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Game 64 Preview: Calgary Flames at the Ottawa Senators

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Will this be a rough-and-tumble game against two foes fighting for the playoffs?
Will this be a rough-and-tumble game against two foes fighting for the playoffs?
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Despite winning their last game and going 8-1-1 in their last 10, the Senators are 7 points back of the Boston Bruins with 2 games in hand, and will likely need to win most of their remaining games to have a shot. Luckily for Ottawa, despite digging themselves quite a hole, they play two more games against Boston at home. Those games may not mean anything though if they don't manage to win tonight, and the surprising Flames are no slouch, with a three game winning streak putting them ahead of Los Angeles by a point in the dogfight Western conference playoff race.

How have the Flames been doing this? Well it's certainly not on the back of a strong possession game like other Western teams. In fact, no Flames player is winning the shot attempt battle - injured Captain Mark Giordano is the closest, with the team almost even with him on the ice (49.75% CF%). Instead, it's on the back of the second highest EV shooting percentage in the league (9.84%), with many Flames players shooting way above their career norms. Yes, they work hard - with a structured forecheck and good backchecking pressure - but a lot of their wins have come off the back of a shot finding the net when it otherwise wouldn't, and it'll be interesting to see where the Flames land next year if their team shooting % decreases.

That doesn't mean the Sens can take the Flames lightly. Their young players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have had fantastic years, much like the Sens duo of Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman. Jiri Hudler has as many goals and more points than Phil Kessel, and TJ Brodie may be a Norris nominee. The Flames have also found ways to win in four of their past six games despite Giordano's injury, and their goaltender - much like Ottawa's - has been fantastic during their road trip. Ramo has a 0.952 sv% in his last five games, all of them starts.

Here's how we can expect them to line up:

Gaudreau - Monahan - Hudler

Bouma - Backlund - Colborne

Raymond - Jooris - Shore

Bollig - Stajan - Jones

Russell - Wideman

Brodie - Engelland

Schlemko - Diaz

For the Senators, it's the return of their number one goaltender as Craig Anderson - who actually was an unsigned draft pick by the Flames in 1999 - gets his first start since his deep bone bruise. Many, including myself, were wondering whether Dave Cameron was going to roll with Hammond until the wheels fell off, but the head coach cited concerns with fatigue and that he needed to get Anderson in at some point. It's better that it's tonight than to put him directly in a absolute must-win against Boston on Tuesday. Other than that, there's no other changes for the Senators; Jared Cowen and Colin Greening remain out. Thus, you can expect them to lineup like so:

Michalek - Turris - Stone

Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan

Condra - Pageau - Lazar

Puempel - Legwand - Chiasson

Methot - Karlsson

Wiercioch - Ceci

Borowiecki - Gryba

(all stats from NHL.com or Natural Stat Trick)

Category Ottawa Calgary
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 23 Sean Monahan 24
Assists Erik Karlsson 34 Mark Giordano 37
Points Erik Karlsson
50 Jiri Hudler 54
Shots Erik Karlsson 226 Mark Giordano 157
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 27:02 TJ Brodie 25:14

Category Ottawa Calgary
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.79 14th 2.82 12th
Goals Against 2.59 15th 2.55 13th
5v5 Corsi % 49.91% 20th 44.87% 28th
5v5 Fenwick % 48.03% 23rd 45.94% 28th
Shots For 30.5 14th 27.1 28th
Shots Against 32.4 26th 28.9 11th