FGD 44: Measuring sticks (7:30pm MT, SN1)

Ryan Pike
January 11 2017 12:00PM

On Monday, the Calgary Flames had a big game against a conference rival in the Winnipeg Jets. It didn't go well, with the Flames struggling against the size and structure of the Jets game...and seemingly forgetting how to connect on passes for roughly half the game. Well, things don't get much easier for them tonight as they host the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks.

Playing their second game in as many nights after a fairly entertaining tilt against the Edmonton Oilers last night, the Sharks are likely going to be a bit fatigued. In other words? This is the type of game that teams that make the playoffs find a way to win. If the Flames plan on being a playoff team, they're going to have to figure out how to beat the Sharks (and the Ducks, Kings, Blackhawks and Predators) in these types of situations.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan! (The game is joined-in-progress on Sportsnet West.)

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Alex Chiasson
Matthew Tkachuk Mikael Backlund Michael Frolik
Kris Versteeg Sam Bennett Micheal Ferland
Lance Bouma Matt Stajan Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie Dennis Wideman
Jyrki Jokipakka Deryk Engelland

Despite taking the loss last time out against Winnipeg, Chad Johnson gets the start tonight in a big divisional game for the Flames. Johnson's been the better of the two goalies this season and started both games in San Jose earlier this season, so he's arguably the best netminder to face the Sharks tonight. He's 14-9-1 with a 2.27 goals against average and .922 save percentage this year.

As usual, the Flames are without Ladislav Smid and Troy Brouwer (though Brouwer skated in a non-contact jersey this morning). Based on morning skate, it sounds like Brett Kulak and Freddie Hamilton remain the extra healthy bodies. The thought process is probably to give the same group another kick at the can after their so-so effort against Winnipeg before making any substantial tinkers.

The Flames have had a tough time generating offense at even strength lately, though Johnny Gaudreau has been looking more and more dangerous – he may be poised for a breakout game. They struggled with the Jets size and structure so expect them to rely on dump and chase hockey, and utilizing their speed to get behind the defense and generate offensive chances. Either that or get the defense running around and taking penalties so that their vaunted power play can get them on the scoreboard. Let's just hope they're not as out-matched as they were against Winnipeg.

THE SHARKS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Timo Meier Joe Thornton Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc Logan Couture Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau Chris Tierney Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker Micheal Haley Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon Dylan DeMelo

The Sharks did the Flames a favour last night, beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Martin Jones started in goal and faced 36 shots in the victory. Historically, Jones and backup Aaron Dell have split back-to-back nights so my expectation is Dell starts here. And that's a good thing, since Jones is really good and Dell is not nearly so.

Mikkel Boedker had a hat trick last night, while both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Michael Haley also had multi-point nights. Geez, if the Sharks fourth line is making that kind of noise imagine how their scorers could do! The Sharks remain without Tomas Hertl and beloved ex-Flame David Schlemko due to injury. Given the back-to-back, it's unclear if they'll make any changes for tonight. Their extras are Tim Heed, Mirco Mueller and Tommy Wingels.

THE NUMBERS


FLAMES
SHARKS
Wins
22
24
Points
(Pct.)
46
(.535)
52
(.634)
Power Play
20.3%
16.1%
Penalty Kill
82.0%
83.3%
Score-Adjusted Corsi
50.1%
51.9

HISTORY LESSON

In 114 prior regular season meetings, the Flames are 59-42-13 against the Sharks. Granted, the Sharks were bad for many years and have been a lot better in recent seasons. This is the third of five meetings between the two teams. They've played twice in San Jose already, splitting the two games. The remaining two games after this one are March 31 in Calgary and April 8 in San Jose.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Sharks follows for tonight's contest:

My cousin, the Sharks fan, is confident that San Jose is going to win.

SUM IT UP

Are the Flames going to be a playoff team? Are they going to be a competitive team from here on out? Tonight's a great chance to get some answers, as they face the Pacific Division leaders in a crucial game with playoff implications.

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Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. You can see his hand or the side of his head on TV sometimes.
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#1 Stan
January 11 2017, 12:21PM
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Honestly, Chiasson has been passable on the first line (and has produced well for his contract) but I can't help but want him bumped down the lineup. Why not try Versteeg on the first line? He showed some chemistry with Monahan before Christmas. Something needs to be done to get that line going, we can't keep relying solely on the 3M line. This would bump Chiasson down to 3L RW, and Ferland to 3L LW.

