Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

FGD R1-G5: The Flames’ last stand (8pm MT, CBC/SN)

After losing three games in a row, the Flames need a win to keep their season alive.

Calgary Flames vs. Colorado Avalanche

Game 5 of the Best-of-Seven Western Conference Quarterfinal
Colorado leads series 3-1
Puck Drop: 8 p.m. MT
TV: CBC, Sportsnet (national feed)
Radio: Sportsnet 960 The Fan
Odds: The Flames are slight (-170) favourites, via OddsShark.

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The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson

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Mike Smith starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich. Their projected scratches appear to be Jon Gillies, Oliver Kylington, Oscar Fantenberg, Dalton Prout, Michael Stone, Dillon Dube, Alan Quine and James Neal. There’s a bit of a line shuffle, and Austin Czarnik slides in.

The Flames have been out-scored 7-5 at even strength and their special teams have been a wash – the Flames have five power play goals, but have allowed three Colorado PP goals and two shorthanded markers. Their even strength goals have been scored by Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, TJ Brodie, Andrew Mangiapane and Derek Ryan.

It’s safe to say that the Flames need to get more out of their top guys. Five even strength goals in four goals is pretty rough.

The Avalanche

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Kerfoot
Wilson – Soderberg – Rantanen
Nieto – Calvert – Compher
Andrighetto – Jost – Bourque

Cole – Johnson
Zadorov – Barrie
Makar – Nemeth

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Philipp Grubauer starts once again for the Avalanche, backed up by Semyon Varlamov. Their projected scratches are Pavel Francouz, Dominic Toninato, Derick Brassard, Ryan Graves and Mark Barberio. There are no lineup changes for Colorado, and Mikko Rantanen will be used on both of the top two forward lines.

The Avalanche have gotten even strength goals from J.T. Compher (twice), Rantanen (twice), Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and Cale Makar. Their key players have won the head-to-head battles with the Flames’ top guys – often the board and corner battles, too – and functionally that’s why they’re in a position to advance with a win.

The Officials

Tonight’s referees are Kyle Rehman and Chris Rooney. The linesmen are Derek Amell and Andrew Smith. The standby officials are Jean Hebert (referee) and Darren Gibbs (linesman). The series supervisor is Bill McCreary.

The Numbers

Wins 1 3
Adjusted Corsi 44.1% 55.9%
Power Play 26.3% 15.0%
Penalty Kill 85.0% 73.7%

Injury Report

The Flames are healthy.

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The Avalanche are without Vladislav Kamenev and Samuel Girard.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Avalanche Twitter follows for tonight:

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  • RKD

    I have no idea what to expect from the club but I digress let’s see what our boys are made of. I hope this isn’t the last time this season that I am saying this but GO FLAMES GO!!

  • Pizzaman

    Had to bench Neal. (The Avs would be even faster if Girard was in on D!,Scary thought). So hopefully Czarnik helps Janko’s line get in the game and not stay on the perimeter or stuck in the Flames end.

  • Flames fan since 83

    I agree with the changes.
    Bennett needs more ice time and get away from Neil. Actually, everyone needed to get away from Neil!
    I’ll be there cheering on the Flames! GFG

  • Baceda

    Holy crap they actually benched Neal, great move Peters, didn’t think it would actually happen even though it obviously needed to. Would been a lot more helpful had he done it last game though. I bet Neal is piiiiiiissed, he better get his ass in gear over the summer and work out like a beast

  • Cheeky

    I like the line up changes, speed over sloth makes sense too! Let’s hope we see some urgency from the boys and go back to game 1 with some hitting and try to limit shots against to under 30…

  • Juan Valdez

    If Flames lose tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if Treliving’s fired. The Neal signing might have been the final straw with ownership. Can’t consistently repeat the same mistakes and not expect changes to be made.

  • The Lovely Kim Wexlar

    Of course, I’m hopeful, but my mindset is that tonight is the Season Finale and a celebration of a truly great season. Even with elevated expectations, none of us thought the Flames would win the Cup this year, and this playoff is a building block to making us an elite cup-winning team in 2020 or 2021. Go Flames Go, and thanks for all the awesome hockey in 18-19!!

