FGD #57: Home Ice Advantage: The Flames vs. Vancouver, Round 263

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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

You can make a really good argument that the Edmonton Oilers are the Calgary Flames’ most bitter rival, but probably the team that the Flames have most frequently had important games against is the Vancouver Canucks.

Examples? The Flames have faced the Canucks seven times in the playoffs, twice heading to the Stanley Cup Final after beating the Canucks in the first round (the Canucks have gone to the finals a few times after beating the Flames, too), and they’ve faced them more times in the regular season than any other NHL club. Oh, and they also had a pretty sweet line brawl back in 2014 that seemed to kick-start the rebuild. Neither team seems destined for the post-season, but both groups seem to get energized for these battles, and there’s a new crop of youngsters on both sides just waiting to make the rivalry mean something again.

Puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

For a view from the other side, check out Canucks Army’s coverage of the game!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines from this morning’s skate:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanJiri Hudler
Joe ColborneMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Micheal FerlandSam Bennett 

Josh Jooris
Lance BoumaMatt StajanDavid Jones

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie
Deryk EngellandDougie Hamilton
Tyler Wotherspoon

Jakub Nakladal 

Despite playing…not great lately, Jonas Hiller starts once again (as has been the norm in the post-Ramo world). He’s 8-7-1 with a 3.27 goals against average and .908 even-strength save percentage. The Flames are currently without Karri Ramo, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman and Ladislav Smid. That means Tyler Wotherspoon gets a game or two in at the NHL level (at least). Markus Granlund and Brandon Bollig look to be your healthy extras this evening (as it should be).

Calgary’s even-strength play? 26th in goal differential. Power-play? 27th in goal differential. Penalty kill? 24th in goal differential. Calgary’s underlyings are improved from last season, but they’re still not where they need to be, which is why we’re talking about the Flames being in draft contention rather than playoff contention.

Don’t get too down on everything, though; the Flames do have a lot of good young players and can be pretty damn fun to watch. And there’s 26 games remaining – including tonight – and the closer we get to the trade deadline, the closer we get to team management potentially going nuts and doing experimental things with the roster to get different looks of the team.

THE CANUCKS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 5.20.26 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 5.21.37 PM

The Canucks played and lost last night at home against Anaheim. Ryan Miller played last night and faced 32 shots. There’s a good chance we see Jacob Markstrom in net. He’s 9-6-4 with a 2.45 goals against average and .929 even-strength save percentage.

Who are some young Canucks that are fun to watch that Flames fans will learn to hate with a soul-consuming fashion? Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi (who?), Linden Vey, (former Hitmen) Jake Virtanen, Emerson Etem, Ben Hutton and Alex Biega. If they can back-fill the team with some guys that mesh well with these youngsters, they could have a damn good team.

But that’s the tough part, now, isn’t it?

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Vancouver
Wins 25 22
Power Play 15.7% 16.9%
Penalty Kill 73.3% 81.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.0% 47.1%
Faceoffs 48.4% 45.2%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames have won two of three meetings with Vancouver this season. After losing the season-opener at home 5-1, they beat them 3-2 in overtime the following Saturday and more recently they beat Vancouver 4-1 at the beginning of February. The road team has won every game between these teams thus far.

All-time, the Flames are 127-89-46 against the Vancouver Canucks.

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

We really need to come up with a name for this rivalry. I mean, there’s the Battle of Alberta, but Calgary/Vancouver is so much more significant in terms of the ferocity and importance of the games.

Oh, and both of these teams are stuck in the NHL’s murky middle, and either need a ton of wins or a ton of losses to gain some organizational clarity. Let’s hope they both find some.

  • freethe flames

    Where are all the Backlund and Colborne haters tonight?

    Next test the Ducks on the road, this will be a tougher test for Nakladal and Spoon. But now is the time to see what they can do.

    • KiLLKiND

      WW is the only Backlund hater. Nobody hates Colborne just doesn’t agree with his usage. Personally I like him as a 3rd-4th liner.

      The problem with Colborne has never been his skill, size or lack of trying it’s his inability to put it all together for more than one shift at a time. If he could play the way he clearly is capable of with that size, and a pair of hands that could dangle with the best of them. Colborne on a breakaway I count it as a goal everytime and if it doesn’t go in the goalie made an unreal save.

      I’m tired of seeing all these where are the Colborne haters posts after every goal he scores. He does have skill he just doesn’t utilize it enough for there to be a ton of Colborne fans. Where are they speaking up for him after he takes the puck into the corner does nothing and ends up losing it? Where are they when he gets 0 points on the power play game after game, and the play dies once the puck touches his stick?

      • freethe flames

        One of the early comments when the lines were announced was almost immediately attacking Colborne on this line; so I was addressing this. I agree that the problem with Joe is consistency but overall when used properly a third liner which really what this is he is a solid contributor. It’s probably the only time I have ever used the line you refer to.

  • Jake the Snail

    “For a view from the other side, check out Canucks Army’s coverage of the game!

    OMG! only 19 pre-game comments, none during the game and 8 comments after the game – mostly about trade possibilities. What a boring Nation!

    Best of pre-game comments:

    “I want to see an ugly nasty blowout – like 9-0. I want to see the Canucks get beat up and concussed and suffer season ending injuries. Then in the post game interviews I want to hear Willie say we gave it a real good effort and tomorrow morning Benning to say we tried our best and Linden to say we are on the right path.”

    • supra steve

      Yeah, cause that’s a real Canucks fan, wishing for concussions and season ending injuries. Four gold stars for that post (sarcasm)

      You sound exactly like some of the dumber ON posters who spout similar tripe about FN, just because they (or we) have more traffic at their (our) site. That’s a childish point of view.