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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 70: Home sweet home (5pm MT, SN West)

After a fairly successful road trip, the Calgary Flames (34-25-10) are back at home and trying to win some games at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tonight they begin their final 13 games of the season with a game with the New York Islanders (29-29-10), themselves a team that’s fighting desperately for their playoff lives. But the good news is that Mike Smith is expected to play today for the first time in a month.

The puck drops just after 5:00 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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

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

After missing 13 games (and a month of action), Mike Smith makes his return to the crease. He’s 23-16-6 with a 2.53 goals against average and .921 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The expected scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Chris Stewart, Tanner Glass and Nick Shore.

The Flames have been streaky all year, but they seem to have turned a bit of a corner on their road trip. They’ve gotten production from throughout their lineup and their depth players have chipped in with key goals during their last stretch. But they’ll need their big guns to be strong tonight, as they’re facing a desperate Islanders club.

The Flames open the evening two points out of the last wild-card spot (behind Colorado) and two points out of the last Pacific Division spot (behind Anaheim).

The Islanders

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Lee – Tavares – Bailey
Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle
Ladd – Nelson – Fritz
Johnston – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

Leddy – Boychuk
Hickey – Pulock
Pelech – Davidson

Christopher Gibson gets the start for the Brooklynites after performing well in a loss in Edmonton. He’s 0-0-2 with a 1.86 goals against average and .953 save percentage – but he’s had just two appearances, so keep sample sizes in mind. He’s backed up by Jaroslav Halak. He’s backed up by Chris Gibson, who played against Edmonton. The expected scratches are Sebastian Aho, Dennis Seidenberg and Chris Wagner.

The Islanders have yet to win a game since Feb. 16 (going 0-4-4) and have gone to overtime in each of their last three games… and lost. They begin the night well out of the playoffs – 8 points out of the wild-card and 13 points out of a divisional spot – and they’re essentially playing spoiler at this point. They’re a dangerous team because they have nothing left to lose, really.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee), Kris Versteeg (hip) and Marek Hrivik (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.

NY Islanders: Nikolay Kulemin (upper-body), Thomas Greiss (lower-body), Shane Prince (undisclosed) and Calvin de Haan (upper-body) are on the injured reserve.

When Last We Met

This is the second of two meetings between these clubs. The Flames beat the Islanders 3-2 in Brooklyn exactly one month ago – it was the game that Mike Smith left with an injury with two seconds left.

The Numbers

CGY NYI
Wins 33 29
Points 78 68
Adjusted Corsi 53.2% 47.3%
Power Play 17.9% 20.7%
Penalty Kill 81.0% 74.9%

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some nice folks that discuss the Isles:

Sum It Up

The Flames need points to stay in the Western playoff race and they’re playing a team that’s well out of a playoff spot. This is a game they need to have.

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  • Stockton's Finest

    Heat up 4-1 after 2. Andersson with a sweet toe-drag unassisted goal. Pollock, on a nice give-and-go from Smith and Goloubef also with goals in the second.

    • Prairiechicken

      I’m an Oilers fan so admit to not following the Flames that much. Although I do enjoy catching a few games here and there, and always catch the highlites. That said, from what I could tell, Smith was the best Flame, and the biggest reason the Flames are in playoff contention (yes … Despite how you feel now … You ARE still in contention). Without him, it feels like you may be in a race to draft Tkatchuk junior with us. Maybe you’ve had a bad stretch since Smith went down (and it certainly seems as such based on shot totals lately), but I’m not sure goaltending is something I’d bellyache about if I were a flames fan.

  • GetOn'Em

    So according to Corsi the Flames should have eon tonight..oh yah..nerd stats mean squat. With minimal talent up front equals minimal high quality scoring chances. 5 more weeks of GG..

      • Chucky

        One of those comments that seems to make sense but is really quite ridiculous. It boils down to the Flames players should be better on their own than the combination of the other team’s players and coach. We know that Gulutzan is not successful at getting these guys up for an important game, he might not even try, we also know that good coaches in every sport know how to motivate their players for an important game. We also know that individuals have to be vastly superior in order to single handedly defeat a team. So a team with a coach like Gulutzan continually loses big games and somebody always says “it is on the players”. Because we all know that the Flames players are individually better that the team that they lost to, yeah sure.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    The Islanders would like to Thank the Flames organization for the Excellent First Round Pick in the up coming Draft! And They Helped get themselves a better pick by Stomping the Flames with what seemed with ease..

  • Papasucre

    Unacceptable start to the game, then GG being GG starts out glorious 4th line after they score a seeing eye shot on us. Not shockingly we get hemmed in our own zone after they score and what do you know they pot another 18 seconds later. Why can’t we respond with Johnny’s or Backs line after a crappy first goal?!?!

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Because that would require a NHL Caliber Coach to make smart on the fly coaching decisions, something this edition of the Flames is Lacking. The Standings Don’t Lie. What are the odds the Flames Go 9 – 3 down the stretch? The only thing to look forward to this year are the Changes coming in the Off Season.

  • cgyokgn

    So instead of watching the third period I watched the Dinos (on PVR) beat Ryerson in a game that went down to the wire, winning the university championship. Nice to see someone from Calgary win. Congrats to the Dinos.

  • Franko J

    2-5-4 on home ice. There is little hope. I say the only person in management who might survive when this season is over might be Conroy. Hopefully this organization has a better plan in place for next year. Obviously this year was an epic failure, especially at home. To the paying customers who attend the games, I say they be should lining up outside of the Ken Kings office and demanding a refund. There was a time when I was very passionate cheering for this team, however, as this season dwindles down to another season down the tubes I am slowly finding other things to do and becoming very apathetic. Maybe with a different coaching staff and a change in player personnel I might start to enjoy watching the Flames again.