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Ducks @ Flames PREVIEW: Flamin’ Hot

Ducks take on the red-hot Flames on their second game of a four-game roadtrip.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Game 61

Date: Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Time: 6:00 PM PT

Location: Scotiabank Saddledome

TV: Fox Sports Prime

Radio: AM830

Your Enemy: Matchsticks and Gasoline

The Landscape

Who are these 3-1 post-Carlyle-Interim-HC-Murray Anaheim Ducks? I mean—while they weren’t jaw-dropping amazing against the Minnesota Wild, they also weren’t the despondent, soul-crushing, 2nd Carlyle-era Anaheim Ducks that we’ve all come to despair. The roster for the most part is the same, but perhaps there is a new air in the locker room that is giving the players second wind.

We are now about 34 through the current season and trade deadline is this coming Monday. But one of the anticipated Ducks’ asset, Jakob Silfverberg was just taken off the market with an “unofficial” five-year extension. (You can read Jake’s hot take on the unofficial extension here.) And wait a minute, two weeks ago we were talking about tanking and aiming for the lottery draft pick. Now, we’re talking about potentially ending up in a Wild Card spot in a close Western Division race.

So what the hell? Half the fanbase is overjoyed with the prospect of keeping Silf and potentially seeing the post-season. The other half is frustrated with the looming salary cap issues and the draft lottery pick slipping through our fingers. Let the great debate begin—and end quickly because the next few days will be very telling for near future of this franchise.

Taking a Look at the Enemy

I’m sure all that’s a recap for you so let’s proceed to quickly review the state of the Calgary Flames. To put it simply, the Flames are on fire (lame pun intended). They have somehow managed to claw their way to the top of the Western Conference, currently enjoying a three game win streak.

Part of the Flames’ success has come from the depth scoring. Sure, we all know the offensive successes of the Flames’ top line, but they’re also seeing scoring from the likes of Matthew Tkachuk, and Mikael Backlund, and even Austin Czarnik as of late. Recently, Calgary HC Bill Peters’ tinkering of the top line in their last game against the Islanders resulted in Johnny Hockey finally breaking his 9-game goal-scoring slump. Good timing.

And as the icing on the cake, Flames defenseman and captain Mike Giordano just achieved a career high of 58 points and currently leads the NHL with a +29 rating. Let me remind you that he’s also frequent dirty kneeing bastard 35 (=old).

Keys to the Game

  1. Get in the crease and bother the hell out of the goaltender. If there is one notable Achilles heel for the Flames (for the past several years), it will be in net. Most of the season saw David Rittich take the starter’s role from veteran Mike Smith, but his recent average showings have given the latter goaltender a second chance. And Smith has started in the past four games, winning three of those. But since its been more than a week since Rittich has taken net, we may expect that he may get the nod.
  2. Stay out of the penalty box. The Flames currently stand 7th overall for PP%.
  3. Top line needs to continue to produce. We saw some good things coming from the Twins the past few games. It’s good to see glimpses of that old school chemistry come to fruition. But I’d personally like to see Rickard Rakell get a little more into the goal-scoring action.

Puck drops at Saddledome at 6pm pst.