FGD #41: Home Ice Advantage: Halfway Home (with the Sharks)

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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames hit the half-way point of the 2015-16 season tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome as they host the San Jose Sharks in a crucial divisional match-up.

The Flames (19-19-2) enter the fray two points back of the Vancouver Canucks for the final Pacific playoff spot with two games in hand. The Sharks (19-18-2) are tied with the Flames in points but have played one fewer game, so tonight is one of their three games in hand on Vancouver and they could really use the points, too. Given that neither team has played flawless hockey in the first half of the season and face a second half full of possibilities despite their uneven performances thus far.

All that adds up to a pretty interesting match-up tonight as the Flames play Game 41 and turn the corner towards the second half.

The puck drops after 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Because the sun is in the sky and the stars twirl above said sky, Karri Ramo will start for the Calgary Flames. Ramo was the only real reason the Flames had a shot at getting points against Arizona on Thursday and he’ll start for the 30th time this season come rain, sleet or snow. He’s 15-13-1 with a 2.52 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Jonas Hiller will don his usual stool on the Flames bench, where he will do Sodoku all game.

The name of the game for the Calgary Flames lately has been finding somebody to play the right side of the top line. Already short Michael Frolik and Jiri Hudler, the team’s basically been forced to cram Joe Colborne into that role. And whatever you wanna say about Colborne as a player, it’s pretty unfair to throw him into the deep end and then blame him when he can’t play up to Johnny Gaudreau’s level. So Micheal Ferland gets his chance in that role tonight and we’ll see if he can continue his energy playing against the big dogs.

Keep an eye on that second line, though. Bennett’s bound for a breakthrough, while Granlund and Jooris are likely keeping an eye on sick bay and hoping they can play well enough right now that Brad Treliving sends Brandon Bollig to the AHL when everybody’s healthy instead of them.

THE SHARKS

Projected lines via your pals at Daily Faceoff:

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Former Calgary Hitmen tender Martin Jones will man the cage for the visitors tonight. He’s 17-13-2 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. He’s been a bit inconsistent lately but he’s also been a lot better than Alex Stalock.

The Sharks have shown flashes of greatness at times this season, but they haven’t quite gotten everything clicking all at once and have hit injuries at odd times. And rather than getting big leaps forward from their younger players, they’ve occasionally sputtered and the team’s had to rely on the older guys to carry the mail.

Incidentally: man, Brent Burns is just an impressive dude. Keep an eye on him tonight, especially when Johnny Gaudreau’s on the ice.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY SAN JOSE
Wins 19 19
Power Play 12.7% 20.6%
Penalty Kill 74.2% 81.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.7% 50.4%
Faceoffs 47.8% 51.7%

WHEN LAST WE MET

This is the third meeting this season between Calgary and San Jose. Each team has a win on home ice. The Flames lost in San Jose by a 5-2 score in November and beat them in Calgary 4-2 in December.

The Flames are 57-40-8-4 against San Jose all-time.

HOME ICE HERO

Celebrate the referee, volunteer, time-keeper, organizer or other great person who keeps the
game going and asks for nothing in return. Nominate your Home Ice Hero
and they could win a prize worth $5,000. Nominate your hero by clicking this link!

SUM IT UP

Game 41 is going to be a fairly meaningful game with playoff implications. If the Flames hope for, say, Games 70-75 having the same stakes, they should try to rack up some points when they play these divisional games. A win tonight would be a great start.

  • smith

    Watching a game like this does make me wonder how good the flames would be if they could somehow convince Hartley to scratch Bollig, put Bennet at centre and give less ice time to Colborne, Russel, Wideman.

    • McRib

      Don’t believe this team will become a serious playoff contender until those contracts are gone. Bob will continue to throw Bollig in (yes Bollig Effect and another loss) and yeah geez, Colburne keeps getting tons of love from him as well for some reason. Wideman and Russell, until they are gone I think we are going to get more of this as Bob seems to be too proud to admit he is wrong. As reigning Jack Adams winner his EGO has skyrocketed and its not good for the team.

      I had convinced myself to relax when it was 3-1 and that if we don’t make the playoffs well than lottery pick it is which would be what we needed. Than they tie it up and get me going again. Than Backlund happened and now need to find that thought I had earlier. This isn’t a playoff team

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    I really hate to say this, The whole team and bad bounces are at fault.. But Backlund needs to finish. It is incredibly frustrating to continually watch him pad his fancy stats and not contribute to the success of this team. I just don’t think I can do it any more…

  • cgyokgn

    Five goals on 18 shots… not going to help Ramo’s SV%. What a disappointing loss… with the last two losses to Pacific Division teams, it feels like the playoffs are slipping away. On a positive note, they scored three PPGs.

  • BigRig91

    Flames top line looked great with Ferland on it didn’t seem to get push around as easy. Hope it sticks for while. Bad bounce led to some bad goals but I love the no quit. Glad to see the young guys out there in the end . Not to happy with the score board but think they showed some heart in the end there great to see.

  • McRib

    Usually when a team outplay’s the other and is continuously denied by it’s goalies then that team lacks skill…BT needs to address this in the upcoming off season and draft….

  • RKD

    The double standard bias on this place cracks me up:

    – early in the year; Hamilton is big and soft. Bouwmester, trade him! Colborne is big and young and talented. Give him all the chances. Size!!

    – Backlund has a million chances and can’t score. Trade him. Bennett has a million chances and can’t score. Its ok its coming.

    – Offseason, Bouwma is big and awesome give him all the money! Stops playing with actual good players – gets no chances.

    – Backlund is small and soft. Makes great plays but he’s Swedish so he sucks and has no grit. Russell is small and soft. He is great. All heart. Shot blocking! Canada!!

    Anyways, Backlunds line always gets chances. Always. He shoots slow and weak, true. Pretty much does everything else well (strong handle and make good decisions in small spaces better than anyone but Johnny), including being like 50x better on the boards than Colborne and almost any other forward on the team. People and size obsession, man. Old Don Cherry bias.

    Ferland on the first line is just so overdue. Great skater and real talent. Why that took so long I have no idea.

    Jones, Russell, Hudler are all gone for picks at the deadline. Won’t miss any of them for one second. Hopefully we get as lucky as we did with “gone from the league” Glencross (another guy beloved last year on this blog).

    Trash on, Backlund haters, go to a game or ten and follow him play for time. I wish we had more guys like him, but with a shot.

  • flames2015

    This one adds salt to the wounds. Last year we did so well against our division rivals and that was the difference in the playoffs. Not even a single point in the last 4 divisional losses is not good. We had a big chance to gain some ground since other teams were losing. The only bright spot tonight is 3 PPG and finally Bennet and Ferlund score. Hopefully it builds their confidence so we can continue withe some much needed secondary scoring. Top line looked good tonight, hopefully BH doesn’t juggle with this.

    • wot96

      Yep. If this team makes the playoffs, it will be in spite of these divisional games and if it doesn’t make the playoffs, it will be because of these divisional games. Just as simple as that.

  • Derzie

    Subtractions are required to make us a playoff team. Read through this timeline. Colborne, Bollig, Backlund, Hudler, Wideman, Russell, Raymond. Some of them have actual value but they are not part of a winning team. Backlund had a great playoff last year and has moments of playing very well but he is just too inconsistent to be a core player on a winning team. If a team can afford to use him as a PK specialist or 4th liner, then he has good value. He’s a slower, bigger Paul Byron. Value guy but only if used correctly. We are not deep enough to use him correctly. Trade him for picks (and maybe Paul Byron).