FGD 44: Measuring sticks (7:30pm MT, SN1)

On Monday, the Calgary Flames had a big game against a conference rival in the Winnipeg Jets. It didn’t go well, with the Flames struggling against the size and structure of the Jets game…and seemingly forgetting how to connect on passes for roughly half the game. Well, things don’t get much easier for them tonight as they host the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks.

Playing their second game in as many nights after a fairly entertaining tilt against the Edmonton Oilers last night, the Sharks are likely going to be a bit fatigued. In other words? This is the type of game that teams that make the playoffs find a way to win. If the Flames plan on being a playoff team, they’re going to have to figure out how to beat the Sharks (and the Ducks, Kings, Blackhawks and Predators) in these types of situations.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan! (The game is joined-in-progress on Sportsnet West.)

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Kris VersteegSam BennettMicheal Ferland
Lance BoumaMatt StajanGarnet Hathaway

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

Despite taking the loss last time out against Winnipeg, Chad Johnson gets the start tonight in a big divisional game for the Flames. Johnson’s been the better of the two goalies this season and started both games in San Jose earlier this season, so he’s arguably the best netminder to face the Sharks tonight. He’s 14-9-1 with a 2.27 goals against average and .922 save percentage this year.

As usual, the Flames are without Ladislav Smid and Troy Brouwer (though Brouwer skated in a non-contact jersey this morning). Based on morning skate, it sounds like Brett Kulak and Freddie Hamilton remain the extra healthy bodies. The thought process is probably to give the same group another kick at the can after their so-so effort against Winnipeg before making any substantial tinkers.

The Flames have had a tough time generating offense at even strength lately, though Johnny Gaudreau has been looking more and more dangerous – he may be poised for a breakout game. They struggled with the Jets size and structure so expect them to rely on dump and chase hockey, and utilizing their speed to get behind the defense and generate offensive chances. Either that or get the defense running around and taking penalties so that their vaunted power play can get them on the scoreboard. Let’s just hope they’re not as out-matched as they were against Winnipeg.

THE SHARKS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Timo MeierJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Kevin LabancLogan CoutureJoonas Donskoi
Patrick MarleauChris TierneyJoel Ward
Mikkel BoedkerMicheal HaleyMelker Karlsson

Paul MartinBrent Burns
Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun
Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

The Sharks did the Flames a favour last night, beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Martin Jones started in goal and faced 36 shots in the victory. Historically, Jones and backup Aaron Dell have split back-to-back nights so my expectation is Dell starts here. And that’s a good thing, since Jones is really good and Dell is not nearly so.

Mikkel Boedker had a hat trick last night, while both Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Michael Haley also had multi-point nights. Geez, if the Sharks fourth line is making that kind of noise imagine how their scorers could do! The Sharks remain without Tomas Hertl and beloved ex-Flame David Schlemko due to injury. Given the back-to-back, it’s unclear if they’ll make any changes for tonight. Their extras are Tim Heed, Mirco Mueller and Tommy Wingels.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES SHARKS
Wins 22 24
Points
(Pct.)
46
(.535)
52
(.634)
Power Play 20.3% 16.1%
Penalty Kill 82.0% 83.3%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.1% 51.9

HISTORY LESSON

In 114 prior regular season meetings, the Flames are 59-42-13 against the Sharks. Granted, the Sharks were bad for many years and have been a lot better in recent seasons. This is the third of five meetings between the two teams. They’ve played twice in San Jose already, splitting the two games. The remaining two games after this one are March 31 in Calgary and April 8 in San Jose.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Sharks follows for tonight’s contest:

My cousin, the Sharks fan, is confident that San Jose is going to win.

SUM IT UP

Are the Flames going to be a playoff team? Are they going to be a competitive team from here on out? Tonight’s a great chance to get some answers, as they face the Pacific Division leaders in a crucial game with playoff implications.

  • beloch
    • The refs were bad, but the Flames were good.
    • Gaudreau was robbed on that empty-netter.
    • Hathaway is probably sick of being punched in the face.
    • Tkachuk is a beast!
    • I sure hope Ferland is okay.
    • I’m starting to feel like the Johnson/Elliott tandem is going to be freakin’ sweet in the playoffs.
      • jakethesnail

        How good is Puljujarvi looking with the oilers? he isn’t because he was demoted! Meanwhile Tkachuk scores the key tying goal and assists on the key opening goal….Puljujavi another Nail pick??

        Oops! I took the bait of a coiler troller.. 🙁

      • RedMan

        You’re obviously talking about the Oilers, who were manhandled by the Sharks, and who have been slowly losing ground for weeks. I’m betting by the end of Saturday night that the Oilers are looking up in the standings at the Flames, and end up missing the playoffs by finishing 10th in the division. Which is a good improvement for sure, but no more top draft picks. Which means no playoffs AND no draft consolation prize.

        Oilers have lived on loser prizes for years (draft) and this year it is the loser points that keep them thinking they’ve arrived. Not going to be enough as the Oilers are slowly melting down.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am concerned when our best defenders make really bad reads late in a tied game. Chad is not always going to be able to bail them out…nor should he be. The PP at the end was a case or Tkachuk trying to eat the puck along the boards to kill the game without the two defenders aware. I can excuse a 19 year old kid but Gio…..not so much.

    Johnny seems to play better with any other line. We are a one line team and our best player is not on that line….time to break up the 3M line for the betterment of the team. I think Tkachuk could give Johnny the service he is sorely missing.
    Benett needs the Backland bump on the left wing where he had a 4 goal game last year.

    If Ferland is hurt for an extended time…perhaps Klimchuck gets his chance. Scored again tonight, his 12th in a losing cause 5-3 against SD.