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Flames-Blues game preview: Slump avoidance tonight’s prize

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Tonight’s matchup at the Saddledome is the final regular-season date between the Calgary Flames and the St. Louis Blues, who handed each other resounding losses in January’s NHL home-and-home set.


For the Flames…

Stop the skid

Calgary is on a two-game losing slide, their first since losing four straight two-and-a-half months ago. They don’t want to lose three in a row, of course.

There’s the ‘Matthew Tkachuk’s hometown’ factor, too. The top-line Flames star notched a career-high five assists in Calgary’s 7-1 home win over St. Louis on Jan. 24 (with the Blues getting revenge three nights later back in Missouri).

Goaltending is key (I’m Capt. Obvious, I know…)

Jacob Markstrom has given the Flames solid ‘tending in these recent two losses (.938 save percentage vs. the Los Angeles Kings, .933 vs. the Colorado Avalanche) following a trio of sub-.900 outings (two of which were wins, however).

Paging Flames’ scoring depth

Forward Andrew Mangiapane joined the season’s 30-goal club eight games ago on March 16, his only lamplighter in the past 14 games. Also: Tyler Toffoli has scored nine goals for the Flames since they acquired him on Valentine’s Day from Montreal, but only one of them has come in the last 11 games.


Monahan done for season: Flames GM Brad Treliving announced this morning the centre will have hip surgery soon.


For the Blues…

St. Lou on second of back-to-backs

Beware: the St. Louis Blues will no doubt want to bounce back after playing a defensively sloppy game last night in Edmonton, losing 6-5 in overtime.

The Oilers took an early 4-1 lead, forcing coach Craig Berube to yank fallen-from-grace now-backup goalie Jordan Binnington from the Blues’ net in favour of Ville Husso, who is (was?) slated to start tonight against the host Flames.

Playing and losing in such a fashion can’t sit well with St. Louis, who are three years removed from a Stanley Cup championship and are trying to stay ahead of Nashville and Dallas in the Central Division playoff chase.

The Blues sit third in the Central with 84 points and are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games, with the Predators (6-4 in last 10) two points behind them and the Stars (6-4 L10) five back.

Overworked goalies, though

Assuming Husso starts, will he be tired? The Blues starter came into Friday’s loss to the Oilers 13-1/2 minutes into the first period, stopping 25 of 27 shots.

That said, Binnington would want to try to earn redemption, too, after giving up those four goals on 13 shots.

A night to forget for Faulk

Top 4 Blues defenceman Juston Faulk would like to put Friday’s loss well into the rearview heading into the Saddledome tonight.

The Minnesota native, who gets regular power-play and penalty-killing minutes as well, is plus-29 on the season but recorded a team-worst minus-4 against the Oilers. He played 23:07 last night, second among Blues defencemen behind his second-pairing partner Nick Leddy.

Third-line centre Brayden Schenn — also a St. Louis PP and PK fixture — went minus-2, worst among Blues forwards.


Tonight’s projected lineups

Flames  
Forward
GaudreauLindholmTkachuk
MangiapaneBacklundToffoli
DubeJarnkrokColeman
LucicCarpenterLewis
Defence
HanifinAndersson
StoneTanev
ZadorovGudbranson
Goal
MarkstromVladar
Blues
Forward
SaadO'ReillyPerron
BuchnevichThomasTarasenko
BarbashevSchennToropchenko
MacEachernBrownWalker
Defence
ScandellaParayko
LeddyFaulk
RosenBortuzzo
Goal
HussoBinnington
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