FGD 50: Return to the center of the universe (5:30pm MT, SN West)


USATSI_9715340
(Candice Ward / USA Today Sports)

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

Just two days after stinking one out against the Edmonton Oilers in the biggest game of their season to date on Saturday night, the Calgary Flames hit the road beginning tonight for a crucial three games (over four nights) that will see the club try to eke out points in three tough Canadian buildings. Their trek begins tonight in the center of the hockey universe, Toronto, as they face the (actually good) Maple Leafs.

The action gets started just after 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

For a view from the other side, check out The Leafs Nation!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Kris VersteegSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Lance BoumaMatt StajanFreddie Hamilton

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

After Chad Johnson got yanked after four shots (and three goals) on Saturday, Brian Elliott gets the start tonight. He’s 8-11-2 with a 2.87 goals against average and .893 save percentage. He was quite good against Edmonton – in both of his last two outings – but will need to be rock-solid tonight to give the Flames a chance. In terms of other changes anticipated for tonight’s game: Brett Kulak makes his first NHL appearance since November 27, slotting in for Jyrki Jokipakka, while Freddie Hamilton replaces Micheal Ferland on the fourth line.

The Flames were okay against Florida on Tuesday but the Panthers were pretty bad, so they were able to win. They were bad against Nashville for much of the game and were pretty rough throughout Saturday’s game against Edmonton. To be blunt: hopefully they got all the gremlins out of their system, because they need to get down some wins and get back on pace in the playoff race.

Key to Calgary’s success, especially since they play six of their next seven games on the road, will be Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett looking like last season’s versions of themselves and not the driftwood they’ve been for much of this season. The Flames have had one line chipping in on a regular basis (the 3M Line); that won’t be enough.

THE LEAFS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

James van RiemsdykTyler BozakMitchell Marner
Leo KomarovNazem KadriWilliam Nylander
Zach HymanAuston MatthewsConnor Brown
Matt MartinFrederik GauthierNikita Soshnikov

Jake GardinerConnor Carrick
Martin MarincinNikita Zaitsev
Matt HunwickRoman Polak

After helping the Leafs capture a point on Saturday night, it sounds like Frederik Andersen starts for the home side. He’s been solid for the Leafs after a rough start early in the season. He’s 19-10-8 with a 2.69 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s going for his 20th win of the season.

Tonight’s game is in Toronto, so the Leafs will control the line match-ups. That seems sub-optimal, particularly given that the Flames controlled the match-ups against Edmonton and still got clowned. Beware of Auston Matthews. And Mitch Marner. And William Nylander. And Nazem Kadri. Uh… the Leafs have a lot of good young players.

If the Flames don’t have their act together, it’s gonna be a long night.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES LEAFS
Wins 24 21
Points
(Pct.)
51
(.520)
51
(.580)
Power Play 21.3% 24.1%
Penalty Kill 81.4% 84.7%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.3% 51.5%

HISTORY LESSON

In 131 previous regular season meetings between the Flames and Maple Leafs, the Flames have a 62-56-13 record. This is the second of two annual meetings between these clubs. The Flames beat Toronto at the Saddledome 3-0. They scored three times early in the first period and then rode it out.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are just a select few of the kabillion Twitter accounts that obsess about the Toronto Maple Leafs:

SUM IT UP

The Flames are in danger of falling out of a playoff spot. They need points and really can’t afford to be too choosy about where they get them from. They’ll need to play with both structure and desperation against a talented Leafs club if they hope to slink away from Toronto with a win.

    • ginganinja

      Fellow Oiler fans! Stop being such tools over here. The Flames fans that are around here when the Flames aren’t doing well aren’t the ones that trolled Oilersnation when their team didn’t suck a month ago. Fire when fired upon.
      With the exception of WW and Arminius. Troll them every chance you get.
      However, you won’t see Arminius again until the Flames give him another mirage of a good team.

      • 3-speed

        I’m a diehard Oilers fan and always will dispise the flames, but I gotta agree with this comment. Fisto and Train, give it a rest. You’re making us look bad.

      • FISTO Siltanen

        Fair enough.

        Please accept my apologies (won’t speak for the rest though). I just got tired of seeing your trolls troll every sensible discussion on ON and taking it in every direction of stupid each time.

        I guess this is where we nod heads at one another and move on.

        (PS: the 51st post was more towards your Mods; they seem extremely sensitive to some comments and completely indifferent to others. Thought the Robin Hood comment was out of bounds, seriously).

        • ginganinja

          i never said you annoyed me while at Oilersnation. “Gaudreau is way better than Mcdavid” -an actual sentiment you shared after the World Cup. That was the start of me despising your posts. Since then, your constant attempts to downplay him have annoyed me. Plus you sign off on every comment and that just rubs me the wrong way.

          • The GREAT WW

            Here’s a thought; stay on ON and stay away from FN, that way you will not be exposed to my annoying posts….

            McDavid is an incomplete player; he can’t take a slapshot. That is why your so called “generational player” has no where near the goal scoring lead…

            WW

          • KenBone18

            Oh I totally agree man, you hit the nail on the head. How can you be a generational talent when all you do is pass? Sure, he may be leading the league in points in his second season at the age of 20, but man if you want to succeed in today’s NHL you NEED that slapper.

