Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan had no issue revealing his cards when it came to Mike Smith, proclaiming the veteran goaltender will be in net for Wednesday’s road game against the Los Angeles Kings. Gulutzan held his hand closer to the vest in regard to Jaromir Jagr, keeping reporters in limbo by playing the waiting game with the future Hall of Famer.
“I’ll let you guys know (Wednesday),” Gulutzan said after the team’s up-tempo skate Tuesday afternoon in El Segundo, Calif. “We have a plan of what we want to do. I’ll let you know (Wednesday).” The 45-year-old Jagr, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract on Oct. 3 with the potential to earn another $1 million in incentives, reportedly has been working on his conditioning as he prepares for his debut with his eighth NHL team. Los Angeles’ conditioning should be fine after enjoying a few days off since Saturday’s 4-1 win over San Jose. Captain Anze Kopitar collected two goals and an assist in that contest and recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in five meetings last season with the Flames.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NHL.TV, Sportsnet West (Calgary), FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE FLAMES (2-1-0): Smith was absent from Tuesday’s practice with what Gulutzan admitted was a well-earned maintenance day, mere hours after the veteran turned aside all 43 shots as the Flames snapped a 25-game slide (0-20-5) versus Anaheim with a 2-0 win on Monday. The 35-year-old Smith has stopped 110 of 115 shots to record a 1.68 goals-against average and .957 save percentage this season. “I’ve said it all along - it doesn’t matter if there’s 20 or 40 (shots),” Smith said. “My job is the same: to stabilize the group and to make the saves the team relies on you to make. I’ve been used to it in the past, I‘m no stranger to it, so when it happens, I‘m somewhat used to it.”
ABOUT THE KINGS (2-0-0): Kopitar credits the loosening of the team’s reins under new coach John Stevens as a reason for optimism on offense. “There’s a lot more creativity to our game than there was previously. Just getting chances,” Kopitar said. “We’re creating stuff, and that’s the most important thing, but we’re creating in high-scoring, high-danger areas.” The Kings, however, haven’t “created” enough buzz on the power play as they have failed on all 11 attempts, but are a perfect 9-for-9 on the penalty kill.
1. Los Angeles C Tyler Toffoli, who leads the team with 12 shots this season, failed to record a point in five encounters with Calgary last season.
2. Flames LW Johnny Gaudreau has recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in his last two games overall and four (one goal, three assists) in five games versus the Kings in 2016-17.
3. Los Angeles C Jeff Carter scored two goals and set up two others versus Calgary last season.
PREDICTION: Flames 3, Kings 2