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

  • Off the wall

    If you ask me, (not that anyone is) this should be a MUST win.

    Of course, given all the reasons why we should win, just means that we may not.

    Gillies needs a strong game.
    Our lauded defence, needs to step it up. Our scoring …well that’s self explanatory after being shut out against Dallas.

    If GG puts Brouwer back on the PP, imma going to lose my mind.
    Although, I’m sure that’s debatable already.

    Another lineup shuffle looks like the order of the day. I’m not as concerned about today’s lines, however I’m not sure why Stewart is a better option than Frolik on the checking line. I guess I must have missed his fine defensive play against Dallas? I don’t have big expectations for Stewart, but I’m pretty sure he is not a defensive specialist.

    At least we get a peak at Shore tonight. No expectations on him either. It’s his first game in the Flaming C.

    Regardless, let’s just win this one and hope for Smith to heal miraculously.

    I really miss Smith…

    • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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..

    • 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).

  • 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!

  • WillyWonka

    We need to win 6 of 9 remaining road games and 5 of 9 remaining home games to make the playoffs. If we win tonight, that helps, only need to win 5 of 9 road games if we win tonight

  • Flames fan since 83

    Sorry folks, but I’m intrigued by these lines.
    One of my main frustrations with GG was he was so set in his ways. GG would do the same thing over, and over and over, and never change.
    At least now (too late in my opinion) he is trying out new lines. And if they don’t work, he changes it up thru the game.
    Let’s give it a chance.

  • 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.

  • BendingCorners

    What tonight’s lines should be:
    Staple the 4th line to the bench, let one or another in only when Gaudreau or Tkachuk or Bennett need a breather.
    Alternatively use the projected lines in the article but swap Lazar and Stewart, then let the 4th line tie laces and serve water to the other nine forwards.
    Teams win with good players not with bad ones.

  • Chucky

    Glen was building a new garage with an attached man cave. He was just finishing when his friend Brad walked in and said “I was over on Minnesota street and bought this rusty old S screw maybe you can use it.” Glen took the screw and because he we installing the big screen TV on the ceiling mount decided to it would work. Glen knew that he should use the G,M B screw combination that had worked so well on the last two TVs but the B screw was in the bottom of the box so he used the rusty S screw.
    Glen invited some friends over to watch the playoffs but just before the games started the S screw proved unable to hold its load and the TV fell and would not work so nobody got to watch the playoffs.
    Glen filed for insurance on the TV because the new bracket did not work but the insurance adjustor Ken looked at the rusty old S screw and denied the claim,
    Glen got mad at Brian and threw his TV at him, Brian called police detective Brian. Brian threw Glen in jail.
    That is why Glen does not live on Calgary Avenue after the playoffs start.

  • cgyokgn

    I finally get to watch the Flames play. So another 4 pointer… not going to be as easy as our last game against them. Let’s hope that Ritter bounces back and is a brick wall. GFG!