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Calgary Flames at New York Rangers game preview: The start of the eastern swing

Tonight, the Flames play their first of seven games out east. These games are crucial because the team needs to win, but slightly less so because it doesn't matter if any of the opponents also pick up points.

Hey look, it's Curtis Glencross!
Hey look, it's Curtis Glencross!
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

For the next seven games, the Calgary Flames will be facing exclusively eastern conference opponents. While this is a team that has had remarkable success within their own division, the stranger danger the east poses is very real: the Flames have just an 8-12-2 record against what is totally the inferior conference. This includes a game already against tonight's opponents, the New York Rangers. The two teams previously played when the Flames were in the midst of their eight-game losing streak. The Rags potted four goals on Karri Ramo, including two by Rick Nash, chasing him. Tonight, he might just get his revenge.

Hopefully the outcome will be better, at least. Last game, the Flames did something historic: they had a lead. A 2-0 lead, to be exact, courtesy of Matt Stajan and Joe Colborne. It was pretty fun, until the Anaheim Ducks scored five goals in the third period, totally taking the Flames' thunder and giving them a 6-3 beating. | RecapStatsBoxscore | At least Sean Monahan got his 20th for the second season in a row:

The Rangers, meanwhile, are looking pretty comfortable in their ability to make the playoffs, what with them having a 14 point lead on the Florida Panthers, the first team in the east just out of the dance at the moment. So they really don't need the points tonight. They've already picked up points in their last eight straight, with a 6-0-2 record (those overtime losses came against the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks, so thanks a LOT, Rags, you owe us!).

Henrik Lundqvist is still out thanks to a puck taken to the throat, so he shouldn't be an issue. Mackenzie Skapski picked up his first NHL win against the Buffalo Sabres, but the Flames have a slightly better record than they do, and this isn't a back-to-back game for New York, so Cam Talbot - who has been doing a pretty decent job in Lundqvist's stead - might be the opposition tonight. For more on one of two teams with the New York moniker, head on over to Blueshirt Banter.

Game time: 5:00 p.m. MT, because the eastern time zone is awful

Channel: SNW

All-time record: These two guys don't face each other much, but the Flames are the all-time victors, with a 55-39-15-5 record. That tally carries a +67 goal differential with it. If the Flames can win by two goals tonight, that'll be a #nice goal differential.

Common threads: Both teams once held the rights to Tim Erixon. Man, that guy.

Also, Lee Stempniak is currently with the Rangers! He has seven goals and 16 points for them over 50 games. Always liked that guy.

Martin St. Louis is also a Ranger. He still owes us a Cup, I'm pretty sure.

Approaching milestones: Mason Raymond: seven more games to hit 500. Deryk Engelland: four more games for 300.

David Jones: 10 goals until 100. TJ Brodie: seven points until 100.

Michael Ferland: one goal until one goal. Emile Poirier: one game until one game played. Also one point until one point. That could happen tonight, if the rookies get to play and/or make debuts!

Scoreboard watching: The Flames are out of a playoff spot for the first time in forever, and it's very sad. They'll need a bit of help to get back in it.

Current records and leaders

Calgary Flames New York Rangers
Record: 32-23-4: 68 points Record: 36-16-6: 78 points
Pacific Division: 4th Metropolitan Division: 2nd
Western Conference: 9th Eastern Conference: 4th
Goal Differential: +15 Goal Differential: +40
Time on ice
Defence: Mark Giordano (25:11 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:10 per game)
Defence: Ryan McDonagh (23:17 per game)
Forward: Derek Stepan (18:14 per game)
Goals: Sean Monahan (20)
Assists: Mark Giordano (36)
Points: Jiri Hudler (48)
Goals: Rick Nash (37)
Assists: Derick Brassard (34)
Points: Rick Nash (58)
Shots on goal: Mark Giordano (152)
Shooting percentage: Lance Bouma (18.2%)
Shots on goal: Rick Nash (221)
Shooting percentage: Rick Nash (16.7%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (50.3%, 1285 taken) Dominic Moore (54.7%, 759 taken)
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (52)
Hits: Lance Bouma (196)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (188)
Penalty minutes: Chris Kreider (84)
Hits: Dan Girardi (158)
Blocked shots: Dan Girardi (119)
ES Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (48.2%, 59 GP)
TJ Brodie (47.6%, 59 GP) 
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (50.1%, 42 GP)
Mark Giordano (48.1%, 59 GP)
Corsi for%: Dan Boyle (55.0%, 41 GP)
John Moore (53.9%, 36 GP)
Fenwick for%: Dan Boyle (55.8%, 41 GP)
John Moore (54.2%, 36 GP)

Possible starting lineups

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma Mikael Backlund David Jones
Curtis Glencross Joe Colborne Josh Jooris
Mason Raymond Markus Granlund Brandon Bollig
Left Defence Right Defence
Mark Giordano TJ Brodie
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
Rafa Diaz Deryk Engelland
Karri Ramo
Jonas Hiller

New York Rangers
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Rick Nash Derick Brassard Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider Derek Stepan Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin Kevin Hayes JT Miller
Tanner Glass Dominic Moore Lee Stempniak
Left Defence Right Defence
Ryan McDonagh Dan Girardi
Marc Staal Kevin Klein
John Moore Dan Boyle
Cam Talbot
Mackenzie Skapski

Emile Poirier and Michael Ferland might draw in. Or they might not. We don't really know just yet: there are going to be some game time decisions to be made.