Flames Must Cook Ducks

Game Preview #74

 

Bad results in last night’s games just turned up the volume on the importance of this one for the Flames. The most typed two words in recent game previews for the Flames is probably  "Must Win"

The Flames are not underdogs against the Ducks. The match-up is fairly even. The game can easily go either way. The Ducks did play last night so they may still be a bit tired. The Flames have not won in Anaheim in quite some time, so the up side is that they are overdue. California ice is slow and can be bouncy which is part of the reason games are tough down there. The fact all three California teams are playoff contenders doesn't help either. 

For the Flames to take this one they will need to put lots of pucks to the net and hope they get goals early. A faster more wide-open game will favor the Flames provided they can keep the Ducks top line in check at even strength, as they did in their last game on Feb 11. Discipline will be key as the Ducks have a formidable powerplay, in which they are known to occasionally stack with 5 forwards.

More after the jump...

I have an outside feeling on this game that the third lines may decide it. I liked what I saw from the newly formed Ales Kotalik - Matt Stajan - Niklas Hagman third line last game. Good energy, conversion for a nice goal against the Avalanche and good hustle. By salary it is probably the highest paid third line in the NHL. If they just play to potential they should be able to undress the Ducks third line and may convert for key surprise goals. Keep an eye on these players when they hit the ice.

Two other games to watch closely tonight are the Coyotes / Blackhawks and Sabres / Predators. The Preds and Hawks will hopefully both take clean losses in regular time because we are entering a point where the Flames will soon need help.

The Stat Rack

Flames

Rank

 

Rank

Ducks

18.6%

11th

PP%

5th  

21.2%

81.9%

18th

PK%

21th

81.0%

2.78

17th

GA

19th

2.84

2.93

6th

GF

15th  

2.75

48.1%

24th

FO%

27th  

47.6%

 

Number Crunch

 In all categories but PP the Flames have the edge against the Ducks but Flames fans should remember well how lethal that Ducks' PP is. In the last game the Ducks used it to tie the game in the final couple minutes and eventually took the win in OT, effectively stealing two points in OT. 

I said it in my pre-game for Feb 11 for the Ducks and I’ll say it again. The Flames must stay out of the box. They only took one penalty in the entire game on Feb 11 and the Ducks PP made them pay huge for it.

 

Alive in the Last Five

Flames

Jarome Iginla 2G 2A +1 in his last 3GP

Rene Bourque 2G 3A -2 in his last 5GP

Mikael Backlund 2G 2A +1 in his last 5GP

 

Ducks

Corey Perry 6G 2A +2 in his last 5GP

Lubomir Visnovsky 2G 4A +5 in his last 5GP

Teemu Selanne 0G 4A  +1 in his last 5GP

 

Anticipated Roster (subject to change by game time)

The Flames

The Avalanche

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glencross

Backlund

Iginla

Ryan

Getzlaf

Perry

Tanguay

Jokinen

Bourque

Blake

Koivu

Selanne

Kotalik

Stajan

Hagman

Winchester

McMillian

Sexton

Kostopoulos

Bouma

Jackman

Ruutu

Marchant

Parros

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regehr

Bouwmeester

 

Visnovsky

Lydman

 

Giordano

Sarich

 

Fowler

Sutton

 

Staios

Babchuk

 

Beauchemin

Sbisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiprusoff

Karlsson

 

Ellis

Emery

 

 

Anticipated Game Style

 

California ice is going to play a role in all these games so watch for bouncing pucks and surprise goals. The Flames in 2011 have revealed themselves as an offensive force no longer dependent on Miikka Kiprusoff to win their games but that offense has to produce on worker ice now.  

The Ducks are recognized as having weaker goaltending but they collapse tight to the net as well as any team in the NHL to prevent goals. For the Flames to win they need to get goals anyway they can. The worst game style will be a tighter Defensive game, which will favor the Ducks.

 

One on One

Olli Jokinen vs Corey Perry

Jarome Iginla vs Lubomir Visnovsky

(With the playoff race in full swing, I am providing a two "One on Ones")

Olli Jokinen’s style of play and responsibility has changed a lot this season. The first half of the season it was clear he was struggling with adjusting but by the time 2011 hit he was much better. He is taking a more defensive role and passing a lot more. Olli, Glencross and Moss effectively took out the Ducks top line of Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan in the last Ducks game at even strength. Olli will likely play a similar role tonight and Corey Perry is red hot so his work will be cut out for him.

Jarome is heating up at a key time and he will meet head on Visnovsky; who is starting to get louder whispers now about being a legitimate Norris Candidate. Jarome’s ability to get past Visnovsky to exploit the weaker Ducks’ goaltending is going to be key for the Flames.

 

The Magic 8-Ball

The Magic 8-Ball is shaking non-stop in anticipation of this one and will not stop shaking to reveal a result. 

Is that a sign that the playoffs are on the line here for either team?

 

Bonus – Playoff Rant About Last Night

Last night was a terrible night for the Flames even though they didn’t play.  Every single team that is in the Western Conference playoff race collected points. The Sharks dominated the Blues and put an exclamation mark on the fact they are playoff bound, if anyone had any doubt at this point.

The Predators took two points from the Red Wings in a surprise win that didn’t even require OT. Dallas took the Flyers to OT where they managed to take a single point losing in the shoot-out and worst of all the game I was watching had another dreaded 3 point outcome with the Ducks taking 2 points in an OT win and the Kings taking a single point.

The Kings / Ducks game was particularly frustrating for me because there was a terrible penalty call that decided the game. The Kings had a critical goal called off by the refs. A call that literally handed the Ducks two points. The game should have been 2-1 Kings in regular time. That is two blatant points the Ducks have now that they shouldn’t have; you can file that in the memory bank for the end of the season.

This game tonight against the Ducks has even more urgency now. It is a must win for the Flames.  On the outside looking in and still without games in hand the mission bell is ringing. The Flames MUST win tonight to stay in control of their destiny because the playoff competition is not losing ground at all.

(I am also making a note to myself to think about supporting reviews on goals being called off. There should be an option for a review in Toronto to override the ref, just like with goals on the red line - this one was a blatant miss.)

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