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Flames vs Kings game preview: Win and you are in

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It doesn't matter how. In regulation. In overtime. In a 100-round shootout. Just win.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings are the Calgary Flames' lone competition for a playoff spot. The Flames have two points on them. The Flames have the tiebreaker. Two points in any capacity clinches it. Those two points can be achieved tonight.

It's the 81st game of the season, and the Flames can guarantee themselves a playoff spot.

It almost didn't come this close. After a hell of a first period against the Arizona Coyotes, the Flames came away with just a one goal lead courtesy of Johnny Gaudreau. The problem with one goal leads is they aren't much, and the Coyotes kept coming back. David Jones regained the lead. Jonas Hiller lost it. Sean Monahan got it back, and refused to let it go. | RecapStatsBoxscore | The biggest win of the season... until the next one:

And then there's the Kings. They had a pretty crucial five-game road trip, and it started off really well for them, what with three straight wins (including a dismantling of the now-President's Trophy winning New York Rangers on the second of a back-to-back). Then they lost two 4-1 games to the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, which was rather helpful.

One 8-2 throttling of the Edmonton Oilers later, a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche... A 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, and then, on the second of a back-to-back, a 4-2 loss to those very same Edmonton Oilers may very well have sealed the defending Stanley Cup Champions' fate.

To see how LA fans are coping, head on over to Jewels From The Crown.

Game time: 7:00 p.m. MT

Channel: SNW

All-time record: The Flames have the pretty clearly superior record, standing at 128-98-21-4. There's a +98 goal differential to go along with that. If tonight's game can match history, then that would be really, really nice.

Common threads: Hey, Robyn Regehr. Hey, Darryl Sutter. Years upon years with Calgary. Remember that? Remember how bad things were when you left? We're on the path to healing now. You've already gotten Cups. So, I mean...

Approaching milestones: Hopefully tonight can still be Lance Bouma's 200th game, as it was slated to be; however, since blocking a shot against the Arizona Coyotes and being forced to leave the game early, it doesn't look too likely.

David Jones is seven goals from 100 and Dennis Wideman eight, so neither is probably going to reach that milestone this season.

Sean Monahan, meanwhile, is five points from 100 in just his second season. A hell of a finish to the season could see him reach it. He's been a leader for this team, after all. What a steal at sixth overall.

Robyn Regehr's next point will be his 200th. He's been putting up some points as of late, including a goal against the Edmonton Oilers and two assists against the Colorado Avalanche. Love ya, Reg, but not tonight, please.

Scoreboard watching: Nothing else matters.

  • However, if the Arizona Coyotes defeat the Vancouver Canucks, the Flames could have a chance at taking second in the Pacific Division.
  • And if you want to take note, the Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Winnipeg Jets. Jarome Iginla has 27 goals with two games left to go, and it'd still be awfully nice to see him hit 30.

Current records and leaders

Calgary Flames Los Angeles Kings
Record: 44-29-7: 95 points Record: 39-26-15: 93 points
Pacific Division: 3rd Pacific Division: 4th
Western Conference: 8th Western Conference: 9th
Goal Differential: +27 Goal Differential: +14
Time on ice
Defence: Mark Giordano (25:10 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:36 per game)
Defence: Drew Doughty (29:01 per game)
Forward: Anze Kopitar (19:25 per game)
Points
Goals: Sean Monahan (31)
Assists: Jiri Hudler (44)
Points: Jiri Hudler (73)
Goals: Jeff Carter (28)
Assists: Anze Kopitar (48)
Points: Anze Kopitar (64)
Shots
Shots on goal: Sean Monahan (187)
Shooting percentage: Jiri Hudler (18.8%)
Shots on goal: Jeff Carter (217)
Shooting percentage: Tanner Pearson (17.6%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (49.4%, 1810 taken) Jeff Carter (52.7%, 1163 taken)
Grit
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (88)
Hits: Lance Bouma (264)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (278)
Penalty minutes: Kyle Clifford (85)
Hits: Dustin Brown (236)
Blocked shots: Drew Doughty (144)
ES Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Mark Giordano (48.44%, 61 GP)
Josh Jooris (47.32%, 58 GP) 
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (49.60%, 58 GP)
Mark Giordano (48.60%, 61 GP)
Corsi for%: Marian Gaborik (58.79%, 67 GP)
Anze Kopitar (58.72%, 77 GP)
Fenwick for%: Marian Gaborik (58.56%, 67 GP)
Anze Kopitar (58.51%, 77 GP)


Possible starting lineups

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond Mikael Backlund Joe Colborne
Michael Ferland Matt Stajan David Jones
Brandon Bollig Markus Granlund Josh Jooris
Left Defence Right Defence
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie Deryk Engelland
David Schlemko Corey Potter
Goalies
Jonas Hiller
Joni Ortio

Los Angeles Kings
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Marian Gaborik Anze Kopitar Justin Williams
Dwight King Jeff Carter Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis Jarret Stoll Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford Nick Shore Jordan Nolan
Left Defence Right Defence
Jake Muzzin Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb Matt Greene
Goalies
Jonathan Quick
Martin Jones

Because even this far in, we just can't make things easy. Corey Potter, who played all of five and a half minutes last game, is in. Lance Bouma is likely out, and Brandon Bollig, who hasn't played since it took him three minutes to get kicked out of a game for a stupid boarding, is in. These are two players the Kings will probably eat alive, so don't expect to see much of them at all.

Of course, this could be avoided because unless Drew Shore is injured, there's no reason for him to be perpetually scratched, and we wouldn't be throwing Tyler Wotherspoon into his first game of the season if he'd been played literally any other time during one of his four recalls... But hey, the Flames haven't made it easy for themselves all season, why start now?

Joni Ortio being back is a great sign, though! Can they play two goalies in the same game instead?

Go Flames, please.