Photo Credit: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports

FGD 72: A royal clash (7:30pm MT, SN1/West)

It’s a phrase we’re going to trot out constantly around these parts – at least until they get an X next to their name in the standings – but tonight’s game between the Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings at the Scotiabank Saddledome is a big, big game. Yes, even bigger than their last game at the Saddledome a couple weeks ago.

Things have gone well for the Flames lately. They’ve won a lot. They’re relatively healthy. They can make life much, much easier for themselves down the stretch with a regulation win. That outcome would put the Kings 11 points back of the Flames. If they’re 11 points back with 10 games to go, they ain’t catching them.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One (and West) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!


Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Matthew Tkachuk
Matthew Tkachuk
Mikael Backlund
Mikael Backlund
Michael Frolik
Michael Frolik
Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau
Sean Monahan
Alex Chiasson


Kris Versteeg
Kris Versteeg
Matt Stajan

Troy Brouwer
Troy Brouwer
Lance Bouma
Lance B
Sam Bennett

Curtis Lazar


Defensive Pairings
Mark Giordano
Mark Giordano
Dougie Hamilton
Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie
T.J. B
Michael Stone


Matt Bartkowski
Matt Bartkowski
Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott starts yet again, as he’s been very, very good lately. He’s 22-13-3 with a 2.47 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He was still recovering from the flu on Friday and managed to make many nice saves in the win. He would’ve had a shutout had T.J. Brodie not served up a softie in his own end.

The only real change we may see is Sam Bennett starting the game with Lance Bouma and Alex Chiasson on the fourth line. Bennett spent the last two periods centering the fourth line on Friday and was decent, if unspectacular. The challenge for him right now is that he’s been consistently decent, but it’s not translating into goals at a time of year where they’re the only thing that really matters. Considering how important line matching is going to be in a game like this one, the outcome of the game itself may rely on Calgary’s bottom six being more productive than the Kings’.

Update It looks like Ferland’s absense will be related to a potential mumps scare


Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Most likely, Jonathan Quick starts for the Kings; they’ve had a bunch of back-to-backs lately and Quick always starts the first game. He’s 5-1-1 with a 2.02 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. He’s been really good lately for the Kings, and really has been since coming back from injury a few weeks ago.

The Kings are generally healthy, which is great, because this is the first game of a crucial back to back for them. They’re in Calgary tonight and Edmonton tomorrow. Two wins really helps them close the gap with Nashville and Calgary for a wildcard spot. Two losses probably kills their playoff chances for good.


Wins 40 34
Power Play 19.9% 19.2%
Penalty Kill 81.1% 85.1%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.7% 54.7%


In 232 head to head games with Los Angeles, the Flames are 117-89-26. This is the third of five games between these teams this year. The home team has won every game between them so far this season.


Some Kings follows for tonight’s contest:


The Flames enter tonight’s game with a magic number of 8. A regulation win drops their magic number to 6, and basically puts the Kings on the ropes. (Los Angeles plays in Edmonton on Monday, and Calgary’s magic number could conceivably drop even further.)


It’s the Flames’ second of four big games with Los Angeles during their stretch drive. They showed up big-time in their last meeting with the Kings and gave themselves some much-needed breathing room. They can take away the Kings’ breathing room with another strong performance tonight.