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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.

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

  • freethe flames

    Tonight is a big night; we will see what this team is made of. Do they respond with a great effort after GG tirade yesterday or do they turtle like they have in a number of other big games? It’s in the players corner tonight.

  • Trevy

    I’m tired of seeing the Flames playing one bad period then two good ones. They better start putting 60min in for every game here on out if they stand a chance to make the playoffs. Obviously GG is getting frustrated with the teams inconsistency as well, but to me he should of thrown his little temper tantrum much earlier in the season, then maybe we wouldn’t be stuck where we are and with the same amount of points as last season. The key is to improve every year

    • SoCalFlamesFan

      You call it a tantrum, but it may be a calculated response to the players given from upper management. They need to feel fire and a little uncomfortable at times, like internal pressure for jobs at training camp.

      • Trevy

        I think the one who’s feeling pressure from upper management is GG. It’s his job to instill a set work ethic game in and game out. We’ve all seen his past post game interviews and he sounds like he just got up in the morning

      • HAL MacInnis

        It was a calculated response. Gulutzan kind of alluded to it in interviews. But seriously, Glen chose now to get angry? Really? Now? As usual, Glen is late to the party, but at least he knows where the party was. There’s something positive there, at least.

        I don’t know the culture in the locker room, but a coach has to command respect, not demand it. Glen has never struck me as a hard-ass and today’s generation of kids need that kind of reality check in their lives.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • buts

    Have way thru the season and the same amount of points as last year and we have had outstanding goaltending behind a solid defense…..on paper anyway. Lets see how they respond to a team that has intimidated us for far to long and after our coach’s planned tirade. The body of work over a season and a half of GG shows that this coach is far in over his head. Tonight is a playoff game flame fans…..looking forward to it.

  • Squishin

    It was really nice to see Glen Gulutzan show some anger. We give him a hard time on here for being an emotionless robot who doesn’t show any passion for his job, so congratulations are in order for displaying some humanity. He was right; the Flames tend to look complacent after stringing together a couple wins. This team needs to hustle every single day in order to be even remotely in contention for a playoff spot. Good on him for attempting to maintain that standard. Now it’s time to see if it pays off or not. In my mind, the Ducks are the ultimate test. Their style of play is extremely effective against Calgary, and they drive the players (and Flames fans) nuts. Anaheim rarely takes a night off; the 8-3 stomping last year is the only time I can remember (that was really fun to watch). Every single Flames player needs to be on top of their game in order to beat this team. Let’s do it, boys.

  • Cheeky

    Finally some emotion from GG but he needs to look in the mirror and do some yelling. Brouwer yet again on 2nd line? Stajan over Hrivik? No wonder we are still average, if the players show no effort, that’s on the coaching staff not having them prepared. Tonight we will see which way this team is destined for (hoping it’s in the winning direction)…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Off the wall

    If GG put as much effort into utilizing his home ice advantage we wouldn’t be in this situation.

    11-11-0 is unacceptable for a home record.

    Why is our road record 9-5-4 ?

    GG’s stick throwing rant is probably what was needed to get the boys serious about playing/ practicing hard at home. We can’t afford to be complacent especially given that we are 12th place in the Conference. When you’re fighting 5 other teams just for a Wildcard spot, it’s not going to get any easier from this point until the 82 game.

    I’m with Pike, I believe we will need at least 95 points this season to make the playoffs.
    Our chances as of today, slightly increased to 27.9% , it makes me want to throw my stick too!

  • Skylardog

    Regulation decision stats

    This season we are 13-16, 22rd overall. We are tied with Detroit with the exact same regulation record. Colorado, Florida, and Philly are some of the teams ahead of us. Only Vancouver, Edmonton, and Arizona have worse records in regulation in the West.

    Overall in the GG era the Flames are 45-49 during the regular season. If you include the playoffs, the Flames are 45-52 in regulation decisions.

    For added fun I looked at GG’s record as a head coach. In his Dallas days (2011-12 and the lockout shortened 2012-13 season), GG was 49-57, and never made the playoffs. Keep in mind he inherited a team that posted 95 points in the 2010-11 season, and 91 points the year after he left. The Stars earned 89 points in his first year, and were 22-22-4 in the 48 game shortened season he was fired (82 point equivalent).

    He NEVER posted a Corsi For % over 50 in Dallas, go figure.

    So as a head coach, in regulation, GG is 94-109, 15 games under 500.

  • 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?

  • BlueMoonNigel

    As the league enters the back half of the schedule which team that had an unspectacular first half is going to roar back in the second half and make the playoffs? Last year it was the Preds. A few years ago the Ducks, Wild and Pens also bounced back from a bad first half and in the case of the Pens won the cup.

    Of course, most of us are hoping it will be the Flames and maybe it can be. My pick to click, however, is the Avalanche. They hung tight in their the toughest division in the NHL but still they are a playoff outsider. I reckon when the regular season ends, the Avs will finish in the top 3 in their division.

    Be warned: Avalanche Alert in effect from January to April!

    • oilcanboyd

      Avalanche will fall back to their old ways and tank in the second half. I am hoping the Flames do it but the Pacific Division with Anaheim, San Jose, LA and surprisingly Las Vegas will be in the way.

  • Alberta Ice

    If these guys play like they played in the 2nd period last game for a whole game, then let the winning streak begin. On the other hand, you know things are getting dicey in the playoff race when you have to root for the Oilers to win to try to gain on your opponents ahead of you in the playoffs (like I did when they beat the Ducks Thursday night-unfortunately, the Oilers still gave the Ducks a loser point in their rare new year’s win). GFG

  • The Sultan

    So according to Elliot Friedman… Jagr and the Flames are “working on an exit” and his agent has been given permission to speak to every other team to see if there’s a fit. He even went so far as to say this was Jagr’s first time being cut from a team. Has Jagr played his last game as a Flame, then?