  • MontanaMan

    I will make the bold prediction (hopeful thinking?) that this is the last game Neal plays for the Calgary Flames. Somethings amiss with him and his relationship with the coaching staff and more importantly, with the players. I can’t put my finger on it but there’s something there, and I predict when the season ends, Neal will demand a trade (“the Flames didn’t put me in a position to succeed”) and the team will more than happily accommodate his wish. Just a hunch.

    • Puck Head

      So how exactly can he demand a trade if he has no value? Retain half his salary and throw in a pick or prospect? I’d be inclined to let him ride the bus in Stockton for 4 years….see if he can handle it or maybe he pulls the plug and retires early.

      • His Dudeness

        Even better would be the East coast league. The stories I’ve heard about that league sounds like a great place for Neal. We don’t need him and his attitude in Stockton messing with our prospects.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Neal to the Sharks for Marty Jones. Exact same AAV but Jones has an additional year. Jones being 2 years younger than Neal is the compensation for the extra year. Flames get rid of Neal, and get a starter who played the best hockey of his life as a Hitman.

  • The GREAT WW

    Honestly, what team would want Neal….?
    I guess there is hope; Brouwer found a new home……albeit for a fraction of the salary.

    When Vegas was bad earlier in the season I was hoping they would want him back, but now there is zero chance.

    Is there a coach or GM who has a positive connection to Neal who may want him (with salary retained)?


    • TheRealPepman

      I suddenly recalled the supposed Zucker trade. Rumour has it that the Flames would have let go Frolik or Neal plus draft picks.

      So there. Minnesota. Wild GM Paul Fenton used to be Preds AGM when Neal played for the team.

    • Pizzaman

      In the last month of the season Eric Francis kept getting angry with fans dissing Smith and Neal “they will important in the playoffs!”. So he was half right. Neal has even been worse in the playoffs!

    • Puck Head

      I would like to see that line as well, if nothing else just to see Gaudreau’s fear in his eyes, as the other 2 whack, hack and jibber jabber at the opposition.

  • Beer League Coach

    Neal is out! Don’t let the door knob hit ya where to good Lord split ya. There is still hope for Flames to come back and go deep in this year’s playoff.
    I hope BT has learned from this mistake. When signing FA’s, do not panic. If the FA is 29 years old the longest contract he should sign is 3 years. And only if the player is above average talent. Many players would not sign when faced with those terms. In that case, just let them walk and go with the young player who is trying to make a name for himself. If 30 years old limit the term to 2 years. And 31 or older go one year at a time. This is no longer a league where veterans can play on their reputations forever like a few years ago in the clutch and grab era of hockey.
    I am not saying go back to the1950’s where players came to training camp to get into shape and signed a 1 year contract for whatever amount the team offered them. But there is some merit to keeping contracts short and keeping the player hungry for another contract next season. Today’s players do not need to go and find a summer job like they did back then in order to support their family.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      The key is how quickly Tre and the Flames fix this mistake. Bringing Neal back next season and that’s a huge mistake just as it was with Brouwer being brought back year after year. Trade him or buy him out at the end of this season. Admit you made a mistake and cut your losses. Buying him out would be bad money management to be sure, but the roster spot opened up due to his departure would be a wise hockey move.

      • Beer League Coach

        Trade proposal. Neal, Pollock, and Foo to Tampa Bay for Ryan Callahan and Taylor Radysh. Tampa gets two young players who could fit in their lineup and rid themselves of Callahan. Callahan has only 1 year left on his $5.8 mil contract while Neal has another 4 years at $5.75 per. Pollock and Foo would compensate Lightning for taking the additional 3 years of Neal’s contract. If they drive a hard bargain forget about Radysh. I have liked him since jr and he is a RH shot RW that would be a nice fit on Flames roster, but not getting him would not be a deal killer for me.

        • Willi P

          Pollock and Foo will likely not even be offered contracts by the Flames next year. There is no value there and Tampa would need a lot more than that to take Neal’s boat anchor contract. In fact, they have players like Point that may kill them on the cap way before they take on any more contract.

          Neal would only fit on a team looking to get to the cap floor and it will cost the Flames dearly.