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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 20: The Battle of Alberta backups (8pm MT, CBC/SNW/SN1)

Folks, it’s time for the first Battle of Alberta of the 2018-19 season! The Calgary Flames (10-8-1, 21 points) host the Edmonton Oilers (9-8-1, 19 points) in a game that carries a lot of importance for both clubs as they approach the quarter mark of the regular season.

It’s the late game on Hockey Night in Canada! The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT on CBC, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

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

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic

Valimaki – Andersson

So, Mike Smith was not good for the Flames on Thursday night – he admitted as much. As such, they’ve handed the reins for tonight to backup David Rittich. If Rittich can do what he’s done in his other six starts – give the Flames a chance to get points – they’ll likely go with him for awhile. The healthy scratches look to be Austin Czarnik, Michael Stone and Dalton Prout. Dillon Dube returns to the lineup after missing four games working through the concussion protocol.

Aside from their goaltending challenges, the Flames have been pretty good lately. Ever since their 9-1 shellacking at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’ve been playing structured, responsible hockey. Their offense has been sporadic, but their defensive game has been very improved. If they can stick to what’s made them successful over the past month, they’ll have a good chance at earning points in this key divisional game.

The Oilers

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Caggiula – McDavid – Draisaitl
Spooner – Nugent-Hopkins – Rattie
Lucic – Marody – Chiasson
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Benning
Garrison – Russell

Backup goaltender Mikko Kostinen starts for Edmonton, backed up by Cam Talbot (who’ll start Sunday against Vegas). The healthy extras are Kevin Gravel and Patrick Russell. It sounds like newly-acquired forward Ryan Spooner will suit up for the blue and orange.

The Oilers are basically two teams right now: Connor McDavid and everybody else. McDavid is a spectacular hockey player and, to be blunt, it’s exciting to get to watch him live as often as we do around here. But the Oilers have some depth challenges beyond his line and the line-matching aspect of tonight’s game will be interesting; can Mikael Backlund’s line isolate McDavid, or does Bill Peters opt to go strength versus strength and put Sean Monahan’s trio out against them?

The Numbers

CGY EDM
Wins 10 9
Points 21 19
Corsi Close 54.6% 48.3%
Power Play 18.5% 19.1%
Penalty Kill 77.0% 74.1%

Injury Report

The Flames are healthy.

The Oilers are without Andrej Sekera and Tobias Rieder (who’s on the active roster).

Season Series

This is the first of four games between these teams this season (and the 235th overall Battle of Alberta). They meet twice more in Edmonton, then play one more time in Calgary in Game 82 on Apr. 9.

Know Thy Enemy

Your Oilers Twitter follows for tonight:

FGD brought to you by ATB Financial

From peewee to the pros, Albertans love the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.