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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 40: Welcoming royal visitors (7pm MT, SN West)

After closing out 2017 with a victory over the Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames (19-16-4) kick off the 2018 portion of their calendar against the Los Angeles Kings (24-11-5). The Kings are perhaps the Flames most bitter recent rival (aside from the Canucks), and the majority of their most important regular season games in recent years have been against the gentlemen in black and silver from So-Cal. With the Flames in need of differentiating themselves from the clump of mediocre Western Conference clubs they’re mired in, this could be another important clash between these two teams.

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

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan (A) – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Brouwer (A)
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Mangiapane – Stajan – Lazar

Giordano (C) – D.Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Stone

Mike Smith starts for the 34th time this season. He’s 15-13-3 with a 2.57 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and the newly-recalled Marek Hrivik. Jaromir Jagr is dealing with a nagging lower-body injury and once again won’t be available tonight. Other line-up tweaks may happen tonight as well.

Since the beginning of December, the Flames have been a streaky team: three losses, two wins, three losses, two wins, three losses and, on New Year’s Eve, another win. The Flames will need roughly 95 points to make the playoffs, so they’ll need to grind out 53 points in their remaining 43 games – that’s a .616 points percentage. Long story short, they’ll need to win roughly two out of every three games – by hook or by crook – from here on out. The streakiness absolutely has to end.

The Kings

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Pearson – Kopitar – Brown
Gaborik – Kempe – Toffoli
Clifford – Shore – Lewis
Iafallo – Mitchell – Jokinen

Muzzin – Doughty
MacDermid – Martinez
Forbort – Gravel

Jonathan Quick starts for Los Angeles. He’s 19-11-2 with a 2.20 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. He’s backed up by Darcy Kuemper. The healthy scratches are Oscar Fantenberg, Andy Andreoff and Jonny Brodzinski.

The Kings have the best goals against average and the best save percentage in the entire NHL. Quick and Kuemper have been lights-out and they’re playing on a team that gives up an average amount of shots. It’s not like they’re an incredible possession or defensive team, they’re just a team that plays a smart game and gets strong goaltending.

Los Angeles beat Edmonton 5-0 in their last outing, so they’re not all bad.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Michael Frolik (jaw) are on the injured reserve.

Los Angeles: Jeff Carter (ankle) and Christian Folin (lower-body) are on the injured reserve.

When Last We Met

This is the second of four games between these teams this season. The Flames won their first meeting, back on Oct. 11 in Los Angeles, by a 4-3 score in overtime. Sean Monahan scored the winner.

The Numbers

CGY LA
Wins 19 24
Points 42 53
Adjusted Corsi 52.0% 50.1%
Power Play 18.6% 17.6%
Penalty Kill 78.0% 87.4%

Know Thy Enemy

These fine So-Cal peeps will presumably be tweeting about the Los Angeles hockey club:

Sum It Up

It’s a key divisional game between the Flames and one of their most bitter recent rivals, with the locals desperately needing points to get back into the playoff pack.

FGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.

Enter the Vegas Breakaway for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas and tickets to a Golden Knights game. Enter to win at atb.com/vegas



  • KKisTHEproblem

    We are not mired in the clump of mediocre Western Conference clubs. We are on the bottom of the clump, possibly falling to the top of the bottom clump of Western Conference teams if we don’t win at least 2 of the next 3 games against western conference foes, the 4 point games. These are critical games coming up

    • Off the wall

      We really need to win all 3 games, there’s no time like the present to get our act together.

      Never mind, I just realized we have Brouwer on the Backlund line. Kkis this game goodbye!

  • Alberta Ice

    No brainer. Put Brouwer on the 4th line when it proves he doesn’t belong on the 2nd and move Mangiapane to the 2nd line. GG, we are playing the Kings; not the Serfs. (I hear the flu bug may really wreak havoc on who plays tonight, so please get Mangiapane on a line where he can show us his offensive threat.)

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Brouwer on the 2nd line? Bahhh haaa There you go! We Officially have the “Coach of the Year” Folks…….~! Make sure Brouwer gets a lot of PP time too! wow, Nothing like watching a drunk monkey try to put a 4-peice puzzle together…

  • redwhiteblack

    The Brother was a better option than Brouwer. He should be watching. His $4.5 mil the only thing keeping him on the ice. It is crazy. For the love of god put him on waivers or in the press box. He should never play. GG puts him on the 2nd line?? GG has to go. He is a clear liability to this org.

