FGD 17: Into the wild (6pm MT, SN West)


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(Brad Rempel / USA Today Sports)


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

So far in 2016-17 the Calgary Flames have been firmly established as a streaky team. They had a really nice string of play, including three solid wins, from October 24 to 28. Unfortunately beginning with October 30’s loss at home against Washington, they’ve hit the skids: they’re 1-6-0 since then and have looked occasionally decent but consistently inconsistent.

Tonight, they jaunt off to the Twin Cities to face the Minnesota Wild in a game that’s important for one major reason: the Flames lead the National Hockey League in regulation losses (and are tied with the New York Islanders in losses of any kind). The Flames need wins. Badly. Moreover, they need a consistent 60 minute effort, something that’s been in short supply this year.

The action kicks off just after 6 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanTroy Brouwer
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Sam BennettMatt StajanAlex Chiasson
Micheal FerlandFreddie HamiltonGarnet Hathaway

Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton
T.J. BrodieDennis Wideman
Brett KulakDeryk Engelland

Brian Elliott was working in the starter’s net over the past two days of practice. But given that he has a 3-8-0 record and is 37th out of 45 goalies with 5 or more appearance in even strength save percentage – meaning he’s not having a great year so far – it seems like the Flames are going with Chad Johnson tonight. Given that tonight’s contest is the first game in a back-to-back stretch (with travel), I’d expect Elliott to play against the Coyotes tomorrow night.

The Flames are without Ladislav Smid, Kris Versteeg and Lance Bouma. They completely shuffled their lines over the last couple of days, aside from the top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik – Tkachuk returns tonight after missing two games with stitches in his wrist. Troy Brouwer played on the top line in the third against the Rangers and does so here. Matt Stajan’s back at center after playing the left side of Linden Vey over the last two games. And the defensive pairings get shuffled around again, as Kulak and Engelland are reunited and Brodie and Giordano each find new partners. It appears that Vey and Hunter Shinkaruk are healthy scratches, along with Jyrki Jokipakka. Also: Postmedia’s Kristen Odland tweeted that Sam Bennett will play the wing tonight, and Derek Wills tweeted that he’ll play with Stajan and Alex Chiasson. So…a lot of change is happening all at once in terms of lines and pairings.

Calgary finally had a good special teams game on Saturday, scoring a power play goal and not giving up any. They’ll need to dramatically extend that performance if they hope to get back in the win column.

THE WILD

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Nino NiederreiterEric StaalCharlie Coyle
Mikael GranlundMikko KoivuJason Zucker
Zach PariseErik HaulaJason Pominville
Chris StewartTyler GraovacZack Mitchell

(4C is Tyler Graovac; 4R is Zach Mitchell)

Ryan SuterMathew Dumba
Jonas BrodinChristian Folin
Mike ReillyJared Spurgeon

Arguably the hottest goalie in the NHL, Devan Dubnyk, starts tonight. He’s 6-4-1 with a 1.65 goals against average and .947 save percentage this season. That’s right: he’s stopped 94.7% of shots against. That’s crazy.

It sounds like Zach Parise returns tonight, which means the Wild are only without Zac Delpe and are largely healthy. The Wild aren’t a perfect team, but their goaltending has been good enough to keep them in basically every game they’ve played and that’s been enough so far. Aside from goaltending, they’re slightly better than the Flames in basically every performance metric thus far. The Flames will need to be sharp if they want to grind out two points this evening.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES WILD
Wins 5 8
Points 11 17
Power Play 9.4% 14.3%
Penalty Kill 73.0% 88.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 49.5% 49.8%

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 84th regular season game between the Flames and Wild. The Flames have a 43-26-14 record all-time. The two teams met three times last season, with Minnesota taking two of three games from Calgary. The Wild beat the Flames 5-3 and 6-2, but lost 2-1 in the regular season finale in Niklas Backstrom’s final NHL game off a Patrick Sieloff game-winning goal. (It was a weird game.) The two clubs will meet three times again this season.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Wild follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

The Flames are the losingest group in the NHL. They desperately need a win. Or momentum of any way, shape or form. Playing against a Wild club with good goaltending and decent everything else, they’ll be in tough to grind out two points this evening.

  • cgyokgn

    They won! I just listened to part of the third period but looking at the stats, it looks like they played really well. It’s not too often that they’re able to hold on to a one-goal lead and win the game.

    Apparently Johnny has been missing from the bench for a while. Hope he’s okay.

  • Locker Room Talk

    Jesus, I’m sweating like a pig right now. Why can’t it ever be easy?! That said great win tonight, lots of emotion and solid defending. A tight, hard fought, close victory. Could really help gel them going forward, provided they don’t decide to rest on their laurels.

  • McRib

    Alex Chaisson still on PP1 has to be one of the craziest things I have seen a coach do in the last couple of years (and Hartley had some gems), especially with someone like Frolik sitting on the pine.

    The thing I like least about this coach is he always puts the blame on the players and never takes any of the blame for himself. He has been awful (Cameron even worse) this season in many ways, but “he needs the players to start to step up and be the change”, are you kidding me? These stars were a lot better before you showed up last year and that’s who hasn’t shown up, it’s not like our worse players have been losing us games. This win does nothing for us, but delay the inevitable. The really sad thing about this season is with even a league average coach (Ron Wilson) this team would easily be a playoff team, IMO.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      Can we get a small reprieve from all the negative talk around here?

      That was a pretty decent showing. Break through performances from Brodie and Gaudreau. Still too many errors and not finishing as much as they could. But I feel positive about the game and I bet the deep stats say the same. More than that though…finally some emotion. Some fight.

      …it was a game I was happy to cheer for them. Nice nice change after the cringe trials from the last while.

  • RKD

    Reasons we won the game because Glen Gulutzan finally read Flames Nation and decided it was time to take Alex Chiasson a 3rd/4th line player at best and move him to where he belongs. Starting Chad Johnson, for whatever reason the Flames seem to play better in front him than Elliott. Troy Brouwer is a RH shot and we paid big dough for him, even if he’s not the ideal top line RW he should be up there instead of Chiasson. Hamilton’s name in trade rumours, and GG puts him on the top 2 pairing. I wonder if he’s being showcased.