FGD #78: Taking on the Kings

It’s the second of a back-to-back with no actual travel required. The Honda Center and Staples Center are only an hour apart, so the distance isn’t what’s feared when teams roll into southern California for two quick games.

No, it’s the fact that both the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are, well, good. The Flames found that out last night, getting crushed 8-3 in Anaheim. What fate does Los Angeles have in store for them? Well, they just lost their spot at the top of the Pacific standings, and probably want to get it back…

And with an 8:30 p.m. puck drop, it’s gonna be a long night, probably.

The Flames

Here are the expected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Derek Grant 
Derek Grant
Sean Monahan 
Sean Monahan
Hunter Shinkaruk 
Hunter Shinkaruk
Micheal Ferland 
Micheal Ferland
Sam Bennett 
Sam Bennett
Joe Colborne 
Joe Colborne
Lance Bouma 
Lance Bouma
Mikael Backlund 
Mikael Backlund
Emile Poirier 
Emile Poirier
Brandon Bollig 
Brandon Bollig
Matt Stajan 
Matt Stajan
Josh Jooris 
Josh Jooris
T.J. Brodie 
T.J. Brodie
Dougie Hamilton 
Dougie Hamilton
Mark Giordano 
Mark Giordano
Deryk Engelland 
Deryk Engelland
Brett Kulak 
Brett Kulak
Jakub Nakladal 
Jakub Nakladal

Will these be the actual lines? I do not know; alas, the problem with really late games on back-to-backs. This space will be updated accordingly should it be necessary. There is a chance Johnny Gaudreau and Jyrki Jokipakka could both return to the lineup, which would definitely see Brett Kulak out, and likely Emile Poirier, as well.

We do know for sure, however, that it is Joni Ortio getting the start. He had the night off as the Flames got throttled to the tune of eight goals against, so at least you know he’ll be fresh and ready.

Meanwhile, Micheal Ferland and Sam Bennett appear to be building chemistry, Poirier is getting the Mikael Backlund bump, and Hunter Shinkaruk is being put in a position to succeed and he’s running away with it.

UPDATE: Nobody knows!



Okay, I’m gonna play guessing game here. Say they’re both in the lineup, then that sees Jokipakka join Nakladal on the bottom pairing. Easy swap.

With Gaudreau presumably back, it’s probably Poirier who heads back to Stockton. Gaudreau bumps Derek Grant, who shuffles on over to play alongside Backlund, I would presume, leaving two other lines untouched and the excitement a Gaudreau – Monahan – Shinkaruk line could bring intact.

Really, that’s what I’d be looking forward to the most. A possibly realistic solution to the lack-of-top-six-forwards problem? Yay!

The Kings

And once again, via Daily Faceoff:

Tanner Pearson 
Tanner Pearson
Anze Kopitar 
Anze Kopitar
Dustin Brown 
Dustin Brown
Milan Lucic 
Milan Lucic
Jeff Carter 
Jeff Carter
Tyler Toffoli 
Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King 
Dwight King
Nic Dowd 
Nic Dowd
Trevor Lewis 
Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford 
Kyle Clifford
Nick Shore 
Nick Shore
Andy Andreoff 
Andy Andreoff
Brayden McNabb 
Brayden McNabb
Drew Doughty 
Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin 
Jake Muzzin
Alec Martinez 
Alec Martinez
Rob Scuderi 
Rob Scuderi
Luke Schenn 
Luke Schenn

We do not know who will be starting for the Kings tonight. It could be Jonathan Quick, their regular starter, he who has played 63 games already this season and has a .918 save percentage to show for it. 

Or it could be backup Jhonas Enroth, who will be a free agent next season, hint, hint, if you want to get a head start on watching some potential futue options. Enroth has played just 15 games this year, but he’s got a .928 save percentage, which is pretty swell. He’s played starter before, too, albeit with the Buffalo Sabres. And his numbers have never been so high before – though playing behind the Kings, who are really rather good, probably has a lot to do with that.

The numbers

Calgary Los Angeles
Wins 32 45
Power Play 16.7% 20.7%
Penalty Kill 74.4% 81.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.8% 56.8%
Faceoffs 48.6% 50.2%

When we last met

Feb. 23, 2016. The Flames were on another southern California road trip, although then they had a day off. After getting throttled 5-2 by the Ducks, the Flames went north a touch and lost 2-1 to the Kings. It sounds close, but they were also outshot 37-23, so… not really?

They also played one another on Dec. 31, 2015. The Kings won 4-1. This follows up the Flames winning the season series 4-1 over the Kings in 2014-15. Sad.

The race to the bottom

Last night’s loss didn’t do anything in the main picture; the Flames remain stuck in the sixth slot, but just three points up on last place Edmonton (and Toronto and Vancouver, albeit in fewer games played). 

If you’re looking at the out of town scoreboard, you’re cheering for the Leafs to beat the Sabres in overtime tonight, the Coyotes to beat the Stars, and the Canucks to beat the Sharks.

Sum it up

The Ducks leapfrogged the Kings for the Pacific crown when they beat the Flames last night. The Kings will probably want to return the favour. The Flames are an inferior team with nothing meaningful left to play for. On the second of a back-to-back. Ruh roh?

  • Franko J

    No slash call either from Muzzin on Gaudrea.
    This is how they going to make a call like that in the playoffs. Good luck to the NHL.
    This game has gone soft. Whatever happened to fighting for position in front of the goalie?

    Thank goodness after April 9th I’m done watching hockey for this year. I love the game but I have no endearment to the officials.

    • The Real Slim Brodie

      The nhl explanation is way off base with what happened it’s clear colbourne wasn’t the reason the goal was scored.or the reason quick couldn’t save it . Quick moves the wrong way and then the shot is taken and the puck goes in

  • KACaribou

    Hey all you stats people, anyone got a number on how many goals Hamilton has directly caused due to his poor defensive work.

    Goal 2 tonight will count against Ortio, but it should count directly against Dougie.

    The young man is a great skater, fantastic offensively but his D play is woeful at times.

    • FireScorpion

      Surprisingly large number of trashes for the best goalie the team has in the system. Give yur heads a shake boys. .or would you rather more of the Hiller Backstrom show?

  • RKD

    Jeff Carter goes down rather easily looks at the ref and Hamilton gets a penalty, Carter takes down Bennett behind the Kings net and there’s no call on him, c’mon. Call it both ways.

  • JKG

    It bums me out to think of the $$$ we could’ve saved if we’d just played Orts all year. He got blown up tonight but not nearly as bad as hiller did last night.