FGD 20: A farewell trip to the Joe (5:30pm MT, SN West/national)


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(Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports)

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

Have the Calgary Flames turned the corner? That’s the question on everybody’s minds after the past week, which saw the club play some shockingly consistent hockey and win twice – and heck, they deserved to get some points out of that game with Chicago on Friday. The Flames’ consistency will be put to the test over the next 10 days as they hit the road for their longest trip of this season, a six game jaunt through the Eastern Conference. It begins tonight with their last-ever trip to Joe Louis Arena to visit the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s a rare national broadcast of Flames hockey tonight – part of Sportsnet’s Hometown Hockey series – with the puck dropping at 5:30 p.m. MT on the national Sportsnet feeds (including West) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

Head on over to Wings Nation to check out their coverage of tonight’s game!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Sam BennettSean MonahanTroy Brouwer
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Hunter ShinkarukMatt StajanAlex Chiasson
Micheal FerlandFreddie HamiltonGarnet Hathaway

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

Chad Johnson starts for the fourth straight game. He’s been rock-solid for the Flames over the past week, making three starts and allowing just five goals during that span – though he probably wishes he could have the last Chicago goal back. I would suspect this means Brian Elliott goes tomorrow in Buffalo.

The primary change for the Flames line-up appears to be Hunter Shinkaruk slotting in for Linden Vey. Shinkaruk’s been a healthy scratch for three games after playing three games and registering zero points (and a minus-4 rating). The hope is likely that he can contribute some offensive spark with Johnny Gaudreau absent. The rest of the lines and pairings are the exact same as they’ve been over the past week or so.

Kris Versteeg is expected to return at some point on the road trip. He skated with the team this morning but was an extra body, which seems to indicate that he’s not quite ready to go. The Flames are also missign Ladislav Smid, Lance Bouma and Gaudreau due to various injuries and maladies.

As noted earlier this morning, tonight is Mikael Backlund’s 400th NHL game. He’s been superb this year, anchoring arguably Calgary’s most consistent line with Michael Frolik and 18-Year-Old Matthew Tkachuk. They’ve shut down opposing teams, been responsible defensively and creative offensively. Perhaps Backlund can use this milestone occasion to help energize the Flames’ lagging special teams play, which has been a prime reason for them being so low in the NHL’s standings.

This might help, too…

THE WINGS

Lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:

Gustav NyquistHenrik ZetterbergAnthony Mantha
Dylan LarkinFrans NielsenThomas Vanek
Tomas TatarRiley SheahanJustin Abdelkader
Luke GlendeningSteve OttDrew Miller

Dan DeKeyserMike Green
Jonathan EricssonAlexey Marchenko
Niklas KronwallRyan Sproul

Jimmy Howard starts for Detroit. He’s been splitting duties with young Petr Mrazek so far this year, but he’s been a lot better than his young counterpart. He’s got a .945 save percentage, which is scary-good (and almost inevitably bound to regress a bit).

The Wings have lost three in a row, but they get a boost tonight with the return of Thomas Vanek to their line-up. They’re still missing Johan Franzen, Joe Vitale, Tomas Jurco, Darren Helm and Andreas Athanasiou due to injuries. I think it’s safe to say that their depth is being tested a bit right now.

This is final Flames trip to Joe Louis Arena. They have played more road games in just three other (now defunct) buildings: Rexall Place, the Great Western Forum and the old Pacific Coliseum. They’re 21-30-11 in regular season play at The Joe.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES WINGS
Wins 7 8
Points 15 17
Power Play 8.9% 16.4%
Penalty Kill 73.9% 77.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 49.9% 45.9%

HISTORY LESSON

The battles between the Flames and Red Wings have been long and evenly-matched. This is their 157th regular season meeting, with the Flames enjoying a razor-thin 68-67-21 advantage all-time. They split their two games last year, with the home side winning each time. This is the first of two games this year. Detroit visits the Flames in early March, just after the trade deadline.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Red Wings follows for y’all tonight:

SUM IT UP

The Flames are a .500 road team and need wins to claw their way back to .500 overall. There’s likely no better time to get some wins than against an injury-ravaged Red Wings team, on a losing streak, with iffy underlying numbers.