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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.

  • smatic10

    My goodness can everyone calm down. Stewart in his NHL career has shown more of a goal scoring prowess than Bennett has. He’s only 30, he can possibly pot a goal here and there for us. We’re in the stretch drive, we need all the offense we can get. He’s a right shot and against popular belief, he can skate. If it doesn’t work out, Bennett will be back up there before you know it.

    • everton fc

      Bennett will be back on the first line, and productive, by the end of the first. At least that’s what I hope happens.

      Of course, if Stewart drives play and scores… I’m all for that, as well.

      What I’d like to see is Lazar on the third line. Lazar-Jankowski-Stewart. That, as a temporary 3rd line, intrigues me… So does Hathaway-Jankowski-Stewart. And even Hathaway-Jankowski-Lazar. Let’s see what Lazar can do, sans “plugs”.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        Yup, as you said earlier “In a sane world, in a playoff race” But alas, we here on FN don’t get paid the big bucks to be “genius”… But if it works?(doubtful) ….

      • Korcan

        A persistant thread on these boards is the argument that Lazar needs to be given more time with “productive” linemates and that the reason he hasn’t shown more is because of Brouwer and Stajan. Yet, i can recall a number of times he was bumped up the lineup (last season and earlier this season) and he did not show well. IMO he is perfectly suited for the fourth line – a heavy, fast, energy guy who can cause problems for the opposition in their own zone and who can chip in a garbage goal on occasion and hopefully not be a defensive liability. But I would not want him any higher than fourth line. The Flame’s top three lines NEED to be scoring lines if they are to realistically compete against other top teams. Laser will NOT help that third line be productive.

    • Dougiefred

      Remember one night Stewart single handed destroyed the Flames believe he got a hat trick. Always has played well against the Flames, now we don’t have to worry about that.

  • Burnward

    I think Stewart carries a lot more respect in that dressing room than to the keyboard geniuses here.

    Legit scary tough, has scored 30, has seen and done it all.

    Another presence that demands accountability from the opposition. Not enough on this roster that can also play.

  • flames2015

    Lol everyone is so rattled about Stewart. It’s one game, whose to say that he’ll be on the top line all night. This is more about the all the other lines already having chemistry. Plus, he’ll be super motivated in his first game as a Flame. He has the best chance of netting some points there thus boosting his confidence from here on, good for everyone. Hope he nets a goal tonight.

    Just saw that he’s 3/4 on shootouts this year. Nice to have another guy other than Tkachuk that can perform in the S/O. Everyone else has been junk.

    • Cheeky

      I wish I had your confidence however as many on here have learnt over past 2 seasons is GG usually does opposite of what makes sense. I’m sure we’ll see a pp and/or ok involving Brouwer and Stewart at some point. Stewart was a good pick up however watch and see how GG deploys him tonight…

  • 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).

  • Derzie

    The older the player, the greater the favoritism. GG’s ‘banking’ system at work. So insulting to put the new guy on the first line. 22 POd players. Joke coaching staff. The irony is, JG makes everyone better so the coach will self-congratulate tonight when it ‘works’. We all love when a new/old guy comes in and becomes our boss on day 0, Glen. What’s not to like? Lunkhead.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    So….. BT goes out and tries to “improve” our Bottom 6…. GG puts said Bottom 6 improvement….. ON THE TOP LINE? Baaaa Haaa Haaa I think we all know where and hy this team is Failing. (Hint ~> it ain’t the Players)… Well, lets see this all pans out. Go Flames Go(you’re gonna need it). too funny! Let’s see if we go back to the Brouwer-play too?

  • Burnward

    Stewart has as many or more goals than any Flame forward not named:
    Gaudreau, Backlund, Tkachuk, Monahan, Ferland of Jankowski.

    With Ferland out he’s the highest scoring RW on the roster.

  • Glensfunnyface

    Sigh…really. I support the pick up of Stewart but top line already…Sigh. How important is this silver stick for Stajan to this organization? More important then playoffs me thinks.

    • MontanaMan

      Score should be 0-0 at this point. Gillies has let in two very suspect goals while Bishop has played well. At this time of year and on the road, you need stellar goaltending. Not currently happening for the Flames. Dallas isn’t Arizona.