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FGD 41: Hitting the halfway point against the Ducks (8pm MT, CBC)

Through 40 games, the Calgary Flames (20-16-4) have the same number of points (44) as they did a year ago. That’s both good – they’re consistent – and frustrating – they expended a ton of assets over the summer to upgrade the team. Regardless of your level of amusement or agony regarding the Flames, they’ll likely need 51 points over the final 42 dates of the season to qualify for the playoffs. They also will need to leapfrog four teams between them and the playoffs: Minnesota, Colorado, Chicago and the Anaheim Ducks (19-14-9), who they host tonight at the Saddledome.

The time for win-one, lose-one inconsistency is over. The first half closes out tonight. The push to the playoffs begins. The puck drops shortly after 8 p.m. MT on the CBC (and Sportsnet) 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 35th time this season. He’s 16-13-3 with a 2.58 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. No changes for the lines and pairings from Thursday’s game. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Marek Hrivik. Jaromir Jagr remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

So, this happened yesterday…

Yes, they’ve won two (expletive) games. They seem to finally be getting back to good efforts; the Los Angeles game was arguably their best game of the season, and a return to the style of play they showed for much of November and December. It’s the style of game they need to play consistently if they have a hope of being a playoff team. While you can disagree with the way that Gulutzan sent the message – and be a little impressed with the distance he got out of that stick-throw – you can’t disagree with the message itself: they need to be good all the time, because they have precious little wiggle room from here on out.

The Flames scored zero power play goals against the Kings, leaving their even strength scoring to carry the mail: the approach worked, with three of four forward lines generating offense. That probably won’t be the case all the time, so the power play has to continue to improve.

The Ducks

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Vermette – Getzlaf – Rakell
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Ritchie – Henrique – Perry
Wagner – Grant – Shaw

Lindholm – Manson
Fowler – Bieksa
Beauchemin – Montour

John Gibson starts for the Ducks. He’s 13-12-5 with a 2.63 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. He’s backed up by Ryan Miller. The healthy scratches are likely Korbinian Holzer and Kevin Roy. Ondrej Kase looks to be out with an illness, while Corey Perry is expected to return tonight from an injury. (There’s an open roster spot for him, so they don’t need to make any moves to activate him from the IR.)

This is going to shock you, but the Ducks are still hampered by injuries. But they’ve been muddling along rather well, keeping their heads more or less above water despite all of that. The Ducks are well-coached and every game they’ve played with the Flames this season – and heck, in last year’s playoffs – has been very close. The gap between these clubs has definitely closed, there may not even be one anymore, but Anaheim remains an extremely tough out.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Michael Frolik (jaw) are on the injured reserve. Jaromir Jagr (lower-body) is day-to-day and remains on the active roster.

Anaheim: Mike Liambas (lower-body), Patrick Eaves (Guillain-Barre syndrome) and Corey Perry (lower-body) are on the injured reserve, though Perry should return tonight. Ondrej Kase (illness) missed last game.

When Last We Met

This is the third of four games between Calgary and Anaheim this season. They’ve played twice in Anaheim and split the two games: Calgary won 2-0 and Anaheim won 2-1. They’ll play again in late March, when the playoff picture will be a lot clearer.

The Numbers

CGY ANA
Wins 20 19
Points 44 47
Adjusted Corsi 52.2% 47.5%
Power Play 18.1% 17.4%
Penalty Kill 78.3% 83.3%

Know Thy Enemy

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

Sum It Up

The Flames have won two games. If they win one more, it’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.

FGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

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

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  • Stockton's Finest

    Just like the Heat tonight. Had a lead, tied in the 3rd, and a defensemen (in this case Andersson) scoring in the final minute for the win! Great night for the organization.

  • freethe flames

    Well they seemed to respond to GG tirade. Maybe he should show emotion a little more often. People were worried about how Hamilton would respond to big brother leaving; I think he has played well both games. Again the lack of PP production almost cost us a game.

  • Mickey O

    This has to be something that hasn’t happened all year. Multiple goal leads in 3 games straight, but man they need to learn how to put the screws to the opposition:

    Up 3-0 vs Chicago. Won in OT
    Up 4-2 vs LA after being down by 2
    Up 2-0 vs Anaheim and won on a real late goal.

    Good to see maximum points though

  • Mickey O

    I think GG is starting to see what Mangiapani brings to the table. He really needs to consider putting the Stockton line together; moving Bennett up to the second line; and Brouwer where he belongs on the 4th.

          • Mickey O

            I see what you are saying, but Byng and Benny didn’t start off there. Tkachuk and Bennett were always going to stick with the team, and Backlund / Frolik play very well defensively to break in a new guy.

            Mangiapani is too small anyway for that role. There was a shot of him standing next to Getzlaf after a whistle to the side of Smith’s net, he looked tiny.

    • Off the wall

      I think after watching him for just 3 games, he looks like he could really contribute offensively to this group.
      Brouwer is just too slow for being on the Backlund line.
      Bennett is an absolute beast to watch. Him and Tkachuk would be so fun to watch!

      • Skylardog

        Right now Brouwer is the weakest forward, hands down. Stajan is working well with Lazar and mangi and gives them stability.

        Mangi could play with Backs and Byng, but I still think we need to see Lazar on the RW there. We need 5 games for him in that spot to see if he is worth keeping. I would do this.

        JG-Mony-Ferly
        Tkachuk-Backs-Lazar
        Bennett-Janko-Hath
        Mangi-Hrivik-Stajan

        Like him or not Stajan, is a solid defensive option that won’t hurt you. Brouwer on the other hand can make the best look like chumps. His GA/60 is over 83 going into tonight when not with Lazar and or Stajan.

      • Mickey O

        They could have 3 strong scoring lines, and Bennett would bring more offence and truculence to that 2nd line. They would be a pure pain in the ass to play against, and really knock the top line of the opponents off their game, without sacrificing the ability to score.

        • Skylardog

          The only things is, in the long run if this team is going to contend, the Backs line has to be line 3, and the Janko-Bennett line number 2. When we can all say that is the case, this team will be nearly unstoppable. The lines I put up are for right now, not long term.

          The Janko line is getting close, but still has a bit to go to be called the 2nd. It may take some tweeking to get the best 3 lines. Tkachuk in the long run needs to be moved. His talents will be best served with Bennett and Janko, or with Mony and JG. Long term, how about
          Bennett-Janko-Ferly
          JG-Mony-Tkachuk
          Fro-Backs-Lazar (or Klimchuk)
          Mangi-Hrivik-Hathaway

          Stop that lineup.

    • Skylardog

      Ferly is a beast. He has so earned the respect of this coaching staff and needs to be trusted in all situations, most importantly, on the PP. Saw a sign that GG is beginning to trust him tonight. He has the whole first line out in the last minute and BOOOM! Ferly gets the primary on the game winner.