With the Arizona Coyotes nipping at Vegas’ heels, and the Flames leading the division with a 12 point cushion on the Knights, these two games against Calgary this week are very important for the playoff picture.
Coming off a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, I would fully expect a highly motivated Flames team. An interesting note about the Flames our own Danny Webster discovered is they are yet to lose three straight games in regulation this season. Yes, they have lost three straight games, but both times involved shootouts.
The Golden Knights are 3-0 all-time at home against the Flames, outscoring them 13-3 during those games, so perhaps Vegas will be the first team to push the Flames into a three game regulation losing streak.
Here’s what to watch for tonight:
Stay out of the box
Despite winning four games in a row, the Golden Knights’ special teams units are still a work in progress. The penalty kill is 4-for-7 during this span, although two of those four goals came against the Florida Panthers, and the power play is 2-for-7.
It’s easy to sit here and say the power play needs to improve, it’s no secret, but I think with the lineup at full strength — and Mark Stone settling in more each game — we will start to see an improvement with this No. 21 ranked power play unit, which boasts a 17.4% success rate.
Meanwhile, the Flames power play ranks No. 9 in the NHL with a 22.2% success rate, and they have converted on 5 of their last 25 power play opportunities.
There have been games this season where Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames top power play unit have simply taken over. Vegas fans know this all too well after the Flames power play dismantled the Golden Knights for three goals earlier in the year during a 7-2 beat down in Calgary.
Who matches the Flames’ top line?
Calgary’s top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm have set the league on fire this season. The trio has combined for 227 points and have tormented countless forward lines and defensive pairings.
How Gerard Gallant decides to defend this line tonight will be interesting to watch. Prior to acquiring Mark Stone the easy answer was to match this line with William Karlsson’s line. However, I think we’ll see Gallant regularly deploy the line of Stone, Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty against the Flames top line instead.
Through four games the line of 67-26-61 are yet to allow a goal and they have consistently controlled the pace of play. If Gallant does decide to match them against the Flames’ top line it will be a huge test for them and a potential glimpse into how Gallant will deploy this line down the stretch and into the playoffs.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+, Sportsnet One
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM