San Jose Sharks vs Calgary Flames preview and analysis
The San Jose Sharks are no longer unbeaten, but they have a seven-game points streak heading into tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames. Ask any Chicago Blackhawks fan and they’ll tell you that a shootout loss is more or less the same thing as a victory and worthy of celebrating as a historic streak.
San Jose will try to return to its winning ways this evening, as they take on the somewhat surprising Flames. Few teams have garnered as much attention as far as “surprise teams” go, and it could be argued that the 3-1-2 start of the Flames has received more media attention than San Jose’s 6-0-1 start.
No matter though. This is a winnable game for the Sharks, if only they continue to bring the offense and actually manage to protect a league against the super-opportunistic Flames.
Game Number: 8
Opponent: Calgary Flames
Opponent Record (Last 10): 3-1-2 (One game losing streak)
Offense: Hot (Yet to score less than three goals in a game this season)
Defense: Cold (Yet to allow less than two goals in a game this season)
Power Play: Lukewarm (18.2% conversion rate—16th in the NHL)
Penalty Kill: Freezing cold (71.4%—29th in the NHL)
Players to Watch
If anyone has had a superior rookie showing to that of Tomas Hertl so far in this young season, it’s been Sean Monahan. He’s been dynamite for the Flames, and is arguably the main reason that the team has managed to secure points in five of their six games. It hasn’t been the defense getting the job done for Calgary, that’s for sure.
Monahan has only been part of the equation up front though. Jiri Hudler has been dominating (yes, dominating) the opposition as well, and has one less point than Joe Thornton right now—to put his level of play in perspective. Rounding the attack out has been Sven Baertschi and Lee Stempniak.
Combined, Calgary’s top line has contributed nine goals through six contests and is among the most effective in the NHL. That’s about it as far as top performers go for the Flames. Mark Giordano—Calgary’s new captain—has been getting the job done from the blue line as well and is always a threat to jump in on the play.
For the second consecutive game, the Sharks will face a backup. Joey MacDonald has been the go-to guy for Calgary through this early stretch of the season, but Karri Ramo is expected to take over full time eventually. Still, we’re calling him the “backup” at this point because neither of these guys are bona fide top-end netminders.
MacDonald has been finding ways to win, but his save percentage is well below the .900 mark. Ramo fared better statistically in his one outing this year against the Washington Capitals and made 35 saves, but still came up with the loss. If San Jose takes 40 shots on goal tonight, Ramo could be in for a long evening.
Antti Niemi is the probable starter for the Sharks, which should come as no surprise since there has been a day off between games and he’s going to play 70 times this season.