Photo Credit: on Chenoy / USA Today Sports

FGD 65: Back to the mountains (7:30pm MT, SN360)

Less than 24 hours after being shut out by the Dallas Stars, the Calgary Flames (32-23-9) dust themselves off and prepare for another critical match-up in the Western Conference playoff race. They face another team on the outside of the playoffs, and scrambling for points, in the form of the Colorado Avalanche (33-24-5). These teams faced each other on Saturday in Calgary and the Flames played a really good game. Can they bounce back from the Dallas loss against a team that they’ve had recent success against?

The game kicks off just after 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

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The Flames

Projected lines based on how things finished last night, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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

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

Since Jon Gillies started yesterday, it’s David Rittich time in Colorado. Rittich hasn’t started in three games and has had a few rocky outings, but he’s had time to hopefully work out of his funk. He’s 6-4-3 with a 3.03 goals against average and .903 save percentage. While Nick Shore joined the team in Denver, he’s dealing with an illness and won’t make his debut tonight. He joins Matt Bartkowski and Tanner Glass in the press box.

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The Flames have been shut out five times this season. In the previous four games, they followed things up with a 6-3 win over Winnipeg, a 5-2 win over Vancouver, a 6-4 loss to Dallas, and a 6-1 win over Vancouver. So they usually win, but they’ve always scored at least four goals. If they can get some solid goaltending, their “typical” offensive bounce-back should be a push in the right direction.

The Avalanche

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Compher – Kerfoot – Wilson
Comeau – Soderberg – Nieto
Bourque – Jost – Yakupov

Zadorov – Barrie
Nemeth – Girard
Siemens – Warsofsky

Semyon Varlamov starts for Colorado. He’s 16-13-3 with a 2.88 goals against average and .912 save percentage. He’s backed up by Spencer Martin, as Andrew Hammond goes through the concussion protocol after being hit by a stick on the bench during Colorado’s game. The projected healthy scratches for the Avs are Mark Alt and Dominic Toninato.

The Avalanche are on the cusp of falling out of the playoff picture, and they can draw even with the Flames with a regulation win or topple further from a playoff berth with a loss. Expect a desperate Avalanche club tonight as this is the latest in a series of must-win games for them.

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Injury Report

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

Colorado: Vladislav Kamenev (arm), Mark Barberio (lower-body), Jonathan Bernier (concussion), Erik Johnson (upper-body), Sven Andrighetto (leg) and Anton Lindholm (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.

When Last We Met

This is the final meeting between the Flames and Avalanche this season. The Flames have won the first two games by 3-2 and 5-1 scores.

The Numbers

Wins 32 33
Points 73 71
Adjusted Corsi 52.5% 48.0%
Power Play 18.6% 20.1%
Penalty Kill 80.0% 82.7%

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some Avalanche-related accounts!

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Sum It Up

It’s a big game for both teams, as both the Flames and Avalanche desperately need points to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.


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

  • Squishin

    Why would you not put Stewart with Jankowski for the sheltered faceoffs? Jankowski needs some offensive skill with him instead of stone-hands Hathaway, so I don’t understand the choice here. For apples’ sake, use some logic when making lineups.
    Do you want a new player, who doesn’t know the system or his linemates, staring at Landeskog and McKinnon all night?

    • Off the wall

      GG is a genius who’s ahead of his time. He’s going to turn Stewart into a defensive specialist after one game.

      For a guy who studies analytics, he’s about as smart as ‘Patrick’ is on Spongebob Squarepants.

    • The Beej

      @ squishin

      For bananas sake i think the reason Stewart is with Backlund is because Backlund and Tkachuk can hold their own and then some. Stewart with young Jankowski could be an absolute disaster.

      I am happy Jankowski gets Frolik though. That should be interesting.

      I think Stewart will just keep falling down the lineup for a few games until he hits the pressbox. Might be able to help Stockton though.

    • Derzie

      Watch out for the rose colored glasses. Hartley played Bollig & McGrattan & Russell. Every coach has pros & cons. Hartley entertained. GG infuriates. Both are not the coach we need to win.