    • The Beej

      Not sure why everyone is so worried about Brouwer on the 2nd. I wouldnt put him there but one player isnt going to make that big of a difference.

      He is still a better option than Lazar Hamilton or Stajan (forget his salary… his buyout is earmarked for tkachuks raise and we are not up against the cap. ) and it will take a couple weeks to work Mangiapane and Hrivik into meaningful minutes.

      This is essentially what Brouwer was signed to do. Be that veteran stop gap at RW until a young player is ready and can be put in a position to succeed.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        How will anyone Ever Know when a young player is ready? They all ways get shafted to the fourth line or with Brouwer? Lazar did very well last year with Bennett & Chaison.(way better than Brouwer).. and Benny is way better this year with Hath/jags – Janks than his forced roll last year!

    • TJ85

      Agreed – if we were truly icing the best team based on talent and who’s available the lines should be
      JG-Mony-Fer
      Bennet-Backs-Byng
      Mag-Janko-Hath
      Lazar-Staj-Brower (ugh)

      Once Versteeg and Frolik are back – take out Brower and Stajan and reshuffle the lines accordingly

  • The Sultan

    I agree that this next stretch of games determines whether or not we make the playoffs. The Flames could always go on a wild 10 game winning streak but that’s unlikely to happen even under the best of circumstances. Either or management is going to have to answer some tough questions in the off season if we don’t a) make a half-decent run into the playoffs or b) miss the playoffs entirely without recouping any high draft picks.

    As much as I don’t agree with Glen Gulutzan being the man for the job I think he’s here until at least the end of the season. If option b) happens above and the Flames miss the playoffs, more and more of the blame is going to fall on Treliving’s shoulders by going “all in” one or two seasons early. If our window opened this year according to the brass, well, we’re into the 2018 portion of the season and that window is either further away than was anticipated or is not quite as fully opened as we think it is.

    • McRib

      Treliving definitely rushed our rebuild, even if you don’t mind Hamonic (I can’t stand him, he’s honestly destroyed TJ Brodie, IMO) there is honestly no argument that anyone could make that says he was a legitimate upgrade over what Rasmus Andersson would have been this season. I don’t care that Andersson is still young, go watch Vegas and realize it’s 2017-2018 and all about youth with speed these days. To give up a first rounder AND TWO SECONDS WAS LUNACY!!

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Do you think that maybe Brodie would have been better left on the top pairing? Gully has tried to force TJ onto the left side with little success in 1.5 years. Put him back with Gio and watch him return to form. Yes, that would mean Hammie-Hammer as a 2nd pair, but I think the overall effect would be a better top 4. Ras should be forcing Stone out of the lineup.

      • flames2015

        Again, it’s been repeatedly said that Brodie’s partner is the one dragging him down. It’s time to face the music that his play has dropped because od himself. Poor excuses.

      • everton fc

        It was. Yzerman wouldn’t have made such a desperate move. Nor would he have given a 2nd for Lazar. In fact, can’t think of many GM’s who would have tossed all those picks, for those two players…. Maybe Ottawa?!

  • buts

    They should sit Brouwer and put Mang in his spot. Move Stajan to the wing and insert Hrvik and the makings of a good lineup will be there. But alas we will have to watch Brouwer sink his line, watch Stajan get thrown out of a faceoff and complain to the ref to no avail, then watch the special teams struggle and watch our coach stare blankly out onto the ice while his team plays for a possible overtime.

  • Off the wall

    Here’s my happy stat for today. We are 12th in the Conference with the same ROW’s as.. get this.. Edmonton.Yikes! 17wins

    For all those clamouring that we’re only 4 points out of the Wildcard, let me remind you of ROW’s.

    Colorado, Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota all have 19 ROW.
    Only Anaheim has less. Our ROW will keep us from ever moving up in the race even if we can somehow manage a tie in points with the aforementioned teams.

    I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of GG and his nonsense. I’m tired of Cameron and his face.

    I believe GG thinks ROW stands for Right Or Wrong. I can’t explain how disappointed I am that Brouwer gets to play up in the rotation.

    Oh well, since this is supposed to be a happy stat, here it is …sorry there isn’t one.

    I decided not to put our playoff percentage in today, I’m afraid we might be inclined to use Flames ? on something unsuitable.

