FGD Round 1, Game 2: The Swing Game

The Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks engaged in a pretty entertaining tilt on Wednesday night, with the Flames eking out a 2-1 victory by way of a late goal by Kris Russell.

As a result, tonight is yet another in a series of “biggest games of the season” for the Flames. A win and they go home to Scotiabank Saddledome with a 2-0 series edge. A loss, and the Canucks even things up at one win apiece and head to Calgary to try to negate their own home-rink advantage. it’s the swing game, and it could ultimately decide who wins the series. I don’t think even the venerable Canucks can come back from being down 2-0 to the Flames.

It’s another game between two teams that know each other very well. And the stakes will only get bigger from here on out. For the Calgary Flames, all they can do is keep playing their game and finding wacky ways to win.

Puck drop is after 8pm MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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After he was pretty damn sharp in Game 1, no shock that the Flames are going back to Jonas Hiller for Game 2. He’s backed up by Karri Ramo, just recently returned from an injury but who hasn’t played in awhile. Long story short: Hiller’s gonna be starting until his legs fall off, or until Hartley loses faith in him and wants to try something new.

No line-up changes appeared evident after last night, and the Flames had an optional skate yesterday at the UBC hockey rink. Long story short: Jon Gillies, Tyler Wotherspoon, Drew Shore and Mason Raymond will be sitting as healthy scratches, while Mark Giordano, Ladislav Smid, Raphael Diaz, Lance Bouma and Paul Byron are the injured bodies right now.

Flames coach Bob Hartley seemed pretty happy with his team’s effort on Wednesday. But he probably hoped for a bit more jump early-on. If the Flames can do more or less the same things they did against Vancouver in Game 1 – play physical, keep the Sedins contained and let the secondary scoring take care of business – they could be heading back to Alberta with a 2-0 series lead.

And it would be in keeping with how bloody bizarre this season has been to this point.

THE CANUCKS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Once again, it sounds like Eddie Lack starts for the Canucks as of this writing. He was pretty good in Game 1, and wasn’t the primary reason his team lost – that would fall on his team’s defenders.

Kevin Bieksa was absent from practice yesterday at UBC but is expected to play. There was no indications of any line-up changes from Game 1, but presumably some shake-ups would occur if Vancouver loses tonight. That means your extras for tonight are likely Ryan Stanton, Linden Vey, Brandon McMillan and the injured Zack Kassian.

Long story short: the Canucks knew they had to be better than they were in Game 1. The Flames defended fairly well, but the Canucks need to bury chances when they’re provided to them. Expect a very focused, very physical and very determined Vancouver Canucks team tonight. They know that they cannot afford to lose this game.

THE NUMBERS

Game 1 Calgary Vancouver
Wins 1 0
Power Play 0% 0%
Penalty Kill 100% 100%
Corsi 50% 50%
Corsi Close 57.1% 42.9%
Faceoffs 45.8% 54.2%
PDO 103.1 96.9

SUM IT UP

It’s a big game for both sides. A Canucks win and the series is tied at one win apiece headed back to Calgary, and very much up for grabs for both side. A Flames win and the series goes back to Calgary with the Flames holding a 2-0 series lead.

Expect a desperate and determined Canucks team, and a Flames team more or less like we’ve seen all season (for better or for worse).

Regardless of the outcome tonight, the games will only continue to get bigger and more important from here.