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Five things to watch when the Calgary Flames take on the St. Louis Blues:
1. The MMA line
The Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Austin Czarnik trio are putting up mind-numbingly good numbers right now. In ~22 minutes with them on the ice at 5v5, the Flames have out-attempted opponents 46-13 (77.97 CF%) and out-chanced them 27-6 (81.82 SCF%). The MMA line has been so good at playing keep away and generating quality looks around the net. If they continue doing so, it's only a matter of time before the goals start to come.
2. An impressive rookie
The Flames aren't the only team featuring highly touted youngsters in their lineup. The Blues have a couple, one of whom (Jordan Kyrou) is off to an excellent start. Through two games Kyrou is rocking a 56.25 CF%, 62.96 SCF%, and he has generated eight individual chances in just 22 minutes of 5v5 ice. Keep your eye on him.
3. A better showing from L3
The 3rd line has been a definite eye sore thus far. They've spent a lot of time chasing play in their own zone. Offensively, the lone bright spot might be Sam Bennett banging in a rebound goal that didn't even count.
Bennett is a former top-5 pick, Neal is pulling in $5.75 million annually, and Dube might be the team's best forward prospect. They should be contributing a lot more than they have.
4. 5v5 play
Only nine teams took fewer 5v5 penalties than the Blues a year ago and they're off to a disciplined start this year with just two minors in two games. The Blues are a really good skating team. They have no problems keeping up with opponents, which really limits the amount of stick infractions they are forced to take. The Flames' red-hot power play (wow, that felt strange to write) probably won't get many opportunities tonight so they will have to take care of business at full-strength.
5. Rasmus Andersson's usage
Though Andersson didn't play a lot in his season debut (11:52), I thought he handled himself fairly well alongside Juuso Valimaki – especially considering the opponent.
I'm curious to see if Bill Peters gives Andersson a little more rope as he settles in or if the plan is to shelter him until Travis Hamonic rejoins the lineup. I'm hoping for the former.
Here are the projected lineups:
Calgary (via @Fan960Steinberg)
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Austin Czarnik
Sam Bennett - Dillon Dube - James Neal
Anthony Peluso - Derek Ryan - Micheal Frolik
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Michael Stone
Juuso Valimaki - Rasmus Andersson
St. Louis (via DailyFaceoff.com)
Patrick Maroon - Ryan O'Reilly - Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - David Perron
Alex Steen - Tyler Bozak - Jordan Kyrou
Ivan Barbashev - Robert Thomas - Samuel Blais
Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Jakub Jerabek - Robert Bortuzzo
Puck drop is just after 8:00 eastern and can be seen on Sportsnet Flames and FS-MW.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com and Corsica.Hockey.
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