Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the preseason. The Calgary Flames will play seven exhibition games before the puck drops at Rogers Place on Oct. 4 to kick off the 2017-18 regular season. That series of friendlies will feature a wacky mixture of bonafide NHLers and guys just trying to get noticed. By a stroke of good fortune – if you’re a fan of getting the preseason over with so we can get to meaningful games – the Flames face the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 7 p.m. MT. In two different cities, at the same time, in a pair of split squad games that have become the traditional way to begin the exhibition calendar.
Neither game is on TV, but the Flames site is streaming them. Our friends at Sportsnet 960 The Fan will have the game from Calgary on the radio, if you’re unable to get tickets or would rather be watching football at home. There will still be five more evenings to catch preseason hockey, including three televised preseason games.
(PSA: If you don’t want to use your preseason tickets, donate them to Kids Up Front so kids can use them.)
The boys are back! Traditionally, the first preseason set sees the Flames ice a star-laden roster in Calgary and try out a few tweeners and projects in Edmonton. The Oilers do the same thing, so the notion is the home side has a distinct advantage in each game.
Projected lines in Calgary (via Pat Steinberg):
Smith & Gillies will split the game.
Projected lines in Edmonton (also via Pat Steinberg):
Lack & Rittich will split the game.
Like the Flames, the Oilers are skating in Edmonton in the morning and then sending half their bodies down the road to civilization. Don’t expect to see much more than the Bakersfield Condors roster gussied up slightly in the game in the Saddledome.
Lines in Calgary (via Reid Wilkins)
Rotation of Polei, Gambardella, Chase & Cristoffer
Lines in Edmonton (also via Reid Wilkins)
Rotation of Currie, Hamilton, Downing & P.Russell
The Flames lost both games to the Oilers in last year’s split squad opener, beginning a stretch of losses to Edmonton that would span the entire season. The Flames haven’t beaten Edmonton in the preseason since 2014, something which likely brings the entire organization – if not the entire city – great shame.
Sum It Up
It’s preseason hockey. It’ll be frantic and probably a little sloppy, but it’s better than no hockey at all.