Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 14: Back home to host the Avalanche (7pm MT, SN One)

It’s November! The Calgary Flames (7-5-1, 15 points) kick the month off with a big game against a Western Conference foe, the Colorado Avalanche (7-3-2, 16 points). After three consecutive strong outings, can the Flames keep things rolling along?

The action starts at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Dube

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic

Valimaki – Andersson

Mike Smith starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich. The projected scratches are Dalton Prout (again), Michael Stone and Austin Czarnik. (It’s Prout’s 13th healthy scratch this season, easily leading the team.)

The Flames have played three good games in a row and have points in three straight games (2-0-1). The keys tonight? More of the same. They’ll need a better start than they got in Buffalo, as Rittich had to be very sharp early, and ideally their special teams units will step up and help out what’s been a pretty stingy even strength club lately.

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The Avalanche

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Kerfoot – Kamenev – Wilson
Nieto – Soderberg – Calvert
Dano – Dries – Greer

Girard – Johnson
Cole – Barrie
Zadorov – Nemeth

Semyon Varlamov starts for Colorado, backed up by Philip Grubauer. Their scratches are Mark Barberio and Gabriel Bourque.

The Avalanche are playing their first game since Saturday; they’ve had four days off after playing three games in their previous four evenings. They lost two of those three games, so they’re looking to return to form. They’re short a few key bodies, but they’re still young, fast and talented.

The Numbers

Wins 7 7
Points 15 16
Corsi Close 53.2% 49.7%
Power Play 15.1% 23.9%
Penalty Kill 72.7% 88.5%

Injury Report

The Flames are healthy.

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The Avalanche are without JT Compher, Tyson Jost and Sven Andrighetto, who are all on the injured reserve right now.

History Lesson

This is the second game between Calgary and Colorado this season. The Flames beat them in Denver in October after giving up two goals in the first two and a half minutes. It was that game where Gaudreau scored in overtime and Rittich was celebrating before he even scored. They’ll play once more in Calgary in January.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Avalanche Twitter follows for tonight:

  • Chucky

    So on July 1 the Flames go out and sign Czarnik for 1.25 million. It seems that they are among 20 teams that are interested. After a few games it is obvious why Boston was willing to let him go and that a team as soft as the Flames they cannot afford him in the lineup.
    So rather than get out and find one of those 20 teams willing to give up an asset for him he eats popcorn.
    Also it is pretty obvious that Stone is the 7th defenseman, if one of the top 6 goes down with an injury is Prout good enough to fill in or do they need to keep Stone around. How about one of the guys down in Stockton could they fill in and make Stone surplus?
    There could be real value coming back for a combination of Czarnik and Stone.

    • Cfan in Van

      There could be real value, if we found someone who wants that package for 3.75M. My own thoughts are that the perceived value of the players is greatly diminished by their contracts, and at this point, the value of the depth they provide (another center, NHL defense depth that we can’t replace) is more valuable than the return they’d get. I think they’d end up taking back something that’s also a bit over priced, even if they found the right partner.

      • Luter 1

        Czarniks not the problem, gives some depth and is young with obvious hidden talent, he may or may not become something. Now Ryan on the other hand is 31 and useless and is making 3 plus! What was BT thinking and how smart is our new coach pushing to bring him in? The coach thinking this guy is useful and worth 3 plus scares me more than wasting 10 mill over 3 years on our new Stajan

    • withachance

      There’s a reason that there is almost no trades between the start of the season until a week before the trade deadline (unless its for pending RFAs). No GMs want to make moves because they are smart enough to know to evaluate their own teams and the changing landscape of the league.

      Giving up on Czarnik 13 games into the season is laughable. Trading away a serviceable NHL defenceman when the team is one injury away from a questionable 3rd pairing is laughable. Granted all bets are off in February but I imagine its going to take some Garth Snow level GMing to do what you’re suggesting

      • Chucky

        Czarnik was an obvious AHLer in the preseason. At 25 years old he has played 67 games with goals and hits (0.34 per game)
        People love to complain about Sean Monahan playing soft and he is 24 years old 406 games 143 goals and 188 hits (0.46 per game)
        Admittedly Johnny Gaudreau has a lower hit per game rate than Czarnik but not only does he score but he sets up goals and can dominate a game. Also Johnny has what it takes to body Dustin Byfuglien into the boards and take the puck, you are not going to find Czarnik within 20 feet of Byfuglien.
        The only hope is to deal Czarnik to a team that can afford a fast guy who will not get involve physically.

        • withachance

          This is 2018. Hits dont win teams games. They’re nice and a needed part of the game, but hits dont win games. Speed win games. Skill win games.

          Edmonton has Lucic, Kassian, Brodziak, Nurse. Would you want EDM tough hitting roster over the Flames? Take McDavid out, who is the fastest and most skilled guy in the league and you have a team who can lead the team in hits per game… and they’d be last in the entire league. Hits per game as a stat is probably worse than the +/-

          “Johnny has what it takes to body Byfuglein into the boards…” This statement alone should render your entire comment moot.
          “Monahan is soft” I’d rather him hit literally no one and keep those hands healthy and score 14pts in 13 games.

          We all knew what Czarnik was: a calculated, safe risk. 20/30 GMs wouldve taken that….

    • Burnward

      I love Backs’ defensive game. But he isn’t making 6 mil to just to that.

      He’s settling for what he’s exceptional at. Not uncommon. But this team needs a second-line center that puts up more than 10 goals a year at his pay rate.

      • Avalain

        I personally would be fine with him simply scoring more than the other team while he’s on the ice, and playing against the top lines. In terms of scoring, I’d really like to see more from our bottom lines. I remember starting the season thinking that the bottom lines are incredibly deep and should make a lot of noise this year. Well, so far that hasn’t happened.

      • Purple Hazze

        First off, he makes $5.3MM not $6MM. And maybe you need to adjust your expectations of what a center in that salary range puts up points wise. His closest comparable is Adam Henrique who signed for $5.8MM about 6 months after Backlund, he put up 36 points last year. Next closest Turris making $6MM signed a few months before Backs, he put up 42 points last year, another comparable would be Brian Little, signed his deal about 6 months before Backs, making $5.3MM, he put 43 points last year. Backlund’s offense seems to be right at fair market value, for the price we are paying, and that’s even before you start considering the defensive side of his game.

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          Thanks purple hazze (dope name btw). Like hello everyone, inflation. This is the market for a Backlund type player. Don’t hate the player hate the game, etc etc.

        • canadian1967

          The problem with Backs is that he will often play incredibly well shutting down one of these elite lines, and maybe even outscore them, but then will contribute zero offense in the other 60 games he plays.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Tkachuk looked off last game….but of course he sucks it up and scores the tieing goal. There does not appear to be a goal scorer on the 3M line. Backlund has 1 goal, Frolik has 5 goals but 3 are EN, and Tkachuk is a master at deflecting pucks for goals but he seems to get most of his points playing with an extra man. There are not a lot of holes in his game but he could work on getting his shot off quicker.

  • Chucky

    The last few years the Flames have been struggling to catch up to the pack and lingering around the edge of the playoffs. I think that Peters has decided that he is going to overplay his top two lines early in the season, get well into the playoff picture and then look for some team balance. Every night all the lines get a chance to show up but if anyone stumbles it is to the blender heavy on the top 6. Hopefully they get a few easy games where everybody can establish themselves.