Calgary Flames vs Florida Panthers, 7 PM MT, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary AB
TV: SNW - Radio: Sportsnet 960
Calgary Flames 5-5-1 (11 pts) - Florida Panthers 4-2-3 (11 pts)
The Flames will close out a brief two game home stand with a visit from one of the NHL’s hottest teams, the Florida Panthers. Yes, you read the correctly, the Florida Panthers. It’s been a streaky start for the Swamp Cats as they dropped four out of their first five before turning things around by winning three out of their last four. But when you look at their early results things could have been much different. The Panthers lost back road games to the Sabres and Islanders 3-2 in a shoot out and if they win those games their start is completely different.
Sitting in 4th place in the Atlantic isn’t so terrible considering that type of start and it’s something for Florida to build on. It’s been four seasons since the Panthers last made the playoffs, that being a superb 2015-16 season where they compiled 103 points, finished first in the East, but lost in six games to the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. There’s a new boss in town in Joel Quenneville and a new goaltending tandem with Roberto Luongo hanging them up, so maybe some new blood will give Florida the spark they need.
Speaking of needing a spark we will move on to the Calgary Flames. Calgary tried to string a two game winning streak together against Washington for the third time this season and failed for the third time this season. The Flames scoring depth has been one of the few reasons they’ve been able to keep themselves in games lately. Calgary’s bottom six is providing most of the offence while those that are expected to carry the load aren’t at all. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk have been non-existent. In their last nine games this trio has three goals combined (Gaudreau with one and Tkachuk with two) and that’s not enough. This group is paid to do the heavy lifting and so far this season they aren’t doing even close to enough lifting.
Now, with all that said this current version of the Flames sits at 5-5-1. Want to know what last year’s Calgary Flames team record was after 11 games? You guessed it, 5-5-1. That team went on to finish with the second best regular season record in the NHL. There’s plenty of time for the Flames to get back on track, but if they are going to do that Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk and even Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano need to be more involved.
Oddly enough the Flames play better in Sunrise FL (10-6-2) than they do at the Saddledome (9-7-0) against the Panthers, but they’ve won four out of their last six at home when Florida pays the Saddledome a visit.
Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)
Flames: Rittich (E)- 4-3-1, 2.84 GAA, .912 Save%
Panthers: Bobrovsky (E)- 3-2-2, 3.75 GAA, .878 Save%
Flames: Goals: Lindholm (6) Points: Gaudreau (9) PIM: Lucic (26) Save%: Rittich (.912)
Panthers: Goals: Hoffman (5) Points: Huberdeau (10) PIM: Brown (9) Save%: Montembeault (.933)
What’s Happening With The Opposition?
Florida Panthers Coverage: Litter Box Cats
Last Time Out
Calgary Flames 3 - Washington Capitals 5
Florida Panthers 4 - Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Players To Watch
Flames: Elias Lindholm (C): 3 goals in last 5 games
Panthers: Aleksander Barkov (C): 5 assists in last 5 games