  • Atomic Clown

    Cheering for a sports team is supposed to be a thing of pleasure and elation. The flames specialize in unparalleled boredom and frustration. Here’s to 5+ goals for the flames, I’m itching to cheer more than once per game. And for the love of God Gaudreau, finish the 4 breakaways you get per game. It’s like 2015 Paul Byron all over again

  • McRib

    I’ve done some math recently, over the next 8 games the Flames realistically need to go at least 5-3 to put themselves into a legitimate chance of making the playoffs (even doing this would still only be a 40-50% chance), if you then look at the schedule that is not going to be an easy feat in the slightest, as we only play one weak opponent in Buffalo and the rest of the games are all above .500 opponents.

    December really killed this team and despite playing well, not scoring timely goals killed us (Brouwerplay, Dougie Hamilton not on PP, 4th Line last in periods didn’t help, not playing the hot 3rd Line enough). I just pray that we don’t win the draft lottery.

  • oddclod

    The in-season management of this team is a joke. Lazar is more suited than Troy on that line never mind a DESERVED audition from mangimangi since he CARRIED the 4th line last game. Beginning to wonder if this team is a process in social engineering to keep the spirits of the city down. It’s like HAARP weather engineering to block out the sun.

    • The Penn

      What the £uck is going through the head of our coach. Moving the burden to the second line is idiotic. He should be eating popcorn even with all the injuries.Ive been a Flames fan since they moved to Calgary never have we had a more useless coach .I manage to watch almost every game but not tonight
      With GG line up I’m almost positive they will not win.This is a sad day for me and the Flames.

  • Hockeyfan

    Maybe I am out to lunch, but, IMO, keeping that 1st line intact right now is wrong. They are doing nothing. here goes.
    Sam Sean Mangy
    JG Janko Matt TH
    MFer Backs Hath
    Stagnant Lazar Jagr
    JG needs a change, Backs too, neither have done anything for weeks. Same for Sean, and let’s face it, Brouwer is a bum and the worst piece we have, even worse than Stagnant. would have liked to see Dave in net as well.

  • Glenn

    Just have to comment on the WJHC Sweden vs US. Is it just me, or is Ray Ferraro totally biased towards the US? He is just shell shocked now with Sweden up 4-0.

    • The Doctor

      Sweden has looked like a powerhouse every time I’ve managed to get a look at them this tournament. I had mixed feelings about the result, because I hate the US mad it’s great that we’ll finish ahead of them. But I think Sweden is actually a tougher match for Canada. That outdoor game was a friggin joke btw, just a fiasco, lousy ice, terrible hockey. Outdoor games and shootouts are the lamest things in hockey.

  • Off the wall

    Holy crap, Sweden is killing the USA at the WJHC.

    2 short-handed goals against the USA on the same PP.

    Dahlin is worth watching alone. He’s so talented.

    Now 4-1 Sweden, it’s safe to say the USA team isn’t winning the Gold this time.
    Just a few minutes left in regulation..

    • Chucky

      The great thing about the WJHC is that the coaches need to design a game plan to suit the talent and then make in game adjustments to compensate for teams that they have not played. So refreshing for a Flames fan who has to watch the team stuffed into a system regardless of individual talent and little adjustment of a season let alone a game.

  • Greg

    Not sure why everyone is freaking out about Brouwer on the second line… look at the options! No Frolik, no Jagr, no versteeg… we were thin on wing to begin with and now in pretty big trouble there. Maybe Hathaway or Mangiapane would be a better option, but that’s asking them to make a pretty big step. Hrivik probably just got off the plane. Lazar is, well, not worth the 2nd round pick.

    Really, it’s a choice between (a) putting someone in over their head, (b) splitting up Jankowski and Bennett, and leaving your entire bottom 6 to get run over, or (c) hoping Tkachuk and Backlund can keep Brouwer above water. No good options there. Rotating three pairs instead of 2 lines seems as good a bet as any.

  • Justthateasy

    Why do only 16 teams make the playoffs and 14 don’t? Of those 14 approximately 8 will have a ‘winning’ season as the standings sit right now. Why can’t we have 18 or 20 teams make the playoffs?

  • fumanchu1968

    Is this going to be a fun game to watch or another route where the game is over in 10 minutes? Do our good players show up tonight, or do the spoiled rich kids come out to play?