FGD 56: A trip to Steel City (5pm MT, SN West)


USATSI_9167076
(Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)

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

The great lyricist Meat Loaf once declared that “two outta there ain’t bad.” The Calgary Flames split the first two games of their three game Eastern Conference road trip with a win over New Jersey and a tight loss to the New York Rangers. Tonight, they polish off both their trip and their schedule before their mandatory four days off with a game against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguns. A win tonight would position the Flames extremely well heading into their bye week.

The action kicks off just after 5 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
Micheal FerlandMatt StajanGarnet Hathaway

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

Brian Elliott lost against the Rangers (after winning in three consecutive starts) so in keeping with Glen Gulutzan’s “win and you’re in” mantra, Chad Johnson is back in tonight against the Pens. He’s 16-12-1 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. Johnson’s cooled down a bit since his torrid November/December stretch, but he’s still a solid goaltender. Hopefully some time on the bench has given him a breather and he’ll be able to find his groove again.

Gulutzan’s making a couple other changes coming off a loss. Garnet Hathaway returns to the lineup after an injury, bumping Lance Bouma to the press box. And Brett Kulak slots in, bumping Jyrki Jokipakka to the sidelines. Freddie Hamilton is the other healthy scratch expected for this evening.

The Flames power play remains red-hot, with goals in seven of their past 11 games. But their penalty kill keeps letting in goals just as often, so they’re not really getting much benefit from their special teams. The Backlunds, Gaudreaus and Monahans of the world have remained strong, but the Flames will need to get some contributions from unexpected places if they’re going to grind out two points against Pittsburgh.

THE PENGUINS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Jake GuentzelNick BoninoPhil Kessel
Scott WilsonCarter RowneyPatric Hornqvist
Tom KuhnhacklMatt CullenEric Fehr

Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Olli MaattaTrevor Daley
Ian ColeJustin Schultz

Young Matt Murray gets the start for the Penguins, who are seemingly trying to balance out the usage of both their young gun and veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. Ideally they’ll have them both fresh as daisies for the post-season. Murray has slightly better numbers than Fleury; he’s 19-6-1 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. (He has more wins than Fleury and better GAA and SV%.)

There are two things of note about the Penguins. First, they’re missing a bunch of good players due to injury. Daniel Sprong and Conor Sheary were already missing, but Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin will both likely miss tonight’s game as well. Second, Sidney Crosby is just three points away from hitting the 1,000 point mark. The Flames seem to always provide opportunities to hit milestones, so expect Crosby to see a ton of Mikael Backlund’s line in an effort to slow him down.

Remember when Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup last year? That was fun.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES PENGUINS
Wins 27 33
Points
(Pct.)
57
(.518)
71
(.696)
Power Play 21.7% 22.7%
Penalty Kill 80.1% 78.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.9% 51.0%

HISTORY LESSON

In 102 previous regular season games between the Flames and Penguins, Calgary has a 40-43-19 record. This is the first of two meetings between these teams; they’ll play again in Calgary on March 13.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are some Penguins follows for tonight:

SUM IT UP

It’s a big game against a tough opponent for the Flames. But if they can grind out a pair of points, they can head into their bye week with some momentum.

  • MontanaMan

    Both goals have been unforced giveaways in the Flames end – the first by Hathaway and the second by Wideman. It’s not so much that the Pens are doing anything special but the Flames giveaways are killing them.

  • The GREAT WW

    Don’t blame Wideman. This is what possession hockey looks like: don’t clear the zone, keep possession at all times. At least our possession numbers will look better…

    WW

    • freethe flames

      You are right don’t blame Wideman. His pass was right to a flames forward who did not handle it, Wideman gets blamed for everything, Give it a rest.

        • freethe flames

          Sorry I don’t have PVR to go back and tell you who;(I now went back and watched the highlights and it was Brouwer) but I can describe the play for you. Wideman has the puck in the corner seeing the middle clogged he passed the puck up the RW boards to a teammate who is being checked who either does battle hard enough to receive the puck or if he receives the puck coughs it up(it happened at game speed), the puck is deflected to the middle either by the flame forward or the PP player to the middle of the ice where the PP get the puck and score. It was not like Wideman tried a cross ice pass that got intercepted (DHamilton did that twice in the game). I am not a Wideman defender and like most everyone else on this site wish that GG would bench him and that BT could find a trade partner for him(or a magic wand and go back in time and buy him out like I had suggested at the time). But blaming him for everything that goes bad when he is on the ice gets rather stale fast.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    In Hathman’s defence its his first game back after a long time out.

    Wideman is just not up to par anymore.

    We’ll take the Bettman point. Or more.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    John Shanahan just wrapped by saying that if the Flames think they’ll make the play-offs then they’ll be looking to pick up a #4 defenceman. Hmmmmm…. I wonder if he knows something.