The Calgary Flames two game road trip to the eastern time zone concludes today as they take on the Montreal Canadiens for the first time this season. The Flames are currently in second place in the Pacific division and can pass the Anaheim Ducks to pull into first place with a victory. The Ducks take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 6:30 tonight, so that first place stay could be short lived depending on the outcome of that contest.
The Canadiens are perhaps the most surprising team in the NHL thus far. The Canadiens come in with four wins, one regulation loss, and two overtime losses after being an absolutely miserable team last season. More impressive is the way in which they’ve been winning – they’re a positive puck possession team despite the departure of Max Pacioretty. Claude Julien has them playing excellent hockey.
The Flames will have been good so far this season, but they will need to be better than what they were on Sunday. Yes they came away with a four to one victory over the New York Rangers, but that was largely thanks to the 44-saves-in-45-shot performance of David Rittich (who continues to be incredibly impressive in his limited minutes) and a surprising two goal performance by Garnet Hathaway to go along with a not-so-surprising two goal performance from Johnny Gaudreau. Getting outplayed again would be concerning given where the Rangers and Canadiens finished last year even if the Canadiens do look much improved.
The Flames aren’t making any lineup chances for tonight’s contest. Austin Czarnik, Anthony Peluso, and Dalton Prout will continue to make up the healthy scratches. Travis Hamonic is practicing and it looks like he’ll return next week. If one is of the assumption that Rasmus Andersson has played his way into the lineup, that means one of T.J. Brodie or Michael Stone are likely on their way out of it and Dalton Prout is likely Stockton bound. A strong performance by Andersson would solidify this logic.
Puck drop is at 5:30 P.M. M.S.T.
by Les Mavus