Game Day: Predators at Flames

SATURDAY

Nashville Predators (19-9-1) vs. Calgary Flames (18-9-2) 

8 p.m. MT, Scotiabank Saddledome, CBC/Sportsnet, Sportsnet 960 The Fan

 

THE BIG MATCHUP

Flames D TJ Brodie vs. Predators LW Eeli Tolvanen 

Brodie has been quietly complementing Mark Giordano all season, regaining his game and groove back after a tough 2017-18 campaign. He’s leading the team with a plus-21 rating and it’s easy to see why. He’ll be up against up-and-coming Predators prospect Tolvanen and is under a little more pressure with the Flames captain out of the lineup. With injuries to forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson opening up two spots in Nashville’s top-six, all eyes have turned to Tolvanen. The Predators’ first-round (30th overall) pick in 2017 comes with high expectations. Tolvanen, a 19-year-old Finn, made his season debut against the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday and had one goal and one assist.

FIVE STORYLINES FOR THE GAME

SMITH STARTS

Flames head coach Bill Peters gave goaltender Mike Smith the green light on Friday, and it’s easy to see why. Fresh off a 31-save shutout in Calgary’s 2-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, the 36-year-old is 5-0-0 in his last five outings. “To be honest, there was some good hockey played — it’s not like it was all lost from the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “As a team, early on, we weren’t playing like we are now and that can affect the goaltending position. Obviously, there are games where you let in a bad goal here and there and you’re in that position, all of a sudden everyone is in a panic mode. That’s part of hockey … it’s about sticking with it. I’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now, just staying even-keeled as possible.”

WHO COMES UP?

The Stockton Heat were set to play host to the Manitoba Moose on Friday, and there was a good chance they were short-handed. While nothing was officially announced on Friday, the Flames likely plucked a forward from their American Hockey League affiliate — and likely a centreman to replace the void left by injured pivot Mikael Backlund. As of Friday, the top scoring marksmen on the Heat were: LW Kerby Rychel (11 goals and eight assists in 23 games), C Alan Quine (six goals and 13 assists in 15 games), C Curtis Lazar, who had been sent down at the beginning of the season (seven goals and 10 assists in 22 games), and C Tyler Graovac (five goals and 10 assists in 21 games). The other question … do they recall a defenceman in the wake of captain Mark Giordano’s two-game suspension?

STONE SKATED

Flames D Michael Stone went for a skate by himself on Friday, which is good news considering the 28-year-old blueliner has been dealing with a blood clot in his arm. The diagnosis was revealed on Nov. 22. Stone had been serving as the Flames’ seventh defender. Meanwhile Flames forward Michael Frolik (lower body) is still on injured reserve.

LAST TIME THEY MET

This is the last of a three-game season series between these teams which opened with a 3-0 Flames win at Nashville on Oct. 9. Smith made 43 saves, while Sean Monahan scored twice along with Elias Lindholm. Johnny Gaudreau had three assists. Nashville exacted revenge on Oct. 19 in a 5-3 Predators win, in which netminder Pekka Rinne suffered an injury, when Sam Bennett had tied the game 3-3 at 2:20 of the third period.

ABOUT THE PREDATORS

It’s a quick, two-game Western Canadian road trip for the Predators and kicked things off with a 5-3 loss at Vancouver on Thursday … Heading into Friday’s NHL action, the Predators were the third-best team in the NHL. They had also allowed the league’s lowest goals against (71) and the league’s best goals against in the third period (16) … The Predators are 8-4-1 on the road, and 6-4-0 in the last 10 games.

FLAMES LINEUP

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau — Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk – Mark Jankowski – Sam Bennett

Andrew Mangiapane – Derek Ryan– James Neal

TBD – Austin Czarnik – Garnet Hathaway

Defence

TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic

Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson 

Dalton Prout – Oliver Kylington

Goaltenders 

Mike Smith

David Rittich

 

PREDATORS LINEUP

Forwards

Ryan Hartman –Ryan  Johansen – Kevin Fiala

Eeli Tolvanen – Calle Jarnkrok – Craig Smith

Miikka Salomaki – Colton Sissons – Austin Watson

Frederick Gaudreau – Nick Bonino – Rocco Grimaldi

Defence

Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis

Dan Hamhuis – Mattias Ekholm

Matt Irwin – Yannick Weber

Goaltenders 

Juuse Saros

Pekka Rinne

INJURIES

Predators — RW Viktor Arvidsson (broken thumb), LW Filip Forsberg (upper body), C Kyle Turris (undisclosed), D P.K. Subban (upper body)

Flames — RW Michael Frolik (lower body), D Michael Stone (blood clot), D Juuso Valimaki (foot), C Mikael Backlund (concussion), D Mark Giordano (suspended), LW Ryan Lomberg (suspended)

 

SPECIAL TEAMS (prior to Friday’s NHL action)

Power play

Predators: 15.5% (16-of-103, 26th)

Flames: 23.3% (24-of-103, T-10th)

Penalty kill

Predators: 80.6% (11th)

Flames: 72.2% (22nd)

— Kristen Anderson

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