It’s a crucial game for both teams, each chasing the ever-elusive wild card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Calgary has 58 points and Chicago has 55 after 51 games played. The current bar for a playoff position is set at 61 points by the Minnesota Wild.
Calgary’s last game was a forgetful one. The Flames owned a 4-2 lead late in the second period, before an implosion allowed the Tampa Bay Lighting to come back for a 7-4 victory on Thursday night. Mike Smith responded in the typical Mike Smith fashion.
Mike Smith is maddddddddd pic.twitter.com/nDtnv2LMQj— The Artist Formerly Known as Scoot Mattle (@scottmatla) February 2, 2018
That loss was the sixth in a row for the Flames, following a seven-game winning streak that started on New Year’s Eve with a 4-3 win in overtime against the Hawks, and a blown Calgary lead was the central story in that game, too. The Flames built a 3-0 lead by the 14:13 mark of the second period, just to surrender three goals — including a game-tying goal from Brandon Saad with just under two minutes remaining — before Calgary got the game-winner in overtime. The main scoring threats remain the same for Calgary, in Johnny Gaudrerau (15 goals, 43 assists) and Sean Monahan (23 goals, 21 assists).
For the Hawks, a loss in their last game means the usual line-tinkering by coach Joel Quenneville is happening. Brandon Saad has been kicked down to the third line with Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma, while Artem Anisimov moves out to left wing on the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. Michal Kempny appears to be getting another night back in the press box, with Jan Rutta looking like the D partner for Connor Murphy during the morning skate. In net, Jeff Glass fills in for Anton Forsberg, although it seemed like most of the goals surrendered by Forsberg against the Canucks were the result of defensive breakdowns and not goaltender error. But Glass is the starter, anyway.
It’s difficult to make call one game a “must-win” when a team plays an 82-game schedule each season. But each loss only heightens the hurdle Chicago must climb to earn a playoff spot, and the Flames are one of the teams directly in the way. Not only do the Hawks have a points gap to close, they have to leap four teams. And with a home-and-home against the Flames over the next three days, Chicago can move ahead of one of the teams in its way with a pair of regulation victories. No time like the present to get that much-needed hot streak going.
|F1||Alex DeBrincat - Jonathan Toews - Anthony Duclair|
|F2||Artem Anisimov - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane|
|F3||Brandon Saad - Tommy Wingels - Lance Bouma|
|F4||Tomas Jurco - David Kampf - Vinnie Hinostroza|
|D1||Duncan Keith - Jordan Oesterle|
|D2||Erik Gustaffson - Brent Seabrook|
|D3||Connor Murphy - Jan Rutta|
|F1||Rickard Rackell - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry|
|F2||Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg|
|F3||Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Ondrej Kase|
|F4||Jason Chimera - Antoine Vermette - Chris Kelly|
|D1||Cam Fowler - Brandon Montour|
|D2||Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin|
|D3||Marcus Pettersson - Josh Manson|
|Goaltender||John Gibson or Ryan Miller|
*Lines are subject to change.
How to watch Blackhawks at Flames
Start time: 9 p.m. CT
Location: Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary
TV: NBC Sports Chicago