FGD 21: Where the Buffalo roam (5pm MT, SN West)


USATSI_9156151
(Timothy T. Ludwig / USA Today Sports)

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

Less than 24 hours after knocking off the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, the Calgary Flames are back at it in the second game of their season-high six game road trip. Tonight’s opponent? The Buffalo Sabres, who remain without some of their top players due to a slew of injuries.

Tonight’s action kicks off early! It’s a 5 p.m. MT start on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

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

After four straight Chad Johnson starts, Brian Elliott is back tonight. He’s been the lesser of Calgary’s two goalies this season; he has fewer wins, a worse goals against average and a much-worse even strength save percentage than Johnson. But he’s got a reputation as a highly competitive guy, so he’ll be pretty motivated tonight.

Other than the goalie swap, no changes are expected for the Flames tonight (though Derek Wills speculated on Twitter that Jyrki Jokipakka could rotate back in tonight, so keep an eye on that). They’re still missing Johnny Gaudreau, Lance Bouma, Kris Versteeg & Ladislav Smid. Versteeg won’t return tonight, but the reports from the rink are that he’s expected to return on Wednesday in Columbus.

Aside from not scoring a power play goal, the Flames were good once again against Detroit. That makes four solid efforts in a row, which is hopefully an indication that they’ve turned a corner. They’ll need to continue to play a smart, structured game against a rested Buffalo team.

THE SABRES

Lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:

Evander KaneJohan LarssonKyle Okposo
Marcus FolignoSam ReinhartBrian Gionta 

Zemgus  GirgensonsCal O'ReillyMatt Moulson

Will CarrierDerek GrantCole Schneider

Josh GorgesRasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabeCody Franson

Taylor FedunJustin Falk

After Anders Nilsson got peppered with shots in a shootout win over the Penguins on Saturday night, Robin Lehner returns to the net. Lehner’s the better of the two goalies but has struggled with consistency at times this season.

The Sabres are missing Jack Eichel, Masterton nominee Ryan O’Reilly, Zach Bogosian, Nicolas Deslauriers, Hudson Fasching and Dmitry Kulikov. O’Reilly and Eichel are getting closer to returns but aren’t ready yet, so for the second consecutive night the Flames face a team that’s having their depth tested quite a bit early in the season.

The Flames have just one win at the KeyBank Center (formerly Marine Mindland Arena, HSBC Arena and First Niagara Arena) in 12 visits, which is a bit odd considering the Sabres haven’t exactly been a powerhouse team during their tenure in that rink. Calgary is 1-7-4 in Buffalo since they moved to the new building.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES SABRES
Wins 8 6
Points 17 16
Power Play 8.7% 19.3%
Penalty Kill 74.6% 79.4%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.2% 47.5%

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 105th meeting between the Flames and Buffalo, with the local sports club boasting a 38-47-19 record against the Sabres. This is the second and final meeting between these teams this season, with Calgary seeking a clean sweep after beating Buffalo 4-3 at home back in October.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Sabres follows for y’all tonight:

SUM IT UP

The Flames have played four sets of back-to-backs so far this season. They’ve lost both sides of the pairing twice, and they’ve won both sides of the pairing twice. Can the Flames keep their winning ways going on back-to-backs? We’ll find out later tonight in Buffalo.

  • RedMan

    I get the tripping penalty… fair enough, but the tap on the Mits wasn’t even in the same league as the slashes Gaudreau takes every night without a call and finally injuring JG.

  • Arminius

    I can’t believe how Elliott gets shelled every time he’s in. Who would have thought that. Sure he had the Blues D but I could never have for seen this. Makes me sad

  • KKisTHEproblem

    Elliot is not who we thought he was when BT acquired him. Never makes the big save when needed. Another signing/trade that looked good when done but is proving not to be. Monahan and gio contracts, gully and Cameron. This team is just not good. That PK is joke. I am so frustrated watching this team. Time BT was held accountable for this piss poor hockey team and lthe lack of results. Rant over

    • MontanaMan

      Elliott was and is a good signing. Yes, he’s struggling but that’s confidence and when a goalie lacks confidence he’ll struggle. He’ll come around and if he doesn’t it’s a one year deal. No risk. As far as scouts in the crowd, there’s not much to look at for the Flames but the possibilities may be Hamilton, Elliott or Gio.

  • RKD

    Elliott is a good guy but it’s just not working when he’s in net. The Flames play better in front of Chad Johnson, Johnson stole us a win in Minnesota. Elliott needs to steal us a game for us. We need points badly.

  • MontanaMan

    Terrible showing against an awful team. Elliott certainly didn’t do much to help but I’m not blaming him. The team as a whole looked bad. And yes I’m looking at you Monahan, Brodie and Gio. And the Chiasson experiment needs to be over. Doesn’t bring a thing to the team.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Thats not how I imagined that game going….bummer. What a weird game. Refs were calling penalties all over the place, then not at all at the end. Elliot is like some kind of bad jinx, or sucks, i cant tell. Was Monahan playing today? …i didnt notice. Wideman…start packing your bags now.

  • cgyokgn

    What is frustrating is that Buffalo only had 6 wins before tonight. It should have been a winnable game but too many penalties and the inability to kill them was the story of this game.

  • SydScout

    All losses aren’t created equally. We were pretty good for the first part of the game, but boy did our special teams destroy us. Dunno what the problem with Elliot is…he was excellent until those three stupid PP’s. The fourth goal was tough to take but you can’t blame him for the other three. 2-1 even strength, would like to know the shot count excluding special teams.

    The major gripe is the top line. Sheesh, they’re vomitworthy. And Kulak must ‘rotate’ back in.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    WTF just happened? I stepped away for a few minutes to do a print job. We were leading when I left & when I returned it was 3 – 1 Buffalo!!! My gawd aren’t we are finding innovative ways to lose these days.

    At least we’re can’t blame our # 1 Goalie – we don’t have one.

    Ditto for a # 1 Line.

    Ditto for consistent PK & PP.

    On the bright side our 2/3/4 lines look decent. Especially Backlund’s trio.

    I realize that coaches are supposed to keep calm on the bench but GG seems to have a look of aloofness, maybe even detachment. The good ship S.S. Flame is listing starboard side and he’s (the ship’s captain) in the dining hall thumbing thru the desert menu.

    Oh well, we looked pretty good for 1.5 periods.

    Onwards to the rust belt.

    GFG