The calendar turns as the Calgary Flames go from one of their most emotional games of the season - a home contest against the San Jose Sharks that saw them defeat their division rivals by a score of eight to three - to an away game against an inept and flailing Detroit Red Wings team that expected to compete for draft lottery rights and has lived up to those expectations. This is a contest that the Flames should win and perhaps the only thing that can prevent them from doing so is themselves. The Red Wings are an inferior opponent in just about every way.
Detroit started off okay, but the bottom has fallen off and they finished 2018 by going 1-6-3 in their last ten games. That ties them with the Ottawa Senators for fewest points over their last ten games. You want puck possession? Detroit is second to last in Corsi for percentage after score adjustments at 46.01%. You want shots on net? They’re second worst in shots for percentage at 45.12 percent. Scoring chances? Fifth worst. High danger chances? Second worst. They’re bottom ten in penalty kill percentage and are in the bottom half of the league in power play percentage, too. They’re a bad team and the Flames need to capitalize.
The one thing that might give the Red Wings any hope in this one is that the Flames will be without standout rookie netminder David Rittich - he’s day-to-day and won’t dress at all in this one. That means that the Flames will be stuck with a tandem of Mike Smith (who possesses the leagues fourth worst GSAA this season) and Jon Gillies (who has been less than useless with an .864 save percentage in the AHL). Rittich’s injury is not expected to keep him out long term and he could even play against the Boston Bruins tomorrow.
There won’t be any changes to the lineup which isn’t necessarily surprising after a team puts up eight goals in a game. With that being said, Garnet Hathaway is Troy Brouwer-ing everybody he plays with given his -12.32 relative xGF% and -9.27. He needs to come out of the lineup at some point and it’s amazing that just about everybody short of the coaching staff can see it.
Puck drop is at 5:00 P.M. M.S.T.