Vancouver Canucks (18-18-4) vs Calgary Flames (23-12-3)
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB
When: 7:00 pm PST
Where to Watch: CBC. SN
SB Nation Opposition Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Flames are the real deal. Sort of. They can definitely score, and that’s something that will be a focus of tonight’s game. They can come at you in waves, and have a number of guys that can put the puck in the net. They’re also getting some pretty solid goaltending from the guy who started the season as their backup, David Rittich. It’s a precarious position for them to be in though, because Mike Smith has been just terrible, and should anything happen to Rittich, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Flames tumble down the Western Conference standings.
For now though, they sit one point back of the Jets for the Conference lead, but do have San Jose, Nashville and the revitalized Vegas Golden Knights nipping at their heels. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 and have lost just 4 times in regulation at the Saddledome. The Canucks come in as the hottest team in the West. It’s weird, because of the break maybe, but it doesn’t feel like it. They’ve gone 7-2-1 in their last 10, and gotten some damn good goaltending from Jacob Markstrom to get there.
And apart from a not-so-hot performance Thursday night against Top 5 Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, the revitalized penalty kill has been a huge factor. It’s something they’ll need to get back to against a team like the Flames, as anyone expecting a clean sheet either way as far as penalties are concerned might want to reconsider that take.
The Canucks could get 2 big pieces back in the lineup tonight as it looks like Sven Baertschi and Troy Stretcher are ready to come back following their concussion issues.
The Canucks will need to find a way to keep the Flames top 6 from doing a ton of damage (but the way Johnny Gaudreau is playing right now that might be easier said than done). And much like the way Elias Pettersson proved again he’s better than T5CMcD, he also needs to clue in the Flames faithful he’s also the better Elias, as there’s some misinformed folks over there believing otherwise about Elias Lindholm. Here’s what we should see from the Flames tonight:
#Flames projected lines and pairings vs. #Canucks:— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) December 29, 2018
We’ll post updates when the Canucks announce who goes for them tonight (there should be at least one roster move, and it would be a safe bet that it’s Adam Gaudette getting sent down to Utica). Speaking of the Comets, they got their lunch fed to them last night, dropping a 10-1 decision to the Syracuse Crunch.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN: The seed was planted in the 80’s with Sepultura, Sarcofago, R.D.P. and others. What flourished is a vibrant Brazilian metal scene. Here’s one from my favorite band from Brazil: VIOLATOR.