Morning Skate: Red Wings vs Flames

Game 63

7:30p ET, Joe Louis Arena


TV: Fox Sports Detroit Plus,TVA

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Flames Blog: Matchsticks And Gasoline

Tonight the Wings host the Calgary Flames and hope to kick their butts soundly and take 2 points all for themselves. The last time these two teams faced off was January 7th when the Wings beat the Hudler-less Flames 3-2. That was the night we all found out that Jiri Hudler not only had a wife, but was also about to become a father.. The Wings have won 3 games in a row now and have points in 6 of their last 7 games, and Jimmy Howard is big part of that. James Tiberius Howard stole the show Wednesday night against the Rangers, stopping 39 of 40 shots and was the reason the Wings even made it close to overtime. Jimmy Howard is the reason the Red Wings beat the Rangers. Howard did an interview yesterday on Detroit Sports 105.1 where he said it was the first game since coming back that he felt like himself, and a big part of that was it was the first game he didn't have his groin wrapped. Welcome back, Jimmy Howard! Having Howard healthy and on his game is key to the Wings long playoff run and it's good to have him back.

Calgary played last night and beat Jeff's Boston Bruins in a shootout thanks to this pretty slick goal from David Schlemco (thank you, Kyle for the Gif) in his NHL debut. The Flames will be without Mark Giordano for the rest of the season (torn ligament that requires surgery) and that's a big blow to the team.

Mike Babcock kind of called out the Wings 3rd line of Nyquist, Sheahan, and Weiss yesterday, saying

"They weren't very good...Lots of us weren't very good, though. We'll see if it's a line that can spend some time in the offensive zone. We'll give it another try tomorrow."

A line composed of three players as good as Goose, Riley, and Weiss should be able to get going and produce some nice offense, they're all good players. So at least to start the game, Mike Babcock plans to go with the same lines as last game. Which means Tomas Jurco remains on Datsyuk's wing and will continue to make good things happen. He didn't score Wednesday night, but he darn near did on several occasions and he had a fantastic game.

The Expected Lineups (Subject to Change)


Tomas Tatar Pavel Datsyuk Tomas Jurco
Justin Abdelkader Henrik Zetterberg Erik Cole
Stephen Weiss Riley Sheahan
Gustav Nyquist
Drew Miller Joakim Andersson Luke Glendening


Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyser
Kyle Quincey
Brendan Smith Marek Zidlicky


Jimmy Howard (starting)
Jonas Gustavsson

Scratches: Daniel Cleary & Jakub Kindl.

Injuries: Johan Franzen (concussion), Darren Helm (oblique strain), Alexey Marchenko (oblique strain)


Mason Raymond Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Johnny Gaudreau
Josh Jooris
Joe Colborne
Lance Bouma
Michael Backlund
David Jones
Michael Ferland
Drew Shore
Emile Poirier


Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
T.J. Brodie
Deryk Engelland
Raphael Diaz
Harry Corey Potter


Jonas Hiller (Starting)
Karri Ramo

Line Matchups

Let's take a look at how the expected lines match up against each other. Not much has chanced on the Wings chart from last time, but something immediately jumps out at me about the Flames chart. Calgary has scored a total of 181 goals this season, and 21.5% of them have been scored by players who aren't in the lineup tonight! The Wings have scored a total of 182 goals this season, so the percentages for each team equal the same number of goals, which is pretty convenient.

DET vs CGY Wings Lines ScoringFlames scoring by line 3.6.15


Next we have a nifty gauge comparison of each line's average Corsi for % at 5 on 5 in close situations. Close is defined as a score that is tied (including a scoreless tie) or within 1 goal in the 1st or 2nd period, or when the game is tied in the 3rd period.

Corsi line matchup 3.6.15

What I learned while creating this graphic: The Calgary Flames are not a good possession team. They are, in fact, the 3rd worst 5on5 Corsi team in the NHL at 44.7%. The Wings, in contrast, are the 4th best team at 5on5 at 53.6%.


Ok, now for the defensemen. This graph is taken from and it's awesome. All stats are at even strength in close situations.

*This chart excludes Calgary's stats from last night as they had not yet been updated as of the posting of this article.

**Only Marek Zidlicky's first game with the Wings is calculated in his stats here.

The Flames top pairing is worse possession wise and gets slightly more offensive zone starts than Detroit's 2nd pair, DeKeyser and Quincey. From this perspective, Detroit should have the defensive advantage.

DET CGY D men stats 3.6.15


Below are the individual game save % for each expected starting goaltender.Jimmy Howard and Jonas Hiller have almost identical season SV% this year, Jimmy with .919 and Jonas Hiller with .913. Hiller is a good goalie, and I've always kind of liked him (even when he was a Duck, shhhh don't tell anyone). It should be a close goaltending matchup, but Jimmy Howard is better and he's going to whip his..... glove out and taunt the Flames with it. Jonas HIller is 5-8-1 in his career against the Wings with a 2.56 GAA and .916 SV%. Below the spiral graphs, there are also links to scatter plots with the same data, for those of you who prefer that visual.

Howard Spiral Graph 3.6.15

Hiller Spiral SV% 3.6.15

You can see Jimmy Howard's SV% chart in a scatter plot with trend line here


You can see Jonas Hiller's SV% chart in a scatter plot with trend line here.


On paper, it looks like the Red Wings shouldn't have a tough time beating the Flames. However, this feels very much like a trap game, in part because the flames are still the third best team in the Pacific Division, and in part because I still have flashbacks to all those times when the flames were complete garbage, but still somehow beat the Wings.

35-25-4 (74 pts; 3rd in Pacific) Record 36-15-11 (83 pts; 3rd in Atlantic)
2.78 (16th NHL) Goals Per Game 2.89 (7th in NHL)
2.56 (14th) Goals Against Per Game 2.44 (7th)
17.9% (18th) Power Play % 25.2% (1st)
81.1% (18th) Penalty Kill % 82.6% (10th)
Sean Monahan (23 goals) Goal Leader Tomas Tatar (25 goals)
Jiri Hudler (50 points) Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (52 points)

  • The Red Wings are 71-65-16-1 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time in the regular season against the Calgary Flames./

  • Last 10 Games: Detroit 5-3-2, Calgary 5-4-1

  • Jimmy Howard is 8-5-0 all-time against the Flames in the regular season with a 2.69 GAA, .899 SV%./
Let's Go Red Wings!!!