FGD 77: A battle with the Stars (7:30pm MT, SN One)

It’s a potential playoff preview tonight at the Saddledome!

The Calgary Flames (47-22-7, 101 points) host the Dallas Stars (39-31-6, 84 points). The Flames lead the Pacific Division while the Stars hold down the first wildcard spot, just three points ahead of the second wildcard spot that would earn them a first round date with the Flames.

The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. The Flames opened as a slight (-165) favourite on OddsShark’s moneyline.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson

David Rittich jumps back in net after Mike Smith started for three in a row – Rittich was under the weather over the weekend, so it made some sense to give Smith some work. The scratches will be the typical crew of Dalton Prout, Oliver Kylington, Michael Stone and Alan Quine, while Sam Bennett remains sidelined with an upper body injury. The forward lines are shuffled up as the Flames coaching staff tries out a few different looks.

The Flames have won six of their last eight outings. They have a magic number of 3.5 to clinch Pacific Division/Western Conference top spot. A win tonight can move the Flames from being in pretty good divisional shape to being almost assured of the top spot in the West/division. If the Flames can take care of their own business, their last week could be completely irrelevant to their playoff placement.

The Stars

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Benn – Seguin – Dickinson
Janmark – Hintz – Radulov
Cogliano – Faksa – Comeau
Nichushkin – Dowling – Spezza

Lindell – Klingberg
Heiskanen – Polak
Oleksiak- Lovejoy

Ben Bishop starts for the Stars, backed up by Anton Khudobin. The projected scratches are Taylor Fedun, Julius Honka, Joel L’Esperance and Brett Ritchie.

The Stars got a big win in Winnipeg on Monday night in a likely first round preview. They were all the Jets could handle and they looked poised, energetic and very strong. As much credit as Arizona’s gotten for being in the playoff mix with all their injuries, take a look at what Dallas has done: they’re reasonably comfortable right now despite missing a rotating handful of regular blueliners for basically the entire season.

The Numbers

Wins 47 39
Points 101 84
Adjusted Corsi 54.0% 48.1%
Power Play 20.4% 19.3%
Penalty Kill 80.0% 82.0%

Injury Report

The Flames are without Sam Bennett.

The Stars are without Marc Methot, Stephen Johns, Martin Hanzal, Tyler Pitlick and Mats Zuccarello.

Season Series

This is the third and final regular season meeting between these teams. The Flames lost both their previous meetings – once in regulation and once in overtime. The Stars are the only Western Conference team that the Flames have not beaten yet this season.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Stars Twitter follows for tonight:

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  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    I really don’t understand who Fantenberg keeps slotting in over Kylington. Kylington has much more upside and he’s worth a look in some of these final games. His offensive production is a lot more promising than Fantenberg who hasn’t really produced much at any level, which we could use right now. Kylington has got us out of multiple scoring slumps this year with key goals.

  • Franko J

    6 straight periods without a goal. Maybe better luck against the Ducks.
    Overall the whole Western Conference is a crapshoot. Any team who makes it will have a chance to the Stanley Cup finals.

  • LannyMac

    Peters has a monumental task getting these guys ready. They are to soft it takes a bit of a mean edge to fight for space you have to be chippy dirty at this time of year these guys are way to soft to even get a sniff of success in the playoffs. There is a horrible stench of embarrassment for this team coming right around the corner and it is going to hit a crescendo starting on April 10th

  • Cheeky

    Anyone here actually think we have a chance once playoffs begin? This is the Flames, all other teams have started their playoff style. You can’t win by playing outside and soft, Peters needs to adapt this team or this will be the theme…

  • LannyMac

    Brutal showing again unbelievable. If it’s possible to loose a playoff series before it starts the this years addition may be the first team to ever accomplish that feet. Could net me some good money from the odds makers.

  • Chucky

    The Flames have lost a large % of the few of games they have lost that feature the ugly clog the middle clutch and grab type of game we just witnessed.
    Missing Bennett does not help because he is suited to that type of play. Playing Fantenberg is a mistake because he is too slow, the opposition can dump the puck out and have a fast forward cause him problems where as a defenseman with NHL speed would be back and make a clean play. Hanifin and Hamonic have to clean up their play behind their own net, they often turn a clean possession into a puck battle because they do not move the puck fast enough. However these may not be the critical issues, they need to demonstrate that they can turn this type of game into a rout so that teams choose not to try and play this way. They have the speed and always dominate play but don’t finish and in order to finish they need to make adjustments.
    1) stop being fancy (on the Star’s second goal they had possession in the right corner. Brodie feathers a pass to Hanifin and he loses possession that causes the scramble and goal. If Brodie plays hard around it might go out, if Hanifin plays hard on the puck he can clear. In games like this there is a major cost to fancy sh t.
    2) Shoot early and often, shoot hard early and often. Every time the defense stop the puck and look for an opening from the point the opening closes. A hard one timer even if it misses the net can turn into a scoring opportunity and will seldom be blocked to cause a breakaway.
    3) Shoot to the L (12″ above the ice across the bottom and high blocker side) never let the goaltender control the pace of the game by high glove side.
    4) Big guys crash the net little guys garbage collect
    Four steps to success.

    • ZZMiddle

      Thanks for blessing us with your knowledge Coach Chuck. Your 4 steps to success are a revelation. Why hasn’t anybody thought of this before? Please continue to share your deep understanding of the game with the world. It will be a better place.