Could it be that the 2022-23 Calgary Flames have finally found some form of puck luck?
To those that missed Thursday’s game; it was a refreshingly surreal experience. The Calgary Flames, known this season for their astoundingly hard-earned losses, seemed to have things go their way all night.
After 60 minutes we had a beautiful 7-2 score to behold. Calgary’s first win in Vegas. Let’s look at a few factors observed on Thursday that you hope will continue.
Darryl clearly wanted a bit more size in the lineup. Out went Walker Duehr and Jakob Pelletier. In went Nick Ritchie and Adam Ruzicka. We saw the forward lines go from this:
And today, we get to see the late-season metamorphosis continue.
Some rapid fire notes on the new lineup.
The Big Man
Milan Lucic, 34, draws out. Most of the fanbase would agree that it was long overdue. Interestingly enough, the 6’3”, 240lb winger had been putting up a bit of offence prior to the Vegas game. An assist in each of the two games prior against Arizona and Ottawa.
That said, Sutter likely encouraged a physical game against Vegas. Milan registered zero hits to go with zero shots and a -1 plus-minus. That’s enough justification.
A New Attack Line
Walker Duehr and Dillon Dube will form a speed line with Nazem Kadri. This will be a fun experiment. Kadri’s production has been dwindling of late. The 32-year-old has only scored in two of eight games in March. He played a game on what many would argue was the fourth line on Thursday with Lucic and Lewis.
That may have been his worst outing as a Flame. Zero shots, zero hits, and 33% on faceoffs in 12:35 of ice time. Dube and Duehr are both coming off scoring goals in their most recent games played.
What’s most interesting is the concept of having three lines that can put on offensive pressure. The Avalanche last season had a defined model of non-stop pressing the offence with speed. The Flames have the pieces to do that too.
On that note.
The Fourth Line
Despite yet another reckless penalty, Nick Ritchie earned another game in the lineup. The impending UFA had seven hits, two blocked shots and two shots on goal. The Flames went 5-2 in high danger chances while he was on the ice.
The physical presence is an asset, but imagine taking the speed one step further. This would be a hell of a forward configuration.
Imagine the headaches trying to match lines.
The Stars head into tonight’s game on the final stop of a six-game road trip. Fatigue may be a factor tonight. Dallas started the road trip 3-0-0 and have since dropped two straight to Vancouver and Edmonton. They’ve scored a total of three goals in their last two games.
The 23rd pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has made an impact on the Stars this season. Wyatt Johnson may be a name you want to remember. The 6’1”, 185lb center has 34 points in 69 games this season. His 19 goals have him tied for first with Matty Beniers in rookie goal scoring.
Back Door Passes
With the exception of Johnson, who put away his own rebound and registered five shots on the night, the Stars looked completely flat against Edmonton on Thursday.
They consistently lost puck races, ran around chaotically in their own end, and seemed to revert to last year’s style of taking shots from the outside instead of earning a high danger chance by driving the inside. Two of their goals against were simply due to blown coverage in front of their own net.
Tonight will be Jake Oettinger’s first game back in the Saddledome since his 64 save, .955 save percentage performance in game seven last May. Let’s hope it’s a little easier to find the back of the net tonight.
The 24-year-old has a sparkling .920 save percentage this season over 52 games played and 1520 shots against.
Dallas Stars Projected Lineup
Courtesy of dailyfaceoff.com.
Dallas will be going 11/7 tonight in terms of forwards and defencemen. No Tyler Seguin or Mason Marchment in the lineup.
Robertson – Hintz – Pavelski
Benn – Johnston – Dadonov
Domi – Faksa – Dellandrea
Kiviranta – Glendening
Heiskanen – Miller
Lindell – Hakanpaa
Suter – Hanley
Game time is 8:00 pm MST. Catch the broadcast on CBC or Sportsnet West in Canada and Bally Sports Southwest in the United States.
Stats via naturalstattrick.com and nhl.com.