I'd also like to see Kulak draw in on the second pairing with Brodie. No idea why this combination hasn't been given a real shot yet.

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#2 Derzie
January 11 2017, 12:22PM
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Chiasson on the top line. GG behind the bench. Burns playing out of his mind. Sharks a much better team. Oh oh.

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#3 jakethesnail
January 11 2017, 01:31PM
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Dumb-de-dumb? Going with the same lineup that played such a limp game against the Jets!

Exchange Chiasson with Hathaway.

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#4 Newbietwo
January 11 2017, 01:56PM
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Until Ferland can deliver on the third line with talented players albeit who will have lesser match ups where is the logic to shift him onto the first line? As for Versteeg shifting to the first line yes he has the play making skills but every time that happens our first line gets shut down aggressively.. teams aren't stupid if they see a line as a passing and shifting line without any potential board play then they have zero fear with the puck going behind the net..

The clear problem we have with our first line is lack of speed matched with grit to play with Johnny.. 23 is too slow behind the play most of the times..

Regardless of who is Johnnys right wing the real problem and most important guy on his line will always be who his centre is.. what is unique about Johnny as a LW is that once he enters the offensive zone he pivots and assumes the role of a centre.. thus his centre needs to assume the role of a wing! In the past 23 did that and had success because he was not relied upon to generate the offence but to finish it!!

I argue that the best situation is for Johnny to have a right shot Centre to play with so that when he pivots and off loads the pass it gives better connecting plays between the three forwards.. alternative to that is Bennet if he rushes the net but he has a tendency to drive the play behind the net and circulate around the boards which null and voids Johnny given his lack of board skills or to crash the net! If Bennet can rush more he has the better speed to play with Johnny

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#5 Newbietwo
January 11 2017, 02:01PM
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Just to add that is exactly why mackinon was matched up with Johnny in the World Cup

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#6 Stu Cazz
January 11 2017, 02:52PM
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The kid is 20 and missed a year due to shoulder surgery so patience is required. Having said that their are signs he is struggling as a centre. Back at wing in the top 6 is imperative.....

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#7 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 08:18PM
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The Sportsnet Key to the Game for the Flames: Eyes on Burns... for good reason.

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#8 The GREAT WW
January 11 2017, 08:22PM
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Why do we get the worst officiating in our own barn?!

WW

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#9 Stu Cazz
January 11 2017, 08:46PM
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Sean Monahan where are you?? GG time to shake up the lines!!

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#10 flames2015
January 11 2017, 09:01PM
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Tkachuk just took a penalty by stealing burns stick? I know hes just 19 but come on. Dumb penalty to take. He will probably get benched again.

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#11 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 09:01PM
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Must kill this penalty... can't afford to go down 3 - 1.

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#12 Arminius
January 11 2017, 09:10PM
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So.. Aaron Dell hey? Right on.

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#13 Ktop
January 11 2017, 09:10PM
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Why don't the wingers cover the D in our own end?

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#14 Juan Valdez
January 11 2017, 09:11PM
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This is a snore-fest. Wake me up when something happens.

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#15 flames2015
January 11 2017, 09:11PM
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The drop pass is so predictable! Takes so long to gain entry.

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#16 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 09:12PM
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I was going to say that the PP wasn't accomplishing very much but it doesn't take long... the 3M line strikes again!

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#17 1_4theMoney
January 11 2017, 09:18PM
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It's getting a little old hearing Johnny yell **** through my TV when he coughs it up 4 times a shift

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#18 The GREAT WW
January 11 2017, 09:19PM
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Chuk still the best player on the team.....where would this team be without him?

WW

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#19 Juan Valdez
January 11 2017, 09:23PM
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We're in desperate need of a first line centre. Too many overpaid plugs being used to fill all the holes.

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#20 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 09:27PM
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So... both players who took a penalty went on to score a goal... not that I'm advocating taking penalties agains the Sharks!

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#21 RKD
January 11 2017, 09:40PM
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I'm running out of good things to say about Tkackuk.

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#22 RKD
January 11 2017, 09:44PM
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The GREAT WW wrote:

Why do we get the worst officiating in our own barn?!

