FGD #14: A Capital Meeting (5pm MT, SNW)

It’s a tale of two cities in The District tonight, as the Calgary Flames (7-4-2) head to America’s capital city to tangle with the Washington Capitals (4-5-2). The puck drops at 5pm MT and you can catch all the action on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

These teams last met last week in Calgary, with some timely goals from Joel Ward pacing the Caps to a 3-1 win over the Flames. Since that game, Washington’s gone 0-4-0 and Calgary’s gone 2-0-1. Strange, eh? The visitors are hoping they can string together yet another strong 60-minute effort…and that Washington’s skid continues unabated for at least one more evening.

THE FLAMES

The big news tonight is the illness suffered by rookie sensation Johnny Gaudreau, who has become the straw that stirs Calgary’s offensive mix. He’s speedy, he’s clutch, he’s dynamic, and he’s a game-time decision with what sounds like the flu (thanks to Roger Millions on Twitter for the scoop).

If he goes, here’s the line-up via Daily Faceoff:

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If Gaudreau doesn’t play, Bouma jumps up to that left wing slot, Jooris slides over to center and Brian McGrattan returns to the line-up. Deryk Engelland returns from a one-game absence at the expense of Rapha Diaz, while Jonas Hiller makes his fourth consecutive start (and ninth of the season).

While Washington’s hit the skids a bit, Calgary’s improved of late. The reason? Here’s some data from War on Ice regarding Calgary’s overall play since October 18 – they have a 4-1-2 record in that span.

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Well, two: LUCK (a 104 PDO is incredibly high) and improved possession play. Before October 18, the Flames were 101.56 PDO and 44.56 Corsi%. Why did I choose October 18? Johnny Gaudreau sat in the press box on October 17 in Columbus. Since then, he has a 53.3 CorsiFor% (though it’s just 46.1% at 5-on-5). Before he got parked, Gaudreau had a woeful 35 CorsiFor% (and 36% at 5-on-5).

The Flames have points in 8 of their last 10 games, which is great, but remember this is a team that’s

Bottom Three in Puck Possession

(with 43.22% CorsiFor at even-strength) and is being propped up by goaltending and timely goals. At some point, this will swing the other direction.

THE CAPITALS

The team from D.C. is free-fallin’ down the Eastern Conference standings, having lost four in a row since beating Calgary last week.

Here are lines from morning skate via Daily Faceoff:

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The Capitals are the Gallant to Calgary’s Goofus in many ways – a good possession team with more losses than wins who are seemingly panicking and shuffling lines in an effort to get something going. As I mentioned in the last Flames/Capitals preview, the Capitals have strong depth and might not boast any elite-level talent beyond its top line, they have a balanced attack that can roll four lines.

Now if only they can get some pucks in the net.

Braden Holtby gets the start. He was good against Calgary but not tested all that much. By sheer coincidence, that win was both his last and the team’s last.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are becoming road warriors, with this being their eighth road game this season. They’ve already won five on the road, and for a team that’s utterly struggled away from home ice over the past few years, that’s pretty big.

Can they add another win to their total tonight against a Washington team that’s reeling and desperately seeking points? Perhaps, but if Gaudreau isn’t in the line-up, it’ll be an uphill battle for them.

  • piscera.infada

    Jooris gets the assist on the winner. But did anyone notice his backchecking earlier in the OT to prevent an odd man rush, that was what will keep him in the NHL.

  • MattyFranchise

    Frustrating to see Sven benched for not getting a puck deep on a hillers goal that probably shouldn’t have been a goal. Svens doing what’s being asked of him, Hartley needs to be more patient with rookies. He’ll never realize his potential sitting on the bench.

      • MattyFranchise

        It was a pretty good draft choice plus his draft+1 year was amazing. Sometimes incredible junior players just don’t have what it takes to play in the bigs. Doesn’t happen often but it does happen.

    • piscera.infada

      I’m all for the rookies being given the benefit of the doubt, but to say Hartley doesn’t have patient with the rookies? Give your head a shake. That whole overtime was Jooris, Granlund, Monahan…

        • piscera.infada

          Johnny sat because he’s got the flu.

          Look, regardless of what narrative you’re trying to spin here (which is patently false), that play was a mistake on Sven’s part – you never softly turn the puck over at the opponents blue-line, regardless of the quality of the resulting goal.

