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Here are a few things to watch when the Calgary Flames take on the Anaheim Ducks:
1. Heading south
The Flames have won three of six games without Mark Giordano. Considering Travis Hamonic is also sidelined right now, that’s not the end of the world. Their defensive play is really concerning, though. Sans Giordano, only two teams have given up shots or goals at a higher rate than the Flames. Just three sides are conceding more expected goals per 60 minutes.
While the Ducks are hardly an offensive powerhouse, they’re likely going to have plenty of chances to test Cam Talbot – especially if Mikael Backlund and/or Derek Ryan are out, thinning the center depth and taking away responsible two-way pivots.
Talbot has been nothing short of fantastic this season. The Flames need that to be the case tonight or they might be out of a playoff spot by the next time they take the ice.
2. The danger zone
Anaheim doesn’t have many marquee names in their lineup. As a whole, they don’t generate a ton offensively. They have a few guys with really good noses for the net, though.
Adam Henrique is generating 5.23 Grade A chances per 60 at 5v5. That’s 9th in the NHL. Nick Ritchie (4.88, 20th) and Rickard Rakell (4.64, 28th) are also quite good at generating quality looks in tight.
Right now the Flames don’t really have the defensive personnel to prevent them from getting there so, again, they’re going to rely a lot on Talbot.
While his overall numbers are fantastic, he ranks 41/59 in terms of save percentage vs high-danger shots. If he has an Achilles heel, that’s it. We’ll see how he holds up.
3. Be wary of the power kill
Anaheim isn’t good in many areas but they can really kill penalties. They don’t just suppress shots and chances; they generate them. The Ducks rank 2nd in attempts/60, 2nd in goals/60, and 3rd in chances/60 while shorthanded. They routinely force teams into mistakes and pounce as soon as they are made. The PP units need to be careful as a whole but, in particular, Noah Hanifin has to make smart decisions – and make them fast.
4. Long overdue
Johnny Gaudreau leads the Flames in attempts and shots on goal over the last 10. He ranks 2nd (barely) in chances, high-danger chances, and expected goals. He is getting a lot of opportunities for himself; they’re just not going in. He has managed 11 points during this span, anyway, and I think the floodgates could soon open up for him in terms of goal scoring. Ideally that happens sooner than later – I’m talking *this* week – so the Flames can solidify themselves in a playoff spot a little more prior to the trade deadline. If they’re on the fringes, and outside looking in with regards to points percentage, it’s going to be awfully tough to justify adding absolutely anyone.
Here are the projected lineups:
*questionable with illness
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund* - Matthew Tkachuk
Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan* - Dillon Dube
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder
Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
T.J. Brodie - Michael Stone
Oliver Kylington - Alex Yelesin
Max Jones - Ryan Getzlaf - Rickard Rakell
Devin Shore - Sam Steel - Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Troy Terry
Nic Deslauriers - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Brendan Guhle - Cam Fowler
Jacob Larsson - Korbinian Holzer
Puck drop is just after 4:00 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on SNW and PRIME.
Numbers via naturalstattrick.com
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