FGD #53: The Quest for 30 (7pm MT, SN West)

Tonight’s Calgary Flames contest is all about the number 30.

Well, maybe not all about, but in two specific ways. First, it’s the first of the final 30 games of this wacky season, and the unfolding of these final 30 games will determine whether we’re discussing hockey games after the regular season is finished on April 11. Second, it’s the first opportunity for both the Calgary Flames (29-20-3) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-8) to hit the 30-win mark. Considering the Flames had just 35 wins last season, it’s pretty huge.

The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Jonas Hiller is expected to get his 32nd start of the season. He’s 17-14-2 with a 2.31 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.

The Flames have won eight of their last 10 games and received game-winning goals from seven different players in those wins. That says a lot for their balanced attack of late. That’ll need to continue.

What’ll also need to continue is their power-play success; they’ve scored power-play markers in three straight games (and four of their last five games). Want to beat Pittsburgh? Keep taking advantage of those chances when they’re given to you.

No major line-up changes are expected. Curtis Glencross is not quite ready, but may be ready on the California road trip coming up. Ladislav Smid, David Wolf and Sam Bennett are also out.

THE PENGUINS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start. He’s 24-11-5 with a 2.30 goals against average and .920 save percentage. The Penguins are as reliant on him as the Flames are on Hiller.

The Penguins are a bit of a weird hodge-podge line-up. They have a bunch of really good players, but also because of injury and cap concerns. That said, the Penguins are in a good place in the Metropolitan Division despite both Crosby and Malkin missing time this season. They’re battling it out with the Islanders for the division lead and could really use the points here.

That said, they’re not really in danger of missing the playoffs right now. They’re just hoping to get healthy before the post-season begins.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Pittsburgh
Wins 29 29
Power Play 17.4% (19th) 22.2% (7th)
Penalty Kill 77.9% (25th) 86.7% (3rd)
Corsi 45.0% (28th) 52.0% (9th)
Corsi Close 45.2% (27th) 53.2% (6th)
Faceoffs 47.5% (27th) 49.0% (17th)
PDO 101.2 (6th) 100.2 (15th)

SCOREBOARD WATCHING

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Vancouver burnt off a game in hand last night losing (in regulation!) to San Jose. Calgary can burn off their game in hand tonight and potentially reel the Sharks back in. The best news is that everybody chasing Calgary has been losing lately, aside from Minnesota, which itself may simplify the playoff chase as we get closer to March.

SUM IT UP

They’re all big games as the season winds down, but the Flames have a shot tonight to hit the 30-win mark against a non-conference opponent in the Penguins. The atmosphere may be slightly muted considering the Penguins are a less desperate foe than they’ve hosted lately, but the points are no less valuable for the home side.