      • Cheeky

        McGrattan brought accountability, but was always on 4th line (unlike some we know on here). Russel wasnt that bad here in Calgary, yes fully agree with Boliig situation. Bob’s teams always played for 60 plus minutes and he worked them hard to play hard. All coaches have their owned flaws, it was me just reminiscenting back to our lunch pail/hard hat days of yesteryear…??

    • deantheraven

      I predicted GG’s itchy finger on the line mixing before last game. I can now say there is a better place for his finger than on the trigger. However, the middle six (or bottom 9, if you will) are destined to be blendered again unless they all show some chemistry (read:goals).

  • redwhiteblack

    FN run this poll.

    Should the Flames fire GG?:
    Now. (Anyone can do better)
    Wait and replace him in the off season.
    If he improves keep him next year.

    • One Eyed Jack

      Replace him now! Hire an interim coach for the rest of the season. Be first in line at season’s end to hire a credible coach that has been released.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        No credible coach will come to Calgary after the last coach was fired partway through his second season-in the middle of a playoff run-after making the playoffs in his first year.

        Vigneault will have better offers from less fickle organizations.

        • ThisBigMouthIsRight

          Right Because No out of work High End coach would Look at this roster and scratch their head wondering why they are only a bubble team instead of a contender? I’m sure they would openly refuse to work with the players here… I’m Betting More would want to come Coach these Players than worry about Sucking as a coach and getting Canned for it!

      • Rockmorton65

        Calm down. The team is in the thick of the hunt. You don’t down the plane because of a little turbulence. I think the team makes a coaching change whether they make the playoffs or not. But not until the off season.

        The team should hang a sign on the bus “playoffs or bust”.

      • The Beej

        The interim coach thing is not a good idea. The main benefit to replacing him now is that the new guy can implement his system avoiding a slow start adjustment period next year.

        Hiring an interim coach does nothing for the development of the team and is just punitive against Gulutzan.

        It reeks of a lack of an overall plan.

    • The Beej

      Two schools of thought

      1. Wait until the off season and see if he can pull it all together and save his job. We stand a good chance of making the playoffs. It gives him a chance to at least see things through.

      2. Replace him now. This is more risk/reward. Everyone has seen how a coaching change can light a fire under a team and turn things around. Of course tje risk is firing him undoes some of the positive things he has done and actually causes us to miss the playoffs.

      One upside of making a change now is that the new coach can implement his system now and we dont lose the first 20 games of next season as players adjust. If the plan is to fire Gulutzan anyway might as well do it now. But I think this depends on which replacements are available now vs which coaches might become available this summer.

      In the past I have defended Gulutzan as I wanted to see a larger sample size. For me 2 years is a good sample and I would like to give him a full chance before moving on.

      But… things arent really improving and if the right candidate is available making a change now might avoid a slow start next year. Glad im not the GM. This is a tough one. You hired GG because you think he is your guy. If it turns out he is not your guy why wait?

  • Dubble

    FN truly loves Byng and what he does night in and out but if someone like Brodie or Stajan or Brouwer pulled that sh%t he just did this place would be up in arms. You need to have perspective and that was just dumb. there was no reason to take that stupid penalty and that turned the way of this game. dont get me wrong, i love him and don’t want to trade him away… but that was his fault – not GG, not Brouwer, not anyone. He started the collapse

  • RKD

    We have to be ready for the Avs, the clock has been clicking on Gulutzan a long time. He’s had more than his share of free passes. Every game is a must win if the boys can’t be bothered to win then we shouldn’t eve be playing in the playoffs. Sure anything can happen but sometimes missing the playoffs gives you a better feel of how close or far you actually are. Stop being content as a bubble team!

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    So by this rate (one line demotion at a time) Stewart will be on the 4th line in two more games? I’m Guessing? And here I was thinking the waiver wire was a Magical place to pluck “soon to be” reborn superstars with a little spit & polish… What a Surprise. Didn’t BT say this was a pick up to bolster the Bottom 6? Did GG Not get the Memo? Player Usage!

