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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

FGD 77: King slayers (7pm MT, SN West)

When the Calgary Flames took to the ice to play the Minnesota Wild on November 15, they were (by points percentage) the worst outfit in the entire National Hockey League. At the time, they boasted an abysmal 5-10-1 record and seemed adrift. Tonight, roughly four and a half months later, the Flames can officially punch their ticket to the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Flames have been a very solid team since that November 15 game where Johnny Gaudreau broke a bone in his hand. They simplified their game and went on a decent run, then kicked it into high gear in late January. The Kings have done arguably the opposite, falling off the rails over the past few months and floundering in many of the same ways the Flames have been excelling. For the second time in three seasons, the Flames can cement their playoff dreams at the expense of the Kings’. Fate, as it would be, isn’t without a sense of humour.

Come for a game with huge playoff implications, stay for what may be Jarome Iginla’s last-ever game inside the Saddledome.

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

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Brian Elliott gets the nod for the Flames tonight. He’s 25-14-3 with a 2.47 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He’s taken over the net for the Flames over the past two months, but with good reason: he’s been very consistent and very good. He has shown a tendency to get lost in his net here and there, particularly on plays where the five guys in front of him lose complete track of where the puck is. He’s been good, but not infallible.

The Flames have their swagger back, having won back to back games after losing a pair. One big reason they lost a pair? Matthew Tkachuk got suspended for clobbering Drew Doughty with a roaring elbow smash. Keep an eye out for some rough stuff in this game, particularly if the game gets out of hand score-wise. If the Flames can manage their emotions and just play their game for 60 minutes, they can beat the Kings. Heck, they’ve done that twice in recent memory and that’s why they’re in the position that they’re in.

THE KINGS

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Since Jonathan Quick tended net in the Kings’ 2-1 loss last night in Edmonton, the Flames will likely see Ben Bishop. Between Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, he’s 17-14-5 with a 2.54 goals against average and a .910 save percentage this season. He’s 1-2-2 with the Kings since coming over at the trade deadline.

The Kings had four extra bodies last night (Gaborik, Andreoff, Shore and Gravel) who are in various states of healthiness. With their feet against the fire in the second half of a back-to-back, expect a few tweaks as the Kings fight for their playoff lives. If the Flames can match Los Angeles’ desperation, they’ll pick up two points and snuff out the Kings’ playoff hopes for good.

Tonight is regular season game number 1,548 for Jarome Iginla. He debuted in the Saddledome in April 1996. He’s played probably close to 750 games in the ‘Dome during his career. Given that the Kings aren’t going to the playoffs and he’s turning 40 on July 1, there’s a big chance that tonight is Iginla’s last game in the Saddledome. Hopefully the home crowd gives him a deserved ovation for everything he’s meant to hockey in this city and this country.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES KINGS
Wins 43 35
Points
(Pct.)
90
(.592)
77
(.513)
Power Play 20.3% 19.5%
Penalty Kill 80.8% 84.6%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.7% 54.7%

HISTORY LESSON

In 233 games against the Kings, the Flames are 118-89-26. This is the fourth of five meetings this season. The Flames have won twice in their season series, both in the Saddledome.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Kings follows for tonight’s contest:

MAGIC NUMBERS

The Flames enter tonight’s game with a magic number of 1. That means a Flames win of any kind (regulation, overtime or shootout) clinches a playoff berth.

SUM IT UP

Flames can punch their ticket.

Need tickets to the game? Check out this link to get yourself in the building.