FGD #33: Welcoming the Rangers (7pm MT; SN Flames)

The Flames return home after a disastrous – in the standings – road trip tonight as they host the New York Rangers for their 33rd game of the 2014-15 season.

Calgary (17-13-2) has lost five in a row, including all four games of their recent road swing. Despite that, the mood was somewhat upbeat at the rink yesterday. Why? The team recognizes that they’ve largely been playing well and it’s been circumstances and some untimely gaffes on their part that has triggered this slide. The key to victory, for the home side, is paying attention to the little things in the game – especially consistency in defensive coverage.

New York (14-10-4) are headed in the opposite direction, having won three straight – including whuppin’ the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night in Vancouver. They’re hoping to keep their momentum going as they recover from a slow start that’s put them a bit behind in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division.

Puck drop is at 7pm and you can catch it on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.04.39 AM

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.05.04 AM

Per Pat Steinberg, sounds like it’s a coin-toss between Raymond and Brandon Bollig for the fourth line wing spot and it’ll be a game-time decision. Raymond hasn’t been stellar since returning, so I guess that makes sense. Corey Potter and Brian McGrattan are the other scratches.

Karri Ramo starts tonight. He’s been good lately, as has Jonas Hiller, as Calgary’s biggest problem hasn’t been goaltending. It’s been their awful, awful shooting percentage. But the only way to ride it out is to back-check and keep getting pucks (and bodies) to the opposition net. (TM Charlie Simmer)

THE RANGERS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.06.11 AM

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.06.27 AM

No changes are anticipated in the Rangers’ line-up, which means Lee Stempniak returns to town (yay!) and handsome Henrik Lundqvist, considered the NHL’s dreamiest goalie by a poll of people I saw on Twitter this morning, gets the start.

The Ranges have what I like to call – balance. They have good defensive depth. They have three solid lines and some stuff with useful potential on their fourth line. Heck, they have uber-prospect Kevin Hayes AND a Rick Nash that remembered how to score hockey goals.

All in all, the Rangers are another tough test for Calgary: a talented team with scoring depth and a really good goalie.

SUM IT UP

There are no easy outs in the NHL, and the Rangers are definitely not an easy out. The Flames will need to use smart match-ups and work their tails off tonight to get back in the win column. If they slack in any way, there’s a good chance they could run their losing string to six.

  • RedMan

    My idea of a perfect season:
    finish a strong development year by placing just 1 pt out of the playoffs, then shock the world by winning the draft lottery and picking first.

    what are the odds of the last elligable team winning first overall? like .5% or something?

      • beloch

        LOL. That would be awesome.

        But honestly, people can’t really think this team is making the playoffs… This has been fun and all, but we’ve become like the guy at the slot machine who wins a few in a row and thinks he has beat the system, is on a hot streak and starts to double down.

        Like the guy who got lucky in the casino, we should cash out and run now. Unfortunately we have to play the rest of the games this year.

  • Toofun

    “Per Pat Steinberg, sounds like it’s a coin-toss between Raymond and Brandon Bollig for the fourth line wing spot and it’ll be a game-time decision.”

    If that’s the case I’d rather them bring up Ferland and send down Bollig.

  • KiLLKiND

    I still think we should stick the rebuild no need for trading away prospects for a player to make us a playoff bubble team. The Adirondack team seems really good and in 2 years we should be a solid team led by Monahan, Bennet, Brodano, Gaudreau, and Ortio.

    Also Ferland is seeing far more playing time in the AHL. why would you rather have him being a game time decision to play 4th line right wing? He should be in the AHL for now just to see more playing time.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Agree. Ditto for Arnold, Sven, Agostino, Wotherspoon, Selloff etc.

      The Red Wing model is one to follow as well…for the most part they make it mandatory for all prospects to play a minimum of 2 years in the AHL…