in terms of generating shots on their opposition's goal with an average of just under 27 through 13 games thus far.
Without Lee Stempniak and Mark Giordano to man the point, the Flames will have to take up a shooting and scoring by committee approach tonight, and will likely be leaning heavily on former Leafs Matt Stajan and Joe Colborne, who are slated to centre Calgary's first and second lines, respectively. They'll have a heck of a time containing Phil Kessel, who has 10 points in his last five games, including four in last night's win over Edmonton despite playing just over 15 minutes.
Bob Hartley will almost certainly have to tinker with his lineup tonight if he hopes to keep the likes of Kessel and Nazem Kadri from doing too much damage on the score sheet, and despite Colborne's much improved effort of late, I doubt Mikael Backlund lasts long on the fourth line. The same likely goes for the Flames' defence pairings, which currently pit Chris Butler and TJ Brodie on the first pairing against former Flame Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson. The Flames will also get to see defender Morgan Rielly in action, one of the other rookies who received a vote of confidence to stay up with his respective NHL team for the remainder of this season.
Projected Lines and Pairings (via The Fan):
Tim Jackman and Chris Breen (abdomen) are scratches for the Flames, the former presumably because Colton Orr being in the lineup for the Leafs somehow necessitated Brian McGrattan's inclusion in tonight's game. In the spirit of Brian Burke: Truculence, or something.