WW

I've got two words for you: Dennis Wideman

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#23 The GREAT WW
January 11 2017, 09:55PM
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I hope Ferland didn't blow his knee out again. Poor guy. In the last year of his "show me" contract....

WW

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#24 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 09:59PM
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Huge stop by Johnson!

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#25 Muffin
January 11 2017, 10:00PM
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I'd wear a Johnson jersey.

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#26 flames2015
January 11 2017, 10:07PM
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That backlund leap onto hammilton is gold

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#27 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 10:08PM
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Dougie from Backs (his second assist tonight)! Huge goal... now just have to hang on!

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#28 flames2015
January 11 2017, 10:10PM
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Wow how BS are the calls tonight! I have seen that been a automatic goal so many times

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#29 RKD
January 11 2017, 10:12PM
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Huge Flames win over a deep Sharks squad.

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#30 cgyokgn
January 11 2017, 10:12PM
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Wow, that was too close for comfort... Boedker could have scored and tied up the game - yikes!

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#31 FOS
January 11 2017, 10:12PM
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Thanks Chad

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#32 kittensandcookies
January 11 2017, 10:14PM
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@flames2015

Two words:

Dennis Wideman.

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#33 beloch
January 11 2017, 10:15PM
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  • The refs were bad, but the Flames were good.
  • Gaudreau was robbed on that empty-netter.
  • Hathaway is probably sick of being punched in the face.
  • Tkachuk is a beast!
  • I sure hope Ferland is okay.
  • I'm starting to feel like the Johnson/Elliott tandem is going to be freakin' sweet in the playoffs.
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#34 flames2015
January 11 2017, 10:17PM
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Johnson! Man i remember when ever we gave up a PS with hiller and ramo..it went in everytime.

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#35 Juan Valdez
January 11 2017, 10:17PM
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kittensandcookies wrote:

Two words:

Dennis Wideman.

I see your Dennis Wideman and raise you a Gary Bettman.

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#36 Oilertown
January 11 2017, 10:41PM
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beloch wrote:
  • The refs were bad, but the Flames were good.
  • Gaudreau was robbed on that empty-netter.
  • Hathaway is probably sick of being punched in the face.
  • Tkachuk is a beast!
  • I sure hope Ferland is okay.
  • I'm starting to feel like the Johnson/Elliott tandem is going to be freakin' sweet in the playoffs.

I wouldn't be too confident that they will make playoffs!!!

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#37 The GREAT WW
January 11 2017, 10:42PM
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Juan Valdez wrote:

I see your Dennis Wideman and raise you a Gary Bettman.

That's a string bet...

WW

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#38 Jumping Jack Flash
January 11 2017, 11:02PM
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I am concerned when our best defenders make really bad reads late in a tied game. Chad is not always going to be able to bail them out...nor should he be. The PP at the end was a case or Tkachuk trying to eat the puck along the boards to kill the game without the two defenders aware. I can excuse a 19 year old kid but Gio.....not so much.

Johnny seems to play better with any other line. We are a one line team and our best player is not on that line....time to break up the 3M line for the betterment of the team. I think Tkachuk could give Johnny the service he is sorely missing. Benett needs the Backland bump on the left wing where he had a 4 goal game last year.

If Ferland is hurt for an extended time...perhaps Klimchuck gets his chance. Scored again tonight, his 12th in a losing cause 5-3 against SD.

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#39 jakethesnail
January 11 2017, 11:29PM
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@Oilertown

How good is Puljujarvi looking with the oilers? he isn't because he was demoted! Meanwhile Tkachuk scores the key tying goal and assists on the key opening goal....Puljujavi another Nail pick??

Oops! I took the bait of a coiler troller.. :(

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#40 RedMan
January 12 2017, 10:50AM
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Oilertown wrote:

I wouldn't be too confident that they will make playoffs!!!

You're obviously talking about the Oilers, who were manhandled by the Sharks, and who have been slowly losing ground for weeks. I'm betting by the end of Saturday night that the Oilers are looking up in the standings at the Flames, and end up missing the playoffs by finishing 10th in the division. Which is a good improvement for sure, but no more top draft picks. Which means no playoffs AND no draft consolation prize.

Oilers have lived on loser prizes for years (draft) and this year it is the loser points that keep them thinking they've arrived. Not going to be enough as the Oilers are slowly melting down.

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