In tonight's matchup at the Saddledome in downtown Calgary, the Flames will play host to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. It will be the third and final matchup between the two clubs this season. Calgary won the first game in overtime, 3-2 on November 3rd, and the Blackhawks took the second, also 3-2, on November 27th.
The Flames are in the middle match of a five game homestand. They started out with two wins, a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday, and a 5-4 shootout win against the Nashville Predators on Friday. They'll go on to host the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday and the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
The Blackhawks will be playing in the first game of a seven game roadtrip. They'll continue after tonight's match with the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow, the Sharks on Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, the Anaheim Ducks on February 5th, the Phoenix Coyotes on th 7th, and the New York Rangers, after the Olympic break on the 27th. They won't appear in Chicago again until March 1st, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The last time these two faced off, the 17-4-4 Blackhawks were visiting the 8-11-4 Flames. Sean Monahan (9) and Matt Stajan (4) scored for the Flames, while Jiri Hudler assisted on both. Reto Berra stopped 27-of-30 shots in the 3-2 loss. Patrick Kane (14, 15) and Patrick Sharp (9) scored in the third period to stake a come-from-behind victory. Antti Raanta stopped 20-of-22 shots for Chicago. * Full Recap * Box Score
Blackhawks @ Flames Highlights 11/27/13 (via NHL)
Flames coach Bob Hartley spoke later about Chicago's comeback:
That was something we were trying to guard against because, No. 1, we know the firepower of that team. They did basically the same trick to the Vancouver Canucks a few nights ago. You make a few mistakes and they're so skilled, they'll make you pay for it. It's too bad because we played very well and we showed up to play.
Check out Second City Hockey for more Blackhawks.
In Calgary's last game, the Flames earned a 5-4 shootout win against the Predators. Eric Nystrom (8, 9, 10, 11) scored 1.3 hat tricks, but the Flames matched him with two from David Jones (7, 8) and goals from Mikael Backlund (9) and Mark Giordano (PP, 8). The Berra/Ramo combo stopped 21-of-25, while Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves. In the shootout, Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan each beat Dubnyk, while Roman Josi had the only successful attempt for the Preds. * Full Recap * Box Score
Predators @ Flames Highlights 01/24/14 (via NHL)
Flames rookie Sean Monahan talked about putting in a good effort for the home crowd:
It's huge. Obviously we want to win on home ice, especially. We have real passionate fans. We work hard every night for them and each other so I think coming out with these wins is huge and we've just got to keep moving forward with them.
On the Forecheck has your Predators.
In Chicago's last match, the Blackhawks scored 1:21 into the game on a Brandon Bollig (6) goal. They wouldn't score again, and the Winnipeg Jets used three third period goals (Blake Wheeler (20, 21) and Andrew Ladd (12)) to claim a win. Corey Crawford (18 saves) took the loss, and Al Montoya stopped 34-of-35 shots for the win. * Full Recap * Box Score
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who saw his team outshoot the Jets 18-2 in the first period, talked about the loss:
I think the first 40 [minutes], we gave up nothing. We get an unfortunate bounce right to their guy [Wheeler] and it's a 1-1 game. We made an uncharacteristic giveaway on the winning goal [by Ladd]. Tough loss for sure.
For more on Winnipeg, go to Arctic Ice Hockey.
Gametime: 7PM, MST
Season Series: Tied 1-1. This is the third of three matches this season.
All-Time Series: The Flames are 62-64-26-5 all-time against Chicago.
Calgary Flames: 18-27-7, .413, 43 points, on pace for 68 points. Sixth in the Pacific Division, 13th in the Western Conference, 28th in the NHL. Last five: L-O-L-W-W.
Chicago Blackhawks: 32-10-12, .704, 76 points, on pace for 115 points. First in the Central Division, second in the Western Conference, second in the NHL. Last five: W-W-O-L-L.
This Day in Flames History
Calgary is 8-8-5 on January 28th since their formation in 1973.
1973 - Flames 8, Sabres 5
1976 - Blackhawks 7, Flames 3
1977 - Flames 3, Rockies (New Jersey Devils) 3
1978 - Maple Leafs 7, Flames 5
1979 - Flames 7, Red Wings 2
1980 - Whalers (Carolina Hurricanes) 6, Flames 1
1985 - Flames 4, Oilers 3
1989 - Flames 5, Blackhawks 4, OT
1993 - Flames 2, Kings 1
1994 - Flames 2, Devils 2
1995 - Maple Leafs 2, Flames 1
1997 - Islanders 4, Flames 3
1998 - Flames 5, Ducks 2
1999 - Flames 6, Blackhawks 6
2000 - Red Wings 4, Flames 1
2002 - Flames 3, Wild 2, OT
2003 - Coyotes 4, Flames 3
2004 - Sharks 4, Flames 1
2007 - Blackhawks 4, Flames 3, OT
2009 - Flames 5, Sabres 2
2010 - Coyotes 3, Flames 2, SO
Games Played: Jiri Hudler, TJ Brodie, Chris Butler - 52
Goals: Sean Monahan - 14, Jiri Hudler, Mike Cammalleri - 13
Assists: Jiri Hudler - 27, Mark Giordano - 16, Kris Russell - 15
Points: Jiri Hudler - 40, Mark Giordano - 24, Mikael Backlund, Mike Cammalleri - 21
Shots-on-Goal: Lee Stempniak - 132, Mike Cammalleri - 118, Mikael Backlund - 99
Faceoffs: Matt Stajan (374-for-765) - 48.9%, Joe Colborne (203-for-424) - 47.9%, Mikael Backlund (379-for-808) - 46.9%
Hits: Lance Bouma - 98, David Jones - 88, Joe Colborne - 79
Blocked Shots: Chris Butler - 136, Kris Russell - 115, Ladislav Smid - 89
What to Watch For
The Blackhawks look great from top to bottom, but have taken home less than two points in each of their last three games. Statistically, they're weakest on the penalty kill, the one area where the Flames are least likely to take advantage. Still, these guys are amongst the best in the world, with the hardware, the all-star appearances, and the Olympic roster spots to prove it. It's easy to forget that Calgary is actually in position to take the season series tonight. I'd take the Flames against the spread if I were inclined to put money on the game. Tune in later for the GameThread live at 7PM MST, and go to Second City Hockey for news on the Blackhawks.