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Preview: Calgary Flames vs Toronto Maple Leafs, 12/12/19 (34/82): Two Teams, Two Similar Tales Meet Tonight

The Flames and Maple Leafs have similar stories this season and have turned their seasons around.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Calgary Flames vs Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 PM MT, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary AB

TV: SNW - Radio: Sportsnet 960

Calgary Flames 17-12-4 (38 pts) - Toronto Maple Leafs 15-13-4 (34 pts)

NHL Standings

The red hot Flames host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Saddledome as they go for their 7th straight win. That’s right, the Calgary Flames, who less than a month ago lost six straight, are now the hottest team in the NHL. How have they done it? Well, getting rid of Bill Peters has surely helped as new interim coach Geoff Ward has the Flames rolling. Ward has set a Flames record for most wins by a new coach and he’s thrown the entire lineup into a blender and gotten the results he was looking for. Johnny Gaudreau looks like a completely different player with a point in three of his last four games. Sean Monahan is on a tear right now with points in seven straight games. And the secondary scoring is off the charts. Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Milan Lucic, Derek Ryan, Tobias Rieder and even Zac Rinaldo are contributing. It’s amazing what a change on the bench has done for a team that looked like it was about to completely go off the rails back on November 21st after a 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

November 20. Mark that day on the calendar as the day the Maple Leafs season changed as well. That’s the day Mike Babcock was relieved of his coaching duties and Toronto has taken off since then. They immediately won three in a row and have gone 6-3-0 since Babcock’s departure. Prior to that the Leafs, much like the Flames, were an abysmal 0-5-1 over a six game stretch and their season was in jeopardy. Funny how all that works.

Toronto is currently out of the playoff mix, but they have climbed into 5th place in the Atlantic, just one point behind fourth place Florida. Catching the Bruins will most likely not be an option (12 points behind Boston), but their play as of late is much better than it has been all season. In four of their six wins the Leafs have scored four or more goals four times, including hanging a six spot on the lowly Detroit Red Wings. The Flames? They’ve roared back from near the bottom of the Pacific to climb to within two points of first place Edmonton. Don’t look now, but the season just got VERY interesting for both of these franchises.

Toronto is 8-9-0 on the road this season, which doesn’t bode well for them at the Saddledome. Calgary is 9-3-2 at the Dome and they’ve won three in a row at home. The Flames are 42-26-5 all time against the Maple Leafs in Calgary and have won nine of the last twelve times Toronto has come to visit.

Starting Goalies (E=Expected, C=Confirmed)

Flames: Rittich (E)- 14-7-4, 2.74 GAA, .913 Save%

Maple Leafs: Andersen (E)- 15-7-3, 2.48 GAA, .921 Save%

Team Leaders

Flames: Goals: Lindholm (14) Points: Tkachuk (27) PIM: Lucic (34) Save%: Rittich (.913)

Maple Leafs: Goals: Matthews (19) Points: Matthews (34) PIM: Muzzin (22) Save%: Andersen (.912)

What’s Happening With The Opposition?

Toronto Maple Leafs Coverage: Pension Plan Puppets

Last Time Out

Calgary Flames 5 - Arizona Coyotes 2

Toronto Maple Leafs 4 - Vancouver Canucks 1

Players To Watch

Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Sean Monahan (C): 6 points in last 5 games

Toronto Maple Leafs

Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Mitch Marner (C): 5 assists in last 5 games