The Calgary Flames are back home tonight to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Through nine games, the Flames have five wins and four regulation losses and are just outside of a playoff spot. The Penguins have been rolling along with four wins, one loss, and two regulation losses and are second in the Metropolitan division trailing only the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Flames are returning home from a two game Eastern Conference road trip that saw them get one win and one regulation loss against two teams that were not all that stellar last year. David Rittich played phenomenally in both games and was the reason they came away with the victory against the New York Rangers while Johnny Gaudreau and surprisingly enough Garnet Hathaway provided the offense to get the win there, but the majority of the team was incredibly flat in both games as they were widely outplayed and out-possessed. Given the opportunity, they would likely take a redo.
Mike Smith is back in net tonight and is likely starting to feel the fire to his feet. So far this year he has the third worst delta save percentage of the top 31 goalies in minutes played five-on-five. He’s been well below replacement level since coming back from his injury last season. Rittich meanwhile has been stellar in his limited sample size this year with the top delta save percentage of all goalies with at least 100 minutes played. If the trend continues, there’s no way the Flames can stick with Smith based on merit.
Travis Hamonic is back in the lineup for the first time since October third when he was injured in a fight with Erik Gudbrandson. Rasmus Andersson has seemingly proven his worth at the NHL level to coach Peters and gets to stay in the lineup while Juuso Valimaki heads out. T.J. Brodie will move to the third pairing with Michael Stone.
Austin Czarnik will also return after being a healthy scratch. Derek Ryan will sit for a game along with Dalton Prout. Anthony Peluso was sent to the Stockton Thunder earlier in the day.
Game time is at 7:00 P.M. M.S.T.
by Les Mavus