Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 26: A clash with the Kings (7pm MT, SN West)

After their weakest effort in weeks against Dallas, the Calgary Flames (14-9-2, 30 points) are back at it as they host the Los Angeles Kings (9-15-1, 19 points) in a big divisional clash. The Pacific Division is, well, a garbage heap, and two points tonight could give the Flames breathing room at the top of that garbage heap.

The puck drops just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

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The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Czarnik – Ryan – Neal
Lomberg – Jankowski – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson

Kylington – Hamonic

Mike Smith starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich – Smith won his last start against Arizona and Rittich lost his last start against Dallas, so it makes sense. The healthy scratches appear to be Dalton Prout and Andrew Mangiapane, freshly recalled from Stockton.

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The Flames weren’t good against Dallas. They were loose in the defensive zone (in a bad way) and really couldn’t generate much with their breakouts. It’s the type of “burn the tape” game that induced Bill Peters to mention post-game that they were fortunate to get a point. They’ll be better against the Kings, if only because in many aspects of their game “better” is the only direction they can go.

The biggest thing to improve? Their power play. They needed a lot more from them against Dallas and it could be huge in a game against a tired Kings team that lost 24 hours ago in Edmonton and will be trying to keep things tight-checking at even strength.

The Kings

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Clifford – Carter – Toffoli
Kovalchuk – Kempe – Luff
Wagner – Thompson – Rempal

Forbort – Doughty
Muzzin – Martinez
Phaneuf – Ladue

Since Jonathan Quick started in Edmonton, most likely backup Cal Petersen starts tonight. Last night’s healthy scratches were Oscar Fantenberg and Michael Amadio, and with Jon Rosen reporting that Ilya Kovalchuk is a no-go for tonight with an ankle injury we’ll likely see Amadio slot in. That’ll likely result in some shuffling of the bottom two forward lines.

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The Kings are the worst team in the Pacific Garbage Patch. They have some serious issues with their roster construction and some cap problems, too. They played in Edmonton last night. This isn’t so much a game that the Flames should win as it is a game they need to win if they want to keep trending towards being a playoff team. Simply put: this is the type of game good teams find ways to win.

The Numbers

Wins 14 9
Points 30 19
Corsi Close 55.0% 48.4%
Power Play 20.4% 15.4%
Penalty Kill 76.0% 73.0%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Juuso Valimaki, Michael Frolik and Michael Stone.

The Kings are without Gabe Vilardi, Jonny Brodzinski, Carl Hagelin, Jack Campbell and Trevor Lewis.

Season Series

This is the second of four meetings between the Flames and Kings this season. Calgary beat Los Angeles 1-0 back on Nov. 10 at Staples Center.

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Know Thy Enemy

Your Kings Twitter follows for tonight:

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  • Cfan in Van

    No mention of the Hanifin – Andersson and Kylington – Hamonic combos. Did this start at some point during the Dallas game? Is this a mistake? I get why they’d switch, to avoid the all-rookie exploitation, but I’m just wondering if this started as an in-game adjustment vs. Dallas…

  • everton fc

    Glad Lomberg’s getting a game.

    The fact Clifford’s a 2nd line LW on the Kings shows how low they’ve fallen. Look for Clifford vs. Lomberg, as a possibility. Perhaps, unfortunately.

        • everton fc

          We’ll see how he does. If he helps that line continue it’s aggressive play, can help on the PK – heaven’s if he gets a point this evening…

          We shall see. The organization sees value in him, but they also see/saw value in Czarnik. Brouwer. Others.

          • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

            Ryan Lomberg has never broken 30 Points in the AHL (he’s on pace for 23 Points this year). He’s barley a third liner in the AHL the only reason he gets NHL looks is he “acts tough”, but he isn’t tough at all he loses every fight even against lite weights and has a knack for just pissing off opponents enough to get going again. Kirby Rychel plays a sandpaper game and he actually is also a Hockey player that has tangible NHL skills if we want that in the lineup.

            Czarnik has been a star at every level he has played, Lomberg can’t carry his jock. Czarnik would have a ton of points and people would be raving about him if Neal would bury a freaking chance once and awhile, Czarnik step himnip three times in prime areas last game alone. Once Mangiapane arrives Lomberg better be long gone, Czarnik will get going trust me.

  • Avalain

    I dunno, I’m not convinced that the biggest thing to work on is the power play. 20.4% is 14th in the league, so perfectly middle-of-the-pack. Not bad considering how the stats are dragged down by the awful start to the power play that they had. All they need is to be over 22% and they’ll be top 10 in the league. In the last game they were 1/5, so 20%. Again, not terrible. If they’d scored 1 more and went 2/5 that would be 40%, which is like 10% better than the top pp in the league and completely unsustainable. So, no, I don’t think that the power play is the biggest issue (ok, maybe PP2 still needs some work).

