PLAYING FOR THE FANS
The Calgary Flames welcome the Winnipeg Jets to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday for their final home game of the season.
This will be the third and final meeting between the two teams in a season series that has belonged to the visiting team. Calgary won the first contest in a 5-4 shootout at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Nov. 18 while the Jets were victorious at Scotiabank Saddledome 5-2 in January.
The Flames hope to finish of the season strong and above the .500 mark at home for the 10th straight season. The last time the Flames fished the season .500 or below was the 2002-03 season, when Calgary posted a record of 14-16-10-1 on home ice.
“We’re pushing, we have that playoff mindset,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “The guys really bought into this.”
As the first official rebuild season wraps up for the Flames, Hartley explained that although there were positives, this season is still viewed as a disappointment to him.
“Whatever we did this year it’s okay, but it’s not good enough,” he said. “We wanted to shock the NHL this year by being a playoff team, we didn’t succeed in that.
“But we created ourselves a decent identity.”
Since the Olympic break, the Flames have played their best hockey, handing defeats to some of the top teams in the Western Conference, playing in close games and tying league records for most one-goal games in a season.
The Flames understand how important it is to win tonight’s game at home in their final home game of the season.
“It will be nice to win out the season, especially the last one at home,” Flames forward Brian McGrattan said. “Leave a good taste in everybody’s mouth going over the next couple of months.”
During a 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on March 21, the Flames received a standing ovation from the home crowd; this act shows that the fans and team have both bought into this promising rebuild.
“I asked the players to give this one to the fans,” Hartley said. “They have been unbelievable to us.”
INS AND OUTS
The Flames will have a familiar face back in the lineup for tonight’s final home game.
Paul Byron draws back into the lineup after missing the past four games to be with family as they prepared for the birth of their second child. The 25-year-old was expected to return for the Flames in their home game against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday but was a late scratch.
Brysen Byron was born that night weighing in at 9lbs 6ozs.
“The family is doing great, we got to go home last night, so they’re at home resting up,” Byron said. “The baby is obviously crying and hungry a lot, he’s a big guy.
“It’s going to be a big change for us in the next few months, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Mike Cammalleri was absent from the morning skate, but will be a game time decision for tonight’s game.
“We will know later on,” said Hartley. “Cammy had a rough day yesterday, he was sick. He basically slept all day [yesterday], so he might be in or might not be in."
GROUNDING THE JETS
The Flames plan to treat tonight’s contest like any other game despite playing against a team who is in their final game of the season. The Jets franchise will be missing the postseason for the seventh straight year and have yet to make it to the playoffs since moving to Winnipeg three summers ago.
“We never prepare based on the opponent, the first priority is to make sure we are ready,” Hartley said. “The Jets are a big, fast and physical hockey club. We will have to be at our best.”
“I asked the players to give this one to the fans. Those guys have been unbelievable for us. There’s all kinds of motivation when you play, whether you play a tournament for a sick kid or you play for some family that’s in town or you play for yourself, but tonight with the support that the fans have given us, I think it’s just plain simple common sense that we play for our fans.”
Mark Giordano is four points away from 200
Kris Russell is six assists away from 100
Mark Giordano has 18 points in the past 21 games (5g+13a=18p). He has set new career highs in points (46), goals (14), power play goals (7) and shots on goal (172). He is third amongst NHL defencemen in points-per-game with 0.74.
Mike Cammalleri has 24 points (13g+11a=24p) in the past 19 games. He has scored the game winning goal in six of the past 10 wins for the Flames. He is currently tied for seventh in the NHL in game winning goals with 8.
Matt Stajan has earned nine points in the past 7 games. (4g+5a=9p) He is also riding a five-game point streak and a three-game goal streak.
Karri Ramo improved to 17-13-4 with a 2.54 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 38 appearances this season, all career bests. He has stopped 103 of 107 shots faced in the past three games, and a shutout streak of 120:05 from April 4-9.
Calgary’s all-time record vs WPG/ATL: 8-6-1-0-0
All-time record Winnipeg/Atlanta at Calgary: 6-1-0-0-0
Last 10 games Calgary vs. Winnipeg: 6-4-0-0
Last 10 games Winnipeg at Calgary: 6-1-0-0
Tonight’s game between the Flames and Jets will be broadcast on SNET-West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan at 7 p.m. MST.
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