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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 61: Viva Las Vegas (8:30pm MT, SN Flames)

The Calgary Flames (30-21-9) make a little bit of history tonight as they head down to the Las Vegas Strip to face the Vegas Golden Knights (39-16-4) for their first-ever game at T-Mobile Arena. The Flames are in the midst of a bit of a rough stretch and are trying to solidify their playoff hopes and dreams, while the Golden Knights are the best expansion team in the history of the National Hockey League and will probably win the Pacific Division. Life’s funny, sometimes.

The puck drops around 8:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The women’s gold medal game is on at around 9 p.m. MT on CBC, so prepare yourselves appropriately. (Put on some coffee at the very least.)

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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

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

David Rittich starts for the Flames. He’s 6-3-3 with a 2.68 goals against average and .915 save percentage. He’s backed up by Jon Gillies. The healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski and Ryan Lomberg. Troy Brouwer returns after missing a couple weeks after taking a puck to the damn face (and finishing the game).

The Flames have been alternating wins and losses for much of the last month. Their mediocrity comes at a rough time, as the playoff race is getting very tight and they’re getting basically zero help on the out-of-town scoreboard. More frustratingly, the Flames have shown the ability to play with good teams – their game in Nashville and much of Monday’s game against Boston showed that. But they’ve shown a lack of killer instinct and an inability to grab hold of a game early on and maintain control.

This group has immense potential, but the clock is ticking on their ability to live up to it.

The Golden Knights

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Perron – Haula – Tuch
Carpenter – Eakin – Nosek
Hyka – Matteau – Lindberg

McNabb – Schmidt
Engelland – Sbisa
Miller – Hunt

Marc-Andre Fleury starts for Vegas. He’s 19-7-2 with a 2.07 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He’s backed up by Maxime Legace. Brendan Leipsic is the lone healthy scratch, while it’s yet to be seen if Shea Theodore or James Neal will return to the lineup after battling illnesses.

The Golden Knights are very good. They basically have a team made up of second and third lines and play an up-tempo, high-paced system. Their next win will be their 40th. They’ll probably win the Pacific Division.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Marek Hrivik (undisclosed) are on the injured reserve. Mike Smith (lower-body) is hurt but on the active roster.

Vegas: David Clarkson (back), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Clayton Stoner (lower-body), William Carrier (undisclosed), Jon Merrill (undisclosed), Malcolm Subban (hand) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (hand) are on the injured reserve. Shea Theodore (illness) and James Neal (illness) have both missed recent games but remain on the active roster.

When Last We Met

In the first-ever meeting between the Flames and Golden Knights, the Flames blew a third period lead and lost in heart-breaking fashion. They’ll visit Vegas one more time for a game the day after St. Patrick’s Day.

The Numbers

CGY VGK
Wins 30 39
Points 69* 82
Adjusted Corsi 52.0% 52.2%
Power Play 18.0% 21.2%
Penalty Kill 79.6% 81.3%

(* – nice)

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some Golden Knights accounts to check out:

Sum It Up

The Flames are in a slide and face a big test against the top team in the Western Conference. They really, really need points.

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

  • KeepitReal

    We confined DR to the kiddie pool all season. Now that we are on a playoff drive we threw his ass off the high dive tower to find out whether or not he can swim. Sometimes that works, sometime it doesn’t.

  • RKD

    This team needs a shake up either with the forward core of the defensive core. We are wasting a great season by guys like Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk and Ferland. Brad Treliving needs to do more, no way the Flames brass thought they would be a playoff bubble team again. Trading away picks for Hamonic. This coach cannot get the maximum out of his players or his system sucks. Gallant is doing more with less. 4 times this month they have let the other team score 5 or more goals. They allowed 5 goals ore more 11 times this season. Simply not good enough.