          • Burnward

            No narrative, just would like to see Sven given a fair chance. He has top 6 skill but rarely given top six minutes in his nhl games. Was decent before that awkward bounce off the boards where hiller let in goal. Hardly any pp time when he is in the lineup or with the big club. Didn’t play a shift after that goal. Setoguchi on the pp is mind blowing. Glad the flames won though in a game where I thought Washington dominated at times.. Hartleys not a fan I get it. Flames should probably just cut him loose cause he’ll never be given a fair chance with Hartley at the helm.

          • piscera.infada

            I get it. I also think Sven has something to offer, and while he’s up, he should be given some looks. That all said, making a blanket statement about Hartley giving rookies the shaft isn’t accurate, and if he made a coaching decision that Sven deserved to benched for making the play that any hockey player has been told not to make since Atom, I won’t fault him on that. It’s simple, Sven needs to prove he deserves the opportunities these other young players are getting. Johnny did, Monahan did, Jooris did, Byron did. Just prove it.

            I’ll agree with you on Setoguchi, although I have a feeling that’s management asking Hartley to get him going, or he’s no longer on the big club. I’m not sure you can fault them for that either. They need to get a read on him eventually.

          • RKD

            Not a fan of hartleys methods, imo he gives veterans the high road, I’m sure Sven knows to get the puck deep as well, that’s why he is where he is. Imo I know what setoguchi is already, don’t know what Sven is yet but I think his ceiling is high. The reason for the benching is what’s frustrating. One play…that resulted in a goal that shouldn’t have been, there’s no way in my mind u can justify that, hartley adding fuel to the fire.

          • MattyFranchise

            Hahaha ure a joke, did u watch the game? Or were posting comments all night? Sven wasn’t the only making mistakes. Lucky Hiller had Johnny and monys back in overtime huh? Watch the game

    • Burnward

      Here is what you need to know, 3 freaky goals two by the caps , one by the flames. Hiller saves the game at the buzzer, Great overtime, Monahan with the winner.

  • Burnward

    Love to watch a team that plays over their head. Nothing worse than watching an overpaid, underachieving team. The Flames created their identity last year and have kept it up this year. Intelligent hockey fans will reward effort and passion win or lose. And then there’s the Oilers.

  • beloch

    I love how, when the Flames lose, certain posters are all over how bad the Flames as a team are but, when the Flames win, they choose a rookie to rag on. Hey guys, do you know what road games mean for green rookies? When you bring kids up, no matter how great they’re supposed to be, the first couple of games you try to give them good match-ups. It’s hard to do that when your opponent has last change.

    During the season opening road-trip it was Gaudreau’s turn. “He’s not a NHL player. Boy he looks lost! They should send him down!” A little time for contemplation in the press box and a few home games later the rookie-bashers are real quiet about Johnny. Baertschi was called up because the Flames needed a warm body and, although he hasn’t put up points in the A’ lately, he had a very solid camp. Should we be worried that he hasn’t done much in his first two road games? Absolutely not.

  • RKD

    Imagine how scary this team would be with Sam Bennett! It’s fun beating teams with veteran players with big contracts. These kids are fast and persistent, they chase after the puck like a pack of hungry dogs.

  • KiLLKiND

    You know what Sven is still really young he’s my brothers age and I know people expect a lot out of 1st round picks how about we lower our expectations to that of a 3rd rounder give him another year or 2 in the A. You can see the potential he has and I know I’ve said I don’t believe this is his year, and I still don’t but maybe seeing all these other young guys making the jump will inspire him. Besides we couldn’t get that much out of him right now.

    • piscera.infada

      Sven has the talent, that if developed properly will enable him to play in the NHL.

      What he does not have is the drive, desire, patience to develop into an NHL’er…I’m afraid…….

  • Burnward

    seems to me there were several points earlier in the season when everyone was complaining that Johnny wasn’t seeing the ice late in the 3rd or overtime….

    Give Sven a break, he’ll get there. Even Johnny had a tough time playing with seto. Once seto is back to wearing street clothes and we have ferland, or backlund back everything will be great and you’ll see a whole other side of Sven…the fun side…being creative side…..just gotta give it some time