FGD #42: Home Ice Advantage: The Traveling Jagr Show Arrives

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(Sergei Belski – USA Today Sports)

Folks, we keep saying this without really believing it, but here’s the thing: tonight could be Jaromir Jagr’s last game in the Saddledome.

The Calgary Flames are back below .500 (19-20-2) and face the Florida Panthers, fresh off having their winning streak snapped by Vancouver. (It was in overtime, so they still got a point.) The Flames have lost four straight games to Pacific Division opponents. They need points right now. It’s an important game for the Flames to stay in the mix.

But man, it’s hard not to focus on how this could be Jagr’s last game here. I mean, we say that every year and he’s playing quite well this season, so maybe he could play for a few more years.

The puck drops at 7:30pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny Gaudreau

Sean MonahanMicheal Ferland
Sam Bennett

Mikael BacklundJiri Hudler
Mason RaymondMarkus GranlundDavid Jones
Brandon BolligMatt StajanJosh JoorisScreen Shot 2015-12-26 at 1.16.33 AM

With Karri Ramo dealing with a combination of “health and fatigue” (per the Flames via Roger Millions’ Twiter), Jonas Hiller makes his 10th start of the season and just his 3rd appearance in a Flames net since Halloween. He’s 4-4-0 with a 3.76 goals against average and .862 save percentage. He’s had a pretty rough season thus far, between his bad October and then being injured for several weeks after that.

The Flames are getting bodies back, basically swapping an injured Lance Bouma (laceration) for a hopefully healthy Jiri Hudler (groin). Hudler has not been good this season. It could be age. It could be injury. It could be that Monahan’s not quite as good this year, too, and Hudler had the help of two white-hot youngsters last season when he finished top 10 in league scoring. Either way, Hudler needs to be better than he has been for the Flames to make the post-season. And the Flames have swapped Mason Raymond in for local boy Joe Colborne tonight, as he sits as a healthy scratch for the first time all season. Considering that he’s been used on the top line a bit this year, that’s a big statement from Bob Hartley.

The Flames were poor defensively against the Sharks, but their power-play was deadly. Hopefully some of that confidence can seep into other parts of their game, because they need to be better at even-strength than they have been lately.

TEAM JAGR

Projected lines via your pals at Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 9.15.13 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 9.15.32 PM

Remember when Roberto Luongo was all washed up? Well, apparently he doesn’t, as he’s been a machine this year. He’s 19-11-4 with a 2.08 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. Fun fact: tonight will be his 899th NHL appearance. It sounds like the Panthers will be without Aaron Ekblad tonight due to an injury.

Jaromir Jagr is an amazing human being. He’s 43. He’s the NHL’s active all-time leading scorer. He won Stanley Cups…in the ’90s. And despite his elder statesman status, he’s 38th in league scoring despite being the league’s oldest player. And he’s probably Florida’s most dangerous player, the guy that makes a big different on the NHL’s hottest team right now.

Keep an eye on Sasha Barkov tonight. I mean, everyone’s all up on Jagr and Huberdeau (who is also quite good), but Barkov is due for a big game sooner or later.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY FLORIDA
Wins 19 28
Power Play 14.6% 16.7%
Penalty Kill 73.5% 82.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.9% 48.3%
Faceoffs 48.2% 49.3%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames visited Sunrise, Florida in November and lost a close one by a 4-3 score.

All-time, the Flames are 14-9-3-2 against the Florida Panthers.

HOME ICE HERO

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SUM IT UP

A living hockey legend is in town, but the Flames need to focus on the matter at hand: they desperately need points in order to keep pace with the Pacific Division pack. And since they’ve failed to use their divisional games to gain ground, they’re forced to try to wrest points from the Floridas of the world.

      • RKD

        Oh I do, but when I have people saying shooting % is based on luck I feel it is o ly right they know just how wrong they are. Is it luck that Bennett has scored 5 beautiful goals in maybe 10 shots and unlucky that Backlund has flunked his last 15 to 20 of which were arguably in better scoring areas?
        No and it’s asinine to say so

        • DestroDertell

          Do you realise Bennett had a lower shooting% than Backlund before the sharks game while shooting much more high-scoring chances than anyone in the team?

          I’m not saying shooting% is always entirely luck – and no matter how many time you try to spin that way, no one did – but you picked the worst possible example you prove your point.

  • cgyokgn

    What I like about Sammy’s four goals is that each was scored a different way: the first was a slap shot, the second he stick-handled in and slid the puck under Luongo, the third was a backhand at a sharp angle and the fourth was a real beauty, stick-handling around defenders, passing to himself through his own skates and scoring on the backhand with only 24 seconds left in the game. He’s got tenacity, grit and skill… the skies the limit for him now.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    Now imagine Sam on a line with Johnny and Puljujarvi and realize that if CGY missed the playoffs this year and picked 2nd it wouldn’t be a disaster.

      • Tomas Oppolzer

        I’d rather have a line of Johnny-Sam-Puljujarvi for 10 years than another 2nd rd. exit in a year where the team has no business making the playoffs in the first place.

        • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

          Tom, I agree with a lot of what you say but no team has ever made the playoffs or won a round in an undeserving way. The only way that happens is if you win, and a whole season or a series is earned. Be careful wishing for a playoff miss, it kills the fire in players.

          • Tomas Oppolzer

            Calgary is 26th in the NHL. If they made the playoffs, it would be underserving. And pacific team making the playoffs this year not named the Kings will most likely be undeserving.

          • Avalain

            LA has made a habit of sneaking into the playoffs. With a terrible start that CGY had, do you think making the playoffs mean that they are not deserving.

            On another note, why do you even bother playing if you aren’t a contender. 14 teams don’t make it to the finals. Better to tank for a chance at another “generationall player”? At some point teams have to start trying to win, even if they aren’t going to win it all.

    • cgyokgn

      Even with this amazing win, they are only in 5th in the Pacific and may be 6th if Anaheim wins tonight (cheering for Ottawa). They would have to go on another run to get back in contention which isn’t out of the question but it will be tight to the end.

  • RKD

    Sam Bennett is the youngest Flames player to score a hat trick, the second Flames rookie to score 4 goals in one game and the last Flame to score 4 goals in a game since Jarome Iginla turned the trick 13 years ago in 2003 against the Coyotes.