FGD 13: Visiting the wounded Kings (8pm MT, CBC)


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(Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports)

We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot deliver in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.

We’re half-way through the Calgary Flames’ weird, wild and completely illogical road trip through Illinois and California, and they have a .500 record. Truth be told, the Flames have played pretty well over their past six games and have posted a 4-2-0 record in that span. Finally on a pretty strong stretch of play, the Flames begin a crucial 48 hours tonight in Los Angeles against the Kings. The Kings have been all over the place this season, are missing their all-star goalie, and are generally vulnerable. It’s a great opportunity for the Flames to nab some points.

This is the late game on Hockey Night In Canada. The puck drops just after 8 p.m. MT on CBC (and Sportsnet One) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Micheal FerlandSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Lance BoumaMatt StajanFreddie Hamilton

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie
Brett KulakDeryk Engelland
Nick GrossmannDougie Hamilton

After having the night off on Thursday, Brian Elliott is back in net for the Flames. He’s been really good lately and has bounced back nicely from his rough first few starts. I would imagine the plan will be for him to play both games of the back to back, as he did against Chicago and St. Louis last week.

With Kris Versteeg back in Calgary being evaluated, Freddie Hamilton slots in and we’ll see a bit of line shuffling as a result. Nicklas Grossmann also likely rotates in for Jyrki Jokipakka. The logic of the Hamilton move is that (a) more Hamiltons is always better and (b) they don’t have any other healthy forwards on their roster right now. The logic of the Grossmann move is that he’s big and physical, though he’s had struggles against faster forwards over the past three or four seasons and I’m not sure what he adds to the lineup that Jokipakka doesn’t – hitting aside.

Oh, and a “minor” tweak at morning skate, as Johnny Gaudreau and Micheal Ferland have been swapped. That means Gaudreau and Monahan are broken up, and we get new looks on the top two lines. The bottom six groups have been superb, but Glen Gulutzan seems content to shuffle the deck on the top six to get things going.

Once again, the Flames gave up more special teams goals (1) than they generated (0) against San Jose. Through 12 games, they have 25 even-strength goals for and 20 against – which is pretty solid in terms of a differential. Special teams? 7 goals for and 15 against. That’s a much crappier differential, and something they need to fix if they hope to make some noise.

THE KINGS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Tanner PearsonAnze KopitarTeddy Purcell
Dwight KingJeff CarterTyler Toffoli
Dustin BrownNic DowdDevin Setoguchi
Kyle CliffordNick ShoreTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty
Kevin GravelAlec Martinez
Derek ForbortMatt Greene

The Kings are having a rough year. They’re missing two goalies in Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff, both of whom are injured. So their goaltending tandem is Peter Budaj and Jack Campbell. Budai is 34 and is a career .903 save percentage goalie. Campbell is 24. He’s played twice, ever. Needless to say, it’s not an ideal situation for the Kings and considering they’re almost as capped-out as the Flames are (they’re barely under the cap ceiling by virtue of LTIR space), they don’t have a ton of flexibility right now.

Los Angeles has won twice in their last five games. In their two wins, they needed overtime to get the victory. In their three losses, they scored zero goals. Combined. Needless to say, if you play structured hockey and make the Kings worried about scoring, they might fold. They’re a fragile, injury-riddled group right now.

I mean, raise your hand if you knew Peter Budaj was still playing professional hockey.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES KINGS
Wins 5 5
Points 11 10
Power Play 9.3% 12.5%
Penalty Kill 73.1% 75.6%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 48.8% 55.0%

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 231st time the Flames and Kings have played each other. The Flames have a 116-88-26 record, all-time. They played each other four times last year, with the Flames losing every single game (gaining one point via an OT loss). They’ll see each other five times this year, but after tonight they don’t play again until the trade deadline – after which they’ll play each other four times in the final six weeks of the season.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Kings follows for tonight’s contest:

SUM IT UP

The Flames can get back to the .500 mark and gain some ground on a key divisional rival with a victory tonight. Considering the challenges the Kings have faced so far this season, the Flames might not have a better chance to bank some points against them.

THE FLAMES CAN GET BACK TO .500! AND GAIN SOME GROUND ON A DIVISIONAL RIVAL!