FGD 53: A potential playoff preview (8pm MT, SN West)

If the Calgary Flames make the playoffs, they’ll probably eke into a wild-card spot. (Heck, I predicted as much on the eve of the season.) If they are successful with their eking over the next 30 games there’s a very good chance they’ll be facing the Minnesota Wild, who began the home-stretch of their season yesterday in Edmonton as the top team in the Western Conference. It’s a big test for the Flames, but one they’ll need to pass if they have any hope of getting into the post-season. And let’s be honest: they’re all big games from here on out.

The home stretch kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanTroy Brouwer
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Kris VersteegSam BennettAlex Chiasson
Lance BoumaMatt StajanMicheal Ferland

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

After winning before the All-Star Break, Brian Elliott is back between the pipes for the Flames. He’s 9-12-2 with a 2.88 goals against average and .892 save percentage. The Flames are basically in “win and you start again” mode, and until somebody emerges as a top gun they’re probably gonna stay in that mode.

Lines have been shuffled a bit, which is a bit weird considering the Flames won with their new lines against Ottawa before the break. Most of the changes were on the right side: Michael Frolik moves from the Gaudreau/Monahan line to being back with Backlund/Tkachuk. Alex Chiasson moves from Backlund/Tkachuk to Versteeg/Bennett. Troy Brouwer moves from Versteeg/Bennett to Gaudreau//Monahan. The most curious change was the Brouwer move, given that he’s been arguably the team’s worst possession player and putting him with the team’s best offensive players seems like putting an anchor in the water behind a speed boat.

THE WILD

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Nino NiederreiterEric StaalCharlie Coyle
Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuMikael Granlund
Zach PariseErik HaulaJason Pominville
Chris StewartTyler GraovacJordan Schroeder

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon
Marco ScandellaMathew Dumba
Nate ProsserMike Reilly

Calgary product Devan Dubnyk starts for the Wild tonight. He’s 27-8-3 with a 1.88 goals against average and .936 save percentage. He started (and lost) both of Minnesota’s games against Calgary this season. The Wild are currently without Jonas Brodin, Victor Bartley and Zac Dalpe due to injury, while Christian Folin was their healthy extra body last night.

It’s the second game of a back-to-back for the Wild coming off the All-Star Break. They beat Edmonton 5-2 last night at Rogers Place, chasing Cam Talbot midway through the second period after three goals. The Wild? Turns out they’re pretty good. The Flames have done alright against them this season so far, primarily because they’ve played a tight-checking, structured game against Minnesota. They’ll need to be smart and restrained once more, and try to make fewer mistakes than the Wild do.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES WILD
Wins 25 33
Points
(Pct.)
53
(.510)
71
(.724)
Power Play 20.3% 21.3%
Penalty Kill 80.9% 83.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.4% 49.5%

HISTORY LESSON

In 85 previous regular season meetings between these two clubs, the Flames are 45-26-14. This is the third of three meetings between these teams this season. The Flames won both of the previous meetings: a 1-0 win in mid-November and a 3-2 shootout victory at the beginning of December.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are some recommended Wild follows:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today is FlamesNation’s 8th birthday! Since our site began on February 2, 2009, the Flames have made just a single playoff appearance (in 2014-15) and have gone 293-265-68 in the regular season – they’re 20th in points during that span.

SUM IT UP

It’s a big game tonight, and the Flames will have 29 big games before this season is over with. They probably need to get to 88 points to clinch a playoff spot. Starting off the home stretch with a couple points tonight would help them in a major way.

  • Parallex

    Yeah, Wideman has been glaringly bad. There is no amount of benefit gained from having a L-R alignment that makes up for the amount of bad minutes he doles out.

    Bench him. Move Brodie to the right side. Play Kulak.

  • everton fc

    A few things…

    1. Monahan is better than Bennett. So is Tkachuk. Monahan is better than Gaudreau, “at the moment”. So is Tkachuk.

    2. Tkachuk gets no points, but 5 SOG’s and no penalties.

    3. Ferland! 3 SOG’s, the goal… He’s on a bit of a roll.

    4. Engelland. If we don’t offer this guy a 1 year extension “on the cheap”, we are nuts.

    5. Wideman is terrible.

    6. To all who continue to call for the trading of Matt Stajan. Stop.

    7. Elliott is our #1 goalie. For now.

    Great win. Bring on Taylor Hall and the Devils!

    • freethe flames

      Related to your 6th point; while I have indicated that Stajan is a trade chip I have said “other teams will be asking about him”. This is not the same thing as saying the Flames should be actively trading him. He may be the most positive surprise of the season for me outside of Tkachuk. However; I want to be clear that outside of the core 6 forwards Johnny/Monny/Tkachuk/Mike&Mike/Sam every other forward for the right price has to be on the table and even any of the top 6 is available for the right price.

  • cgyokgn

    Kind of weird how the Flames have won all three games vs the Wild… all with Dubnyk in goal… and he’s #1 in GAA and SV% and #2 in shutouts. It was good to see 11 different guys on the score sheet tonight. Special teams were great with 2 PPGs and no goals given up. Elliott was solid… hope he can keep it up.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Wow Wideman struggled tonight… You can’t tell me the 6/7 in Stockton would have been any more of a liability. Elliott bailed him out all night. The worst part is he is dragging Brodie down with him. I will be surprised if Wideman is not in the press box next game. It still was the best game I watched all season….sleep well FN.