FGD #31: Invading Texas

Just over two weeks ago, the Calgary Flames limped home from a bad road trip. With their season hanging by a thread, they faced the National Hockey League’s top team in a game that seemed prime for the Flames to get embarrassed, given that they were dead-last at that point. Instead, the Flames pulled out some late-game magic and beat the Dallas Stars in a shootout.

Now here we are, six games (and six wins) later, and the Flames visit Dallas for a return engagement with the NHL’s top team. However, the Flames are a confident bunch that seem to keep finding ways to win, no matter how bizarre the circumstances. It’s definitely not sustainable, but considering how boring and frustrating prior games this season were to watch, I don’t think anybody minds the change of pace.

The puck drops at 6:30pm MT on Sportsnet Flams and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanDavid Jones
Sam BennettMarkus GranlundJiri Hudler
Mason RaymondMikael BacklundJosh Jooris
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanJoe Colborne 

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie 

Kris RussellDougie Hamilton
Deryk EngellandDennis Wideman

Karri Ramo gets the start for the 20th time this season. He’s basically Calgary’s starter now, having gone 10-8-1 with a 2.89 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. That’s right, somehow a Flames goalie has a GAA south of 3 and a save percentage north of .900!

The big news at yesterday’s practice was Josh Jooris slotting back into the line-up in place of the injured Michael Frolik, who returned to Calgary. With Lance Bouma not quite recovered enough from his broken leg to play, it could be now or never for Jooris to prove that he should stay on the NHL roster and Brandon Bollig should be banished to the minors.

Calgary’s penalty kill was good against the Predators on Tuesday. Their power-play desperately needs a break-out night, especially against a Dallas club that probably feels like they let one get away when they visited Calgary at the beginning of the month.

THE STARS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 7.38.57 PM

Most likely Kari Lehtonen will get the start for Dallas. He’s 11-1-0 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He’s been pretty good for the Stars this season and while his numbers are not world-beating, they’ve given Dallas a chance to win almost every night.

Dallas leads the NHL in the most important category: wins. Oh, and goals, that’s also pretty important. They have a nuanced, balanced attack and even their fourth line is pretty good. Since losing to Calgary, the Stars have gone 4-1-1, with their last outing being putting a 5-1 beating on the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. If you’re bad at hockey, the Stars are fine with making you look foolish.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY DALLAS
Wins 14 23
Power Play 11.0% 22.2%
Penalty Kill 71.6% 78.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.2% 53.5%
Faceoffs 47.6% 51.4%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames beat Dallas back in Calgary on December 1, kicking off Calgary’s current six-game winning streak by way of a 4-3 shootout win.

All-time, the Flames are 72-58-25-7 against the Dallas Stars franchise.

SUM IT UP

The Flames can creep over the .500 mark for the first time this season, and extend their season-resuccitating win streak to seven games, with a victory tonight in Dallas.