GameDay: Flames hope to stop the bleeding in Florida

Calgary Flames (34-16-6) at Florida Panthers (23-24-8)

5 p.m. MT, BB&T Center, TV: Sportsnet West Radio: Sportsnet Fan 960


THE BIG MATCHUP

Panthers C Aleksander Barkov vs. Flames C Sean Monahan

There weren’t many positives for the Flames against the Lightning on Tuesday night, but it could be argued that Monahan’s two goals made him something of a bright spot – he’s now got 65 points on the season, a career high. Barkov, meanwhile, has been kept off the scoresheet for two games after a red-hot streak where he put up nine points in six games. The Flames have been allowing way too many goals recently, and silencing the Panthers’ leading scorer would be a good start towards rectifying that.


The Flames were badly outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

  1. STOP THE FREEFALL

The Flames have hit a rough patch. They’ve dropped points in four of their last five games and got badly outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. They’ve allowed 21 goals over that stretch, so any improvements are going to need to start on the defensive end of the ice, while Mark Giordano also emphasized the need to focus on the forecheck. There have been good games and bad games on this recent losing skid, so it doesn’t feel like there’s one clear thing that’s ailing them. The Flames need a win, though.

  1. NO MAN’S LAND

With all due respect to the Panthers, when you look at the Eastern Conference standings, they’re just kind of sitting there and not doing a whole lot of anything. With 54 points so far this season, they’re nowhere near the playoff race, but they’re also a little ahead of dumpster fires like the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers definitely have moments where their youthful potential is intriguing, but inconsistency has plagued them and they’re coming off two lopsided losses to the Lightning and Stars.

  1. CHANGE IT UP

Flames head coach Bill Peters promised line changes after Tuesday’s loss. His team didn’t practice Wednesday, so it’s a little hard to know what those changes are going to look like, but we expect that the famed 3M line is going to be split up. Michael Frolik has put up one point in nine games. Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t recorded a point in his last six, and Mikael Backlund has gone four. Defensively, they weren’t particularly effective against the Lightning either, so it’s safe to assume they’ll be split up Thursday.

  1. LAST TIME OUT

Despite their respective places in the standings, it was a really fun, competitive matchup last time these teams faced off. On Jan. 11 at the Saddledome, the Flames battled back from a two-goal deficit with four straight goals to take a thrilling 4-3 win. Frolik was the star that night, notching a goal and two assists.

  1. STILL AT IT

Fans in Calgary don’t need any reminders that Mark Giordano is still chugging along and putting up big numbers, but his goal on Tuesday put him in good company. It was is 55th point of the season, making him the 10th defenceman age 35-or-older in NHL history to notch 55 points in a season. Nobody had done it since 2010-’11 when Niklas Lidstrom pulled it off, and Giordano also only needs one more point to match his single-season career high of 56, set in 2015-’16.

Here’s what coach Bill Peters had to say after Tuesday’s loss in Tampa:


FLAMES LINEUP

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik

Sam Bennett – Mark Jankowski – James Neal

Andrew Mangiapane – Derek Ryan – Garnet Hathaway

Defence

Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington – Rasmus Andersson

Goaltenders 

David Rittich

Mike Smith

PANTHERS LINEUP

Forwards

Mike Hoffman – Aleksander Barkov – Evegenii Dadonov

Jonathan Huberdeau – Vincent Trocheck – Frank Vatrano

Derick Brassard – Henrik Borgstrom – Denis Malgin

Jamie McGinn – Riley Sheahan – Troy Brouwer

Defence

Keith Yandle – Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson – Mark Pysyk

Bogdan Kiselevich – Josh Brown

Goaltenders

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

INJURIES

Flames: D Michael Stone (blood clot)

Panthers: RW Colton Sceviour (upper body)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Power Play

Flames: 22.9% (46-for-201, 8th)

Panthers: 25.9% (50-for-193, 3rd)

Penalty Kill

Flames: 79.1% (21st)

Panthers: 81.0% (13th)

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