(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.
Lines from Friday’s game, courtesy Daily Faceoff:
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.
Lines from Saturday’s game via Daily Faceoff:
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.
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
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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.