          • KenBone18

            Omg an oiler fan sees the light! Forget the fact he’s leading the league in points, the alternative truth is that he’s an over rated bum stain who cheap shotted tkachuk after he ran over Draisitil – that shows his true character.

          • ginganinja

            What’s more valuable, a guy with 25 goals, 14 assists or a guy with 15 goals 40 assists? I dunno man someone’s putting the puck in the net when he’s on the ice. Isn’t that the point? Creating goals for your team? Only Crosby does it better.
            And who knows, maybe he figures that part of his game out. After all, he’s barely 20.

          • Kevin R

            Walter, I am a deep true bleed red Flames fan & have no problem saying McDavid is simply an amazing player. I just so wish he didn’t play for the Oilers. Lets not go there, it attracts the worst of the trolls.

        • Seriously Bored

          You stopped coming when we started winning. I am not impressed with the trolling by a few select fans but we have had countless game day threads spammed by a few flames trolls for as long as I can remember.

          That being said not everyone has to be a dink about it. Take the high road boys, troll when we win a cup or two again.

  • Dreadguy

    Ray Ferarro just hit the nail on the head: “no push back… look at their bench, it looks like they are watching a movie”. Not a good sign and a bad time for a slump.

  • Flaymin Frank

    When a Russian drills your star in the head and there’s little push back ( other than Chiasson’s poor attempt), you’ve lost sight of what it means to play Flames hockey. I understand that you won’t win every game but when you are out muscled by the likes of Toronto that’s just plain embarrassing. A dark shadow has been cast over this team. I hope they can find the light switch.

  • Dreadguy

    Blatant, dirty slew foot by one of the leaders on the team. Also not a good sign. Yikes, get it together boys. Have some pride. You had 60mins to compete hard and THAT is how you do it with 1:20 left?

  • cgyokgn

    Not sure which is worse: losing 7 – 3 to the Oil or 4 – 0 to the Leafs. This team seems to have regressed… so much for our “hot” PP and improved PK and best in league SHGs. They just seem lost. Not going to get any easier in Montreal….

    • hags437

      Dirty player doesn’t equate to a tough player. Look no further than Matt Cooke or a Sean Avery. Tkachuk did the same thing to Brandon Davidson and put him out for awhile. Then Tkachuk refused to fight him on Saturday night after Davidson challenged him. Definitely didn’t follow the code and I’d bet leaders like Gio and Engleland lost a little respect for the kid. If you’re gonna run around and play on the edge and dirty then be prepared to back it up. He hasn’t done that yet. Flame fans should be more concerned about no one going after Komorov for hitting JG when it mattered.

      • Neddd

        He was also suspended in junior for the same thing….. new nickname should be “slew foot Tkachuk”. Seriously, when is the league going to step in and do something about it? Never mind the league though, when are his teammates going to intervene as you point out? He’s ridiculous, constantly looking for ways to injure guys through cheap shots.

  • I am Batman

    I said it at the beginning of the season (after the 10 – 12 game) , and I will say it again: Flames problem starts with Elliott. He has been less than stellar and Johnson is and will always be a backup.

    Flames have an ok defence, ok forwards but goaltending is a mess.

    Thankfully for you…. LA lost, so there’s still time

  • RKD

    Flames suck right now, the top players are just coasting. No leadership, no compete and no heart. Just a bunch of floaters out there. GLEN GULTUZAN = NO CLUE

    • KenBone18

      I wish he started Johnson tonight – we would have had a chance.

      Also kudos to Johnny for taking that hit like a champ, but I guess what choice do you have when you’re 5’7 getting nailed by a muscle train.

      I just realized that sounds very homoerotic.

    • KenBone18

      I wish he started Johnson. Johnson played better than Elliot agains the Oilers – he only let in 3 goals, Elliot let in 4!!

      Also, kudos to Johnny for taking that hit like a champ. I guess what other choice do you have when you are 5’7 and a 6’2 200+ pound muscle train feeds you the meat and runs you over. I’d be in the fetal position too.

  • L

    Fellow oiler fans stop commenting on here like the flame trolls did to us for years. Yes we have a good team but cut it out. Train and fisto you show up more on here then our site. Douches

    • FISTO Siltanen

      Ya, I said sorry. See above.

      And it’s not like I’ve been coming here daily for months on end. Mostly in last week or so, but I’ve buzzed by a few times in the past.

  • MontanaMan

    I’ve been a defender of GG, preaching patience and to give him a full year to implement his systems. Not sure I can support him any longer. The team looks like they’ve given up on him and his lack of passion is concerning.

    • Kevin R

      Im in the same boat. I have felt we need to give him time but I am losing patience after 50 games. To have so many high end players lost & horribly underachieving is concerning.

      I remember one of Burkes first comments about Johnny. “He may be small but very skilled, we’re going to just surround him with some beef”
      Well I hate to coin the phrase “Where’s the Beef!!” but where is it?
      I am sick of the liberties being taken on Gaudreau. After these last two games, I have zero problem calling up Bollig & letting ride shotgun with Monahan & Gaudreau. I don’t give a rats ass about his bloody corsi, I just want this garbage I saw tonight & on Saturday to be dealt with.