FGD #50: Home Ice Advantage – Hosting The Blue Jackets

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(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)

After kicking off the homestretch of the 2015-16 season with a win over Carolina on Wednesday night, the Calgary Flames are back in action at the Saddledome tonight in the first half of a back-to-back that concludes tomorrow night in Vancouver. But before the big Pacific Division tilt at Rogers Arena tomorrow night, the Flames face off against the National Hockey League’s worst team – the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Before the Carolina game, I suggested that the Flames need to pick a direction – either winning a lot or losing a lot – and stick to it for the remainder of the season. Since they won on Wednesday and they’re facing the horrid Blue Jackets tonight, perhaps they may be able to claw their way back into the playoff picture after all.

Then again, there’s a lot of hockey left to be played.

The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. And for those going down to the building, it’s Western Night (the theme night that’s nowhere as good as Retro Night).

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanJiri Hudler

Sam Bennett

Mikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanDavid Jones
Lance BoumaJoe ColborneJosh Jooris 

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie 

Kris Russell 

Dougie Hamilton
Ladislav SmidDeryk Engelland

For the 36th time this season, Karri Ramo gets the start. He was quite good against Carolina, especially late, and he’s been exactly the goaltender the Flames have needed him to be this season. He’s 17-17-1 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .918 even-strength save percentage. But fun fact: there’s 29 goalies that have played 25+ games this season; Ramo’s even-strength play is better than only five others – Cam Ward, Mike Condon, Pekka Rinne, Cam Talbot and Sergei Bobrovsky. His numbers are getting better, but he’s not an amazing goalie compared to the rest of the league.

There are two big questions on the blueline:

  1. Will T.J. Brodie play after leaving Wednesday’s game due to injury?
  2. Will Jakub Nakladal (finally) make his NHL debut?

The answers to those questions are: Yes, Brodie will play and No, Nakladal will not. By the sounds of it the Flames will go with the same line-up that thumped Carolina, so Nakladal, Markus Granlund and Brandon Bollig are your extra bodies this evening (along with the suspended Dennis Wideman).

In scoring news, the Flames’ league-worst power-play scored twice against Carolina, representing just the fourth time all season that they’ve scored multiple PP goals in a single game. (Are you surprised they’re worst in the league?) Despite their woeful track record, they’ve been a lot better at puck movement and puck management on the power-play, so hopefully that success can spill over into tonight’s game.

THE BLUE JACKETS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.42.06 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.43.54 PM

Columbus played in Vancouver last night and then flew to Calgary, so it’s basically guesswork at this point in terms of who suits up for them. Joonas Korpisalo started last night, so presumably Anton Forsberg gets the nod on the back-end of the back-to-back. Forsberg is 1-3-0 with a 3.03 goals against average and .889 even-strength save percentage.

The Jackets won a tight game 2-1 in a shootout last night in Vancouver. They were out-shot handily. They were lucky to make it to overtime, let alone win the game. This is a completely winnable game for the Flames. Columbus is a tired team, is a team that’s not all that good, and they played and traveled.

(Note: I had previously noted that Columbus lost last night. I was wrong. They won. My brain must not have processed that they won, because they’re Columbus so of course they lost. Apologies.)

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY COLUMBUS
Wins 22 20
Power Play 14.5% 17.7%
Penalty Kill 76.7% 80.0%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 46.9% 47.3%
Faceoff 48.1% 48.4%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames met Columbus on their pre-All-Star road trip in mid-January, and their win 4-2 win over Columbus was their only victory on that trip.

Calgary is 24-21-7 all-time against the Blue Jackets.

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!

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The Flames open the night four points up on last-place Columbus and eight points back of Anaheim for the final Pacific Division playoff spot.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.28.58 PM

SUM IT UP

If there’s a must-win game this week, this is it.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    Thought the boys played hard, just wasn’t our game, hopefully we can make a good run and at least be competitive for a playoff spot or a couple points out…..just good for the psyche!

  • Mooseroni

    Ah lame fans, continuing to try and match the greatness of the big E to the north. A billion dollar arena won’t bring you Matthews….enjoy the first round of the playoffs or being a point or two out for the next ten years!

  • MontanaMan

    I would love to see this team make a run right now even if it is too little too late. Just too win some games will be good and make it competitive and show other teams were not a pushover…..we need wins and a positive attitude more than mathews

  • ClayBort

    Honestly, I’m sure you have contact with the writers of OILERSNATION.
    Ask them…
    It was (of course) deleted my the mod, but it was there.
    The outpouring of support for Joey Moss was fast and furious in the event he would have caught a glimpse of it… But it WAS there.

    To moderate a little jab that I sent towards the team you admire seems a little over the top..

    FN Mod: comments on ON are out of my jurisdiction. I’m just a FN Mod. Nothing more. Also, it wasn’t a little jab. It was using a homosexual act to try and belittle a player. That’s homophobic. That won’t be tolerated.

    • Mooseroni

      I get that, and I admire your dedication to be up after 10:00 and watching what’s said. But a little jab to the players on your team should not be out of line.

      I do like to chuck a little excrement, but I’m not giving near what’s gotten outside of your jurisdiction.

      FN Mod: And a little jab is fine. But you can’t wander into the territory of homophobia, racism, or sexism. It’s not okay and it will be removed.

      • .

        10-4
        I get that….
        Now that I know what you’re good with and what your not……
        Thanks for laying out the rules!

        So, Johnny Knockknee is just gonna be doing hair in the locker rooms after the game?

  • Mooseroni

    Well lamers it’s been nice. Keep trying for matthews! You may just have a bit of the old edmonton luck rub off on you as we pass you in the standings on sunday.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: the Flames are not tanking. They are just no bloody good. That should have been apparent at the end of last season when the team made the playoffs mainly because of an abundance of four-leaf clovers, horseshoes and rabbits’ feet. Like salt, luck runs out and the Flames were flush out of it in the Anaheim series.

    Strangely, the front office decided to bring back virtually the same starting cast this season as it had last season. Yes, it added a pair of very pricey new baubles, but the rest of the players have remained the same, so how could our darling boys from last season be stupid, lazy pigs this season? I’ll let the smarter minds on this forum answer this one.

    The Flames are just a very bad team. Deal with it. Brad Treliving, who many Flames fans touted before this season began as EOY and who is godfather to Mason Raymonds and Derek Englland’s kids, now has the unenviable task of fixing this mess. I’m of the mind he doesn’t have it in him, but that’s a story for another time.