FGD 29: A trip to Dallas (6:30pm MT, SN Flames)


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(Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports)

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

A lot can change in a few weeks. The last time the Calgary Flames faced the Dallas Stars, the Flames were struggling. They were wildly inconsistent. They had bad goaltending. They were sub-.500.

Now? They’ve managed to claw their way back into the playoff picture by playing a non-terrible brand of hockey. They’re hardly perfect and they still have a large amount of work to do, but they’ve improved. They’re in Dallas tonight looking for (a) revenge for an earlier loss at home and (b) to creep over the .500 mark for the first time since January 7 of this year.

The puck drops just after 6:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Johnny GaudreauSam BennettAlex Chiasson
Kris VersteegSean MonahanTroy Brouwer
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanGarnet Hathaway

Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton
T.J. BrodieDennis Wideman
Jyrki JokipakkaDeryk Engelland

Chad Johnson starts for the 16th time this season. He’s 10-4-1 with a 2.11 goals against average and .928 save percentage. He was good, but not great, against Anaheim but has generally been Calgary’s been player over the last 14 games or so.

The Flames shipped Hunter Shinkaruk back to Stockton yesterday, temporarily dropping the active roster down to 22 players. Lance Bouma’s on the trip and is expected to be activated at some point, but he wasn’t in the line rushes so isn’t expected back tonight. Micheal Ferland was in the line rushes and is expected to play after missing most of Sunday’s game with what’s suspected to be a minor hand/wrist injury suffered in a fight with Kevin Bieksa. The extra healthy bodies right now are Brett Kulak and Garnet Hathaway.

Calgary’s coming along slowly. Their special teams are quiet pretty good lately and their even strength play, albeit wonky and tilted fairly heavily into their own end lately, has been propped up by good goaltending and the ability to clear out secondary chances. If they can continue to make tiny improvements here and there, they may actually become the playoff bubble team we all thought they could become this season.

THE STARS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Jamie BennTyler SeguinBrett Ritchie
Antoine RousselRadek FaksaJason Spezza
Lauri KorpikoskiCody EakinPatrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzieDevin ShoreAdam Cracknell

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg
Dan HamhuisJulius Honka
Jordie BennStephen Johns

It’s expected that Kari Lehtonen will start after a shutout on Saturday. He also played in Dallas’ 4-2 win over the Flames last month, so he’s got recent success on his side.

The Stars are still a bit injured-ravaged. They’re likely going to be without five regulars tonight: Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark, Ales Hemsky, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Oduya. Hudler and Oduya are getting close to returning, but likely won’t slot in tonight. With a few games coming up in rapid-fire, the Stars are expected to recall somebody from the nearby Texas Stars (who play outside of Austin) so they have an extra healthy body around.

The Stars are entering a stretch where they play 10 of their next 13 games at home. Like the Flames, they’re at .500 and are hoping to get the their heads above water a bit in the standings. Given how many important players they’ve been missing this year due to injuries, it’s pretty impressive that they are where they are right now.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES STARS
Wins 13 10
Points
(Pct.)
28
(.500)
26
(.500)
Power Play 12.6% 18.4%
Penalty Kill 77.9% 78.3%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 49.6% 48.4%

HISTORY LESSON

In 165 previous meetings against the Dallas Stars (and Minnesota North Stars, their cooler predecessor), the Flames are 73-60-32. The Flames lost to Dallas 4-2 back on November 10. They’ll play one more time on St. Patrick’s Day.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Your Stars follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

Each team needs a win to inch over the .500 mark and make progress in their quest for a playoff spot. Only one team will get over that hump. Which one? Find out tonight, in what will likely be another tight-checking Flames road game.