Calgary Flames: Three things to watch vs Vancouver Canucks

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 18: Sam Bennett /

The Calgary Flames will be looking to get back into it tonight after their shutout loss last night to the Ottawa Senators. Here are four things to watch for.

In a disappointing shutout loss to the Ottawa Senators last night, the Calgary Flames have no time to feel sorry for themselves as they play a Pacific Division rival, the Vancouver Canucks, tonight. This will be their first set of back-to-back games.

Last season, they went 4-4-3 in their second game of back-to-back games.

The Calgary Flames right now are 3-2-0, 20.0% on the PP, and 86.4% on the PK. The Vancouver Canucks are 1-1-1, 12.5% on the PP, and 90.9% on the PK. Let’s check out four things to watch for in the game tonight.

Related Story: Flames win-streak comes to an end against Senators


Mike Smith

In the first four games of the season, Mike Smith was incredible, even in the 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers to start the season off. But, he’s faced more than 40 shots in three of those four games. Flames bench boss wasn’t too happy about that and the Flames needed to limit their chances. And they did. But that’s about all they really did last night in the 6-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Mike Smith let in five goals on 22 shots and was pull almost midway through the third period after that fifth goal. It was somewhat of a wakeup call to the Flames that Smith can’t keep bailing them out of games.

I guess he’s so used to facing a lot of shots when he played with the Arizona Coyotes and the Flames didn’t even let the Sens get a shot on goal until around the nine minute mark of the first period. He may have needed more shots to feel more confident. But nonetheless, he got the nod for tonight, then the Flames will get a four-day rest.

This season so far, Smith is 3-2-0 with 2.71 GAA and 0.929 SV%.

Last season against the Canucks, Smith went 1-2-0 with 2.86 GAA and 0.883 sv%. His win was a shutout win. Last season, in the one instance where he played in both games of back-to-backs, in the second game, he won and allowed just one goal against on 38 shots. Maybe the Flames should step back a little and let the Canucks shoot as much as they can, since Smith does better that way anyways.

Jacob Markstrom

Jacob Markstrom has started in all three of the Canucks games so far. Their most recent, a loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, he let in three goals on just 19 shots. Last season against the Flames, Markstrom went 0-2-0 with 3.08 GAA and 0.910 SV%. Looks like both players didn’t do too well against each other.

Last season, Markstrom went 10-11-3, 2.63 GAA, and 0.910 SV%.

If each team generates a lot of scoring chances, I have a feeling both goaltenders will hold their own.

Players to watch

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames


We have three players to watch for tonight: Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Chris Tanev. Boeser made his season debut last game against the Winnipeg Jets. He had one assist in their 4-2 loss to the Jets. He’ll be on a line alongside Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat, a line that generates lots of chances for the Canucks. Speaking of that line, we need to also watch for Bo Horvat.

Last season, he led the Canucks in goals and points with 20 and 52, respectively. So far, he’s tied on the team in points with two. Last season against the Calgary Flames, he had one goal and one assist, the assist coming on the powerplay.

He’s tied in the lead on the team with defenceman Chris Tanev. Currently, Tanev is shown on the second unit, but he played the second highest amount of minutes at even-strength. Even in their 4-2 loss to the Jets, the Canucks had 17 shots attempts with Tanev on the ice at even strength and limited the Jets to just seven. Last season, Tanev had just two goals in 53 games, one coming against the Flames. He’ll be a player the Flames will need to be smart when trying to get past him tonight.


Right now, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano is just one goal away from 100. He’s been aiming to reach that 100th goal mark since the season started. He has two assists on the year. He did have three goals in five games against the Canucks last season, so who knows, maybe he’ll get that 100th tonight.

Another player to watch is Johnny Gaudreau, who is leading all Flames with seven goals. He was on a three-game win streak, but was left off the scoresheet last night. Last season, Gaudreau had just one assist against the Canucks, but an impressive 14 shots on goal in five games.

Related Story: Johnny Gaudreau ranked 10th best winger

Last season, these were the Flames leaders against the Canucks (all played five games):

  • Michael Frolik: 3G, 5P
  • Mikael Backlund: 1G, 5P
  • Mark Giordano: 3G, 4P
  • Matthew Tkachuk: 1G, 4P

I’m glad it was all M’s.

The final player to watch is of course, Jaromir Jagr. Jagr has played two games so far with the Flames. And even in his home debut last night in a flaming C sweater, while he was kept off the scoresheet, the Flames had 14 shot attempts with him on the ice (at even-strength), only allowed five against, and he himself had five shot attempts. In a 6-0 shutout loss, Jagr still managed to keep his +/- 0. I’d say that’s quite decent when your team loses 6-0. He’s still looking for his first point in a Flames jersey.

Related Story: Hey Jaromir Jagr, you're really old

Shot attempts – both teams

Something that may separate these two teams is their ability to generate scoring chances. The Calgary Flames right now have generated the most amount of shot attempts at 5-on-5 in the league, with 246. They have the 12th best record for CF% at 51.14%. The Canucks on the other hand, have the worst CF% in the league at 43.26%.

In the Canucks one win this season against the Edmonton Oilers, they had just 33.80% CF%, which is… not good at all, and that’s me being nice about it. But on the other hand, in their one regulation loss against the Jets, they had a CF% of 54.24%, their best out of their three games. They’ve had a weird season.

In the Flames 6-0 loss to the Senators last night, they completely outplayed them at even-strength, posting a CF% of 64.86%. But when you take seven penalties, you’re not exactly at even-strength a whole lot. Their discipline will be something they’ll need to keep at bay tonight if they want to win this game.

The Canucks have just seven goals in three games versus the Flames’ 12 in five games.

Next: Flames Daily: Trying to get right back in it

If the Canucks want to win, they need to generate some more offence. If the Flames want to win, they need to stay out of the penalty box. And maybe let the Canucks generate a lot of scoring chances, since this seems to be the trend here. I mean, the Flames have won every game that they score a goal in. So maybe they need just one goal early on and that’ll signify a win.