Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS, SUN, SNW
Opponent SBNation Site: Matchsticks and Gasoline
The Calgary Flames have been on a tear lately, mowing down four conference rivals on their way to Tampa. The streak started with an overtime win against Chicago, two wins against divisional rivals the LA Kings and Anaheim, and another overtime win against Minnesota. These victories have pushed them up the standings, positioning them at just a game out of the last wild card slot in the West with a 22-16-4 record in 42 games played.
What went into these victories? Mostly the Flames’ top line. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Micheal (not Michael) Ferland are producing in a way that has garnered Gaudreau and Monahan top numbers in points (49) and goals (20) on their team, respectively. As an American who roots for Team USA, I’ve long been a fan of Johnny Hockey and his ridiculous hands. He’s having the best season of his career thus far, and he’s heating up right on time to show off in our arena. (He’ll also be here playing against us on Team Pacific at the All-Star Game, his fourth All-Star berth.)
In the words of Matchsticks and Gasoline, this is why he’s hot right now:
Johnny Gaudreau (F). As that top line goes, so the Flames go and Gaudreau is a major part of that. Johnny Hockey had a 3 point game (3A) against the Wild Tuesday night, giving him 8 points in his last 5 games. While the assists are piling up, Gaudreau hasn’t found the back of the net since Calgary’s 3-2 loss to San Jose back on December 14th. In 6 career games against the Lightning he has 4 assists.
Please watch how quickly this first line can work, especially their chemistry in seeing through a snarl of defenders to pot in a cross-crease feed at Minnesota. Ferland shouldn’t be overlooked for being in the right place in the right time to snag the pass from the boards and send it over to Monahan:
Will we see legendary Jaromir Jagr play? No, sadly. There is a sticky storyline surrounding 45-year-old Jagr this year. After signing with the Flames late, he’s played 22 games with them, and has been out with a lower-body injury since December. He has 1G/6A in 22 games, and there are rumors that he’s thinking of heading back home, perhaps in time to join the National Team for their Olympic run (OK perhaps not). I guess the biggest question that remains in his career is, which team gets to retire his number?
Will we see Matthew Tkachuk, our prospect writer El_Seldo’s favorite player ever, in the lineup? Yes. So I asked Seldo for a short quotation about what we might expect from Tkachuk, and he had this to say: “What is the policy on curse words?” (It’s probably due to plays like this.)
How do we match up against the Flames? They are 22nd in PP% and 22nd in PK% to the Bolts’ 3rd and 20th. Mike Smith (who we’ll likely be facing) has a SV% of .921 in 36 games played, while Vasy is sitting tight at .933 despite letting in four against Carolina and six against Ottawa (I do wonder what the story is here — is Vasy battling an injury and we don’t know it?). Bolts are at 65 points on the season for the best start in franchise history, while the Flames have earned 48. But we saw what complacency could do to a team when the Bolts walked into Montreal expecting to win... so let’s not do that again.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Chris Kunitz — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn — Yanni Gourde — Vladislav Namestnikov
Ryan Callahan — Cedric Paquette —
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr
Slater Koekkoek - Jake Dotchin
Dan Girardi on ice for #TBLightning morning skate. He missed Tuesday’s game but Cooper expected it to be only a one-game absence— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) January 11, 2018
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Micheal Ferland
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Troy Brouwer
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Garnet Hathaway
Curtis Lazar - Matt Stajan - Andrew Mangiapane
Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie - Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak - Michael Stone
Lines from Daily Faceoff, so they are likely wrong-ish.