FGD #74: Shooting the Stars (8pm MT, SN One/West)

It’s late March, spring is in the air and the Calgary Flames are in playoff contention.

Tonight’s test for the locals is a visit from the Dallas Stars, a once playoff hopeful team now playing out the string and hoping that their grouping of able-bodied youngsters that get some momentum and confidence into them that they can carry into next season, since it won’t do them much good right now.

Calgary? They’re opening the day in a playoff spot, with a magic number of 9.5 on both the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings. The key for them? Just keep finding ways to win. With just 9 games to go and the magic numbers where they are, we’re likely in for a photo finish of some sort – with an outside chance of a three-team standings log-jam for the final two berths.

The puck drops at 8pm MT and is part of a Sportsnet Wednesday night double-header. To avoid pre-emptions, check it out on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. (It’s also on Sportsnet West when the earlier game is done.)

THE FLAMES

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Karri Ramo is expected to get the start this evening, once again. He was superb against Colorado and definitely earned the nod tonight. Otherwise? No line-up changes are expected, though Backlund was back with Jones and Bouma at morning skate (so perhaps flip Granlund and Backlund again).

The Flames need secondary scoring to survive, primarily because if I’m an opposition coach, I just throw some big bodies on defense at the Monahan line and hope for the best. With some offense from elsewhere, the team can spread out the pain a little bit defensively and give themselves a bit of help.

But most of all, these guys just need to win.

THE STARS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Kari Lehtonen is projected to start for Dallas.

The Dallas Stars may be the best team full of guys you’ve never heard of, primarily because of their placement in the standings and because the team is so young. John Klingberg probably won’t get many votes for the Calder Trophy, but he should. And the rest of the team is nearly as good, filled with guys like Benn, Eakins and others.

Long story short – the Dallas Stars shouldn’t be slept on. They’re out of it, but they probably would like nothing more than to make the Flames sweat a little bit.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Dallas
Wins 40 35
Power Play 19.2% (10th) 18.6% (14th)
Penalty Kill 80.7% (21st) 80.4% (23rd)
Corsi 44.7% (28th) 51.7% (11th)
Corsi Close 45.6% (27th) 52.4% (8th)
Faceoffs 47.9% (25th) 51.3% (13th)
PDO 100.9 (8th) 99.7 (20th)

THE DRIVE TO 95

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SUM IT UP

The Flames need to keep finding ways to win. They’ve won 40 games in bizarre, mind-boggling, confusing ways up until right now. Another four or five of those probably results in a playoff berth. But since they’re not getting any help from the out-of-town scoreboard – nor should they expect to – they’re gonna have to keep handling things themselves.

And that means they gotta beg, borrow or steal a win somehow tonight.