With Micheal Ferland injured, Sam Bennett is trying to make the most of an audition on the top line. The Flames are desperate for secondary scoring, so they need the talented 21-year-old to produce.
New York Rangers at Calgary Flames
7 p.m., Saddledome, TV: Sportsnet West, Radio: Sportsnet 960 The Fan
THE BIG MATCHUP
Flames W Sam Bennett vs. Rangers LW Vladislav Namestnikov
These guys actually scrapped in December 2016 but we’re not anticipating a gloves-on-the-ice rematch Friday, with both hoping to show soft hands instead of fists of fury. One of the centrepieces of a deadline-day blockbuster between the Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, the 25-year-old Namestnikov made a positive first impression with a goal and an assist to help his new squad snap a seven-game skid in Wednesday’s 6-5 overtime triumph against Canucks in Vancouver. With Micheal Ferland recovering from an upper-body injury, Bennett is trying to make the most of an audition alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line. The Flames are desperate for secondary scoring, so they need the talented 21-year-old to produce.
- STAY MAD, GET EVEN
The Flames lost their composure in Wednesday’s 5-2 groaner against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center, frittering away a two-goal lead en route to a second straight setback to another wildcard wannabe. The Flames racked up 33 penalty minutes in the Mile High City, including a bench minor to head coach Glen Gulutzan and a 10-minute misconduct to Lady Byng Trophy winner Johnny Gaudreau. So what now? “You have to harness that anger,” Gulutzan said. With only 17 dates remaining on their regular-season schedule, the Flames simply can’t afford a third consecutive loss, especially to a lottery team like the Rangers.
- BROADWAY BYE-BYES
The Blueshirts have made major changes since facing the Flames just three weeks ago. Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton was the busiest salesman prior to the trade deadline, swapping aging sharpshooter Rick Nash and defenceman Nick Holden to the Boston Bruins in separate transactions, shipping speedster Michael Grabner to the nearby New Jersey Devils and then bidding farewell to captain Ryan McDonagh and centre JT Miller in a biggie with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- REMEMBER ME?
Rangers call-up John Gilmour made franchise history when he sniped the game-winner during Wednesday’s sudden-death session in Vancouver, becoming the first rookie defenceman to score an overtime goal for the Original Six squad. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Gilmour was a seventh-round pick of the Flames in the 2013 NHL Draft. He was teammates with Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies at Providence but never signed by the Saddledome brass.
- GOOD GAWDIN
Flames prospect Glenn Gawdin was saluted Thursday as the Western Hockey League’s Player of the Month for February. The 20-year-old centre splurged for 27 points — 15 goals and 12 assists — in a dozen showings last month for the Swift Current Broncos. Gawdin, who signed an entry-level pact with the Flames in November, is currently riding a 23-game point-spree and leads the WHL with 119 points and a plus-59 rating.
- THIS N’ THAT
Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist racked up 50 saves against the Canucks, equalling his career-high … The boys from the Big Apple are 6-0-1 in their past seven meetings with the Flames, including a 4-3 victory in a Feb. 9 matchup at Madison Square Garden … Flames trade-deadline acquisition Nick Shore is hoping to debut against the Rangers. The 25-year-old centre missed Wednesday’s contest due to illness.
FLAMES GAMEDAY LINES
Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Sam Bennett
Matthew Tkachuk-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik
Troy Brouwer-Mark Jankowski-Garnet Hathaway
Tanner Glass-Matt Stajan-Chris Stewart
Mark Giordano-Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie-Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak-Michael Stone
RANGERS GAMEDAY LINES
Vladislav Namestnikov-Kevin Hayes-Ryan Spooner
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
Jimmy Vesey-Peter Holland-Mats Zuccarello
Paul Carey-David Desharnais-Jesper Fast
Brady Skjei-Neal Pionk
Marc Staal-Rob O’Gara
John Gilmour-Tony DeAngelo
POWER PLAY (prior to Thursday’s action)
FLAMES: 18.2% (23rd)
RANGERS: 20.8% (T-12th)
PENALTY KILL (prior to Thursday’s action)
FLAMES: 80.2% (16th)
RANGERS: 82.4% (10th)
RW Micheal Ferland (upper body), C/LW Marek Hrivik (upper body), C Nick Shore (illness), G Mike Smith (lower body), LW Kris Versteeg (hip)
D Steven Kampfer (hand), Ondrej Pavelec (knee), D Kevin Shattenkirk (knee)