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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

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  • Stockton's Finest

    Why call up Hrivik if you are not going to play him? Another asinine move by this coach. If you are not going to play him, send him back as Stockton sorely needs true quality centers.

    • Squishin

      It’s not about Stockton, it’s about Calgary. The Flames need depth players that can easily step in if something happens. Hrivik is not young, so it will not hurt his development to keep him sitting as the extra forward.

      • Stockton's Finest

        I know I this about Calgary. But to bring someone up and just sit him does not make sense. Hrivik is having a great season and was presumably called up to help the club. But it is hard to chip in when you are in the press box.
        Meanwhile, your farm club is in a playoff race. You need quality centers to assist in the development of these young wingers. There is not a true #1 center on the Heat right now. How do you expect guys like Foo, Klimchuk, Shinkaruk, Poirier, and others to ever make it to Calgary when you stick them centers like Joseph Cramarossa, Brett Findlay, Rod Pelley, Darrin Nowich?
        Yes it is about Calgary, but it is also about development.

    • oilcanboyd

      Flames needed some depth, especially with the flu going around.

      From Pike’s blog on his call-up:
      “A useful depth body – strong in the AHL and decent in the NHL in limited use – Hrivik has 29 points in 28 games with Stockton. Listed as a left wing, he can play all three forward positions and gives the Flames’ bottom six group a bit of versatility and energy.”

      So that is it.

  • RKD

    Why did Tintin wait until game 40 for his little tirade? Seemed very contrived and forced not really authentic. GG knows the vultures are circling this team should be a lot higher in the standings.

  • Chucky

    It is difficult to admit that there has to be some players who are thinking “maybe one more poor effort and this bum is gone”.
    It has to be obvious to the majority of the players that the chances of long term success are very low if they continue using the Gulutzan system that does not fit the team’s talent or the current NHL. The other obvious thing that the players must recognize is that Gulutzan is not taking any responsibility for the underperformance of the team.
    They need to decide if management is ready to pull the pin on Gulutzan or are they stuck with him for the rest of the year regardless of results. If we see an all out effort then they guess that management is not looking to make changes, if they come out flat then they are guessing that they can get a new coach with a chance to save the season.
    It is too bad that the players have been put into this position because selecting the second option will deeply hurt their professional pride and it is a sacrifice that no young man should be forced to make.

    • class1div1

      If the players think this way ,than they need to re-think the notion that they are professionals
      They are being paid to play the coaches system to the best of their ability..

    • Skylardog

      I am not sure at this point, the players as individuals are willing to go there, and it is far from desperation at 44 points only 4 out of a spot with games in hand, to have them collude in tanking games. Discussions on a player level to get rid of a coach would have to happen to collude, and at this point that is traitorous. They are not there.

      I am positive there are some in the room looking at upcoming contract negotiations wishing that they could get more PP time, ice time, and be freed up from some of the defensive responsibilities to allow them to put points on the board and increase their value.

      Deep down, many likely have reservations about the direction of the team, but I do not believe one of them is willing to talk about it, even secretly

      • Chucky

        I suspect you are right but would not be surprised to see an on ice mutiny like the last two periods against LA. The coach can throw his little temper tantrums but they are there to win. If everybody plays the fast aggressive style that it takes to win what can he do bench everybody?

  • Raffydog

    Wow, you really believe that the gap between these two clubs has definitely closed? The first period of that last game was the most lopsided I’ve ever seen in any professional sport. It reminded me of that South Park episode where the Redwings beat the crap out of South Parks team made up of kindergarten students.

    • Hockey for life

      I guess you have not watched oilers games. Or that second period which was allot more lopsided then the first by a mile in Calgary favor. I mean shots were even by end of first. You failed at trolling again.

  • Hockeyfan

    I was so looking forward to seeing Hrvik with Lazar and Mangy, but no, gotta get stagnant his gold stick or whatever the hell it is. Dave should be starting tonight.