FGD 40: Jarome Iginla visits (and Colorado, too) (8pm MT, SN West)

The Calgary Flames approach the halfway point of their schedule this week and they inch closer to it tonight when they host the Colorado Avalanche. Best known as the team that Jarome Iginla is currently playing on – and one of the dirt-worst outfits in the National Hockey League – Colorado comes to town for the first of two visits this season.

The action kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan! It’s a late game of a doubleheader on Sportsnet.

THE FLAMES

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanAlex Chiasson
Matthew TkachukMikael BacklundMichael Frolik
Kris VersteegSam BennettMicheal Ferland
Lance BoumaMatt StajanFreddie Hamilton

Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie

Dennis Wideman
Tyler WotherspoonDeryk Engelland

Brian Elliott gets the start tonight. He’s won his last four starts and was really good against Arizona, particularly when the Flames got a 4-0 lead and just started coasting. Elliott is 7-9-1 with a 3.00 goals against average and a .893 save percentage. He’s been superb lately, albeit against some bad teams (Arizona twice, Colorado and Vancouver). It’s better than losing to them. In other line-up news: Tyler Wotherspoon and Freddie Hamilton are in, while Jyrki Jokipakka and Garnet Hathaway sit tonight.

The Flames have been okay lately, basically playing win-one, lose-one hockey in the past couple weeks. They’ve been decent at even strength and forced to make hay on the power play. It’s worked, but you’ve gotta think at some point their even strength play will have to get it going.

Mikael Backlund’s been fantastic lately, coming into tonight’s game on a four game goal (and points) streak. He’s got eight points (five goals, three assists) in that span, and has been the crux of Calgary’s best line all season long playing between Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik.

THE AVALANCHE

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MackinnonMikko Rantanen
Mikhail  GrigorenkoMatt DucheneRene Bourque
Blake Comeau Carl SoderbergJarome Iginla

Cody McLeodJohn MitchellAndreas Martinsen

Fedor TyutinTyson Barrie
Francois BeaucheminNikita Zadorov
Patrick WierciochEric Gelinas

With Semyon Varlamov still injured, we’ll likely see Calvin Pickard tonight. He’s 6-10-1 with a 3.14 goals against average and .898 save percentage. He’s not bad, but he hasn’t been good enough to hold Colorado in games.

Colorado is not a good hockey club this year. They’ve lost four games in a row and nine of their last 10. They’re dead-last in the NHL in terms of points percentage. Nobody’s scored fewer goals per game. Nobody’s allowed more goals per game. They’re bad at special teams, too. It’s a bit sad to see Iginla closing out his career like this.

Speaking of that future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson did a great look at the possibility that this is Iginla’s last hurrah at the Saddledome. Check it out, and then ponder Iginla’s future. Either way, he’s bound to get a fantastic reception in his old stomping grounds.

THE NUMBERS

FLAMES AVALANCHE
Wins 20 12
Points
(Pct.)
42
(.538)
25
(.338)
Power Play 19.5% 13.6%
Penalty Kill 82.1% 78.9%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 49.5% 44.9%
Jarome Iginlas 0 1

HISTORY LESSON

This is the 157th regular season game featuring the Flames and Avalanche franchises, including games played between Atlanta and Quebec. The Flames have a 71-57-28 record all-time. This is the second of three meetings between these teams this year; they meet one last time in Calgary on March 27.

This is just Iginla’s fifth road game in Calgary. He played here once with Boston and three times with Colorado, amassing just one assist. He played 609 home games for the Flames in the Saddledome (plus one in McMahon Stadium), making him by far the leader in that category.

KNOW THY ENEMY

Here are some Avalanche follows for this evening:

SUM IT UP

The Flames approach the midway point of their season with an admittedly winnable game against one of the NHL’s lesser lights. They need to pick up two points.