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Let’s Play Two, Part 3: Home-And-Home With Calgary

Seattle tries to even the season series against the division-leading Flames

Seattle Kraken v Calgary Flames Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

What: Calgary Flames vs. Seattle Kraken

Where: Climate Pledge Arena (Saturday), and
Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB, Canada (Tuesday)

When: Saturday, April 9, 2022; 4:00pm PDT, and
Tuesday, April 12th, 2022; 6:00pm PDT

Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Calgary Flames

Coverage

Local TV: ROOT Sports NW

Streaming: ESPN+

Local Radio: 950 AM KJR; 93.3 FM KJR

SiriusXM: Channel 221 (Saturday) and Channel 206 (Tuesday)

Last Time Out

It was looking like another rough outing in the early going the last time these two teams met in February. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk scored at the 3:02 mark of the first period, and it appeared the Kraken were in for a long night. But the opposite turned out to be true. Kraken Legend (and now Flames forward) Calle Järnkrok tied the score midway through the first, and the Kraken dueled Calgary to a stalemate through 45 minutes of play. The Flames’ Elias Lindholm netted the eventual game-winner in a 2-1 Calgary win. Philipp Grubauer turned in a rare strong performance, stopping 35 shots in the loss; the Kraken offense just couldn’t get the job done.

Stats, Streaks, & Droughts

If the Kraken were going to maximize their chances of beating Calgary, this game would have had to happen 10 days ago. At that time the Flames were in the middle of a rare three-game losing streak, dropping contests to Colorado, LA, and St. Louis. But they are back on a hot streak again, having defeated the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks coming into this home-and-home with Seattle. The Flames lead the Pacific Division with a 43-19-9 record, 6-3-1 in their last 10.

There’s no discernible pattern in how Calgary is winning, or losing — they’ll win 9-5 over the powerhouse Oilers barely a week after losing 1-0 in overtime to the lowly Sabres. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to the goaltending either; Jacob Markstrom put up a .839 save percentage against the Edmonton Oilers — and won — then went .933 SV% against the Colorado Avalanche, and lost. So I guess it’s safe to say that when both the offense and goaltending are dialed in, the Flames are difficult to beat. If one or the other is off, there could potentially be an opportunity.

Looking at Seattle, you can divide 2022 into three distinct sections: 1/1 through 2/11 (6-10-0); 2/13 through 3/10 (1-9-2); and 3/12 to the present, in which the Kraken have six wins and five losses. Sure, the overall record of 23-42-6 still places them near the league basement — more on that later — but an infusion of some new faces and more productive line combinations have, on occasion, spurred some potent offensive output. Combine that with a resurgence in their goaltending, and all of a sudden the Kraken have their longest sustained success since going 6-3-2 in late-November and early December. It’s not always pretty, and their opponents of late have mostly been teams in the bottom half of the standings. But with rare exception, the effort is there night after night, and the results are starting to show it. How Seattle performs against first-place Calgary will tell us a lot.

Players To Watch

The Flames’ entire first line is above a point-per-game pace through 71 games this season. First is LW Johnny Gaudreau, making his case for a $10 million AAV contract extension, who will likely clear the 100 point mark in these two games:

Next up is right wing Matthew Tkachuk, whose 89 points puts him just 9 shy of his legendary father’s best single-season performance:

And finally center Elias Lindholm, leading the Flames with 38 goals, now has 73 points in 71 games:

All three of those guys are also above a plus-45 rating for the year. It’s ridiculous.

Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches

For Calgary, the biggest loss comes in the form of forward Sean Monahan. His output has been in decline over the past three campaigns, and earlier this week it was announced that he would miss the remainder of the regular season due to needed hip surgery. Additionally, defenseman Oliver Kylington has an upper-body injury and is doubtful for both games with Seattle. With backup Daniel Vladar getting the start (and the win) against the Sharks on Thursday, it’s likely the Kraken will be facing starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom for both of these contests.

For the Kraken, status quo with Jaden Schwartz and Haydn Fleury, both are doubtful for the Saturday game; Brandon Tanev remains out for the season. Both Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger are playing well of late, so it’s possible Head Coach Dave Hakstol has each of the Kraken netminders take one start against Calgary. We will provide updates on injuries and starting goaltenders on our Twitter account.

Odds & Ends

  • On Saturday the Kraken will host Pride Night at Climate Pledge Arena, and the team will be wearing customized warm-up sweaters during pre-game. Check out the design and the artist behind the concept:
  • These two tilts are Kraken Legend Calle Järnkrok’s first games against his former club. He has no goals and two assists in seven games with Calgary since being sent over at the trade deadline. Järnkrok has been out of the Flames’ lineup all of April due to a non-COVID illness, but is expected to play against Seattle.
  • And finally, your Shane Wright Sweepstakes update. Wins for the Kraken and the Montreal Canadiens, but losses for the Arizona Coyotes, results in basement standings that look like this:
Data & visualization: TSN.ca/nhl/

We have to start including the New Jersey Devils in the equation now, as their lousy play in the latter part of the season puts them within reach of the bottom three. As you see, all four teams have 11 games remaining in the season. The team finishing dead last has the best draft lottery odds, resulting in the best chance to draft consensus overall #1 pick Shane Wright.