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Game Day Preview #79, Calgary Flames @ Los Angeles Kings

The Flames sit some key players while the Kings are just waiting for it all to be over.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific
TV: Prime
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Matchsticks & Gasoline

The Opposition

The Calgary Flames have already locked up the number one spot in the West. Yes, this despite being shut out by the Kings recently. Strange!

What does this mean for us? This means that the Flames, contrary to what basically every other hockey team does except for in game number 82, are going to be resting players down the stretch. Mikael Backlund, Matt Tkachuk, Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Travis Hamonic, and Noah Hanifin are all out for the Flames tonight. In a game between two teams with a lot of bad blood between them, sitting a selection of your star players — particularly Tkachuk — is a smart move. What’s Calgary got to prove? They could lose out and not have it impact their post-season positioning. Two points, to a team which does not need those two points, isn’t worth the possibility of seeing someone like Tkachuk go down with an injury just because he’s playing a team that really, really does not like him.

So who knows what kind of on-ice product we’ll see from the Flames tonight. It technically should be a good thing, given stats like these:

Then again, the Flames played with a full roster last time these teams met and the Kings — and Jack Campbell — shut them out. It feels right, then, that this Flames/Stockton Heat hybrid could possibly come out and hang an absurd number of goals on Jonathan Quick.

Flames leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau is still in the lineup tonight, though; he’s only got one goal against the Kings in three appearances so far this season, which feels like a down year for the winger. He’s got 21 points in 20 career games against the Kings, so if there’s any time for him to go off, I guess it’s tonight, when he may have to do more heavy lifting because of the supporting cast around him.

The Kings

All these Western Conference games sure did seem a lot more significant at the start of the season, when we had tantalizing hopes of these games holding meaning for things like “playoff seeding” or “being the team to officially eliminate the Ducks”, things like that.

But instead the Kings are just playing out the season against some of their biggest rivals in games where we just don’t want anyone to get hurt.

It’s not what we envisioned, but that’s where we’re at.

Tonight, anyway, is another milestone night for the Kings. The game will start off with a ceremony honoring Dustin Brown for taking over the lead for most games played for the franchise. It’s also a special night for Anze Kopitar, who will skate in his 1000th career regular season game. (The pre-game ceremony for Kopitar will happen on Saturday.)

Brown missed out on making a big moment in his 1,112th game last week, so maybe he and Kopitar will team up to make some magic tonight on a night where both men will be celebrated.

Ilya Kovalchuk is in, Jonny Brodzinski is out, Jonathan Quick starts, paving the way for Jack Campbell to play tomorrow night against the Coyotes.

Lineup Notes

Quick, Watch This