FGD #32: A Matinee In Missouri

After a day off after some travel, the Calgary Flames are back in action! But despite it being Saturday, the Flames instead play a matinee game against the St. Louis Blues. It’s a weird quirk in the schedule, and it’s also the first game of back-to-back games as they also play tomorrow against Detroit.

The Flames are coming off one of their most impressive victories of the season. Despite the Dallas Stars being really good and well-coached, and keying in on Johnny Gaudreau all game, it didn’t matter. The Flames got rock-solid goaltending from Karri Ramo and held on for their 15th win of the season and their 7th consecutive victory. All of a sudden, running the table on a long home-stand and a long road-trip seems like a possibility. If the Flames keep their wits about them, and keep getting good goaltending, it might actually happen.

And then the season will start to get really interesting, won’t it?

The puck drops today at 1pm MT on Sportsnet West (with Rick Ball and Jason York) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via your pals at Daily Faceoff:

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So yeah, absolutely no changes expected for the Flames, who have somehow won seven in a row and not lost in the month of December. We’re as shocked as you are.

Karri Ramo gets his 21st start of the season. He’s 11-8-1 with a 2.79 goals against average and .907 save percentage. Since returning from the AHL on October 29, he’s 11-5-1 with a 2.56 goals against average and .912 save percentage, and he’s started 17 of 21 games since he’s returned. So, he’s the undisputed number-one right now by virtue of completely competent, average goaltending.

The Flames still can’t score on the power-play, and now it’s down at just over 10%, which is awful. That said, they’ve been really unlucky to not score lately and their puck movement has been a lot better. Well, when they’ve gotten into the zone. They’re still not great at that but hey, progress appears to be being made.

THE BLUES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Last word was that Kyle Brodziak will miss today’s game and Scott Gomez will slot in as fourth line center.

Brian Elliott starts for the Blues. He’s basically become the back-up to Jake Allen this season, and he’s starting for just the 10th time this season. He’s 5-5-0 with a 2.44 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. He’s been fine, but think about this: ignoring the first few games, Karri Ramo has better numbers.

Like Calgary, St. Louis is a deep team with young kids chipping in. Watch out for Colton Parayko, who killed the Flames during their last meeting. Oh, and Robby Fabbri’s healthy again, so keep an eye out for him, because now the Blues have three lines that can hurt you offensively.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY ST. LOUIS
Wins 15 19
Power Play 10.8% 20.8%
Penalty Kill 72.6% 87.4%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.8% 53.4%
Faceoffs 47.7% 51.8%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames hosted the Blues in mid-October, narrowly losing a 4-3 decision.

All-time, the Flames hold the edge against St. Louis with a 74-72-14-4 record.

SUM IT UP

The Flames begin today’s action in a playoff spot.

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And they have three games in hand on Vancouver. If they can keep rolling along, they can give themselves some breathing room in the standings. Thus far this season what we’ve learned is the Pacific Division is awful, and the Flames just need to stay with the pack – or slightly ahead of it – to keep their playoff hopes alive.

And that would’ve been a downright crazy thought a month ago, so the Flames have managed to pull their butts out of the proverbial fire in that sense.

  • flames2015

    Raymond has actually looked decent on the PP. If Wideman can actually get through shots like he did last year on the PP we’d also be looking at a different score. At least now the possession time is there, that’s a good start.

      • MontanaMan

        My position on Backlund is consistent. Agree with me or not but I’ve been consistent (win or lose) that Backlund is replaceable with current players and should be moved while he still has value. The difference is my views don’t change based on one game.

          • MontanaMan

            To be fair, he won coach of the year last year so he must have done something right or those who voted for him are clueless. I don’t agree with everything he does but respect the job he does done with this club. Let’s be honest – fans feel like they know more than Babcock and McLellan (Olympic caliber coaches) so why should Flames fans be different?

          • piscera.infada

            In fairness, the Jack Adams isn’t generally representative of the elite coaches in the league. Since 2000-2001 (the past 14 seasons), only five coaches that have won the award are with the same team (if coaching at all): Hitchcock, Tippett, and Julien, and the last two winners: Roy and Hartley.

            Babcock nor McLellan, whom I will agree are very good (McLellan) to elite (Babcock) coaches, have never won the Jack Adams. Quennville (who is another elite coach) has won it once, although that was with the Blues in 1999-2000.

            Honestly, the “coach of the year” is a very subjective measure, and because it isn’t voted on by the players, management, or coaches in the NHL, but rather the hockey writers, it usually ends up going to the best story, not the best coach.

            I honestly don’t mean any of this as a slight against Hartley. The award just doesn’t mean all that much (unless, of course, you’re Burns or Bowman).

          • MontanaMan

            I agree with much of what you say including the voting process for Coach of theYear. Having said that, it’s the same voters for most of the other awards so the top defence man is voted on by the writers as well so that’s why someone like Karlsson unfairly wins over Doughty. So we agree that the voting for all of the awards are by biased hockey writers, the majority in eastern Canada. We all have our opinions and I think it’s great. I’m one who is loyal to a coach who overperformed last year and who led the Flames to the second round of the playoffs. How many on FN were calling for Hartley’s head after last year’s playoffs and following his win of coach of the year? Not many. So the Flames have had a tough start but just won seven in a row and we’re calling for a coaching change? Not me, but I respect your opinion.

        • Tomas Oppolzer

          Yeah, and most of us anti-Hartley people have been consistent as well. Calgary wasn’t winning because of him, the impotent power play is on Bob though. And his insistence on putting players on the PP that should not be there. IDC about Colborne’s FO stats, he should not be there ahead of Monahan (who wins about 70% of his O-zone faceoffs anyway) and Raymond shouldn’t be there either, especially not when you have Bennett.

  • Burnward

    Not only this game how many dogs breakfast of starats have we had this year. Way too many..guess Gio and everyone comes in most nights dogging it and Bob can’t fix it? Alright than..again Bob what are yo doing about it?!?!?!

  • MontanaMan

    Calgary’s crappy PP was and is going to cost us some games, it’s too bad that it couldn’t have cashed in on at least one of their many opportunities today.