FGD #19: Visiting The Champs

Well, it’s come down to this: the Calgary Flames are capping off their four-game, eight-day sojourn through the United States tonight with a meeting with the reigning and defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Some of the most memorable road hockey moments of the past few seasons for the Calgary Flames have happened in Chicago. Who could forget Reto Berra’s miraculous first game in the NHL in Chicago back in November 2013? Or Jonas Hiller’s 49-save first Flames win in Chicago last October? The Blackhawks (9-7-1) are a damn good team, but they played last night against St. Louis and may be tired. It’s something the Flames (6-11-1) will need to try to take advantage of if they want to return home with a .500 record on this trip.

The puck drops just after 6:30pm MT on Sportsnet One (with Rick Ball and Kelly Hrudey) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

The Flames had an off-day yesterday. Here are lines from Friday night’s game in Washington via Daily Faceoff:

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It’s unlikely that the lines will change that much, if at all, coming off a win. Karri Ramo will likely start. He’s 4-6-0 with a 3.36 goals against average and .894 save percentage overall, though his save percentage is .901 since he was recalled from the AHL. Your extra healthy bodies are Ladislav Smid, Josh Jooris and Mason Raymond.

The Flames power-play has improved lately – before not scoring in Washington, they had scored in three straight games – but the arguable bigger source of concern is the team’s penalty kill. The Flames penalty kill has been scored on in six of the last eight games; they weren’t scored on by the Flyers or the Capitals, games they both won (in overtime). But considering how rough the team’s been at even-strength, the special teams groups have to give the team some more chances to win. (They’re probably missing Lance Bouma here.) Anyway, considering how much offensive firepower the Blackhawks have, keep an eye on this and cross your fingers that they don’t give Chicago too many power-plays.

THE BLACKHAWKS

Chicago played St. Louis yesterday. Here are lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Most likely Scott Darling plays tonight, given that Corey Crawford started last night against the Blues. That’s good news, given that Darling is statistically worse than Crawford – a lot worst. He’s 1-2-0 with a 3.11 goals against average and a .885 save percentage.

Chicago’s in a unique position tonight. They’re coming off a win last night in St. Louis in an emotional game that saw both Jonathan Toews and Marko Dano involved in separate incidents – word is neither will face supplemental discipline – and tonight is the final home game of the month for the Blackhawks, as they hit the road for six games as the circus comes to the United Center. So given that there’s a lot of stuff swirling around the Second City, the Flames have a decent chance tonight to take advantage of a team that may be a bit discombobulated.

That said, both Michal Rozsival and Duncan Keith came back from long-term injuries last night and were apparently just fine, so the Hawks are suddenly a lot deeper than they used to be earlier in the season. Given their insane depth, it’s going to be a tough two points to steal.

Good Twitter Follows: Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times and Tracey Myers from CSN Chicago.

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames had a win in three meetings with Chicago last season. Their only win was the aforementioned 2-1 win in Chicago in October, which was followed by a 4-3 loss in Calgary in November and a 2-1 loss in Chicago in December. All three games were tight and decided by a single goal.

In 161 all-time meetings between the Flames and the Blackhawks, Calgary has a 64-66-26-5 record against Chicago.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY CHICAGO
Wins 6 9
Power Play 16.7% 19.0%
Penalty Kill 75.0% 80.4%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.6% 51.9%
Faceoffs 48.3% 51.0%

SUM IT UP

The Flames are facing a tired opponent who faced a bitter rival in an emotional game last night. The Blackhawks may be the Stanley Cup Champions, but they’ve lost games this season, and this is as good a set-up for a win as the Calgary Flames are going to get.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Ramo was fine tonight and actually was pretty solid, but #2 Star according to Sportsnet? – come on.

    No put down on Ramo, he just wasn’t the second best player on the ice. No Flame deserves that honor tonight.

  • TRAIN#97

    Man this team is painful to watch. Zero ability to adjust their game plan. Turnovers galore. Zero sustained pressure in the 0-zone. At least last year they could make Crisp passes, they make about 5 of those a game now. When is this coaching staff going to get back to earned not given? They sat Wideman in the press box last year and look what it did. Same with Johnny. Why is there a fear to scratch anyone outside of Raymond, Jooris and Smid?

    • OKG

      Because clearly it’s Jooris’ fault when we lose. Oh, wait. Hartley is just being idiotic benching Jooris. He is not our 14th forward, in fact he’s one of the few guys on the roster who can play with Monahan, Bennett, Gaudreau etc.

      Dumping Paul Byron still remains the most idiotic move this management has made.

  • supra steve

    Time (for me) to officially throw in the towel on the thought of a winning season this year. Top 10 pick would be great, top 5 even better. Hope BT is able to cash in on some expiring contracts near the deadline, if not earlier.