    • BAN36FROMPP

      I agree but it is on the coaching and tre. We had a great rd (brodie) but GG got a hold of him. Do not give me the bs that brodie was only good with geo. When geo went down brodie carried that D

    • McRib

      The Travis Hamonic trade is almost a fireable offense for me, especially coming off signing Brouwer the summer before (and hiring GG).

      Not lottery protecting that first rounder is a complete oversight (like Feaster almost giving away the farm for O’Reilly). Tyler Wotherspoon would have worse case been on par to Travis Hamonic this season, therefore giving away all those picks was flat out moronic considering we weren’t out of a rebuild yet and Hamonic was coming off a terrible year the year before. Not to mention Wotherspoon (and Andersson) have killed themselves for this organization for years. People have been blaming TJ Brodie all year, but he was great for years before Hamonic showed up and forced him to his less preferred side.

      Hamonic + Stone are on pace for 17 Points. Andersson + Wotherspoon have an NHLe of 51 Points. Not having that scoring depth on the point just kills us (plus it’s the same with the forward group where Brouwer, Stajan, Lazar, etc can’t produce enough in high offensive output games like this).

      So done watching more talented players sit in the minors while no offensive talent bottom of the roster veterans sink this team.

        • McRib

          Nothing earned, everything given.

          We better not trade Rasmus Andersson at the deadline, as he could haunt us long after BT and Burke are gone, but I sure hope they trade Tyler Wotherspoon he deserves so much better than this. Wotherspoon has improved every year in the AHL and all he gets is to see the Flames waste three prime draft picks to bring in someone who he is worse case marginally better than, likely much better and bump TJ Brodie to his worse side.

          People are always going to defend Travis Hamonic because of his “charitable causes”, but whose is to say Wotherspoon wouldn’t have done the same thing in his situation. I spend plenty of time in the children’s hospital, Dougie Hamilton is always there visiting kids and he doesn’t get one ounce of credit (nor does he ask for it), even Dion Phaneuf donated a boatload to the Children’s Hospital. Eric Francis hypes Travis Hamonics charitable causes because management is asking him to do so to take away pressure from a bad trade. Gio won ESPN humanity of the year, he doesn’t get the hype Hamonic is getting by Francis & Co. Character is all in the eye of the beholder and our “old boy” managment staff wants lesser players that they get along with, not hungry players with big personalities who win Stanley Cups (see Gilmour, Fleury, P. Kane, Kessell, Vernon, Messier, etc). Like Pittsburgh has said all week with Kessell you need big personalities to win, but we prefer good old boys.

      • cberg

        Hey, just record all the games and either skip through them all or not even bother if they’re screwing the pooch, so to speak…. Must admit Vegas is very fun to watch, and admittedly the Flames kept pace till their disallowed goal… but, honestly, the game is 60 minutes.

  • AngryMontanaman

    Yuck. That game was “Pathetic “. Who are potential coaching candidates for the Flames. Do you thing Tre is waiting to see who is available in the off season. Surely he can not be happy with Gelbot. His face still really annoys me. Kulak was flying. He seems cool. Stajan….yeah oh boy why…oh Silver assist. Brouwer-play not good tonight. Dougie is great when utilized properly. Montanaman is a butt plug. Goaltending looked meh.

  • buts

    Backlund is a 3 dressed up as a 9. Tkachuk has made people think he’s a #2 centre and he’s a solid #3, no more. His new contract will hurt in 3 years just like Stajan.

  • Justthateasy

    Great game boys. Nothing to see here move right along.
    NHL better get their shat together with this offside bull pile. Referees have to make a decision at the time at the Blue Line. You can’t wipe out a great play just because referees cannot make a decision. Actually they make a decision by saying it’s not offside. It is not a critical call at that point in the game. To take the goal away is what is criminal.

    • Kevin R

      Also, look how long after the “alleged offside” the Flames controlled the puck & scored. I can see if a player gets a pass, may be offside & immediately scores because of the offside. But to call it after 3 minutes of play expired is bush league at its best.