FGD #79: The 224th Battle of Alberta (8pm MT, CBC)

It’s a meeting of two teams trending in different directions tonight at Rexall Place!

The Calgary Flames are, as the final week of the NHL season begins, in a playoff spot. The Edmonton Oilers are near the bottom of the league standings. Considering that Calgary’s rebuild is in Year Two and Edmonton’s is in Year Infinity, that’s pretty encouraging for Flames fans.

Tonight’s game is the first of the final four contests for the Flames. Three wins likely gets them into the post-season. Less than that? Probably gets them squat, so they cannot let points slip away.

The puck drops tonight for the final 2014-15 edition of the Battle of Alberta at 8pm MT on CBC (with Paul Romanuk and Mike Johnson) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

THE FLAMES

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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After three games sitting on the bench, Karri Ramo gets the start for the Flames. He’s 15-9-3 with a 2.60 goals against average and .912 save percentage. It’ll be his 32nd start of the season.

One line-up changed has been confirmed: Raphael Diaz is out, Corey Potter is in. My “guess” is they want Tyler Wotherspoon to have a game on the outside to observe Schlemko’s tendencies or whatever before he slots back in. Plus, Diaz is a right-hander and Potter is a right-hander, so slotting in the lefty Wotherspoon makes things a bit unbalanced and definitely requires some adjustments for everybody.

What about this “Sam Bennett” fellow? Well, according to reports he skated on Calgary’s fifth line alongside Michael Ferland and Josh Jooris. But Bob Hartley also declined to comment on changes on the line-up other than Potter’s inclusion, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he swapped in for somebody.

THE OILERS

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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Ben Scrivens gets the start for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s 15-25-10 with a 3.09 goals against average and .893 save percentage. It’ll be his 52nd start for the year. He’s the better of Edmonton’s goalies, which probably tells you why they are where they are right now.

David Musil makes his NHL debut tonight, replacing Nikita Nikitin. You may recall that his dad, Frank, played for both the Flames and Oilers. It’ll be cool to see him get into the line-up, particularly making his debut in the midst of a Battle of Alberta.

The Oilers are firmly in spoiler mode and playing much better of late, so expect them to play an energetic game tonight. They have nothing left to lose.

THE NUMBERS

Calgary Edmonton
Wins 42 23
Last Ten 4-4-2 5-3-2
Power Play 18.6% (15th) 18.0% (19th)
Penalty Kill 80.2% (23rd) 77.4% (28th)
Corsi 44.4% (28th) 48.2% (24th)
Corsi Close 45.0% (28th) 47.4% (24th)
Faceoffs 47.5% (26th) 47.8% (25th)
PDO 101.2 (5th) 97.0 (30th)

THE DRIVE TO 95*

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The Flames begin the evening with a 4.5 magic number on Winnipeg and 5 magic number on Los Angeles. There are many big games tonight, in addition to Calgary and Edmonton.

  • Vancouver plays Winnipeg at 1pm MT.
  • Minnesota plays Detroit at 5pm MT.
  • Dallas plays Nashville at 6pm MT.
  • San Jose plays Arizona at 7pm MT.
  • Los Angeles plays Colorado at 8pm MT.

A Calgary win and a regulation loss by Winnipeg or Los Angeles drops the magic number to either 2.5 (on Winnipeg) or 3 (on Los Angeles).

So it’s an important night.

SUM IT UP

It’s the Battle of Alberta, so that’s always win. David Musil makes his NHL debut! Sam Bennett might make his NHL debut! The Flames can leap ever-so-closer to a playoff berth with a win and some help tonight.

Exciting, eh?