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Photo Credit: Eric Bolte / USA Today Sports

FGD 67: A Clash with The Canadiens (7pm MT, SN West)

Two of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League will collide tonight at the Scotiabank Saddledome in a game with fairly hefty playoff implications for both of the league’s conferences. The Calgary Flames are hoping to cement their playoff dreams in the jam-packed Western Conference by distancing themselves a bit from the wildcard clubs and reeling in their divisional rivals Anaheim and Edmonton. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens are hoping to cement their division lead and fend off the surging Ottawa Senators. It’s the Flames and the Canadiens in a big late-season contest with playoff implications. Does that sound like a lot of fun?

The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Several weeks ago, Brian Elliott’s numbers and record were a lot worse than Chad Johnson’s. But he’s gone on a heck of a run recently and now his numbers are much closer to Johnson’s. Elliott starts tonight for the 34th time this season. He’s 18-13-3 with a 2.65 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. He hasn’t even really stolen a game for the Flames, but he’s held them in games when they’ve needed him to.

The Flames continue to chug along with the same lineup game after game, so barring war or insurrection don’t expect any changes for tonight. That means Dennis Wideman, Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar are the extra healthy bodies right now.

The Flames scored first against the Islanders on Sunday afternoon. And then four more times, as every forward line got into the action and the quite good Islanders were dead in the water before the first period was over. If the Flames can get off to another good start against the Habs, it could be another good night for them.

THE CANADIENS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Arguably the best goaltender on this planet, Carey Price looks to start tonight (and for the 52nd time this season). He’s 30-16-5 with a 2.28 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. He’s been ridden like crazy by Montreal this season (as their backup is Al Montoya), but so far he’s holding up.

The Habs are without Charles Hudon, Alex Radulov and Tomas Plekanec right now due to injury, but they still have a pretty good lineup with a lot of depth. They have a weird set-up where they have one pure scoring line and two and a half checking lines, but so far it’s worked fairly well. Keep an eye on former Flame Paul Byron, who’s really fast and elusive and was claimed off waivers by Montreal because the Flames wanted to keep Brandon Bollig (and Joni Ortio) in the NHL at the time.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES CANADIENS
Wins 36 38
Points
(Pct.)
76
(.576)
84
(.627)
Power Play 19.6% 20.7%
Penalty Kill 80.4% 80.2%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.7% 52.7%

HISTORY LESSON

In 112 previous regular season meetings, the Flames are 38-57-17 with Montreal. This is their second of two meetings this season, the previous being a 5-1 drubbing at Bell Centre back in late January. In previous meetings, we saw them get thumped by Montreal at home and have Dale Weise get a hat trick.

But the Flames beat the Habs for the Stanley Cup 28 years ago, so there’s also that.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Canadiens follows for y’all tonight:

MAGIC NUMBERS

The Flames enter this afternoon with a magic number of 13.5. Any combination of 13.5 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth. The Kings play Nashville at 8:30 p.m. MT, so the Flames and Predators winning this evening would drop Calgary’s magic number down to 11.5.

SUM IT UP

It’s a big, big test for a streaking Flames team against a really good Canadiens club.