The way the Calgary Flames have played at home over the last two months, it sure does feel like they’re going to win each and every time they hit the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Sunday night’s 5-3 win over the Oilers saw the Flames set a brand new franchise record with their 11th consecutive win on home ice. The hallmark of this stretch has been Calgary’s ability to not get rattled and stick with the program, as they engineered another comeback win against Edmonton. The Flames will look to stretch their home winning streak to 12 tonight with an important divisional matchup against the Anaheim Ducks (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).
Calgary Flames 17-16-2, T-4th Pacific Division
While this stretch at the Saddledome is impressive, the Flames aren’t even halfway to the overall league record for consecutive home wins. That record is held by the Detroit Red Wings when they won 23 straight games at home during the 2011-2012 season. That said, the fact that this season is the year Calgary sets a new record at the Saddledome is pretty astonishing. When you think of all the incredible teams the Flames had in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, it’s quite surprising to think they never won as many consecutive games at the ‘Dome as they have this season. Most importantly, this stretch of 11 straight home wins has saved Calgary’s season and has put them right back in the mix in the Pacific Division.
Monday saw Gaudreau rack up another individual award from the NHL, as he was named the league’s first star of the week. Gaudreau scored five times in two games last week and has been incredible in the month of December. In 11 games this month, Gaudreau has posted 12 goals to go along with seven assists for 19 points. We knew December was going to be a make or break month for the Flames, and they needed someone to step up to ensure the former. Well, there’s no question Gaudreau has been that guy and don’t be surprised if we find out he’s been named one of the stars of the month on Friday afternoon.
Calgary will make a couple tweaks in their lineup for tonight’s game against the Ducks. Bollig returns to the lineup after missing the last seven games, and 12 of the last 13, as a healthy scratch. Bollig will replace Mason Raymond who had been playing some pretty good hockey since returning to the lineup as a regular to start December. Josh Jooris will sit out as the other healthy scratch up front while Ladislav Smid is the odd man out on the blueline.
Karri Ramo got the job done against the Oilers and will get his seventh straight start tonight against Anaheim. The most important thing Ramo did on Sunday night was make sure the game never got away from the Flames. Ramo made a number of crucial saves in the second period to make sure Calgary’s deficit didn’t get any bigger than two goals and that allowed them to chip away as the middle frame went on. Ramo’s numbers have certainly improved of late, as he’s now 13-10-1 with a 2.75 goals against average and a 0.907 save percentage.
Anaheim Ducks 13-15-6, 7th Pacific Division
It remains stunning to me to see the Ducks sit last in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference 34 games into their season. This team was a legitimate final four team one year ago and was a game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, yet they can’t seem to get out of their own way this season. Anaheim is the league’s lowest scoring team by a a large margin at 1.91 goals per game; they’re the only team to be averaging less than two goals per contest. It just doesn’t compute knowing the talent they have on this team, and while there are signs of improvement, it’s not like this thing looks poised to pop. The Ducks did score four goals on Sunday night, though, as they’re coming off a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice.
One of the main victims of Anaheim’s scoring woes has been Getzlaf. The perennial All Star finally scored his second goal of the season against the Flyers, and this one came with an opposing goalie between the pipes. Getzlaf scored on a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity for the Ducks on Sunday adding to his empty net goal earlier in the season. To think those are the only two goals Getzlaf has scored is stunning, to say the very, very least. That said, Getzlaf did reach a milestone against Philly, as he hit the 700 point mark with his two point effort. Only Carolina’s Eric Staal has more career points than Getzlaf from that banner 2003 draft class; Staal has 762 in 882 NHL games.
The Ducks have endured lots of bad news throughout the season and got some more on Monday afternoon. The team has announced defenceman Cam Fowler has been placed on injured reserve with a knee sprain. Anaheim has yet to give a timeline on Fowler’s recovery, but the feeling is might be a while until they see their leading ice time getter back in the fold. Fowler leads the Ducks in ice time, averaging 22:38 per game. It’ll be Theodore making his NHL debut in his place, as the former first round pick has spent the beginning of the season in the AHL. Fowler joins fellow blueliner Simon Despres on the sidelines as he continues to recover from an upper body injury.
John Gibson gets the call once again for the Ducks between the pipes. Gibson has taken over as this team’s number one goalie for now since his recall from San Diego of the American Hockey League. Tonight will be Gibson’s 11th start in Anaheim’s last 12 games, and it looks like Frederik Andersen is going to have to bide his time before getting the net back that he owned for the most part last season. At just 22, Gibson’s numbers are pretty darn impressive; he sits 5-4-2 with a 1.98 goals against average and a 0.923 save percentage.