Tonight an exciting West coast matchup takes places in Van city, as the Calgary Flames will travel to visit their foes, the Vancouver Canucks, which will be the first game of a home and home series that should be fun to watch. Calgary and Vancouver so far, have played twice this season and both teams have gotten a win splitting the sefries, with Calgary winning the last one 4-1.
The Flames are in a solid 4th place in the Pacific, and have been a consistent 7th in the West over the last half month. Calgary has played well the last two weeks, winning 4 out of their last 5 games. A win tonight over their hated rivals Canucks would put more room between them giving Calgary more breathing space. The Flames goaltending has been solid, Brian Elliott has played brilliantly, who finds himself sitting on a 5 game winning streak.
Offensively, the Flames have benefited from the hot stick of Mikael Backlund, in his last 6 games he’s gotten 9 points, which included a 3 point night against Vancouver back on December 23rd.
Vancouver on the other side, has not played badly either. The Canucks have won 5 straight, their last loss being the one they played against the very same Flames. Vancouver right now is 2 spots behind Calgary in the Pacific with only 3 points separating the two. The Canucks didn’t start winning without some effort, their 5 game winning streak includes two wins via shootout, and both against tough teams, Anaheim and Edmonton.
The Vancouver team that Calgary dominated 2 weeks ago isn’t the same team as tonight. The Canucks are trying to make a play for a playoff position, and so the Flames will have to take this threat seriously, otherwise they can underestimate them and find themselves on the loosing end.
So expect the Canucks will be gunning for another win, a hopeful sixth straight victory when they open at home at Rogers Arena. It’s anyone’s game since both teams are coming off string play and it will come down to who is hungrier or has better goaltending tonight.
The Canucks’ current winning ways can be attributed to a stingy defence, since they have only given up seven total goals over its past five games. When compared to giving up 30 over its previous eight games, the change is huge.
Calgary has not been consistent either, and before their winning five straight in early December, they lost four of its past nine. So, they have built off their 4-1-0 in its past five road games and want to continue that trend tonight. They have good odds against Vancouver too, winning 11 of its last 15 games against the Canucks.
Tomorrow night the scene will shift to Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night for the second part of this weekend series. Calgary has not played very well in the second half of back-to-back games, having lost three straight, where the Canucks have won three of their past five such matchups.
Players to watch on Calgary is Matthew Tkachuk who has provided them with a lot of offence recently. In 10 of his last 14 games he’s registered a point and he’s had 2 multi point games over that period. Tkachuk got a goal in the Flames 4-1 win the last time these two faced off, which gave him his first point against Vancouver this year. Everyone knows how intense the games between these two teams can be, so Tkachuk will be a very valuable asset. He also knows how to get under the oppositions skin and draw some minor penalties to get their team a goal on the powerplay.
Whatever the outcome, it should be a fun game to watch, and a sure bet to be a plus 6 goal game.