With just five games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Calgary Flames sit in what’s become familiar territory this season: in a playoff spot.
The Flames head to the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, tonight. They have lost their first two games this season against the Blues, but they’ve also been on a tear of late, winning two of the first three games of this five-game road trip. And after two games against the Blues, particularly a close one that got away from them a bit on St. Patrick’s Day (losing 4-0 at home), the Flames will be a motivated bunch tonight.
After all, a win – or even a point – will go a long, long way to cementing their playoff status.
Puck drop is at 6pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
Jonas Hiller gets his third consecutive start after a pair of wins on this trip. He’s 23-18-4 with a 2.44 goals against average and .914 save percentage. He’s making his 42nd start of the season.
The only reported line-up change for the Flames is Brandon Bollig – a Missouri native – slots in for Michael Ferland. The extra bodies, per our media pals traveling with the team this week, are Corey Potter, Ferland, Paul Byron and Josh Jooris. Byron played just the single game on March 27 and has been otherwise inactive since mid-February.
And a tid-bit from the Sun’s Wes Gilbertson:
#Flames arrived in St. Louis with 21 road wins so far this season. Franchise record is 22 — set in 1987-88 and matched in 1988-89.
— Wes Gilbertson (@SUNGilbertson) April 2, 2015
Lines via Daily Faceoff:
The Blues are quite good, but this may be the best possible time to play them. Why? Jake Allen starts, not Brian Elliott. Both Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, the top two scorers on the team, are out with minor injuries. And they’re coming off a loss to Vancouver earlier this week.
They’ll be ticked off about losing, but they’re (a) not trotting out an idea line-up and (b) haven’t been playing their best hockey. It’s as good a set-up as the Flames are going to get for a late-season visit to Scottrade Center.
|Power Play||18.8% (14th)||22.3% (4th)|
|Penalty Kill||80.4% (22nd)||82.8% (10th)|
|Corsi||44.5% (28th)||52.0% (11th)|
|Corsi Close||45.3% (27th)||51.1% (13th)|
|Faceoffs||47.6% (26th)||53.6% (1st)|
|PDO||101.2 (4th)||100.4 (10th)|
THE DRIVE TO 95*
Per Pat Steinberg’s break-down, the Flames’ magic number on Winnipeg is 4.5 and Los Angeles is 5. Winnipeg cannot win the ROW tie-breaker with Calgary, so that drops it by 0.5. This means any combination of Flames wins and Jets losses totaling 4.5 OR Flames wins and Kings losses totaling 5 means Calgary makes the playoffs.
Oh, and Calgary plays Winnipeg and Los Angeles once each before the season’s done. They are in the driver’s seat. A win tonight moves the Flames to 93 points, gives them a 5-point cushion on the Kings (and 3 points on the Jets) and drops their magic number to 3.5 on Winnipeg and 4 on the Kings. (And that’s ignoring the ROW tie-breaker with the Kings, which Calgary presently has.)
- Minnesota plays the New York Rangers!
- Vancouver plays Chicago!
- Los Angeles plays Edmonton! (Go Oilers!)
SUM IT UP
It’s Game 78. The Flames are in a playoff spot. They have more games left than their magic number to clinch a spot, meaning they are masters of their own destiny.
If they keep winning, there will be hockey ’round these parts come April 15.