After picking up a much-needed victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night, the Chicago Blackhawks remain in the Alberta province on Sunday, playing their final game of 2017 against the Calgary Flames.
Calgary will be happy to see December end, as it’s been a rough month for the Flames. The Flames are on a three-game losing skid for the third time this month, and sit one point behind the Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings. As our colleagues over at Matchsticks & Gasoline pointed out, the lack of production from the Flames’ top line has been a major part of the team’s recent struggles.
The Flames top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland has all but disappeared this month and Calgary is struggling as they try to find the magic again. Ferland at least has 3 goals in his last 5 games, but Monahan and Gaudreau have a combined 6 points in their last 10 games, with only 1 of those points being a Johnny Gaudreau goal in a 3-2 loss to San Jose.
Two former Hawks won’t be in the lineup for Calgary: Michal Frolik broke his jaw earlier this week, while Kris Versteeg is out for the foreseeable future following hip surgery. Troy Brouwer will likely suit up, though, skating on the fourth line with Matt Stajan and the immortal Jaromir Jagr. And then there’s Mike Smith in net, he of the stick-breaking tantrums and butt goal. His numbers have been pretty good for a 35-year-old goalie, sporting a .920 save percentage (.928 at even strength) and 2.56 goals-against average. But a few goals early on Smith have always been a good way to affect the space between Smith’s ears.
For the Blackhawks, much of the focus will be on the man in net: Jeff Glass. It’ll be another emotional night for the 32-year-old rookie, who goes from his career NHL start to his first career start in the city where he used to attend NHL games as a fan, as he told the Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus after practice on Saturday. He looked like a rookie in his initial start, making some key saves amid a flurry of Edmonton shots, but also spinning like a top in his crease while surrendering too many rebounds into high-danger areas. The players in front of him would be wise to help pick up any trash left laying around the crease by Glass, as this Flames team is looking for any reason to get its offense going again. And lighting the lamp on the other end of the ice would certainly boost the team’s winning chances as well.
|F1||Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik|
|F2||Ryan Hartmant - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane|
|F3||Alex DeBrincat - David Kampf - Vinnie Hinostroza|
|F4||Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden|
|D1||Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle|
|D2||Connor Murphy - Brent Seabrook|
|D3||Michal Kempny - Cody Franson|
|F1||Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Micheal Ferland|
|F2||Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Curtis Lazar|
|F3||Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Garnet Hathaway|
|F4||Jaromir Jagr- Matt Stajan - Troy Brouwer|
|D1||Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton|
|D2||TJ Brodie - Travis Hamonic|
|D3||Brett Kulak - Michael Stone|
How to watch Blackhawks at Flames
Start time: 8 p.m. CT
Location: Scotia Bank Saddledome, Calgary, AB