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:

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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:

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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.