Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 74: Desperation in the desert (8pm MT, SN West)

The Calgary Flames (35-28-10) are a lot like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts series. The football is right there. It’s in front of them. They should be able to kick the football. But they’re just not able to kick the football this season, often whiffing and falling down in spectacular fashion. Tonight, the Flames head to the desert to play the Arizona Coyotes (23-37-11) – the worst team in the National Hockey League – and really, really, really need to get two points to have any damn hope of making the playoffs. These are desperate times.

The puck drops just after 8:00 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, courtesy of Daily Faceoff:

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

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

Mike Smith starts for the Flames. He’s 24-19-6 with a 2.62 goals against average and .918 save percentage. He’s backed up by David Rittich. The projected healthy scratches are Matt Bartkowski, Nick Shore, Kris Versteeg and Tanner Glass, while Matthew Tkachuk remains out with a suspected concussion and it seems likely that T.J. Brodie won’t play tonight due to an unspecified upper-body injury he suffered last night. Rasmus Andersson has been recalled as a result and will play, so presumably this means Bartkowski sits and the Flames go with some weird pairings tonight.

The Flames need to score goals and win games, and it doesn’t matter much how they do it at this point. They’re running low on games to get enough points to qualify for the playoffs. This game needs to be a statement game – and that statement needs to be “look at this team score goals and dominate” – otherwise they simply won’t have enough left in the tank to make the playoffs. At this point, they’ll need a miracle.

The Coyotes

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:

Keller – Stepan – Panik
Domi – Dvorak – Perlini
Archibald – Hamilton – Fischer
Martinook – Richardson – Cousins

Ekman-Larsson – Demers
Chychrun – Goligoski
Connauton – Hjalmarsson

Darcy Kuemper starts for the Coyotes. He’s 21-12-4 with a 2.25 goals against average and .925 save percentage. He’s backed up by Antti Raanta, who started (and lost) against Minnesota on Saturday. The scratches are projected to be Luke Schenn and Zac Rinaldo.

The Coyotes are the NHL’s worst team, but they’re just one point behind Buffalo for 30th. If they want to stay in the basement, they’re gonna have to keep losing games. Also, tonight’s just the second ever Battle of the Hamiltons: Freddie and Dougie play each other for the first (and only) time since October 2013 – Dougie’s Bruins won that game.

Injury Report

Flames: Daniel Pribyl (knee) and Marek Hrivik (upper-body) are on the injured reserve. Matthew Tkachuk (suspected concussion) remains out, but on the active roster.

Arizona: Dave Bolland (lower-body) is on the injured reserve. Laurent Dauphin (lower-body) is hurt but remains on the active roster.

When Last We Met

The Flames love playing the Coyotes, because they beat them rather frequently. In two meetings, the Flames have won 3-0 and 5-2. They’ll meet one more time in Calgary in early April.

The Numbers

Wins 35 23
Points 80 57
Adjusted Corsi 53.1% 47.7%
Power Play 17.2% 16.4%
Penalty Kill 81.3% 80.0%

Know Thy Enemy

These folks will tweet desert hockey tonight:

Sum It Up

The Flames have nine games remaining. They desperately need points to stay afloat in the Western Conference playoff race, and they can’t afford to be snobby about where they get them.


Let’s show Vegas something they’ve never seen before—Alberta hockey fans.

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