FGD #63: Going to Beantown

Just 24 hours after a loss in Philadelphia, the Calgary Flames are back at it as they try to play out the string when they face the Boston Bruins.

It’s Dougie Hamilton’s return to the TD Garden for the first time since he was traded to Calgary. It’s also the potential debuts for new Flames Jyrki Jokipakka and Niklas Backstrom. And it’s another game closer to the end of this disappointing season, which is likely something all those around the team are desperately hoping for.

The puck drops at 5pm MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Lines from last night, via Daily Faceoff:

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The Flames are not skating today, as they got in late after a long day. With Jonas Hiller losing last night in Philadelphia, Joni Ortio gets his latest attempt to get his first win of the season. I foresee a Curtis McElhinney-esque quest for a win this season – in 2008-09, it took McBackup until the final date of the regular season to get his first win. Ortio’s 0-5-2 with a 3.54 goals against average and a .897 even-strength save percentage. The other change is the Flames debut of Jyrki Jokipakka, who will wear #3 and play in place of Tyler Wotherspoon, who’ll sit tonight. It’s unclear if Niklas Backstrom (#32) will dress as Ortio’s back-up or not.

T.J. Brodie’s third on the team in scoring, despite missing the first nine games. Aside from Johnny Gaudreau, who’ll obviously be a big focus tonight because of the Boston connection, Brodie has been Calgary’s best player.

The Flames have lost eight of the last nine games, garnering just three of a possible 18 points and placing themselves firmly in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes. They have been decent at even-strength, but their special teams play is an absolute abomination this season and is the primary reason we’re talking about Finnish wingers rather than the post-season.

THE BRUINS

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Tuukka Rask gets the start for the Beantown team. He’s 24-18-5 with a 2.56 goals against average and .925 even-strength save percentage. He hasn’t been super-amazing this season, but he’s been good enough to keep Boston in the playoff mix.

The Bruins are firmly in a wild-card spot, and are actually just a point behind Detroit for the last Atlantic Division spot – which would mean avoiding a date with either Florida or Washington in the opening round. They loaded up a bit with Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles at the deadline, and opted to keep Loui Ericsson as their own “rental” addition, and they seem primed to attempt to make noise in the post-season.

They have their work cut out for them, though, as Washington is terrifying in the East.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY BOSTON
Wins 26 34
Power Play 16.3% 21.4%
Penalty Kill 72.6% 81.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.2% 48.8%
Faceoffs 48.4% 50.1%

WHEN WE LAST MET

In the first meeting between Dougie Hamilton and the Bruins ever, the Flames beat the Bruins in a 5-4 overtime thriller, where the Flames blew the lead and regained the lead in the final flurry of the game. (This was back in December, when the Flames were bulletproof.)

All-time, the Flames are 36-56-10 against the Boston Bruins.

SUM IT UP

We’re in that awkward, frustrating part of the season where you want to see the team play well so there’s a foundation of competent hockey to build upon for next season. However, they really shouldn’t be winning games, as they could really use a damn good player in the upcoming NHL Draft.

So here’s to losing with dignity, I suppose.