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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FGD 79: Duck hunting (7:30pm MT, SN One)

The Calgary Flames are headed to the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs! But with four games left on their regular season schedule, there are still things to play for. The Flames will begin their quest for playoff seeding tonight when they play the first of a home-and-home series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks played last night in Edmonton and lost in overtime. The Flames are hoping to keep chugging along, smooth out some rough spots in their game, and keep accumulating points as they attempt to slot in favourably in the bottom end of the Western Conference playoff bracket.

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

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

All signs point to Brian Elliott making the start tonight, given the importance of picking up points to avoid a first round date with Chicago. Elliott has been quite good for awhile now. He’s 26-15-3 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .912 save percentage

Glen Gulutzan alluded to some players nursing some bumps and bruises, but there won’t be any tinkering with their lineup for tonight’s game. The Flames are currently carrying four healthy extra bodies – defensemen Dennis Wideman and Rasmus Andersson and forwards Curtis Lazar and Freddie Hamilton – so don’t expect any call-ups. Oddly, all four of the extras are right shots.

The Flames have lost their last 24 regular season visits to Anaheim, but in the same span they’re 17-9-1 against the Ducks in Calgary in the regular season. The Ducks played last night and lost, so if the Flames can push the pace early and avoid taking penalties they should be in good shape to pick up a couple of points.

THE DUCKS

Last night’s lines via Daily Faceoff:

John Gibson started in Edmonton last night, so presumably the Flames face Jonathan Bernier tonight. He’s 19-7-4 with a 2.47 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. He’s been really solid for the Ducks and kept them in the race while Gibson was dealing with some injury issues.

Speaking of injuries, the Ducks may have some significant shuffling to do tonight as they lost Sami Vatanen to an injury in the second period. Don’t expect him to play tonight. The good news is Clayton Stoner was summoned from the AHL’s San Diego Gulls yesterday and either he or Brandon Montour could slot in tonight without too much chaos.

The Ducks are going to be a tired bunch tonight, but they’re still pretty deep and pretty dangerous.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES DUCKS
Wins 44 42
Points
(Pct.)
92
(.590)
97
(.622)
Power Play 20.1% 18.6%
Penalty Kill 81.5% 85.0%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 50.7% 50.2%

HISTORY LESSON

Tonight is the 100th regular season game between the Flames and the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks (of Anaheim). In 99 previous meetings, the Flames have a 38-46-15 record. The Ducks have won two of the three meetings this season, with these teams meeting again on Tuesday night in Anaheim to finish off the season series.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Some Ducks follows for tonight’s contest:

PLAYOFF SEEDING

We introduce a brand-new section now that the Flames have clinched (and magic numbers aren’t really that relevant), looking at the teams the Flames are concerned about in terms of playoff seeding. Calgary is a point up on both St. Louis and Nashville to remain in the top wildcard seed. They’re also one point back of San Jose for the third Pacific seed.

SUM IT UP

It’s the start of what’s effectively a mini playoff series, as the Flames play Anaheim twice and could really help themselves in terms of cementing a specific playoff spot. Or at least ruling out a playoff series with Chicago in the first round.