FGD #56: We Need A Name For This Rivalry (8pm MT, CBC)

It seems like almost yesterday that the Flames and Canucks opened up an installment of Hockey Night in Canada with a line brawl. In actuality, it’s been slightly over a year. Since then, the Canucks have crashed, burned and recovered, while the Flames continue to chug along and keep pace in the NHL’s crazy-good Western Conference.

It just seems like a shame that two teams who have been so historically important to each other don’t have a name for their rivalry. I mean, Calgary and Edmonton have the Battle of Alberta, but Calgary and Vancouver? Zilch. And considering that the teams have met so often in the playoffs and tangled en route to Stanley Cup Final appearances, it’s a bit disappointing.

This season’s latest installment of the No-Name Rivalry is tonight. The Flames (30-22-3) and Canucks (31-20-3) face off tonight, beginning at 8pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Presumably Jonas Hiller starts once more.

The Flames are coming off a poor showing against Los Angeles, in the sense that they were thoroughly out-played by the defending Stanley Cup champions. That said, the Flames have been good at not letting bumps in the road turn into cliffs to fall off of – that one big losing streak notwithstanding – so they desperately want to have a good showing at home. Against a rival. Who played last night and traveled.

Based on projected lines, Jooris comes in for Byron tonight. I’m not sure I love or hate that move; the Flames need size against the Canucks, but Byron is one of their better possession players and fantastic at creating chances – just not burying them.

The Flames are just two points up on Minnesota (who have a game in hand). They need a win to put some distance between them and the pack. Badly.

THE CANUCKS

Lines from last night, via Daily Faceoff:

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I’m not sure whether the Flames get Ryan Miller or Eddie Lack tonight after Miller got the W against the Bruins. Anyhow, the Canucks have won back to back games, and Shawn Matthias had a hat trick – on the third line – last night against Boston.

The Flames need to figure out how to isolate and frustrate the Sedins, and out-score the remainder of the Canucks line-up. Good luck. They’re a pretty deep squad, even without the injured Nick Bonino, Kevin Bieksa, Frankie Corrado and Brad Richardson.

They played last night against a physical team, so the key here may be to push the pace early, keep the game close and then try to pull away in the third, relying on conditioning to get the job done.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Vancouver
Wins 30 31
Power Play 17.6% (19th) 17.8% (17th)
Penalty Kill 79.2% (24th) 85.1% (5th)
Corsi 44.5% (28th) 49.8% (19th)
Corsi Close 44.7% (28th) 51.0% (16th)
Faceoffs 47.5% (28th) 47.8% (26th)
PDO 101.0 (6th) 99.6 (20th)

SCOREBOARD WATCHING

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Tonight!

  • Winnipeg (66 points) faces Detroit!
  • Minnesota (61 points) can catch Calgary with a win over lowly Carolina (and a Calgary regulation loss).
  • Dallas (60 points) and Colorado (55 points) clash! A Colorado loss perhaps permanently damages their playoff hopes for this year, as then they’d be potentially 10 points back of the Flames (if they win).
  • And Los Angeles (60 points) tries to reel in Calgary when they host the Washington Capitals, hoping for a bit of revenge after that 4-0 drubbing their faced back in D.C. last week.

SUM IT UP

The Flames need a win tonight. Badly. They’re facing a good team, but one that played last night and then traveled. They won’t get a better shot at beating Vancouver in a meaningful game than this.

For a view from the other side, check out our chums at Canucks Army!