It truly is the stretch drive now for the Calgary Flames. The Flames have enter the final week of their season with just three games remaining, including two on home ice. Calgary has talked a lot about finishing the season strong and specifically giving their fans lots to cheer about on home ice. We’ll see if they can do that tonight when they play the penultimate home game this season against the LA Kings (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).
Calgary Flames 33-40-6, 6th Pacific Division
It’s a big night for Shinkaruk as he plays his first home game as a member of the Flames. Acquired last month from Vancouver, Shinkaruk’s first four games with Calgary all came on the road. Tonight, though, he gets the opportunity to play for his hometown team at home ice. There’s no doubting Shinkaruk’s Saddledome debut was the big story this morning and he was all smiles. To this point, Shinkaruk has a couple of points in his four games, but his last game against the Kings was a difficult one for him. Against a big, physical group again tonight, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s a little more comfortable playing against LA.
Shinkaruk remains up on emergency recall right now and will stay up until Michael Frolik is ready to return. At this point, there is no set timeline for that to happen and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Frolik missed the rest of the season. Frolik has missed the last three games with a lower body injury and there’s no sense pushing an injury right now.
The Flames are coming off a 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night in one of their more dominant performances of the season. It was another strong night for the forward duo of Mikael Backlund and Joe Colborne who combined for three goals and five points against the Oilers. Both players are having career seasons and both are flirting with 20 goals; for Backlund, he’s two goals away from setting a career high in goals while both players have set career highs in points.
Joni Ortio is back between the pipes for Calgary tonight coming off his first shutout of the season on Saturday. It was nice to see Ortio finally able to post a shutout because he had been really close a few different times before having it spoiled late. Give the guy credit because Ortio has come in and solidified the position for the Flames. Has he done enough to install himself as a number one for next season? No, but I do think he’s done enough to earn himself a spot at training camp to battle it out. Earlier in the season, I’m not sure that was anything close to a lock. On the season, Ortio sits 6-9-4 with a 2.62 goals against average and a 0.908 save percentage.
Los Angeles Kings 46-28-5, 2nd Pacific Division
With losses in six of their last eight games, the Kings are limping into the postseason and they’re losing ground to the Anaheim Ducks. Thanks to last night’s 3-2 loss in Vancouver, LA remains one point back of the Ducks for top spot in the Pacific Division with just three more games to play. We know the Kings are going to the playoffs and we know they’ll play either San Jose or Nashville in round one. What we don’t know is if they’ll be going into the playoffs playing good hockey or not. The Kings have a head-to-head battle looming with the Ducks on Thursday night, so you know they’d like to get a win under their belt against Calgary heading into a game that will likely decide the division.
The lines above are what the Kings went with last night against the Canucks. The team didn’t skate this morning, so we’re not sure if they’re planning any lineup changes. The status of defenceman Alex Martinez seems to be one of the questions tonight; he missed last night with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day right now. McBain slotted into the lineup yesterday and would be the replacement again if Martinez is unable to go against the Flames.
Jonathan Quick got the start for LA in Vancouver so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jhonas Enroth get the call tonight. Enroth has given the Kings some decent minutes as a backup, going 6-5-1 with a 2.04 goals against average and a 0.928 save percentage. That said, LA is fighting for a division title, so this might be the time to ride their number one; we shall know much closer to game time. Quick is 39-23-4 this season with a 2.23 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage.