Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 5: Mile high hopes (8pm MT, CBC/City/SN1)

The Calgary Flames (2-2-0, 4 points) finish off their first big road trip of the season in Denver when they visit the Colorado Avalanche (3-1-0, 6 points). The Flames have been an uneven bunch thus far; which version of their team will show up tonight?

The action starts at 8 p.m. MT on CBC, Sportsnet One and City TV and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Czarnik
Bennett – Dube – Neal
Ryan – Jankowski – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson

Valimaki – Stone

David Rittich makes his first start of the season after relieving Mike Smith on Thursday in St. Louis. Dalton Prout sits for his fourth game of the season as a healthy scratch, but Bill Peters has made some bottom six changes. Garnet Hathaway and Mark Jankowski are in and Anthony Peluso and Michael Frolik are out – Peluso and Frolik hit the ice twice in the third period in St. Louis, so maybe we should’ve seen this coming. Mikael Backlund was absent from yesterday’s practice as a maintenance day, but he’s apparently good to go.

On the blueline, Rasmus Andersson and Michael Stone swapped partners. Peters indicated that he was thinking about making this move prior to the road trip, if only so it’s a bit harder for the opposition coach to isolate an all-rookie defensive pairing. Andersson and Noah Hanifin could be a lot of fun to watch.

So far this season, the Flames have lived and died by their special teams performances. They gave up two power play goals and scored zero against the Blues. If they can win the special teams battle – a battle driven by their best offensive players – they’ll be successful most nights.

The Avalanche

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Kerfoot – Jost – Wilson
Nieto – Soderberg – Bourque
Dries – Compher – Calvert

Girard – Johnson
Cole – Barrie
Zadorov – Barberio

Semyon Varlamov starts, backed up by Philipp Grubauer. The healthy scratch looks to be Vladislav Kamenev. (The Avalanche have a farm team located in a suburb, the Colorado Eagles, so they’re carrying very few extra bodies in an attempt to maximize their cap space.)

Here’s the general pattern for Avalanche games thus far: if they score four goals (or more), they win. They were held to two goals by Columbus and lost. In their other three games they scored four, five and six goals, and those were good enough to win. In other words: the Flames need to keep the goals against down to have a fighting chance.

The Numbers

Wins 2 3
Points 4 6
Corsi Close 55.8% 53.3%
Power Play 23.8% 33.3%
Penalty Kill 76.5% 94.7%

Injury Report

The Flames are missing D Travis Hamonic (facial fracture).

Colorado is without F Sven Andrighetto (lower body) and D Patrik Nemeth (upper body).

History Lesson

This is the first of three meetings between Calgary and Colorado this season.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Avalanche Twitter follows for tonight: