With just 14 games remaining in the regular season, the Calgary Flames are in a strange, strange position.
Two years ago, the Flames traded Jarome Iginla away. Why? He was their all-time leading scorer and best player ever, and the hope was they could flip the asset and get younger while giving Iginla a chance to win a Stanley Cup.
Two years later, the Flames are much more likely to be in the playoffs than Iginla’s latest team, the Colorado Avalanche, are. Life’s weird sometimes.
Calgary’s magic number is 13. Any combination of 13 Flames wins or Winnipeg Jets losses results in Calgary returning to the playoffs. With 14 games remaining, the team’s destiny is still very much in their own hands.
Puck drop is at 8pm MT. The game’s on CBC (with Paul Romanuk and Mike Johnson) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Karri Ramo starts tonight! He’s been excellent lately. He’s making his 26th start of the season. He’s 13-7-1, with a 2.58 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
The Flames slotted in Devin Shore at the last minute for Josh Jooris yesterday, and I also expect a few tweaks tonight. I’m not sure what Lance Bouma’s status will be for tonight given his ejection for a knee-on-knee hit on Brandon Kozun last night. If he’s out, or if there’s a question of his status, I’d expect Jooris to return or Emile Poirier to slot in and lines to get shuffled a bit.
Keys to victory for the Flames tonight? Stick to the program. Last night’s game went about as well as you could hope for the first game of a back-to-back to go, and as a result the Flames can probably deploy their players in a more measured manner than they would have otherwise. So tonight, they just need to keep playing their game, roll four lines and keep things simple.
Lines via Daily Faceoff
Semyon Varlamov will likely start for the Avs. He’s 23-17-7 with a 2.52 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He is a pretty solid goalkeeper. The Avalanche are carrying three goalies, including Reto Berra and Calvin Pickard. Why? I don’t really know. But the Avs playoff chances are rapidly evaporating, so they’re likely riding Varlamov until the bitter end.
By sheer coincidence, a loss to the Flames tonight will put the Avs 10 points back of Calgary – and sizably far away from everybody else – so the Avalanche need wins. Jarome Iginla continues to be good, despite his age. And his team not being particularly good around him.
Way to go, Jarome.
Colorado’s defense scares me. Scares me in the sense that Calgary should be glad it isn’t theirs.
|Power Play||19.1% (11th)||13.4% (29th)|
|Penalty Kill||80.5% (22nd)||84.1% (7th)|
|Corsi||44.2% (28th)||43.6% (29th)|
|Corsi Close||44.9% (28th)||43.8% (29th)|
|Faceoffs||48.1% (25th)||50.8% (14th)|
|PDO||101.1 (7th)||101.3 (5th)|
THE DRIVE TO 95
Many, many games tonight:
- San Jose faces Chicago!
- Winnipeg faces Tampa Bay!
- Vancouver faces Toronto!
- Minnesota faces St. Louis!
- Los Angeles faces Nashville!
In almost every situation, it’s a team chasing Calgary facing a much better team. Oh, and Vancouver hosts Toronto. So the Flames can potentially get a bunch of help from the out-of-town scoreboard.
SUM IT UP
The Flames are 14 points back from the vaunted 95 point plateau. They have 14 games left. Seven wins is probably enough to qualify for the post-season. They’re facing a team that’s below them in the standings and is running out of things to play for.
Just win, baby.