FGD #57: Going to Disneyland

After trouncing the lowly Vancouver Canucks on Friday night, the (also lowly) Calgary Flames are back in action tonight against a much more terrifying for: the Anaheim Ducks.

The Flames looked quite good against a Canucks team that had been thumped 5-2 in three consecutive games (Calgary made it four). However, Anaheim has owned Calgary in recent years, especially (a) in the playoffs or (b) at Honda Center, and they sit 13 points up on Calgary in the Pacific Division standings. If the Flames have any hope of shocking the hockey world and making the post-season – Sports Clubs Stats has their chances at 5.2% – this is the type of game they need to win on a regular basis.

The puck drops at 5pm MT (really early for a California start) on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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For the fifth time since Karri Ramo got hurt, Jonas Hiller will start for your local sports team. He’s 9-7-1 with a 3.20 goals against average and .909 even-strength save percentage. Hopefully Joni Ortio gets a chance eventually. These are the exact same lines and pairings that the Flames ended Friday night with, as things seemed to be working pretty well.

I’m extremely curious how much ice-time Wotherspoon and Nakladal get against the white-hot Ducks. Other than managing their lines intelligently, the challenge for the Flames will be avoiding penalties. On their last Western road trip the Flames spend way too much time in the box and got shelled, and the Ducks have a terrifying power-play.

Keep an eye on the top line: they were relatively quiet against Vancouver, but they’ll need to be a focal point for the offense if they’re going to be able to survive this game.

The Flames begin today’s games 10 points out of a playoff spot and five points ahead of the last place teams.

THE DUCKS

Projected lines from Daily Faceoff:

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Given that he got the win in Anaheim’s 5-2 win over Vancouver their last time out, I’d wager we see John Gibson get the start tonight for the Ducks. He’s 13-8-2 with a 2.10 goals against average and .918 even-strength save percentage. He’s backed up by Frederik Andersen, who is quite good.

The Ducks are well-rested (they last played on Thursday), relatively healthy (only missing Chris Stewart) and have absolutely owned Calgary in recent years. The Flames can play well against Anaheim and lose, and they can play poorly against Anaheim and really lose. We know that the Ducks’ home dominance against the Flames has to end eventually, but I’m not sure if anybody – even the 20 gentlemen wearing Flames sweaters – really believes it.

Expect to see Josh Manson leaning on Johnny Gaudreau a lot tonight.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY ANAHEIM
Wins 26 30
Power Play 15.5% 20.1%
Penalty Kill 73.6% 86.6%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.1% 53.4%
Faceoffs 48.4% 51.4%

WHEN LAST WE MET

The Flames have lost their last 21 regular season visits to the Honda Center, going 0-16-5 in that span. In fact, when you include the playoffs they have a single win (from April 2006) in their past 27 trips to Orange County and a 1-21-5 record. Yeesh.

This is the fourth meeting between the two teams this season. The Ducks won all three of them; 5-3 in November, 1-0 in December and 6-4 last week.

In 94 previous clashes with the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames are 37-42-15.

SUM IT UP

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

The Flames need to either get on a crazy winning streak and claw their way into the playoffs, or they need to go on an epic losing streak and start preparing for next season. The way they’re going, I fear they’re going to be like the late-era Iginla teams and end up finishing outside of the playoffs and outside of the really good draft picks.

  • ApolloRising

    Big surprise, Engelland is on the ice for ANOTHER goal. Replace him with Kulak already. Nakladal & Wotherspoon are a great bottom pair. Our defensive weaknesses can be fixed.

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    Seriously, Hiller is a joke. Has any team ever needed a goal tending upgrade this badly? Or so obviously…. they play COMPLETELY different in front of him, no confidence in him what so ever…

    • MattyFranchise

      Well, fair play being fair play, Kipper completely fell off a cliff in his 34 year old season too.

      It’s not really Hiller’s fault that he’s so bad at his age but I would place some blame on the Flames management for not recognizing and dealing with the situation sooner. They put all their eggs in one basket with Ortio and clearly that isn’t working.

  • ssamze

    Our strength supposed to be our defense. But this season our problem lies in D….and our O…. and of course our G….

    Oh well, at least we are hardworking shot-blocking team.

  • cgyokgn

    I don’t blame Hiller on the last two goals… bad turnovers and passing by the Flames. They were in the game when the third started… not that I expected them to win but I hate to see things unravel like this.

  • Rock

    The flames 3rd and 4th goals against were scored by giveaways and the 5th goal was scored with someone ducking out of the way of the shot instead of blocking the shot. Hmmmm shot blocking is bad and giveaways are good and the flames are down 5-1

  • RKD

    What a slaughter, we are far away from where we think we are. Lots of improvement needed on this club in a lot of areas. The Ducks are bigger, faster, stronger and deeper. Our goaltending is weak, our defensive coverage is poor, we lack the depth in the forward rank and from the elite point of view. We need a roster overhaul.

  • fretsey

    Nak and Spoon looked good.Nak’s give-away the other night pales in comparison with Engelland and Hammy’s gaffes tonight.

    Still have a long ways to go before we can roll with the bigs

  • Franko J

    I guess Hartley has no other recourse at this point but to start Ortio against LA.
    Right ……?

    It is not like his job is in jeopardy because the Flames will be out of the playoffs once again. Or could it be?
    Too bad there are some other teams bellow them in the standings who have mastered the art of tanking.

  • Baalzamon

    Blue Moon Nigel is far, far too negative about Hamilton.

    However, he isn’t exactly wrong about Hamilton needing to engage more physically. When he does, he invariably has a great game. He doesn’t need to be a bruiser, but he shouldn’t be defaulting to poke checks in close quarters either.

    The comparison to Bouwmeester doesn’t fly for me, though. They bare a very superficial resemblance. Tall defensemen who are great skaters. But even right now, Hamilton is far more willing to engage physically than Bouwmeester ever was.

    Hamilton reminds me of Victor Hedman at the same age. Remember when people were doubting that Hedman was the right choice at 2nd overall in his draft because he was such a big man who never played the body? Now look at him. He’s inarguably one of the best defensemen in the league. And opposing forwards are never happy to be entering the zone on his side.