  • Mickey O

    Tkachuk took two very stupid penalties. Gulutzan gets himself another bench minor in back-to-back games. .
    That was a terrible embelishment call on Gaudreau. But then the subsequent yapping gets him a misconduct.

    All very preventable from a mentally tough, well-coached team. Which the Flames are not.

    • Justthateasy

      Tkachuk got that penalty on Como because of gulutzan. Como was just as much at fault but the referee is making an example of gulutzan for his stupid bench penalty.
      Why does Hathaway have to do all the hitting out there on the third line? What is the matter with Jankowski? He floats around out there ready to show off his offense of skills. He better put his ass in gear and do some work. He’s got the size too.

  • slyall41

    Keep Trash talking the coach. His number don’t lie. Compare him to other coaches in a similar playoff position. The players must be held accountable, plain and simple. Their in ability to win more games at home isn’t a reflection of poor coaching it’s the players under performing. Far to much slack on this page for the players.

    • rusty_shakleforde

      I think FN (both comments and articles) has done an excellent job showing in detail how the majority of the issues for this team come down to precisely coaching.

      • Derzie

        Unless you ignore them, which many do. I appreciate optimism, though I’m not an optimist. But blind optimism (or pessimism) is a form of lying. To yourself.

    • Off the wall

      He’s right, let’s compare them.
      GG – Head coach- Dallas Stars
      Hired June 2011. Fired May 2013 —July 2013 hired as an assistant to Vancouver
      June 2017- hired as Head coach of the Flames
      Zero games played as an NHLer
      Coached ECHL for 6 seasons, 03-09

      Randy Carlyle- Head coach of Anaheim, Leafs and back to Anaheim
      Has coached in the NHL since 2005 – played in the NHL from 77- 93
      – Won one Stanley Cup in 07

      Ken Hitchcock- won Stanley Cup in 1998-99
      Has been a coach since 1996
      Currently Dallas coach

      John Stevens- LA coach
      AHL coach for 6 seasons
      Won Calder Cup twice as AHL coach
      NHL Coach from 2006 onward
      NHL player from 84-99

      Bruce Boudreau- coach of Minnesota Wild
      141 games in the NHL
      NHL coach since 2007
      2nd highest winning percentage of NHL coaches

      Peter DeBoer- San Jose
      NHL player from 88-91
      Over 20 years as an OHL coach winning the Memorial Cup in 03.
      NHL coach since 08.

      You’re right it’s not fair to compare them. One is like no other..

  • moodyblue2

    This team is making me bi-polar. I think next year no player is considered safe, and the coaching staff should be gone. The Oil have lost 5 fewer games this year I think.

    • Franko J

      That is why come April 8 maybe even sooner my time will be dedicated to anything else other watching playoff hockey. Last year after the Flames were eliminated I only watched game 7 between OTT/PTT and the last game in the Stanley Cup Finals. Main reason …. the inconsistency from the refs. Next to the CFL the NHL has very incompetent officating which deters from enjoying such a great game.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    The playoff with the Ducks screw this team, the rebuild was put on hold cause of it and now we have a core Roster of 40min gamers and 7, 4th liners lol# sad,

      • KKisTHEproblem

        And Elliot and Hiller and Ramo and Johnson and and and. How long can we watch goalies fall apart (except Smith, who just happens to be a veteran at 36 and maybe knows his own game?) Before this flippin guy loses his job. It’s another black eye on treliving.

  • flames2015

    Stewart, zero shots,zero hits, -1. Defended him before he put on the flames jersey, but man is he invisible? Wheres that motivation from getting picked up on the waiver? Hit someone at the very least. Just floats around in no mans land.

    • Derzie

      That puts Stewart (one of the very worst defensive players in the league) against the Avalanche top line. That’ll end well. A monkey with a pair of dice could make better lineups (although that may be who made them)