FGD 16: The Rangers come to town (8pm MT, CBC)

After a loss against a team that was struggling on Thursday evening, the Calgary Flames face a tough test at the Scotiabank Saddledome this evening. Tonight’s opponent is the powerhouse New York Rangers, who have rolled along quite nicely thus far in the season. Coming off a loss at home earlier this week and kicking off a big road trip, the Rangers are trying to rein in some bad habits – that renewed focus could mean bad news for the Flames.

The action kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on CBC (with Rick Ball & Louie Debrusk), Punjabi Hockey Night in Canada on Omni (with Harnarayan Singh & company) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills & Peter Loubardias).

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Micheal FerlandMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Hunter ShinkarukSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Matt StajanLinden VeyFreddie Hamilton

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie
Dennis WidemanDougie Hamilton
Brett KulakDeryk Engelland

Brian Elliott makes his 11th start of the season. He was solid but not spectacular against Dallas on Thursday, and he’s likely hoping for a better showing tonight.

The Flames are without Matthew Tkachuk, Ladislav Smid, Lance Bouma & Kris Versteeg for tonight’s context, though Tkachuk is skating and is day to day with a cut on his wrist. Garnet Hathaway won’t play tonight after being recalled, and Dennis Wideman will slot back in for Jyrki Jokipakka and likely find a spot on the Flames struggling power play.

What can we say about tonight’s game? The Flames are trying to avoid their 10th regulation loss of the season but will be in tough against a deep, talented, well-coached Rangers club. The struggle for the Flames will be in dealing with the Rangers’ depth: they can roll four good lines and take advantage of match-ups. Expect Mikael Backlund’s line to see a lot of the Stepan trio this evening.

THE RANGERS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Chris KreiderDerek StepanRick Nash
Pavel BuchnevichMika ZibanejadMats Zuccarello

Jimmy VeseyKevin HayesJ.T. Miller
Michael GrabnerBrandon PirriJesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalBrady Skjei

Nick HoldenKevin Klein

It’s sounding like Henrik Lundqvist will suit up for the Rangers tonight. He’s been good this year, but Antti Raanta actually has slightly better numbers (in limited duty). Lundqvist struggled a bit last season and is likely hoping to re-establish himself as one of the league’s elite netminders.

Josh Jooris is on the mend right now with an injury and likely won’t play, but the Rangers have shuffled their lines and defensive combos quite a bit after losing to Vancouver earlier this week. It might take a little bit of time tonight for the combinations to gel, which might give the Flames a bit of a chance to get some run support early on. That said, these guys are young, fast and talented, and should be a handful for the locals this evening.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES RANGERS
Wins 5 10
Points 11 20
Power Play 8.0% 22.4%
Penalty Kill 72.1% 84.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 49.3% 50.0%

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 114th game between the Flames and Rangers in the regular season. The Flames hold a 55-38-20 record in the all-time series. They split their two meetings last year, with the home team winning each game. They’ll play twice this season. After tonight, they’ll meet again in Manhattan in early February.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are some Rangers follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

The Flames are hoping to get back into the win column tonight, and they’ll need a big game from their big guns to make that happen. If nothing else, everyone is hoping to see them have some special teams success so that they have something to build off of regardless of the outcome tonight.

  • cgyokgn

    Flames have been playing in the last few minutes like they should have all night. Confidence is a funny thing… after they scored the PP goal they started skating and competing. Too little, too late.

  • Cold Hard Truth

    The only thing worse than hiring an incompetent coaching staff is keeping them even when it becomes clear it hasn’t worked out. Just like MacTavish before him in a similar situation, Brad Treliving will stand pat because to do otherwise will be to admit a mistake on his part. This is a huge setback for the Flames progression.

  • CitizenRed

    Fans are being told to have patience – take a deep breath – but that is wearing thin.

    I doubt they’ ll dump the coaching staff. So you have to tweak the lineup.

    I, for one, would like to see them shop Dougie Hamilton. There could still be a decent return … but nowhere near what the Flames gave up. You would lose a young RH defenceman but you’d dump a bad contract. The Flames haven’t been the same since he joined the club. He doesn’t look like a winner – no intensity. I would think other players notice what he’s pulling in. Can’t be good for the room.

    Continue to use Kulak. He will only get better.

    Move Bennett back to wing. He is really struggling at centre.

    Move Brouwer to the top line.

    On the bright side, Gaudreau had another energized game. Brodie was better. Keep giving young players more ice time to build the intensity. Hathaway will do that.

    Finally, I hope the team improves for Backlund’s sake. He is, by far, the most complete player on the team. Hate to see him get frustrated.

  • DeadRedRedemption

    FFS… Since game 1 on this team has been a train wreck. The players are now completely not responding to the coaches.

    Fire the coaching staff. I’m sure management doesn’t want two coaches on the payroll who aren’t coaching anymore, but would management like empty seats more?

    And when are the media is this town going to gain some integrity and start asking BB and BT when changes are going to happen. The fans in Calgary have been sold “hope” for way too long…

    Managements next move will be to start trading assets which are under valued right now because of the coaching. Say goodbye to our proven point getters and defensemen who have a good track record in this league. Expect Burke to ramble on about “Players not playing up to expectations” and needing to “shake up the room” in order to cover his and BT’s ass.

    The answer is to remove the current coaching staff, not to start trading players.

    Rebuild 2.0 coming up. All because management won’t take responsibility for dumpster fire of a coaching staff they’ve put together and will pin the blame on the players.

    The Oilers looked bad for 10 years+, now it’s our turn. And if we stop buying tickets, that will be when Ken King and owners will take the team elsewhere. Lagging ticket sales + the failure of CalgaryNext = Murray Edwards taking his toy and moving it somewhere he can consistently put out a bad product and get them to buy him a new arena.

    Not a good time to be a Flames fan.