FGD #66: The Streaking Senators (5pm MT, City TV)

It’s been a long, long road trip – seven games over the better part of two weeks – but the Calgary Flames polish off their behemoth trip tonight in Ottawa with a game against the Senators.

Despite losing their captain (and best player), the Flames have clawed their way to wins in four of their past six games, and the oft-repeated predictions and projections of their playoffs hopes evaporating just haven’t come to fruition. There’s 17 games remaining on the docket, including tonight, and going a smidge over .500 should be enough to get the Calgary Flames into the post-season.

I’m scared, too.

Puck drops tonight at 5pm MT on City TV (with Paul Romanuk and Mike Johnson) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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A few changes here and there for your local hockey heroes!

Karri Ramo returns to the net for the sixth time in seven games on this trip. He’s won three of his five previous starts and was basically excellent in all of ’em. He’s 12-7-1 with a 2.43 goals against average, .917 save percentage and .921 even-strength save percentage.

The scratches tonight look to be Corey Potter, Michael Ferland and Emile Poirier, as David Jones rotates back in after missing a game with a sore knee/leg/appendage after blocking a shot against Boston. I’m not certain the lines here are final, as I’d expect Jones to reunite with Lance Bouma and Mikael Backlund at some point. But hey, the Flames are getting veterans back and it does give them options, particularly since Ferland and Poirier have both been effective for the Flames in the games they’ve played on this trip.

The key to victory for Calgary? I’d hope they just don’t have a dip in intensity. They have the potential to get 10 of a possible 14 points on this mega-trip, and the Senators – despite their recent success – are a team below them in the standings. They’ve got to go right at ’em and remember they have a trip home and two days off until the next game on Wednesday night. Intensity has to be the watch-word.

THE SENATORS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

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The Flames face an old friend tonight, in the form of 1999 unsigned draft pick Craig Anderson. Anderson’s 13-11-7, with a 2.37 goals against average and .927 save percentage, but he’s been conspicuous by his absence lately, with Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond getting all the starts. Tonight’s Anderson’s first appearance since being injured on January 21, so at least the Flames get a goalie with ring rust rather than one who’s undefeated in eight NHL starts.

While the Senators have been bolstered by Hammond’s netminding of late, and that’s helped propel them into a playoff battle with Florida and Boston, they’ve been decent all year. They have a good, young team that has lots of talent but at times has battled with consistency (and injuries to key players). But with a playoff spot theirs for the taking, expect them to be bringing it full-speed-ahead at the Calgary Flames tonight.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Ottawa
Wins 36 29
Power Play 18.1% (14th) 17.0% (22nd)
Penalty Kill 80.7% (20th) 83.2% (8th)
Corsi 44.3% (28th) 49.8% (20th)
Corsi Close 44.9% (28th) 48.6% (22nd)
Faceoffs 47.7% (25th) 47.6% (27th)
PDO 101.1 (7th) 101.2 (5th)

THE DRIVE TO 95

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It’s a quiet night tonight. Outside of Calgary and Ottawa, Colorado tries to stay in the mix when they play Minnesota. Everybody else is off tonight.

A win gets Calgary to 78 points. They need just 19 more points to hit the magical 95 point mark.

SUM IT UP

Just like the season-opening Mega-Trip of Death, the Calgary Flames have had themselves a successful road trip. Rather than find themselves in the depths of despair, you can argue that the Flames – even without Mark Giordano – have kept doing their thing, winning games by hook or crook.

Tonight polishes off their seven-game road trip and leaves them with 16 games on the schedule – 9 at home, 7 on the road.