  • oilcanboyd

    This may be the real lineup from nhl.com/flames:

    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
    Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Sam Bennett
    James Neal – Derek Ryan – Austin Czarnik
    Ryan Lomberg – Mark Jankowski – Garnet Hathaway

    Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
    Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
    Oliver Kylington – Rasmus Andersson
    Mike Smith

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Wonder what kind of effort the boys will bring tonight. Extremely disappointed with their game against the Stars, especially with the Grey Cup in the house. If I were a Flames’ owner, I would have been in the dressing room at the end of the game tearing strips off of everyone, including the coaches. Using the Stamps as my reference, I would have challenged them by using the old a$$hole theory: “If those a$$holes are good enough to win the cup, what is stopping you? Do you think those a$$holes are better than you? if you do, GET OFF MY TEAM!”

    The talking heads here and in TO continue to say how the Flames are probably lock to clinch one of the three playoff spots in the weak as water Pissific Division. Looking at the standings, I note that the Knights are back, the Sharks will be there and the Ducks with all their injuries are still hanging around. Oilers have collected 7 out of 10 points since Hitch came aboard, and the Coyotes are not as messed up as some might think. The Flames are a bad week away from taking quite a tumble if the rest of their division rivals get their act together over the same time.

    More efforts like that against the Stars will see this club once more booking tee times at the same time 16 other clubs have Stanley Cup stars in their eyes.

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      Would have been able to love this post without the last sentence. Even trolls deserve to be treated respectfully … otherwise they feel fed and encouraged to come back.

  • Skylardog

    For all those slamming Lomberg, how about sticking to the facts for a few minutes, especially when you all put Mangi on a pedestal. 5v5

    Mangi, 10 games, 88:10 TOI. 0 GF, 0.00 GF/60 – 0 points
    Lomberg, 7 games, 43:34 TOI, 3 GF, 4.13 GF/60, 1 point.

    Lomberg led the team in GF/60, Mony was next at

    • Heeeeere’s Johnny

      What I want to see out of Lomberg is the speed we hear about. Beat everyone back to the D and inflict some damage. Best case recover a few pucks. Worst case, absorb another beating.

    • Skylardog

      Whoops. Mony was next at 3.45

      Both Lomberg and Mangi played most of the time with Lazar and Stajan. Lomberg was very effective with those 2, and was their best linemate last season.

      Sometimes, especially when in the bottom six, it is about creating energy and space. Averaging just 6:13 a game, Lomberg passed the test with flying colours, and earned his call up and spot far exceeding what Mangi showed while here.
      True, not many points

      • Skylardog

        Like Czar? Mangi is unable to transfer AHL success to the NHL. Lomberg is just a 4th line energy guy, nothing more, but it is far more effective. Dube> Mangi, so none of this makes any sense, other than Dube needed more icetime.

        • everton fc

          Lomberg can skate, and can help us on the PK. Czarnik cannot help us on the PK, nor in the “grit” department, which often produces PP opportunities.

          I hope Lomberg proves a lot of people here wrong, and gets a little run of games. Czarnik’s proved worthless, other than when he’s w/Tkachuk and Backlund, and that’s a maybe.

        • Spider you muda&@#ker

          I agree with Dog Lombergs tenacious play translates better to fourth line spot duty playing 6-8 minutes then skilled softer player as long as Lomberg goes out there and is a pain in the ass for the other team thats all you can ask in a limited role

      • oilcanboyd

        Some players do well in the AHL and some players do better in the NHL. I do agree that it is a small sample size. Need some grit and speed against big bodied and slow Kings tonight

    • The GREAT WW

      Probably one of the reasons the Flames were not willing to commit long term to him.
      It sucks because he’s a great teammate and was having a great start to the season.
      Hopefully some team will take a chance on him and sign him to a good contract….


  • Just.Visiting

    Another scammy popup is back, only this one doesn’t let you exit and tries to force you into an install. If you’re on an Apple iMac, you can do a force quit by pressing Option, Command and Escape. This is the only site on which I have this issue, so it must be something that the site condones. I’m OK with ads, but popups that threaten the integrity of my computer are totally unacceptable. This has to stop.

  • Just.Visiting

    I thought Janko’s game looked very different the other night when he was on the wing with Ryan and Lindholm. This saw him more engaged on the boards, vs in the centre of the rink trying to poke check.

    I thought that Kylington played with a lot of confidence the other night. Looking forward to seeing how he plays a big team like LA.