FGD #47: Seeking Salvation In Texas

The Calgary Flames haven’t been a good road team this season, going 7-13-3 this season away from home (only Edmonton has fewer road points) and 1-2-1 thus far on the first four games of their five-game road trip. That road trip ends tonight in Dallas, and the Flames really need some points.

The Flames were a tire-fire of bad hockey in October. They seemed to figure things out in November and were damn good in December. But bad habits have crept back into their game, and now they’ve slid back a ways and begin tonight’s action 6 points out of a playoff spot and just 6 points ahead of Columbus in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.

Unless Brad Treliving plans on beginning the proverbial fire sale after the All-Star Break, these guys need to get their game together. And quickly.

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

THE FLAMES

Here’s what the projected lines were for last night’s loss (via Daily Faceoff):

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Now, Josh Jooris and Ladislav Smid ended up subbing in for Brandon Bollig and Deryk Engelland. I’d expect that we get something close to this line-up tonight. Now, the Flames don’t skate before the game, so all we can do is guess. And since they can’t put in 18 new bodies – which would actually help after last night’s showing – this is probably the most likely outcome.

In goal, we saw both Karri Ramo (16-15-1, 2.66 goals against average, .916 even-strength save percentage) and Jonas Hiller (5-5-1, 3.16 goals against average, .896 even-strength save percentage). Hiller was slightly better but faced fewer shots and faced a team that already had a 3-goal lead.

Per our pal Steinberg:

What can be said for the Flames? They needed a good period to beat the NHL’s worst team and have otherwise been unimpressive on this trip – though the Bennett/Backlund/Frolik trio has been fun. They’re basically limping home now, and after the game they had last night I’m a little bit terrified that they’ll get stomped by the Stars tonight.

I hope I’m wrong.

THE STARS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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Despite losing against Colorado on Saturday, Antti Niemi (17-9-5, 2.47 goals against average, .929 even-strength save percentage) starts tonight. He got the loss in Dallas’ shootout loss in Calgary back in early December. He’s markedly better than Kari Lehtonen, who took the loss in Dallas’ regulation loss against the Flames in Dallas in mid-December.

Aside from missing Jordie Benn, the Stars have all their big guns in their line-up. They haven’t been firing on all cylinders this season, but they are a deep enough team – especially with their stacked forward group – that once they get their ducks in a row, they could be very dangerous down the stretch.

And considering they’ve dropped a pair to the Flames already, they’ll probably be a motivated bunch tonight.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY DALLAS
Wins 21 30
Power Play 14.4% 21.6%
Penalty Kill 75.2% 79.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.1% 53.3%
Faceoffs 48.0% 51.1%

WHEN LAST WE MET

Despite Dallas being much better than them on paper, the Flames have beaten them twice this season (both in December). In Calgary the Flames won 4-3 in a shootout (after a big comeback), and in Dallas the Flames won 3-1.

In 163 previous meetings with the (North) Stars organization, the Flames are 73-58-32.

SUM IT UP

The Flames desperately need a win. They need a strong 60 minutes of hockey to end off their road trip on the right foot, particularly with a meeting with Nashville back in Calgary just around the corner.