FGD #53: (Shark) Tank Battle

After an eventful few days on the home front – full of Super Bowl parties, abruptly short practices, healthy scratches and a seven-hour appeals hearing for Dennis Wideman at the NHL offices in New York – the Calgary Flames are now on the road for a few days and have a wonderful distraction from all the tumult at home: a pair of really important divisional clashes.

First up? A trip to Silicon Valley, where they visit the illustrious Shark Tank and the San Jose Sharks. San Jose is one of many, many teams ahead of the Flames in the NHL standings and they haven’t fared too well against them thus far in 2015-16. But with the Flames hopefully rejuvenated with some fresh, motivated legs, perhaps the Flames can grind one out tonight.

The puck drops at 8:30pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Lines from yesterday’s skate:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanJiri Hudler
Sam BennettMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Micheal FerlandMarkus GranlundDavid Jones
Brandon BolligMatt StajanJosh Jooris 

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie 

Kris RussellDougie Hamilton
Ladislav SmidDeryk Engelland 

Despite Jonas Hiller racking up back-to-back wins, Karri Ramo will make his 37th start of the season. He’s 17-18-1 with a 2.56 goals against average and a .917 even-strength save percentage. Hiller has been good lately, but Ramo’s been, y’know, actually consistently good.

The Flames were decent against Toronto, bolstered by some strong play from the second line of Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik. Frolik, in particular, has been superb on the penalty kill and has been consistently dangerous both at five-on-five and a man down. If the Flames can start generating the same kind of movement and energy on the power-play as they have been on the PK, they may get something going.

And let’s just hope that Gaudreau and Monahan are rested up, because the Flames could really use their help to beat the Sharks tonight.

THE SHARKS

Projected lines from your chums at Daily Faceoff:

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Martin Jones gets the start for the home side. He’s 25-15-3 with a 2.38 goals against average and .925 even-strength save percentage. He’s started 44 of San Jose’s 52 games this season, because back-up Alex Stalock just isn’t all that good. (Aside: Could San Jose be a potential landing spot for Ramo or Hiller before the trade deadline? Hmm…)

Anyhoo, the Sharks are second in the Pacific Division, but are one of the odd teams that is much better on the road than they are on home ice. (The other NHL clubs with more road wins than home wins? Los Angeles, Colorado, Vancouver, Columbus and New Jersey.)

San Jose has won six of their last 10 games, and have quietly been putting together a really strong season. And in their games against Calgary, they’re a team that just hasn’t quite gone away. Keep an eye on Joe Thornton and Joel Ward, who each have looked dangerous in previous games against the Flames this season.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY SAN JOSE
Wins 24 28
Power Play 14.5% 22.5%
Penalty Kill 76.6% 80.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.0% 51.1%
Faceoffs 48.5% 50.7%

WHEN LAST WE MET

This is the fourth meeting between these two teams this season. The Sharks beat Calgary 5-2 in San Jose in late November. The Flames beat San Jose at the Saddledome 4-2 as part of their colossal December winning stretch, but lost to them in Calgary in mid-January by a 5-4 score in a wild game.

All-time, the Flames are 57-41-12 against San Jose.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

The Flames begin the night four points out of last place and seven points out of the last Western Conference playoff spot.

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SUM IT UP

The Flames can get back to .500 with a win tonight. They need to rack up wins in a hurry if they want any chance of making the post-season.

Oh, and Ari’s Bloggers Fight Cancer head-shaving fund-raiser is gaining huge momentum. Click over there, give it a gander and donate a few bucks, won’t you?