A week in the NHL’s Western Conference can dramatically change a team’s outlook. Just ask the St. Louis Blues. After losing to the Dallas Stars on February 16th and falling out of 3rd in the Central Division, the Blues find themselves five points out of that playoff position with the Stars in front of them, and two Pacific Division teams ahead of them in the Wild Card mix.
One of those teams is the Calgary Flames, who have closed the gap on the Wild Card position to one point. With the Stars holding a game in hand, they have an opportunity tonight to put a smidge of distance between them and one of the teams gunning for the last position in the playoffs when they faceoff against the Flames.
Calgary enters the game on a modest two-game win streak, having beaten the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 and the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 in their last two outings. They’ve cooled off a bit since kicking off New Year’s Eve in route to a seven-game win streak, never quite getting into a long win or loss streak since. That’s likely helped keep them in the playoff mix, with several Central Division teams falling off their torrid pace through two-thirds of the season.
Dallas Stars Lineup
The Stars continue to look for some scoring balance. With Jamie Benn struggling of late, they’ve moved him to center in an effort to get a spark for him by giving him different wingers to play with over the last couple of games. Jason Dickinson was recalled yesterday as injury insurance for Martin Hanzal, who is considered to be day-to-day from here on out. Julius Honka is likely to sit unless head coach Ken Hitchcock changes his mind on the defensive pairings he’s used since Marc Methot’s return from injury.
Lines from practice yesterday were as follows:
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Mattias Janmark
Antoine Roussel - Jamie Benn - Alexander Radulov
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Gemel Smith - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Ben Bishop will get the start in net tonight, after the Stars opened this six-game home stand with a flat performance versus the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night. He spelled Kari Lehtonen on Saturday after Lehtonen let in four goals.
Calgary Flames Lineup
Since the last time the Stars and Flames met, the Flames parted ways with NHL legend Jaromir Jagr, who is now playing in Europe. The Flames added two depth forwards yesterday at the trade deadline, trading for Nick Shore from the Ottawa Senators and claiming Chris Stewart off of waivers from the Minnesota Wild. Because of those changes, we’ll likely have to wait for warm-ups tonight to see how the Flames assemble their lines.
Jon Gilles should be the Flames starting netminder. Gilles recently took over as a starter in Calgary, posting a 2-0-0 record with a 2.54 goals against average and .914% save percentage. Those stats are nearly identical to Bishop’s season, albeit in a much smaller sample size.