(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames hit a rather rough milestone on Tuesday night in Los Angeles: they had their 30th regulation loss of the season. The club hasn’t lost more than 30 games in regulation and made the playoffs since 1995-96, when they made the post-season despite being a sub-.500 team.
Needless to say: they really cannot afford to lose many more games if they hope to cling onto whatever hope they have left of the post-season. Then again, they begin Thursday a hop, a skip and 13 points out of a playoff spot with 23 games to go, so whatever hope they have is fading fast. They have to steal points wherever they can, starting with tonight’s game with the visiting (Brooklyn,) New York Islanders.
The puck drop is at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Projected lines from your good friends at Daily Faceoff:
Joni Ortio will likely start for the boys in red and black (with gold and white trim). He’s still waiting for his first win this season, as he’s 0-4-1. But he was superb in Los Angeles, albeit in another loss, and was the team’s best player by far. Matt Stajan was the lone healthy scratch on Tuesday and between injuries and the impending trade deadline, your guess is as good as ours in terms of what’s going to happen tonight line-up wise. Kris Russell is a game-time decision, but didn’t take line rushes with a defined pairing during morning skate.
Johnny Gaudreau is still scoring at a point-per-game pace after 58 games. He’s top 10 in the NHL in points as a (tiny) sophomore. The kid can flat-out play, and he’s been one of the best things about this team all season.
The Flames are down to just three players that have dressed for every game this season: captain Mark Giordano, newcomer Dougie Hamilton and center Mikael Backlund. Everybody else has been scratched or injured at least once. Wacky.
The Islanders’ power-play is SCARY-GOOD, so the Flames will need to stay disciplined and avoid giving their guests too many free opportunities.
Projected lines via the good folks at Daily Faceoff:
The Isles have a pair of really good goalies in Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak. It appears that Halak will start, though; he’s 15-12-4 with a 2.30 goals against average and .918 even-strength save percentage. Greiss has better numbers, but has played a bit less.
They may be having troubles with fan reaction to the move to Brooklyn from Long Island, but the Isles have been quite good this season. They’re not Washington or anything in terms of their ability to dominate teams, but they’re a really well-balanced team with a puck-moving defense and some players that can just flat-out play. Chief among them are the team’s two leading scorers John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. They’re not white-hot, but they’re representative of a good team that just keeps chugging along and racking up points.
WHEN LAST WE MET
The Flames were shut out 4-0 in their first visit to Barclays Center at the end of October. They didn’t play all that well.
All-time, the Flames are 44-46-21 against the Islanders.
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SUM IT UP
The Flames are definitively into “win or you’re done” territory, and there’s virtually no guarantee that even going on a crazy-long winning streak gets them back into the playoff picture.