FGD #65: Facing A Waddle Of Penguins

The Calgary Flames have lost 10 of their last 11 games, and every single one of their last seven games. They’ve lost each of the first three games of this road trip and now they head into the Steel City of Pittsburgh for an afternoon game against the Penguins as their final game of this trip.

The Penguins are five points up for the last wild-card spot in the East and desperately want in. The Flames? They’re 29th overall. Let’s just say it doesn’t look good.

The puck drops at 1pm MT on Sportsnet West (with BOB COLE and Greg Millen) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

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The Flames have zero extra healthy skaters right now, so here’s the exact same roster they put out in Buffalo. In goal there a change, as the winless Joni Ortio slots in. He’s 0-6-2 with a 3.34 goals against average and .901 even-strength save percentage. He’s been fine, but nothing about his play or his numbers really breeds a ton of confidence or suggests he’s a long-term answer.

The local hockey club has been playing juuust bad enough to lose over the past month, and it’s brought them crashing down into the NHL basement. It’s also given Bob Hartley confidence to mix up lines and whatnots, which is actually interesting because why didn’t he just do this earlier? Anyway, expect lines to get shuffled here and there and the Flames to put up a good fight.

If they could only figure out how to kill penalties (or not take so damn many) and to exit their own zone with regularity, maybe they could make some noise.

THE PENGUINS

Projected lines from your friends at Daily Faceoff:

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Marc-Andre Fleury starts for the Penguins. He’s 27-14-6 with a 2.31 goals against average and .929 even-strength save percentage. He struggles with consistency sometimes, but he’s still quite good compared to the rest of the NHL’s netminders.

The Penguins are missing five or six regulars, but they’re still a terrifying hockey club when they get things going. Their defense isn’t amazing, but they have three strong forward lines and a handful of the best players in the world.

Good luck, Flames.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Pittsburgh
Wins 26 33
Power Play 16.2% 18.4%
Penalty Kill 73.4% 83.7%
Score-Adjusted Corsi
Faceoffs 48.4% 50.6%

WHEN LAST WE MET

Calgary beat Pittsburgh pretty decisively at home in November, trouncing them 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan all had multi-point games.

The Flames are 39-43-19 in 101 previous meetings with Pittsburgh.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

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Toronto faces Ottawa later tonight and maintains their game in hand on the Flames. It’ll be hard for anybody to withstand all the games-in-hand the Oilers have accumulated for everyone else. Except by losing, that is.

SUM IT UP

Only 17 games left to go after tonight! The Flames are playing out the string, and let’s hope they don’t pick up too many bad habits or hurt their draft positioning too much.

    • FireScorpion

      18 points in his last 25 games!! WOW!! What a great player!

      Until..

      you realize he only scored 16 in his first 40 when the team needed his secondary scoring and playoffs were still a possibility. *wahh wahhhh* sad trombone. Those are below Colborne scoring totals.

      He is so inconsistent its not even funny, not clutch at all, and when the team needed him most..he was no where to be found.

      Great he is scoring now though and trying his damnest when there is nothing on the line though. Besides draft position of course

  • cgyokgn

    Well they did nothing on the PP but nice goal from Backs. He’s been one of the best forwards all game with three SOG, two points and generally getting the play pointed in the right direction.

    Looking at the stats: 22 SOG for the Flames and only 13 for the Pens?

  • FireScorpion

    Also find it funny every point Backlund gets someone has to point out “nice pass Backlund” or “nice goal Backlund” The apologists make sure everyone notices.

    Maybe someone should say “nice pass Hamilton” on his helper, I mean after all Backlund didn’t even have to shoot. Dougie pretty much shot it off Backs stick for him lol

    • BigRig91

      Even funnier that when he does score someone had to mention that he doesn’t do it enough. If you can see he is by far are best all round center then I don’t know what games you have been watching, but they certainly weren’t Flames games.

  • cgyokgn

    Nice to see Bouma get a goal… terrible coverage by the Pens who were all on one side of the ice.

    I sure feel torn: it’s good to see the boys play well but we really need a loss and the Pens need a win.

  • RKD

    Great job boys! Backlund was a force tonight, his 9th multi-point game of the season and has 8 goals in last 15 games. I know we need a high pick but at some point they needed to stop the losing. I bet Rutherford is kicking himself for not getting a guy like Russell on his blueline.