FGD #55: Home Ice Advantage – The Flames Go Duck Hunting

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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames have been a club that’s resembled Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde this season; one day they’re strong in all three areas of the ice, another they can’t even escape their own zone. With their flickering playoff hopes nearly extinguished, they’ll need to be very sharp from here on out.

Today’s game is a really interesting test on two levels. For one, it’s an afternoon game – something the Flames habitually stink in. And they’re facing the Anaheim Ducks, who have absolutely owned the Flames over the past several seasons. If the Flames are going to claw their way into the post-season, they’ll need to overcome both of their hurdles – and the third obstacle of their own shoddy play.

The game kicks off at 2pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines from Friday’s game, courtesy Daily Faceoff:

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Jonas Hiller gets the start once more after playing in both games on the road trip. He’s 8-6-1 with a 3.04 goals against average and .910 even-strength save percentage. After missing Friday’s game in Arizona with a lower-body injury, David Jones returns to action. His return should bump either Josh Jooris or Brandon Bollig to the press box, where they will probably be joined by Markus Granlund and Jakub Nakladal.

Matt Stajan skated on the second line during Sunday’s practice, as Mikael Backlund missed it for maintenance. Normally the “skating in place” body is a healthy scratch, but I’m not convinced that Granlund’s in and Stajan’s out. There’s a chance, though.

The Flames allowed six power-play goals on 16 opposition advantages on their short road trip, both of which are awful figures. They need to be more disciplined and they absolutely can’t survive giving up multiple goals per game on special teams. Take away the three power-play goals they gave up to San Jose and Arizona and those games are a 5-2 win and a 1-1 tie, and they probably get some points in each game.

THE DUCKS

Lines from Saturday’s game via Daily Faceoff:

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John Gibson left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, but he practiced on Sunday and is day-to-day. Anton Khodobin is up from the AHL’s San Diego Gulls – per Orange County Register reporter Eric Stephens – but there’s still a chance that Gibson dresses. Either way, I’d expect to see Frederik Andersen in net. He’s 12-8-6 with a 2.30 goals against average and .924 even-strength save percentage.

The Ducks are a team that has recently seemed to figure things out. Back when they visited Calgary last time, the talk of the hockey world was about how long it’d take for Bruce Boudreau to get canned due to his team’s under-performance. But the Ducks have seemed to figure out how to play effective, low-event hockey.

Remember their last trip to Cowtown? A snooze-inducing game where they just kept swatting down stretch pass attempts in the neutral zone and grinded out a 1-0 win? That’s a gear they have that the Flames might not have developed yet, and against a Flames team that thrives on playing faced-paced, energetic hockey, that might be a good recipe for another two points for the Ducks.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY ANAHEIM
Wins 25 27
Power Play 14.8% 18.2%
Penalty Kill 75.0% 88.3%
Score-Adjusted Corsi
Faceoffs 48.3% 51.4%

WHEN LAST WE MET

We’ve already seen two matches between Calgary and Anaheim this season. Calgary dropped both games. They lost 5-3 in Orange County back at American Thanksgiving, then were shut-out 1-0 at home in late December.

The Flames are 37-41-15 against the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks (of Anaheim), 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

It’s a holiday Monday and it’s family day in Alberta and at the rink, but despite all the frivolities the Flames need to be in desperation mode. If they can’t find a way to squirrel away points against divisional opponents, and quick, they’ll be booking golf dates for the spring before we even hit the trade deadline.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Nakladal can play. He’s been good on the PP and positional sound on his limited TOI. Instead Smid and Engelland are reunited. Frustrating decisions.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    Is anyone else cringing every time the puck gets near the Flames net?

    Feel like the Flames need to play perfect defence for the rest of the game…. That’s not gonna happen.

    What was the over/under for this game?

    Edit: 0:54 seconds in… Omg. Here we go!! Can Nak play goalie?

          • MontanaMan

            Yes. Brossoit does have the “potential” to be a number 1 goalie. Potential and $1.50 gets you a coffee. Why don’t you wait to see what Brossoit does with that “potential” before you declare a winner?

      • RedMan

        The Flames needed a legit NHL level defender – they got this in Smid.

        Evidently, the Oilers did NOT need NHL caliber defenders, and still don’t. Oilers lust after prospects… and shun conventional wisdom like having a genuine NHL capable blue-line. So – good one Edmonton – you win by getting rid of proven NHL level defensemen and bringing in prospects. Defense be damned, right?

  • McRib

    One really underrated bad Hartley decision this year is not sticking with Hudler-Monahan-Gaudreau throughout bad stretches to help get them going again. That line was by far our best line last year (one of the better lines in league) and this year after they faltered early he basically never stuck with them for more than a game. Until recently as they have been trying to shop Hudler.

    • MontanaMan

      I think Hartley tried to keep the top line together during the tough stretches but Hudler wasn’t keeping up with the kids….eventually a change was needed. Hudler is much more engaged now, knowing he needs to bring it for any chance to get a good contract somewhere. You can tell the 3 linemates really enjoying playing with each other…. But Hudler will be a trade chip.

  • MontanaMan

    If the Flames hadn’t been convinced on being sellers, watching the Ducks essentially toy with the Flames today should erase all doubt. They played just hard enough for just long enough to make sure they won.

    Bottom line: This team is way closer to dead last than they are to Cup contender. Time to stop stubbornly struggling towards mediocrity and finish the damn rebuild already.

    • MontanaMan

      Given the right offer, are there any untouchables other than JG, Monahan, Bennett and Brodie? One thing is clear – for the Flames to be remotely competitive they need to trade for a bonafide NHL goaltender or sign a free agent. They don’t currently have one with the big team, don’t have a healthy one in the AHL and Gilles may or may not be the man but he’s 2 to 3 years away.

    • Burnward

      I don’t understand this.

      Gio and Brodie are elite. Hamilton is good.

      Johnny, Mony, Huds, Bennett are the ones carrying the load.

      There is no way to tank far enough given their collective desire to win.

      Unless they start Hiller from here on out.