FGD 66: A mysterious matinee (2pm MT, SN West)

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(Matt Kartozian / USA Today Sports)

Winners of six consecutive games, the Calgary Flames will try to continue their winning ways this afternoon in an odd matinee affair with the visiting New York Islanders. Why an afternoon game? Nobody’s really sure.

The Flames are seven points up on St. Louis right now and are arguably the most comfortably in a playoff spot they’ve been all season. A win today sets a season high for a winning streak. They’ll be challenged by the Islanders, who are in the last wildcard spot in the East and being pursued by Toronto and Florida right now.

The puck drops at 2 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan! (It’s also on Sportsnet Flames.)

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanMicheal Ferland
Kris VersteegSam BennettTroy Brouwer
Lance BoumaMatt StajanAlex Chiasson

Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton
T.J. BrodieMichael Stone
Matt BartkowskiDeryk Engelland

Coming off another strong effort against Detroit, he made 35 saves, Brian Elliott starts again. He’s 17-13-3 with a 2.67 goals against average and .903 save percentage. His numbers are still worse than Chad Johnson’s, but he has almost as many wins and he’s performed a lot better than he did earlier in the season. For what it’s worth, I asked him after Friday’s win if he’s doing anything differently and he said he’s not. He seems a lot more confident in net, though.

Don’t expect any changes in the lines or lineup, given that the team’s undefeated with the current configuration. That means that Dennis Wideman, Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton remain the extras today. After his goal in overtime on Friday, Mikael Backlund leads the team in scoring (by three points over Johnny Gaudreau) and is one point away from tying his career high. He’s been excellent and should win the Selke Trophy.

The Flames had a good game from their special teams groups last game, scoring on the power play (via a Kris Versteeg one-timer) and shutting down Detroit’s power play. For a team that’s been really reliant on their even strength play for wins lately, it’s a nice change of pace. Ideally they’ll eventually get a game where everything is clicking, but beggars can’t be choosers.

THE ISLANDERS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Anders LeeJohn TavaresJosh Bailey
Andrew LaddBrock NelsonJosh Ho-Sang
Anthony BeauvillierRyan StromeShane Prince
Jason ChimeraNikolay KuleminCal Clutterbuck

Nick LeddyJohnny Boychuk
Adam PelechTravis Hamonic
Calvin de HaanDennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss gets the start for the Brooklynites. He’s 21-12-4 with a 2.48 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s arguably the brightest light for a team that’s been weirdly inconsistent all season.

I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be more offended by Josh Ho-Sang wearing #66 as we were by T.J. Brodie doing so in his rookie season, but it’s the controversy du jour in the NHL right now. It’s much ado about nothing, and it’s nice to see a guy who’s been maligned for so many different non-hockey reasons over the past few years at least getting some time in the big league.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES ISLANDERS
Wins 35 30
Points
(Pct.)
74
(.569)
71
(.563)
Power Play 19.8% 15.6%
Penalty Kill 80.2% 79.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi % %

HISTORY LESSON

The Flames are 44-46-23 all-time against the
Islanders. They lost in overtime in Brooklyn back in November in Mark Jankowski’s NHL debut.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are some Islanders accounts worth following for tonight:

MAGIC NUMBERS

The Flames enter this afternoon with a magic number of 14.5. Any combination of 14.5 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth.

SUM IT UP

Following a Los Angeles loss to Vancouver last night, the Flames can do themselves all sorts of favours with a win this afternoon.

  • cgyokgn

    Our red light/goal horn goes off and I see the goal on the NHL Network, but since I’m listening to the game on the radio, the play-by-play is about 30 seconds behind… strange feeling!

    Monny with his 21st with assists from Johnny and Dougie!

  • cgyokgn

    So, the first period in summary: 4 goals scored, 19 shots plus another 8 blocked by the Islanders, 55% in face-offs (after a rough start) and I’m sure a ton of confidence! Couldn’t ask for a better period and here I was worried about the early start!

    Just need to keep the pedal to the metal and not let the Islanders back in!

  • everton fc

    At least it’s Tavares who spoils the shut out.

    Impressive display vs. a team on a bit if a roll themselves, fighting for their playoof lives. Our Flames are a very confident, composed, and dangerous hockey team. They’ll be a tough, competitive draw for any team they face WHEN they get in the playoffs.

    Putting Ferland with Monahan and Gaudreau has changed this team – they are almost night & day. The whole group seems more a team now – teammates working together. Elliott will be re-signed. Perhaps re-sign Johnson, too, and carry-on for one more year.

    It’ll be interesting if Lazar can put some zip (and inject some offence) into the fourth line. I’d put him on LW and sit Bouma. Chiasson is a better player than Bouma, and has more offencive potential than #17.

    • Kevin R

      I would argue that the acquisition of Stone & putting him with Brodie all the while press boxing Wideman has as big of an impact as putting Ferland with Gaudreau & Monahan. Combine these two moves & we have a different team than what we had to watch for the first 40 games.

  • everton fc

    Also, Stockton looked good last night. Jankowski gets his 20th – a very good sign. Mangiapane with a goal, and Austin Carroll really seems to be getting every opportunity to prove he’s still a valid prospect, and now has more goals than Poirier and Prybil, in less games. In fact, Carroll’s one goal form matching Shinkaruk’s totals (I think they are linemates). I always hoped Carroll would surprise the organization. He seems to have more upside, and more opportunity in our organization than Poirier. And he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity.

  • cgyokgn

    The 5 on 3 was a bit intense but they killed off both penalties and got the win! When you start as well as the Flames did, you’re going to win most of your games. Seven wins in a row!

  • Derzie

    Moving Chiasson out of the top 9 and feeding Wideman to the popcorn machine has made all of us glass half empty types dead wrong about the group. And I’m really happy with that. What a great team to watch right now.

  • RKD

    Yup, everything’s coming up Calgary, 7 wins in a row Elliott is looking like the elite goalie he was in St. Louis. The team is getting contributions from all 4 lines. They are playing playoff hockey right now and that’s why they are 10 games above .500 and rapidly approaching the Ducks and Oilers. 7-0 without Wideman!

    • Lazarus

      Or are they 7-0 with Stone. I know Ari wrote a scathing piece on him not being a top 4 D man before he suited up.

      Look at brodie before and after stone and we still haven’t lost a game. Stone/Bart don’t get enough credit and I was bullish from day 1