FGD 59: Hockey day on the west coast (8pm MT, CBC)


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(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.

The Calgary Flames had a rough start to the season, going on a skid that included a shootout loss in Vancouver where the only goal they were credited with was scored by the Canucks on their own net. Given their respective starts, it’s somewhat ironic that the Flames can virtually kill the Canucks’ playoff chances tonight at Rogers Arena.

The Flames and Canucks are probably each others’ biggest rivals at this point. Between the importance of their games of each other, the level of emotion displayed by both teams, and occasional craziness like line brawls and other shenanigans, these guys really don’t like each other. The Flames won their first playoff round in over a decade against the Canucks in 2015, they can go a long way towards returning to the post-season this year with a win tonight.

The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

Check out a view from the other side over at Canucks Army!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

 Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanKris Versteeg

Micheal FerlandSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Lance BoumaMatt StajanFreddie Hamilton

Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton
 T.J. BrodieDeryk Engelland
 Turner ElsonDennis Wideman

Since he won against Philadelphia in one of the best single game goaltending performances we’ve seen this season, Brian Elliott starts again. He’s 12-13-2 with a 2.79 goals against average and .898 save percentage. He’s creeping up on the .500 mark and a .900 save percentage. He’s improved a ton since his early struggles.

Some changes for the Flames coming off Wednesday’s win. Freddie Hamilton slots in on the fourth line as Alex Chiasson heads to the press box. Matt Bartkowski (wearing #44) replaces Brett Kulak, who’s back in Stockton. It’s Bartkowski’s first NHL game since April 9, 2016 when he was with the Canucks. And there’s a shuffle in the middle six as Ferland replaces Chiasson and Versteeg and Brouwer swap. All-in-all, the new lines seem like a decent mix and a game against Vancouver is a good place to test them out.

The Flames are led offensively by the dynamic trio of leading scorer Mikael Backlund, second leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk and all-around good hockey player Michael Frolik. Backlund has more goals against Vancouver (12) than against any other team in the NHL and really seems to relish the challenge of playing against the Sedin twins. Expect the Flames to sic the 3M trio on the twins again tonight.

THE CANUCKS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinMarkus Granlund
 Loui ErikssonBrandon SutterJayson Megna
 Alexandre BurrowsBrendan GaunceJannik Hansen
 Reid BoucherMichael ChaputJack Skille

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher
 Luca SbisaChris Tanev
 Ben HuttonNikita Tryamkin

Jacob Markstrom started and lost against St. Louis on Thursday night, so that means it’s Ryan Miller’s turn in the rotation. He’s 15-16-3 with a 2.65 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. He and Markstrom have been pretty good in spurts this season, but overall they haven’t quite been good enough to cover up for their team’s deficiencies.

Much like how Backlund leading the Flames in scoring is a bit surprising, Bo Horvat is ahead of the Sedins in scoring. He’s also absent right now due to injury, along with Derek Dorsett, Erik Gudbranson, Sven Baertschi and Anton Rodin. The Canucks have been snake-bit by injuries all year and have really lacked consistency. It’s a bit of a shame, too, because some of the youngsters they have on their team are pretty decent. Their group just hasn’t clicked this year.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES CANUCKS
Wins 29 25
Points
(Pct.)
61
(.526)
56
(.483)
Power Play 20.4% 15.3%
Penalty Kill 80.8% 78.6%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.5% 48.0%

A NOTE ON HOCKEY DAY

Today is Hockey Day in Canada. Sportsnet is rocking out all day and this game is the back end of a triple header on the CBC. There will be a ton of cool stories about the backgrounds of NHLers. We’re not going to rag on Sportsnet for telling these stories, because they’re worth telling.

But let’s be honest with each other here: it’s expensive to play hockey and expensive to go to games, especially now when the oil price is down and Western Canada’s economy is so-so. If you have the means to do so, please donate what you can to the great people at Kidsport. They help with the costs of getting kids involved in many great sports, including hockey. The folks at the Flames Foundation also have programs that help with the costs of getting into the game and they have a big mega-50/50 program going on right now if you want to donate via that.

And if you have a pair of tickets and cannot use them for whatever reason, please consider donating them to Kids Up Front, which helps get kids that otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to games into the building.

HISTORY LESSON

The Flames have played the Canucks more often in the regular season than any other franchise. In their 268 previous meetings, the Flames are 131-90-47. This is their fifth and final meeting this season. The teams have alternated wins and losses, with the home team oddly winning every game. The Flames have one more point than the Canucks do, though, as their first loss in Vancouver came in a shootout.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Your recommended follows from the other side for tonight:

SUM IT UP

The Flames can polish off Vancouver’s slim playoff hopes with a regulation win tonight, as well as give themselves a bit of a buffer on the Kings. It’s an important contest for Calgary and probably represents Vancouver’s last stand.

  • VoRaCS

    About as boring of a game as I I’ve seen in awhile. I’m not enjoying GG’s style of hockey. Johnny hasn’t forgotten how to play hockey but he’s not thriving in this system.

    It seems to me that the Flames can’t get their shots off quick enough with how they set up their power play. Last year didn’t Johnny play on the other side when they had the man advantage?

    Maybe the best upgrade the team can make in the future isn’t on the ice.

    • everton fc

      “Johnny hasn’t forgotten how to play hockey but he’s not thriving in this system.”

      Maybe.

      Or maybe we don’t have the right players around him.

      Maybe.

      Or maybe other teams have simply figured out how to play against him – how to play him?

      Maybe.

      As far as the coach…

      He’s got us in the playoff race. Look at our roster. We are not that good “on paper”.

      Still… I think another “style”, another “system”… Another coach… May see Johnny come out of his doldrums.

      But perhaps… Just maybe…

      It’s Johnny?

    • flames2015

      I agree, Johnny was on the right side. And then a right handed shot on the left side for a one timer.

      First unit pp, is basically brodie over passing and then versteeg slapping. Theres no good movement. Even when the guys one touch pass back to brodie where he should shoot, he doesn’t. Our number one d with pp points should be replacing him on first unit. Why not have 2 right shots for more options here.