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Flames at Sharks Preview

Thearon W. Henderson

The Calgary Flames continue their roadtrip tonight at the HP Pavilion, facing the San Jose Sharks in what will likely be a much calmer affair than the recent barn fight against the Canucks.

Chances are Hartley won't try and stir anything up like he did just a few nights ago, and it helps that his counterpart in San Jose, Todd McLellan is a much calmer person than Tortorella, but there will still be those watching to see if Hartley tries to justify his starting the fourth line against Vancouver as a "hockey move" by repeating it again tonight.

No, if Hartley has any brains, he'll play a conservative game against the Sharks and tell the dancing bears at the bottom of the roster to keep it together. Even with their current injury woes, San Jose is too skilled and too smart to fall for any stunts.

Who's who?

With a January record of 2-6-1, Calgary has been, well, bad. The only wins Calgary's earned this month were a 2-0 win against Carolina (also a very bad team) and a 4-3 win against Colorado, who isn't bad, but occasionally has bad goaltending. The recent tactics of Calgary have been much discussed, but beyond the thuggishness, Calgary's recent play boils down to "Let Mikael Backlund be awesome, everyone else can be mediocre to terrible". Oh, and Cammalleri was just put on the IR, so Calgary has that working against them too.

The Sharks, on the other hand, are good. This month they've compiled a record of 6-3-0, and have won the last three. The most recent loss was against a pretty good Bruins team, so it's hard to begrudge them that. As Derek from Fear the Fin points out in the Five Questions, the Sharks depth has been hit hard by injuries, so if Calgary's going to win a game against San Jose, this is the game to do so.

What'll it take to win?

Line matching- pure and simple. Calgary has to survive the onslaught of San Jose's top six and get some good matchups against the weak bottom six. Of course, Hartley hasn't looked super intelligent on the line matching subject lately, but we can dream.

If Backlund can control the puck against Thornton et al, and even turn it into some points, that'll be a huge plus for the Flames, but the problem is the rest of the roster will get eaten alive by Pavelski and the Shark's second line. There's a very good chance this game will get very ugly.

Questions to be answered

Has Brent Burns returned to his neanderthal roots?

Is Bob Hartley capable of learning?

SJ is winning 4-0, is that a Seinfeld rerun on the next channel up?

Will McGrattan and Westgarth actually contribute to the game in any meaningful way?

Does McGrattan write sad poetry on the plane?

Puck Drop

TIME: The puck drops tonight at 6:30 AST, 8:30 MST, and 0330Z.

TV: I have no idea what channel it's showing on in Canada. Sportsnet is a thing, right? Maybe that?

SEASON SERIES: 2-0 in favor of San Jose, with one of those wins coming in OT. The other was 6-3.