176Gritty
Photo Credit: John Geliebter/USA Today Sports

FGD 43: Brunch in Philadelphia (11am MT, SN West)

After a disappointing loss in Boston on Thursday night, the Calgary Flames (25-13-4, 54 points) are back at it in an afternoon affair from the City of Brotherly Love. The Flames are matched up against the Philadelphia Flyers (15-20-5, 35 points), a team best known this season for their wacky mascot and revolving door of goaltenders.

It’s an early one! Grab some brunch – cheap plug for Skip the Dishes – and catch the puck drop at 11 a.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

Good news, everyone! David Rittich is back in net! He’s backed up by Mike Smith. The projected scratches are Dalton Prout and Dillon Dube.

The Flames’ potent power play wasn’t all that potent against Boston, which was one of the reasons they lost. They’ll need to be better against the Flyers, particularly a second unit that hasn’t scored a heck of a lot this season. The top unit has out-scored the second squad by a 27-5 margin, which is pretty staggering but not all that unexpected.

While at first blush he’s not a large human being and can be mistaken for a large child, Johnny Gaudreau has scored many, many points this season – entering today’s action tied with Connor McDavid for fourth in NHL scoring with 61 points. Gaudreau grew up across the river from Philadelphia and has been scoring at a torrid pace lately, with 16 points over his last seven games.

Finally, an update for the “hey, what about the playoffs?” crowd. Per The Athletic’s projections, the cutline for a Western playoff spot is around 91 points and to win the Pacific Division is around 99 points. With 40 games remaining on the docket, the Flames need about 37 points (0.463 points percentage) to clinch a playoff spot and 45 points (0.563 points percentage) to have a shot at a divisional crown.

The Flyers

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Giroux – Couturier – Lindblom
Raffl – Laughton – Voracek
van Riemsdyk – Weal – Simmonds
Weise – Varone – Konecny

Provorov – Sanheim
Gostisbehere – Gudas
Hagg – Folin

Carter Hart starts for the Flyers, backed up by recent waiver claim Mike McKenna. Their lone healthy extra body is Jori Lehtera.

The Flyers haven’t had a great season. Injuries haven’t helped, as it’s been tough for them to ice a coherent lineup. McKenna’s the seventh different goalie who’s dressed for them this season. They’re bottom five in each special teams ranking, which shows how scattershot they’ve been.

McKenna is a fascinating story, arguably moreso than Gritty. He’s 35, and has dressed for the following teams since going pro in 2005-06:

  • NHL (7): Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators
  • AHL (14): Norfolk Admirals (2 stints), Milwaukee Admirals, Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben-Knights, Portland Pirates, Lowell Devils, Albany Devils, Binghamton Senators, Peoria Rivermen, Springfield Falcons, Portland Pirates (2 stints), Springfield Thunderbirds, Syracuse Crunch, Texas Stars, Belleville Senators
  • ECHL (1): Las Vegas Wranglers

Beloved former Flames goaltender Curtis “McBackup” McElhinney has played in a lot of places, but McKenna looks at McElhinney’s paltry numbers – 11 teams since 2005-06 – and laughs dismissively.

The Numbers

CGY PHI
Wins 25 15
Points 54 35
Corsi Close 53.3% 51.1%
Power Play 21.2% 13.6%
Penalty Kill 78.5% 74.4%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Juuso Valimaki, Andrew Mangiapane and Michael Stone.

The Flyers are without Corban Knight, Andrew MacDonald, Brian Elliott, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Nolan Patrick.

Season Series

This game closes out their season series. The Flyers blew a third period lead and lost to the Flames by a 6-5 score at the Saddledome back in mid-December. It was a dramatic game with many goals.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Flyers Twitter follows for today:

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