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

  • 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..

  • BlueMoonNigel

    The best part of this is how much longer Flames’ fans are going to get sucked in by that snake oil salesman posing as GM. It took about a decade before you figured out Sutter was a fraud. Considering how long Riser continued as Flames GM after that disastrous Gilmour trade, it seems we will be smelling snake oil in these parts for a whole lot longer.

  • Honkydonk

    There you go Treliving. What a great team you put together ain’t it? I’ve seen homeless folks with more heart man.

    Your so called best d in the league have not been aggressive even one game this year.

    You get half an NHL team and seemingly think it’s time to trade away our future.

    Like my mother always says. Never trust a man with no hair on his head as they lack intelligence

  • Skeittari78

    Hamonic, can you please, play the stick instead of stumbling into your own feet? You’ve been so lost tonight. There’s no way I see this team being in the playoffs the way they’ve been playing lately. So many undisciplined penalties, sloppy man coverage in D, overplaying the puck in the offensive zone. We’re soon done, hate to say it.

  • MontanaMan

    Lots of things happen in a game, but the Flames are up 2-0 and Rittich lets in two very weak goals – both wrist shots from the top of the circle. Reality is weak goals deflate a team and it showed in the second period.

  • 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!

      • 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.

      • 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

      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?

  • Hockey4life

    This team has been hard to watch for years. They constantly find ways to beat themselves. Sure this coach needs to go but if you’re a player that makes it to the NHL then you clearly found ways to stand out and help your team win. If you need a coach to motivate you to show up for games in this league, you don’t deserve to play in it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

    • MontanaMan

      If they don’t make the playoffs this year, there needs to be wholesale changes outside of the coaching staff. Some of the “key” players may need to move on to change the culture of this team.

      • Franko J

        My first choice would be Monahan. Not far behind would be Brodie. Both players have little compete level and play very soft. Actually I would only keep our top 2 defenceman, the top 2 LW, 2C and 3C and one right winger. The rest IMO are all expendable. I know I might get blasted for this but I would like to see a change with upper management and give Conroy a shot at GM.

    • FL?MES

      If the players question the coach, his system, his lineup etc. its pretty easy to lose one’s desire. Maybe the players subconsciously don’t want the coaching staff back? I wouldn’t blame them. End the pain, go golfing, and come back to a new coach next season.

      • Hockey4life

        I think it’s too easy to point the finger at someone else. I agree that GG is not the right coach for this team, but you don’t get to this level by losing your desire when you don’t agree with the coaching style. You put on your big boy undies and you damn well find a way to win and play your ass off. Hard work beats talent every single time. Look at Vegas.

        • Derzie

          The Vegas coach is all-world. Your example literally disproves your point. Players work hard for a coach. Did they work for Hartley (until he wore out his welcome)? Yes they did.

    • Chucky

      For some reason you seem to think that a good motivated athlete should be able to outperform a good motivated athlete and a good coach combined. Other than the Flames dressing 4 guys who should not be in the league the team has strong players, but so does every other team in the league. With the anomaly of the Oilers the Flames have played even against every team this year. However they lose far too often because they don’t have the confidence, identity, discipline system whatever you want to call it to hold on or pull away. These are the things that good coaching enhances.

    • Franko J

      Since they won the Stanley Cup, the Flames had only one season in what 28 years where they have made it past the second round of the playoffs. Other than that the playoffs for this team has been few and far in between with minuscule and paltry results. I think the problem is every GM this team has had over values what they have and trade away too many potential picks and only in the past 5 seasons have had the ability to draft and develop players. Unfortunately, the plans BT has put forth has really back fired on him this year. There is no way he foreseen the players on this team underachieving and playing so inconsistent. As well, he probably never realized as good as a person GG is he is not an NHL head coach. Too bad, because there has been some players who have improved, for once since Kipper have a really good starting goalie. Smith injury really sunk this team where they will not recover this year.

  • flames2015

    Holy f. How many dumb penalties is Chucky going to take tonight.

    As soon as i saw the 4th line and that glass was in it. I knew this game was going to be bad.

  • Bob Hartley

    I hope Burke is happy. The master of speeding up a rebuild and then he leaves a team in shambles for years to come. Leaf and knuck fans know what I’m talking about.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      If Burkie is doing the job he is being paid for plus Tre’s job, what the hell is Tre on the payroll for? Maybe this kind of terrible management of personnel and finances is why Nenshi is so unwilling to pimp taxpayer bucks to the building of a new arena.

    • FL?MES

      That is not true. The core is young and the future looks bright. Veteran players will gradually be traded for picks, prospects and players, while prospects will graduate to the NHL. A new coach will get the team on track. This was never going to be our year anyway. It’s all good. Things will get sorted out.

  • Mickey O

    One point out of the Pacific. Two points out of a wild card, spotting two teams a game.
    The way the comments seem to be flowing here, the Flames will be mathematically eliminated by Saturday. There are still 17 games to go.

  • buts

    The team needs to score some goals and Frolik is a checker who hasn’t provided much offence this year at all. Flames need production from there second line and putting Stewart there is better then what little offense others have given on that line. Trading deadline is past and I sure hope the team doesn’t mail the rest of the season in as could happen. GG will use the injury to Smith as an excuse at season’s end, I sure hope BT doesn’t fall for it.

    • Just.Visiting

      I think that the paradigm of the 3M line being the “second line” is one of the problems the Flames have created for themselves. It’s a good line because of Byng. Some of us believe the team would be better if Byng were the cornerstone of a second scoring line so that there would be a 2A and 2B line anchored by Byng and Janko after the Monahan line.

      In other words, I don’t see how we could get out of the first round as things stand with GG’s approach to things if we make the playoffs at all.

      It took them 50 games to figure out after all that Hamilton and Gio should have the points on the first unit PP when they were told that for a very long time.

    • Squishin

      I agree – but Frolik and Backlund need to stay together to shut down the top lines. They need to be the 3rd line together with Hathaway. They’re all defensively responsible and can skate well.
      Why would you not put Tkachuk-Jankowski-Stewart together to score some goals?

      • The Beej


        On the road not such a big deal as home typically gets to match lines moreso.

        I agree though. No way this should happen at home.

        I know its only 1 game but the Stewart experiment already looks to be short lived. Guy has hands but his positioning looks like he does not know how to play hockey. The puck battles he loses he isnt outbattled… he just doesnt know where to be.

  • MDG1600

    New to Flames Nation. Need to vent about Flames poor special teams which for me will be the #1 reason Flames miss playoffs. No excuse for this group bouncing around #20 in the league on both the PP and PK. Teams are so close in todays NHL it is the special teams that make or break you. I expect GG will be here next year regardless, but if Flames miss playoffs he should get new assistants with better special teams resumes – not Dave Cameron who coached Ottawa to the leagues worst special teams a few years ago.

  • The Doctor

    The irritating similarity to last night’s game is the parade to the penalty box. For a bunch of supposedly grown men who are being paid a fortune to do this for a living, this bunch can be really stupid sometimes.

  • everton fc

    I still like Rittich over Gillies, but both have looked good. They are keeping us in the race. Seems Rittich is the more aggressive goalie.

    Backlund and Frolik stepping up. We’ve been lucky, with all the penalties.