With only one game on their record since last Saturday, the 4-7-1 Calgary Flames
will have the benefits of some much-needed practice time heading into their Ontario back-to-back that kicks off a three-game road trip. The 6-5-2 Toronto Maple Leafs
are game one of their Eastern sojourn and come limping into this contest with a single win in their last six games.
To be fair, Calgary only has two wins in their last eight, but those two wins have come in their last two games played. The group does appear to be turning a corner.
Heads began to turn on Wednesday when Jacob Markstrom
took practice off citing maintenance. Odd given he had only played one game in six days and had another day off after that. It’s reasonable to infer that he’s dealing with something.
The day after said practice it was announced that Dustin Wolf would be joining the Flames on their three-game road trip. Refreshing news. We’ve all seen how sour a season can turn when a starter refuses to vacate the crease despite being clearly injured.
A final development? Take a look at what happened in practice today.
Could this be the start of a new era of Flames goaltending? Vladar will start tonight, but what if Wolf can steal a game over the next two days — how does that affect the other two netminders’ confidence levels?
We covered much of how the Flames are growing into a better team in Wednesday’s piece. With that said, it’s great to see Nazem Kadri
start to play better. Since having a puck careen off of him into the net in October 29th’s Heritage Classic, the 33 year old has gone on to put up five points in three November games — one goal and four assists. Two of those assists came off NHL firsts for Connor Zary
and Martin Pospisil.
And look at that. After going -11 in 9 October games, Kadri is a +1 in three November games.
With the emergence of Connor Zary
and Martin Pospisil
as well as the return of Adam Ruzicka — life is getting competitive for Calgary wingers. Walker Duehr,
who sat on the bench through the third period on Tuesday along with AJ Greer
and Jonathan Huberdeau,
is the odd man out tonight.
also waits for his turn as he continues to put up points on the Wranglers. The 6’8” Czech has four goals and three assists in eight games this season.
Expect waiver claim AJ Greer
to be making a strong case to keep his role tonight.
Calgary Flames Projected Lineup
Per the organization.
Defence and Goaltending
Amidst a 1-3-2 slide, Toronto has some defence and goaltending issues. Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving
had a hard time finding a dominant #1 goalie during his time in Calgary. The decision to ink Jacob Markstrom
finally put a stop to that — no pun intended.
Prior to that, it was a rotating door year-over-year, Jonas Hiller, the perpetually injured Mike Smith, Kari Ramo, Cam Talbot, Brian Elliott.
The Leafs have similar issues. With Justin Woll’s
October hot streak coming to an end, there isn’t much success in net and outscoring their issues has been a challenge. Add on three injuries to their blue line, Connor Timmins, Timothy Liljegren, John Klingberg,
and things aren’t ideal in Leafs land.
He’s a Flames legend and deserves respect for what he did in Calgary, but a 40 year old Mark Giordano
and Jake McCabe
making up the second pairing is less than ideal.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
Practice lines courtesy of Mark Masters. @markhmasters
Knies - Matthews - Marner
Bertuzzi - Tavares - Nylander
Robertson - Domi - Jarnkrok
Gregor - Kampf - Reaves
Rielly - Brodie
Giordano - McCabe
Benoit - Lagesson
Timmins ( 🛑) - Klingberg
Samsonov & Woll
The Grim Reaver
In a province where the two most popular sports franchises share six wins through 24 collective games — schadenfreude is usually the only reason to turn on Sports Center or open up the Sports section.
We’ll give the Oilers the day off and look at Toronto. First of all, what a bunch of spoiled babies their fans and media are. The team won five of seven to start and then lost five of six. Now they’re 6-5-2. They act like they’re 2-9-1 and just lost to the San Jose Sharks.
That out of the way, it’s been a lot of fun to watch the fans boil over a measly $1,350,000 cap hit that resident tough guy Ryan Reaves is taking up. They get absolutely bullied by Florida in the second round last post-season and when they bring in a solution for the next run? They proceed to tear him apart because he’s not taking instigator penalties in October.
Some may remember that Brad Treliving
made a push to sign Reaves in June of 2018. Apparently, he and Conroy had even taken him out to dinner a day or two before Vegas General Manager George McPhee
signed him to a two-year $5,500,000 contract.
Correlation doesn’t equal causation in this case, but it’s interesting to note that Reaves’ team has made the playoffs every season since his rookie year. The son of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back and current politician Willard Reaves
has played 108 playoff games since 2012. Good for 25th among active NHLers over that time.
Game time is 5:00 pm MST. Catch the broadcast on Sportsnet.
Stats via eliteprospects.com and espn.com.