And now, back to hockey games that mean something! As fun as it is watching all-stars - especially Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau - set one another up, it's a bit more fun to watch a hockey game at, you know... normal speed. The Calgary Flames are hosting the Buffalo Sabres as the NHL returns to regular action. This is their second of two meetings for the season. The last time the Flames and Sabres played, the Sabres won, 4-3, thanks to two goals in the third period. That game was number three of Calgary's eight-game losing streak, a time that makes us all very sad and a time there's no need to revisit. Let's not let that happen tonight... Right Flames? Please?
No more losing streaks! Prior to the break, the Flames, and Joni Ortio, won four games in a row. Then, they went to Anaheim. The Flames never win in Anaheim. Ortio let in four goals on 11 shots and was pulled. While Mikael Backlund, Sean Monahan, and Joe Colborne all scored in the attempt to come back, the Flames are doomed to never win in Anaheim ever again, and ultimately fell 6-3, sunk by many early goals against. | Recap | Stats | Boxscore | Burn Anaheim to the ground:
Meanwhile, in Buffalo-land, the Sabres have lost 11 straight. No, seriously. Their last win came against the New York Islanders on Dec. 27, 2014: a whole month ago. The Sabres entered the third period down 3-0, and had an insane comeback with three third-period goals - included a shorthanded goal by Latvian all-star Zemgus Girgensons - to force a shootout and, ultimately, win. Since then, they've been outscored 49-16. They're really not a good team at all - they're worse than the Oilers! - and with both the Pacific Division and McEichel races relatively tight, it's honestly in both team's best interests for the Flames to win.
So... come on, Buffalo. Just lose that 12th straight game. It'll be okay, I promise. One day. Maybe? Hopefully the guys over at Die By The Blade, which you should totally visit for more Sabres information, by the way, are doing alright...
Game time: 7:00 p.m. MT, home sweet home
All-time record: For all the Sabres' struggles right now, historically, they've been a pretty good, if Cup-less, franchise. The Flames are behind them with a 35-46-16-3 record, so that one's going to take a couple of seasons to even out. Buffalo even has a +44 goal differential, which is... a lot. There's no need for that to go up any further. Let's have it go down! Yeah!
Common threads: Paul Byron is the lone survivor of the Robyn Regehr trade. He wormed his way into the NHL and refused to go back to the minors back in November 2013, and he's been a sneakily effective player this entire time. He was one of Buffalo's little guys, but then they went ahead and traded him, and also bought out Nathan Gerbe, and now they just have Tyler Ennis. Who is a very, very good player. He was taken one pick after Greg Nemisz in the 2008 NHL Draft! ... Hey, that's great...!
Approaching milestones: Back to the Mark Giordano countdown to 500 games! Tonight is the all-star's 497th NHL game.
On the Buffalo side of things, Sabres captain Brian Gionta is four points from 500. Don't let him get there. Matt Moulson is five points from 300; don't let him get there, either. Tyler Ennis is six points from 200, and Torey Mitchell is three points from 100. Absolutely no Sabres milestones need to be reached tonight.
Current records and leaders
|Calgary Flames||Buffalo Sabres|
|25-19-3: 53 points||14-30-3: 31 points|
|Pacific Division: 4th||Atlantic Division: 8th|
|Western Conference: 8th||Eastern Conference: 16th|
|Time on ice|
Defence: TJ Brodie (25:09 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:27 per game)
Defence: Tyler Myers (25:17 per game)
Forward: Zemgus Girgensons (19:03 per game)
Goals: Sean Monahan (15)
Assists: Mark Giordano (29)
Points: Mark Giordano (40)
Goals: Zemgus Girgensons (13)
Assists: Tyler Ennis (16)
Points: Tyler Ennis (28)
Shots on goal: Sean Monahan (118)
Shooting percentage: Matt Stajan (20.0%)
Shots on goal: Tyler Ennis (113)
Shooting percentage: Marcus Foligno (16.7%)
|Sean Monahan (49.5%, 1044 taken)||Zemgus Girgensons (44.5%, 764 taken)
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (42)
Hits: Lance Bouma (151)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (143)
Penalty minutes: Tyler Myers (51)
Hits: Nicholas Deslauriers (142)
Blocked shots: Josh Gorges (127)
|Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)|
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (47.4%, 47 GP)
Jiri Hudler (47.3%, 45 GP)
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (50.4%, 32 GP)
Johnny Gaudreau (48.7%, 46 GP)
Corsi for%: Brian Gionta (41.8%, 34 GP)
Tyson Strachan (40.3%, 24 GP)
Fenwick for%: Brian Gionta (42.4%, 34 GP)
Brian Flynn (41.6%, 38 GP)
Possible starting lineups
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Sean Monahan||Jiri Hudler|
|Mason Raymond||Josh Jooris||Joe Colborne|
|Lance Bouma||Mikael Backlund||David Jones|
|Brandon Bollig||Matt Stajan||Paul Byron|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Mark Giordano||TJ Brodie|
|Kris Russell||Dennis Wideman|
|Raphael Diaz||Deryk Engelland|
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Matt Moulson||Zemgus Girgensons||Tyler Ennis|
|Torey Mitchell||Brian Flynn||Brian Gionta|
|Drew Stafford||Cody Hodgson||Chris Stewart|
|Nicolas Deslauriers||Matt Ellis||Patrick Kaleta|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
|Tyler Myers||Josh Gorges|
|Rasmus Ristolainen||Tyson Strachan|
|Andre Benoit||Andrej Meszaros|
As of right now, none of the Flames' three call-ups - Sven Baertschi, David Wolf, and Tyler Wotherspoon - are expected to play tonight. They'll have to draw in soon, though. Just not yet, and one of the left wingers may not get the chance, as Curtis Glencross should be back soon. Hopefully that can result in Lance Bouma popping on down back to the fourth line. Now we just need to remember that Mikael Backlund is better than Josh Jooris, but things are looking pretty okay, Flames lineup-wise.
If the Sabres acquire another Brian, they could have an all-Brian line. They should do that. Also worth noting that giant Russian child Nikita Zadorov is out, suspended by the Sabres for failing to report to the team on time after the break.
Hartley says Hudler (sick) will be a game-time decision. #BUFvsCGY— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) January 27, 2015
If Hudler can't go, Baertschi will take his spot. With Gaudreau and Monahan. Oh man. Him or Wolf, and honestly, because Wolf is less familiar with the game on this side of the world, it should be Baertschi for tonight at least.