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Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 64: Starting the homestretch in Texas (6:30pm MT, SN West)

With the trade deadline dealt with, the Calgary Flames (32-22-9) kick off the final 19 games of the season deep in the heart of Texas against the Dallas Stars (35-23-4). The Flames begin the homestretch tied for the second wild-card position with Los Angeles, but they’re both (a) within striking distance of a couple divisional playoff spots and (b) within striking distance of a few other teams that are trying to get into the playoffs. Every game is huge from here on out but the Flames have put themselves in a position where they don’t need to be the best team in the Western “pile,” they just need to be better than a couple teams.

The game kicks off just after 6:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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

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

It’s the first half of a back-to-back: it likes from morning skate like Jon Gillies starts against the Stars. He’s 2-0-0 with a 2.54 goals against average and .914 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich, who likely starts tomorrow in Denver. The healthy scratches look to be Matt Bartkowski, Tanner Glass and Nick Shore, who didn’t arrive in Dallas in time for morning skate. Micheal Ferland didn’t travel with the team and will miss his second game in a row with an upper-body injury.

The Flames power play has been en fuego lately. They’ve scored goals in eight of their last nine games, dating back to Troy Brouwer briefly being forced from the lineup with his facial injuries which forced Glen Gulutzan to put Dougie Hamilton on the top power play unit. Since then? 11 power play goals in 41 opportunities, with Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk accounting for seven of those 11 markers.

As we head into the homestretch, Johnny Gaudreau is fifth in the NHL in scoring (and leads all left wings), while linemate and best buddy Sean Monahan is tied for 22nd. Joining them on the top line tonight? Chris Stewart, most recently of the waiver wire and 12 healthy scratches in Minnesota. Life’s funny sometimes.

The Stars

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Elie – Seguin – Janmark
Roussel – Benn – Radulov
Shore – Faksa – Pitlick
Smith – Spezza – Ritchie

Lindell – Klingberg
Hamhuis – Pateryn
Methot – Johns

Ben Bishop gets the start for the Stars. He’s 24-17-3 with a 2.53 goals against average and .915 save percentage. He’s backed up by Atlanta Thrashers legend Kari Lehtonen. The projected scratches look to be Julius Honka, Jason Dickinson and Martin Hanzal. (Hanzal’s dealing with an unspecified injury, the other two are healthy.)

The Stars have been super streaky in their last month. They began by winning five in a row, then have lost four of their last six – coinciding with their power play going ice cold. They did nothing at the trade deadline, opting for solutions within their own locker room. Their playoff position is as tenuous as the Flames’.

Devin Shore is not related to Nick Shore.

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.

Dallas: The Stars have no major injuries.

When Last We Met

This is the final meeting between the Flames and Stars this season. Dallas has won the other two games by 2-1 and 6-4 scores.

The Numbers

CGY DAL
Wins 32 35
Points 73 74
Adjusted Corsi 52.4% 51.7%
Power Play 19.2% 19.1%
Penalty Kill 79.9% 82.0%

Know Thy Enemy

Check out these Stars-centric accounts:

Sum It Up

It’s a collision between two teams mired in playoff uncertainty. The homestretch begins tonight, as does 19 games where the Flames need to play playoff quality hockey to make it into the postseason.

FGD BROUGHT TO YOU BY ATB FINANCIAL

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

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  • The Sultan

    Probably one of the worst efforts I’ve ever seen. Through the entire 60 minutes not once did I experience an ounce of joy or excitement. Glad I stopped watching this garbage team like 3 weeks ago. Well, it’s a good thing we made some astute moves and traded away more of our future for Nick Shore and claimed first-line right wing Chris Stewart.

  • Joeyhere

    What we needed was a two minute five in three early in the game! That way we would have scored first and set up the win

    Oh wait, that didn’t work either,
    …sigh

    • Rocket66

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is all on management Coaching should have been addressed but hasn’t The players can’t be that stupid to not notice the stupidity that goes on. Oh and nice if you to kick Bennet in the groin by putting the new guy in the first line. That should really boost his confidence

      • aye

        I didn’t mind the strategy to start Stewart on the top line. Bennett is not a natural RW, Stewart is, and he does seem to have some skill, and given that players coming to new teams have some extra jump in the beginning, I’m ok with giving him a few shifts there to see if he can create some space for Johnny and Mony like Ferland does. There’s no doubt in my mind that he wasn’t going to be on the top line the entire game.

  • BendingCorners

    Lots of shots but Dallas did a good job of crowding the front of the net so not many really dangerous chances even in close.
    Not very good at breaking in on the rush, long setup times. Very systematic though.
    Both Dallas goals should have been stopped by Gillies but 0-0 doesn’t actually win many games. Time for a rethink on zone breakouts and offensive tactics.

  • aye

    Great effort tonight. Actually thought they out-played the Stars in all 3 games, and deserved better than 0 points. Anyway, I’d be happy with a sweep of the Avs as a consolation.

  • Chucky

    I think it is now official Calgary has the stupidest coach in the NHL. He may be in the conversation for the stupidest coach in professional sport but why limit it ALL OF SPORT. It takes a special type of idiocy to take a lineup that was scoring 5 goals a game with a couple of dominating lines and make changes to a lineup that gets shut out. What was the cause, THE FLAMES GOT A PLAYER THAT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO PLAY WITH THE WILD. Obviously this is the reason to totally change what you are doing if you are the worst coach in the world.
    It is alright because, they have a playoff spot locked (oops), they don’t have a chance of making the playoffs (oops) or maybe they can finish low enough to win the lottery and get the first pick (for the Islanders).

  • Off the wall

    It was a frustrating game. We took the play to them, however couldn’t get close enough to Bishop to really challenge him.
    A lot of our shots hit his crest.
    Even Byng was finding it difficult to hold ground in his office -in front of the net.
    Credit Stars for clogging up the middle of the ice.

    Saying that, it would have been nice to score earlier in this game with a 5 on 3. Too much passing, not enough shots on the PP.

    I just hope this loss doesn’t hurt us later..

  • Justthateasy

    If this team is going to take another stupid penalty they should at least hit somebody.
    4th Line is the only one that’s banging around out there?
    Monahan has a chance to crush somebody along the boards but let him skate right by. No retribution for the hit on Johnny. That’s a definition of soft.

  • RKD

    Gaudreau smoked no one does anything, Brouwer smoked no one done anything. We need guys to stand up for one another or teams like Dallas will continue to take liberties with our players.