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Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck / USA Today Sports

FGD 68: A Return to Winnipeg (5pm MT, SN West)

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After paddling around in the mushy middle of the National Hockey League for several months, the Calgary Flames have suddenly emerged as the hottest commodity in the league over the past month. The Flames head into MTS Centre in scenic Winnipeg this evening for a game with the Jets. They’ve won eight consecutive games and have earned points in 10 games (going 9-0-1). Things just keep going well for the Flames. Facing what’s likely a non-playoff opponent, the Flames are hoping to extend their streak and inch a little bit closer to clinching a playoff berth.

The puck drops at 5 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West (and the national feed) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

For a view from the other side, check out the preview at JetsNation!

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Brian Elliott starts once again (for the 14th time in the past 17 games). He’s 19-13-3 with a 2.58 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. He managed to get a shutout last game after having a handful of near-misses. He’s been good when the Flames have needed him to be, but otherwise rock solid over his last string of appearances. He’s definitely got the hot hand, so Glen Gulutzan is likely going to ride him until he cools off.

Here’s the deal with the injured defensemen and recalls. Rasmus Andersson is up from Stockton on an emergency recall, meaning he only plays in the event the Flames are below six healthy defensemen (e.g., both Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone can’t go). Dougie Hamilton skated normally at morning skate and Dennis Wideman is seemingly slotting in for Stone, meaning most likely we won’t see Andersson debut tonight.

The Flames haven’t lost a game since facing Vancouver on February 18 and haven’t lost in regulation since dropping a home date to Arizona on February 13. They could set a Calgary Flames record with a nine consecutive win tonight. (The franchise record is 10 games, set by Atlanta in 1978.) They’re playing their best hockey of the year at the best possible time for them to do that.

THE JETS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Connor Hellebuyck gets the nod for the home side. He’s 22-17-3 with a 2.83 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. He’s been part of the three-headed goaltending monster in Winnipeg for a good chunk of this year and has done well enough that, despite his struggles, he’s probably still their goalie of the future.

Give the Jets credit, they have hung around in the Western Conference. Their .500 record over the last while has kept them on the periphery of the playoffs, but they’ve lost two straight (to Pittsburgh and San Jose) and the clock is ticking on them to get hot and make a charge. They’re seven points behind St. Louis and the Blues have two games in hand. It probably won’t happen for Winnipeg this season, but you can’t knock them for trying to make it close.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES JETS
Wins 37 30
Points
(Pct.)
78
(.582)
66
(.485)
Power Play 19.5% 17.2%
Penalty Kill 80.6% 76.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 51.0% 49.0%

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 25th regular season meeting between the Flames and Jets 2.0 (including games when they were they Atlanta Thrashers). The Flames are 13-10-1 all-time. The teams split their two previous meetings this season; Calgary won 6-2 at home in December, while Winnipeg won 2-0 at home in January. The loss in January stung for the Flames, as it showed some cracks in their game that they hope they’ve filled in over the past several weeks.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Jets follows for you tonight:

MAGIC NUMBERS

The Flames enter this afternoon with a magic number of 12.5. Any combination of 12.5 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth. The Kings play the Capitals tonight at 8:30 p.m. MT, so potentially the Flames’ magic number could drop to 10.5 by the end of the night.

After Anaheim’s loss last night, a Flames win of any kind gets them to 80 points and would shuffle the Pacific standings: Calgary would temporarily be in second, Anaheim to third and Edmonton would drop into the first wildcard spot.

SUM IT UP

The Flames have a few bumps and bruises after their win over Montreal, but they need to keep chugging along and picking up points. Time, and the schedule, is on their side, but continuing to bank points is what they absolutely need to do before the California stretch of games at the end of the season.