The Florida Panthers will head on the road to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night for a matchup against the Calgary Flames.
Florida comes in with 56 points through their first 54 games this season, while the Flames find themselves battling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference with 68 points through 58 games this season. Calgary is one of five teams between 65 and 68 points battling for the final two playoff spots in the West.
Panthers surging during month of February
The Panthers won for the sixth time in their last seven games on Wednesday, defeating the Vancouver Canucks on the road 4-3. Florida did all of their damage in the first period, peppering Vancouver with four goals in the opening frame. James Reimer stopped 34 of the 37 shots sent his way on the night to improve to 15-12-5 for the season.
Roberto Luongo is expected to be between the pipes for the Panthers in this game. He comes into Saturday’s matchup with a 6-6-1 record to go along with a 2.62 GAA and a .928 save percentage for the season.
Florida comes into Saturday’s matchup ranked 15th in the league in goals per game (2.9), but just 25th in the NHL in goals against at 3.2 per contest.
Flames stay hot, defeat Preds
The Flames knocked off the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Thursday night to earn their fifth win in their last seven games. Matthew Tkachuk and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist on the night, while David Rittich continued his stellar play between the pipes for the Flames, stopping 29 of the 32 shots he faced on the evening. The 25-year-old now owns a 6-2-2 record in 12 games (nine starts) so far this season to go along with a 2.47 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Mike Smith is projected to be in net for the Flames for Saturday’s matchup against the Panthers. Smith has been stellar between the pipes for Calgary this season, but has played better away from home this year. Smith is 12-12-3 at home with a 2.89 GAA and a .905 save percentage at the Scotiabank Saddledome this year, compared to 11-4-3 on the road with a 1.97 GAA and a .944 save percentage. Overall, he comes in with a 23-16-6 record, a 2.53 GAA and a .921 save percentage for the season.
Calgary enters the weekend ranked 18th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.8 per contest and 13th in the league in goals against at 2.8 per game.
- Panthers are 4-0 in their last 4 road games.
- Panthers are 6-1 in their last 7 overall.
- Flames are 3-7 in their last 10 vs. Atlantic.
- Flames are 1-5 in their last 6 home games
The Flames are engaged in a tight battle for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference right now, so they should have no problems getting fired up for this game. Both of these teams come in hot, but the Panthers are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now and Mike Smith has been vulnerable at home this season, which has me leaning towards the Panthers in this matchup between two teams that are currently trending up right now.