There will be no love lost tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome when the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames hook up for a St. Valentine's Day date in the fourth and final meeting between the clubs this season.
As far as big wins go, it will certainly be hard to top last night's 5-2 triumph over the Bruins. But as far as big games are concerned, tonight's tilt may end up being one of those potential turning point moments of the season. Vancouver, riding a modest two-game win streak, not only has an opportunity tonight to jump back into second place in the Pacific Division over the idle Sharks but an outright victory would stretch their lead over the Flames to four points. On the flip side if Calgary emerges victorious then the dogfight for a coveted top-three spot in the division would be back on full tilt.
With Vancouver coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in month, you'd have to think they'd be hesitant to tinker with their lineup which means the debut of newcomer Brandon McMillan might not come tonight. That being said, one thing the Canucks have been accustomed to doing for the most part this season is split the goaltending assignments for games on back-to-back nights so there's a good chance Eddie Lack will see action in this game.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
A recent three-game win streak allowed the Flames to surge all the way up to second place in the Pacific Division but a stretch that has seem them lose two of their last three now has them back to just barely clinging to the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference. If the Flames, who are coming off a 5-3 loss on Thursday to the Kings, don't come away with at least one point against the Canucks tonight they could find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture by the end of the night.
The last time the Flames and Canucks hooked up, Calgary got a sensational performance from AHL call-up netminder Joni Ortio who posted a 36-save shutout performance back on January 10 in a 1-0 win. The Flames, however, won't be able to lean on Ortio, who has since been returned to Adirondack (AHL). Instead, they'll likely be turning to Jonas Hiller to try and lead them past the Canucks. Hiller has started the last eight in a row for the Flames but has allowed 10 goals over his last three outings. He's also failed to beat the Canucks in two tries this season. Backup Karri Ramo has not started a game since January 7 when he was hurt in a game against Detroit. He has made just two brief relief appearances since including in the Flames' last outing against Los Angeles.
Keys to the Game
Play with desperation. The Canucks and Flames haven't had many critical clashes in recent years but with both teams in the thick of a playoff race this season this game is as big as it gets. Vancouver needs to treat this game like a playoff affair and have a 'losing is not acceptable' mentality.
Win the special teams battle. So far in the season series the Canucks have had the edge on special teams scoring twice on seven power play opportunities and killing off all nine Flames man-advantages. But the Flames are the ones that are red hot lately with power play goals in six of their last eight games and without a PPG allowed in seven straight.
MayRay comes to play. Don't look now but ex-Canuck Mason Raymond, who has been a healthy scratch at times this season, comes into this game as the hottest goal scorer for the Flames with five goals in his last five games. He has one goal in four career games against the Canucks which came last season while he was with the Maple Leafs.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season when playing on zero days rest (2-4-3).
All-time win percentage for the Canucks on Hockey Day in Canada (9-3-3).
Time the Canucks and Flames will face each other on St. Valentine's Day.
Straight wins for the Canucks at the Saddledome dating back to April 10, 2013.
Year in a row that the Canucks will face the Flames on Hockey Day in Canada (4-0-2 all-time record vs. Calgary on HDIC).
Straight games with a point for Radim Vrbata (3-6-9), a new personal career-high and the longest active streak in the NHL.