Observations on a Flames-Senators Game Day
In the history of the Calgary Flames franchise, has there ever been a season as odd as this one?
A team that consistently outworks the opposition. A team that leads their conference in some of the more crucial advanced analytics categories — the Flames have the highest xGF%, Corsi, and Fenwick% of Western Conference teams.
Yet here they are today on pace for 88 and sitting six points out of a playoff spot with 16 games to go.
What a time to be alive. Let’s just stay focused on the next game from here out.
Speaking of — a few thoughts heading into tonight’s 7:00 pm start against the Ottawa Senators.
Let’s take a look at the lineup. Darryl made a few adjustments after a gut punch of a 3-1 loss to the 29th-place Anaheim Ducks.
Calgary Flames Projected Lineup
Based on yesterday’s practice lines.
It’s been a wild ride for Dillon Dubé in his last four games. A promotion to the first line followed by three games with Lucic and Lewis. Darryl was pushing buttons to little effect. Zero offensive production in those four games. In fact, Dubé hasn’t recorded a point since scoring a goal against Boston on February 28.
Tonight we’ll get to see Dubé get a shot with the second line. His speed should work well with Jonathan Huberdeau, who is finally moving back to the left side.
23-year-old Adam Ruzicka informed the media today that he may not be in the lineup despite practicing on the fourth line yesterday.
It’s been a rough second half for the Slovak pivot. Zero points in his last 16 appearances. The 25 games before that? He had six goals and 14 assists for 20 points.
You have to wonder what’s going on.
An equal mystery is Milan Lucic. Friday’s loss was his worst game as a Calgary Flame. It might have been the worst performance of his career. There was one point where he missed a hit by about ten feet and just crashed himself against the boards. Draw your own conclusions as to why he’s playing tonight after putting up such a stinker.
Speaking of veterans, tonight will be the first game of the season that Trevor Lewis is a healthy scratch. The Flames were outshot 0-6 while the former Kings 17th overall pick was on the ice against the Ducks. Maybe one or both of the two are playing while injured, but we’re getting to the point where there is simply no good reason to not dress a younger player over either.
A Classic Sutter Drought
It was fairly infuriating watching the Flames run the same drive the outside then throw it blindly into the middle play over and over for 55 minutes against the Ducks. Calgary finally started playing a bit more East-West as they made a final drive to tie the game at two, but it was far too late.
This happens with Sutter-led teams, but it’s unfortunate timing. Remove the 5-4 win in Dallas and the Flames only have two goals in their last four games.
A Team With Promise
The opposition tonight finds itself in a similar position to the Flames in terms of points and standings. Ottawa has 70 points and sits six points out of the final wildcard spot in the East. Calgary has 71 points and sits six points out of the final wildcard spot in the West.
The similarities more or less end there. Ottawa shows a ton of promise and has won six of their last eight. The Flames are an underperforming veteran team that has lost six of their last eight.
Ottawa Senators Projected Lineup
Courtesy of dailyfaceoff.com.
Tkachuk – Stützle – Giroux
Debrincat – Pinto – Batherson
Joseph – Gambrell – Brown
Brassard – Kastelic – Watson
Chabot – Zub
Sanderson – Hamonic
Chychrun – Holden
Game time is 7:00 pm MST. Catch the broadcast on Sportsnet West, RDS and TSN.
Stats via naturalstattrick.com and nhl.com.