The Calgary Flames head to the United States for the first time as they take on the Nashville Predators. The Flames have been stellar to start the season with the fourth best CF% and the second best xGF% in the NHL through their first two games (albeit against a Vancouver Canucks team that looks like they’re going to compete for first place in the draft lottery). Unfortunately, Mike Smith hasn’t impressed, the Flames have the third worst dFSV% in the league, and come in to today’s contest with a .500 points percentage as a result.
The Predators should be a much tougher contest than the Canucks were and Smith will have to be better than he has been if the Flames want victory. He’s squaring off against the NHL’s reigning Vezina trophy winner in Pekka Rinne. Nobody should expect the world from a 36 year old goalie, but if he can just be mediocre the Flames will have a chance to compete this season.
The Flames are Anthony Peluso tonight in anticipation of Zac Rinaldo or Anthony Bitetto antics and they’ve sent Mark Jankowski to the bench. Peluso has just ten primary points in 144 games and a relative xGF% of -5.8% five-on-five, so it’s not likely that he sees many minutes. He is also seventh in the NHL out of 613 players with 800 or more minutes since his debut in 2012-2013 in penalties taken, so don’t be surprised if this is a maneuver that puts the Flames shorthanded at least once.
On defense, Dalton Prout is out and Rasmus Andersson is in. Prout did not look good subbing in for Travis Hamonic and this is a worthy benching. Playing plugs at forward where an individual can be limited to single digits isn’t ideal, but at least the damage can be limited. In the case of players like Prout, they often look like turnstyles and lead to chances against. Hopefully Andersson sees all of Hamonic’s minutes until he gets back.