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Calgary Flames (10-11-3) at St. Louis Blues (13-4-5)
6 p.m. MT, Enterprise Center, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan
THE BIG MATCHUP
Flames C Mikael Backlund vs. Blues C Ryan O’Reilly
Ryan O’Reilly’s dominance at the faceoff dot is well documented. Heading into Wednesday’s action around the NHL, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner had swiped more draws (272) than any other centre. He also ranks among the league leaders with a 57.7% faceoff percentage. This is a challenge for all of the Flames’ middle-men but Mikael Backlund — currently working between Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk on a new-look top trio — will likely see the most of O’Reilly, who anchors the Blues’ shutdown unit. Backlund has just a 48.4% success rate at the dot so far this season.
FIVE STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
The Flames are in a funk. After falling 3-2 in Tuesday’s clash with the Colorado Avalanche at the Saddledome, the crew from Calgary has now suffered five straight losses (0-1-4). What’s especially concerning is they haven’t owned a lead at any point during their skid. The Flames have been trailing for a grand total of 703:36 so far this season, playing catch-up — or trying to — more than any other team in the league.
YOU CALL THAT A SKID?!?
The Blues snapped out of a three-game winless drought with Tuesday’s 3-1 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning, although it would hardly be fair to say the defending champions have been slumping. They managed to collect a point in two of those setbacks and own a 10-2-2 mark over the past month. Even without sharpshooter Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery), the Blues are tied for top spot in the Western Conference standings.
These squadshooked up less than two weeks ago at the Saddledome, so the scouting reports won’t be too dusty. Both outfits had reason to be pleased that evening — the Flames were proud of erasing a two-goal deficit thanks to third-period tallies by Matthew Tkachuk and now-injured Travis Hamonic, while the Blues eventually spoiled the comeback story on David Perron’s power-play marker in overtime.
MEET THE NEW GUY
With a pair of regular rearguards — TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic — staying back in Calgary, Alexander Yelesin was called up Wednesday from the AHL’s Stockton Heat and could log his debut in St. Louis. The 23-year-old Yelesin, a right-handed shot, was an all-star last season in the KHL and has registered two assists in 15 outings for the Heat this fall. Flames coach Bill Peters didn’t rule out that Brodie and Hamonic could join the team later on this four-game road-trip.
THIS N’ THAT
Flames forward Sam Bennett was stashed on LTIR for salary-cap relief, and Tobias Rieder was also recalled from AHL Stockton … Right-winger Troy Brouwer, who spent two seasons with the Flames and had been skating with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen as he waited for an opportunity, turned a tryout into a one-year contract from the Blues. The 34-year-old signed Wednesday.
Johnny Gaudreau – Mikael Backlund – Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Milan Lucic – Derek Ryan – Dillon Dube
Zac Rinaldo – Mark Jankowski – Michael Frolik
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Michael Stone
Oliver Kylington – Brandon Davidson
Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Tyler Bozak
Sammy Blais – Ryan O’Reilly – David Perron
Zach Sanford – Robert Thomas – Oskar Sundqvist
Mackenzie MacEachern – Ivan Barbashev – Klim Kostin
Colton Parayko – Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester – Justin Faulk
Vince Dunn – Robert Bortuzzo
Flames — LW Sam Bennett (upper body), D TJ Brodie (medical issue), RW Austin Czarnik (lower body), D Travis Hamonic (lower body), D Juuso Valimaki (knee)
Blues — LW Alex Steen (ankle), RW Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)
Power play (prior to Wednesday’s action)
Flames: 16.9% (13-for-77, T-21st)
Blues: 23.6% (17-for-72, 7th)
Penalty kill (prior to Wednesday’s action)
Flames: 85.9% (5th)
Blues: 81.3% (17th)
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019