The Calgary Flames will host the San Jose Sharks in the final contest of calendar year 2018 that will determine who enters 2019 with possession of first place of the Pacific Division. The Flames can cement it with a win or a loss in overtime or regulation thanks to games in hand. If the Sharks win it outright, the Flames will enter in second place with the potential to fall to third should the Vegas Golden Knights defeat the Los Angeles Kings.
Michael Frolik is expected to return tonight and reunite the 3M line as Austin Czarnik draws out of the lineup. What Garnet Hathaway, Derek Ryan, and Mark Jankowski have done to cement themselves into the lineup over the players that continue to get scratched is not really apparent as none of them have put up the same numbers as Czarnik or Frolik. One of the complaints about Bill Peters with the Carolina Hurricanes was the player utilization and while he’s done quite well to get the Flames into first place, one has to wonder whether or not the utilization will come back to bite the Flames.
One thing that isn’t in question has been the value of David Rittich. Rittich is third in delta save percentage in five-on-five situations and has cemented himself as the team’s starting netminder moving forward over Mike Smith who has been bottom five in the NHL in G.S.A.A. Rittich will get the start tonight as he looks out to close out his miraculous 2018 on a strong note.