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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports

FGD 71: Shooting stars (7pm MT, SN West)

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the Calgary Flames are hoping to be lucky enough to capture a critical two points as they march towards a potential post-season berth. It’s a bit fitting that their opponents tonight are one of the few teams with green jerseys, the Dallas Stars.

The Stars have been anything but lucky this season. They’re 13 points behind St. Louis for the final wildcard spot. They’re not making the playoffs. The Flames are hoping to get another winning streak going and the Stars, playing for a second night in a row, seemed prime to start them off on another one.

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

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Brian Elliott was back at practice yesterday and it sounds like he’ll return to the net tonight. He’s 21-13-3 with a 2.51 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He missed the Boston game with the flu and so the club kept him away from the rink and called up Jon Gillies rather than risk spreading the illness to the team. If Elliott’s back tonight, I’d imagine Gillies heads back to Stockton later today.

The other “big” roster news is the return of blueliner Michael Stone after missing three games with an upper body injury. His return means Dennis Wideman returns to the press box after playing surprisingly well given his role and reputation during his fill-in. He even scored a goal! Of note, our pal (and yours) Pat Steinberg has noted that Rasmus Andersson is still in town because the Flames have elected to make his emergency recall a “regular” one. In other words, Andersson is probably here to stay and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get into a game in the near future. In terms of what it means? The Flames probably like what they’ve seen from him thus far and want him to stick around. They have three “regular” recalls remaining.

The Flames were sloppy in their own end and got even sloppier once they got down a goal as they scrambled to tie it. They have to tighten up their positional play and, as Kris Versteeg said after the loss, get back to what made them successful for that 10 game stretch.

THE STARS

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Since Kari Lehtonen started last night in Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely starts tonight. He’s 11-11-4 with a 3.35 goals against average and a .892 save percentage. Neither goalie’s been amazing this season, and that and a lot of injuries are the reason that Dallas is going to be golfing on April 12 rather than playing hockey.

No Antoine Roussel or Mattias Janmark for Dallas tonight, and Jamie Benn left last night’s game with an upper body injury and his status for tonight is uncertain. The Stars were pretty good against a bad Vancouver club yesterday. When the Stars are playing their fast-paced game, they can cause trouble for their opponents. Unfortunately, their consistency just hasn’t been there this season. They’re not a push-over, but this is a winnable game for the locals tonight.

Update: Kari Lehtonen starts; Jiri Hudler is in for Jamie Benn.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES STARS
Wins 39 28
Points
(Pct.)
82
(.586)
66
(.471)
Power Play 19.9% 18.4%
Penalty Kill 80.9% 73.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.7% 49.5%

HISTORY LESSON

In 166 previous meetings against the Dallas Stars (and Minnesota North Stars, their cooler predecessor), the Flames are 74-60-32. The Flames lost 4-2 in November but won 2-1 in December. This is their final meeting of the season.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Your Stars follows for tonight:

MAGIC NUMBERS

The Flames enter tonight’s game with a magic number of 9. Any combination of 9 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are gunning for 40 wins and to get one step closer to securing a playoff spot. Dallas isn’t a terrible team, but this is a game the Flames should be expected to win if they’re going to be a playoff team.