    • Derzie

      The season’s been over for a while. Focus now is on showcasing the strengths and weaknesses in order to make changes. Coaching is looking top of the change list. Even if by some miracle we get in because of a lackluster Pacific, is that a ‘winning’ season when our goal is to win a cup and have the ability to compete every year? Did we look like a hockey team of merit against the class of the league tonight? Not in my book.

  • TRAIN#97

    I see what flame fans on FN are saying about Gio’s play, and they are not overjoyed by it. If He doesn’t turn it around that is contract is going to be like the proverbial “Elephant in the Room”.
    If he doesn’t turn it around the contract will make it virtually impossible to deal him anywhere, and as the years go by the value of the contract will be harder to fulfill.

        • Captain Ron

          Thanks for making my point. If Horcoff could be traded then for sure we could find a taker for Gio if necessary. His value is 10X that of Horcoff. He may be struggling a bit at the moment but don’t expect that to last forever. He will improve again at some point. As you would certainly know decent D men are difficult to get.

    • TRAIN#97

      When you have a top 2 defenseman, please let us all know. Guys like Fayne and Gryba try, but can’t bail out a forward group that only wants to score goals. Fayne is getting the same treatment Petry got last year. From what I have seen of Sekera, he is making way more mistakes than I though possible.

      Gio’s play this year has been puzzling. It seems like he has no upper body strength; loses board battles too easily. I think the best thing for him to do right now is focus on defense, not worry about offense. I’ll worry about his contract hit, when it actually is a concern.

        • TRAIN#97

          100% agree on below what is expected. I doubt this is more than a blip on his career, though. The last two years have been Norris seasons, while this one is merely blah. Plenty of time to improve.

  • TRAIN#97

    So this is a topic I’d like to bring up. I got blocked by Ari on twitter tonight. She had tweeted numerous, numerous times about how she was pissed that the TV announcers kept talking up Patrick Kane, who she referred to as a “garbage human being” and other similar insults.

    I wasn’t sure why she’d have such a strong opinion on the matter so I tried to engage in a polite inquiry about the matter, and quickly found myself blocked.

    I followed the proceedings of the Kane case quite closely, and from everything I read about it, from the evidence kit not having any of Kanes DNA, to the accuser’s mother potentially trying to tamper with evidence, to the lawyer dropping the client, to the final verdict of the case, it sounded to me like it was fairly certain that Kane was innocent (if I am mistaken, someone please correct me because it is entirely possible I overlooked something). This would mean that the accuser would have been accusing him in order to try and personally profit from the situation, which is a very, very serious issue that is often overlooked in society. Many innocent men have their lives ruined due to shit like this.

    THAT BEING SAID, I am not going to go post all over social media about how she is a “garbage human being”. Why? Well its simple. I do not know if she fabricated everything, I do not know if she was a victim. I have NO WAY of knowing either way. I am not privy to all the details of the case, I am not a judge, I am not a jury. All I know are the details that were released to the public about the case (as stated above) and the fact that Kane was found to be not guilty.

    I therefore see no reason to call him a “garbage human being” (other then the fact that he scores lots against the Flames), so could someone please enlighten me? Am I missing something here? Feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  • TRAIN#97

    So this is a topic I’d like to bring up. I got blocked by Ari on twitter tonight. She had tweeted numerous, numerous times about how she was pissed that the TV announcers kept talking up Patrick Kane, who she referred to as a “garbage human being” and other similar insults.

    I wasn’t sure why she’d have such a strong opinion on the matter so I tried to engage in a polite inquiry about the matter, and quickly found myself blocked.

    I followed the proceedings of the Kane case quite closely, and from everything I read about it, from the evidence kit not having any of Kanes DNA, to the accuser’s mother potentially trying to tamper with evidence, to the lawyer dropping the client, to the final verdict of the case, it sounded to me like it was fairly certain that Kane was innocent (if I am mistaken, someone please correct me because it is entirely possible I overlooked something). This would mean that the accuser would have been accusing him in order to try and personally profit from the situation, which is a very, very serious issue that is often overlooked in society. Many innocent men have their lives ruined due to shit like this.

    THAT BEING SAID, I am not going to go post all over social media about how she is a “garbage human being”. Why? Well its simple. I do not know if she fabricated everything, I do not know if she was a victim. I have NO WAY of knowing either way. I am not privy to all the details of the case, I am not a judge, I am not a jury. All I know are the details that were released to the public about the case (as stated above) and the fact that Kane was found to be not guilty.

    I therefore see no reason to call him a “garbage human being” (other then the fact that he scores lots against the Flames), so could someone please enlighten me? Am I missing something here? Feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

  • Franko J

    I agree with Suba Steve, the season for the Flames is on the brink of being extinguished. With the struggles in their defensive zone, fragile confidence and less than stellar work ethic, has shown this team is nowhere being a playoff contender this year. I guess now is the time for Giordano to earn his contract, Hartley to demonstrate how good of a coach he is and youngsters like Monahan deserving a big contract as well.