The Calgary Flames will be looking to close out the 2019 year and the 2010s decade with a win. On Tuesday, Dec. 31 the Flames (20-16-5) are set to host the Chicago Blackhawks (17-17-6). The Flames are coming off an upset home loss to the Vancouver Canucks (5-2) on Sunday. The Blackhawks have won their last 2 games following a devastating loss to the New Jersey Devils (7-1) Dec. 23.
The Flames are shaking things up in the lineup for the tilt against Chicago. Sam Bennett will be drawing into the lineup on the second line alongside Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund.
Johnny Gaudreau will once again join Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic on the third line, where he saw some success during the Flames’ seven game win streak a few weeks ago.
Zac Rinaldo will also be re-entering the lineup to help bulk up the fourth line. He will join Tobias Rieder and Michael Frolik. Rinaldo has 2 goals and 1 assist in 7 games with the Flames this season.
Another noteworthy change is the absence of top-line defenseman TJ Brodie. Rasmus Andersson will be moving up to play with captain Mark Giordano. The Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic line will remain intact and Michael Stone will be drawing into the lineup alongside Oliver Kylington.
One of the biggest lineup decisions comes from starting goaltender David Rittich after he allowed 3 goals on 7 shots in the first period against the Canucks on Sunday. Rittich was pulled just over 10 minutes into the game and was replaced by Cam Talbot, who allowed only 1 goal on 20 shots for the remainder of the game. Sunday was Talbot’s 300th NHL appearance. But, Rittich will get a fresh start against the Blackhawks and looks to redeem himself after the recent shaky start.
Last year the Flames defeated the San Jose Sharks 8-5 at home in an unbelievable game to close out the 2018 year. Will the Flames repeat a similar performance this year? We we will have to see!