Canucks pregame: A chance to play spoiler in the biggest game of the Calgary Flames’ season
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
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Tonight may very well be the biggest game of the Calgary Flames’ season.
After dropping the ball against the Chicago Blackhawks last week, the Flames, backstopped by Jacob Markstrom for the second night in a row, took care of business against the Winnipeg Jets to keep things close in the race for the final wild card spot in the west.
Heading into tonight, the Flames and Jets both sit at 89 points in the standings, with the Nashville Predators not far behind at 88. Only one of these teams will make the playoffs.
The Jets and Preds both have a game in hand on Calgary, meaning tonight’s game in Vancouver is about as must-win as it gets for the Flames.
That obviously means the Canucks have a major chance to play spoiler to their division rivals tonight, which is always fun for a team with not much else to play for at this point in the season.
Yesterday, we saw Vitali Kravtsov get a turn with Elias Pettersson on the top line, with Conor Garland taking the spot of Anthony Beauvillier. Both Beauvillier and Andrei Kuzmenko now find themselves alongside Sheldon Dries on the fourth line. Tocchet spoke about that line’s struggles on the forecheck when asked specifically if Kuzmenko’s play has dropped.
“I mean, it’s dropped a little bit,” said Tocchet. “I don’t know if it’s totally his fault. I just don’t know, that line’s just not really good on the forecheck. I’m not blaming him — we got to get more forecheck in. I love Kuzy when he has the puck, but he’s got to participate in the forechecks. It’s a hard game when you play good teams, there might be not a lot of things happening so you can’t always just get pretty plays and score, you just can’t. You’ve got to play the game — look at the good teams, they score different ways and we need to find different ways of scoring, and I think the forecheck has to get better.”
Tocchet confirmed this morning that Kravtsov will be in the lineup on the first line, while Kuzmenko — who alternated with Aidan McDonough on the fourth line yesterday — will stay in the lineup as well, with McDonough serving as tonight’s healthy scratch.
It’s also John Garrett’s final home game tonight, and it sounds like there’s going to be an in-arena celebration for Cheech at some point during the game, so be sure to get loud if you’re at the game tonight!
Puck drop between the Flames and Canucks is slated for 7 PM as all 16 NHL teams will be in action this evening.
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