Philadelphia Flyers (29-28-15) at Calgary Flames (38-27-5)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 19, 2015, 9:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Calgary Flames -143 / Philadelphia Flyers +129 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
This has been a miracle run of a season for the Calgary Flames, but if they can’t finish these last few weeks strong it will all have been for naught. Losers of three of their last five games overall the Flames have blown a chance to really distance themselves from the Los Angeles Kings and the Winnipeg Jets. Now they find themselves on the outside looking in with the Kings having the games in hand advantage. Calgary has a lot of young players on this roster and sometimes it’s hard to really complete a grueling 82 game season. Johnny Gaudreau has been one of the stars of the league in his rookie season but he also looks like a high school student stature wise, and it’s hard to imagine that this hasn’t taken a physical toll on him. Somehow the club has found a way to navigate what looked like it was going to be a disaster in goal, but they’ve gotten consistent enough play to keep their heads above water for much of the year. They still have four games left on this home stand against very winnable teams, so now is the time to get things right and take advantage of the last break in their schedule. Tuesday night was not one of their better efforts with the St. Louis Blues in town. Both clubs started slow and it wasn’t until the middle of the second period that the Blues finally got on the board. Calgary has been a great third period club but it wasn’t to be on this night. The Blues doubled their lead just 1:18 into the third period and added a couple more goals as they sent the Flames to a 4-0 defeat. Now it’s time to see if this Calgary club really has what it takes to finish the deal.
For the Philadelphia Flyers it’s all about getting the June entry draft. This is a club that has some good young pieces up front, but absolutely nothing on the back end. Sean Couturier has not really developed offensively the way the club would have hoped, but they seem to have found a cornerstone goaltender in Steve Mason who has found his game again since leaving Columbus. It’s rare for the Flyers to have a goaltender that looks like he can be built around for years to come, but that’s exactly what it looks like they have with Mason. General manager Ron Hextall has taken a very calm and patient approach, and that’s something that is incredible new for the Philadelphia Flyers. This is an organization that is prone to drastic changes year after year and constantly trying to win the Stanley Cup. That philosophy might be the exact reason why they haven’t won one in decades, and Hextall seems to understand that. The Flyers were still battling for a playoff spot before losing six of their last seven games. The club has lost both games on this road trip and are coming off a 4-1 loss against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Michael Raffl scored his 17th goal of the season for the Flyers, giving them a 1-0 lead before the Canucks rallied for four unanswered. Mason stopped 31 saves in the loss.
It’s desperation time in Calgary and unfortunately for the Flames and their fans they haven’t been answering the bell. Philadelphia has struggled immensely but they still have enough talent to play a solid hockey game if their opponent is unprepared. This isn’t a night where the Flames can be that team.