Saturday night in Calgary, the Blues took their foot off of the gas. I’m not sure if they were victims of playing down to the Flames, or if they just figured a 5-2 lead was enough for a third period, but they almost proved that even one of the weaker teams in the NHL is still dangerous when you give them enough room.
Tonight should be an example of a lesson learned. The Blues’ offense was more than capable of shutting down the Flames; the defense and the goaltending (tonight, it’s Carter Hutton in net) need to step up and keep their skate on Calgary’s throat.
Forty shots on net should be a sure-fire win. Getting 40 shots on Brian Elliott, who has been struggling behind Calgary’s defense, should go a long way to ensuring the Blues get their second win in a row. Our old friend has a 1-3-0 record this season, with a 3.95 GAA and a .867 save percentage. Yes, having started four games is a sample size, but at the rate that he’s been going the best part of his evening will probably be the tribute video played to honor him. Elliott was excellent during his tenure with the Blues, but his time with the Flames so far may be showing that his playing style benefited from Ken Hitchcock’s system as much as the system benefited from his playing style.
Baby Walt, AKA Matthew Tkachuk, will also be in the Flames lineup tonight to play for family, friends, and his hometown. He has three games left on his nine-game tryout, but despite sitting out the last two games he’s making a case for himself to stay with the NHL club.
The Flames are fresh off of a 3-2 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks last night, while the Blues are well rested and have had plenty of time to ruminate how to tighten things up for tonight’s game. Tonight’s lines will begin the same as Saturday’s; hopefully the line of David Perron-Jaden Schwartz (stepping in for Jori Lehtera at center) and Vladimir Tarasenko will be as successful tonight as they were Saturday. Between the three of them they combined for six points (three goals, three assists) during the last game.