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Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 30: Back in action against Buffalo (7pm MT, SN West)

After four days without a game, the Calgary Flames (13-12-4, 30 points) are back in action at palatial Scotiabank Saddledome. Their guests on this occasion are the Buffalo Sabres (13-10-5, 31 points), who the Flames beat two games ago on the road in Geoff Ward’s first functional game as bench boss.

This one begins at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Monahan – Backlund – Dube
Lucic – Ryan – Gaudreau
Rieder – Jankowski – Frolik

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

David Rittich starts for the Flames, backed up by Cam Talbot. It’s Rittich’s NHL-leading 24th start of the season. The projected scratches are Michael Stone and Zac Rinaldo. And hey, Travis Hamonic is back after missing six games with a lower body injury so the defensive pairings are once again optimal.

Look at the lines: they’re wacky. Elias Lindholm at center, answering Ryan Pinder’s prayers. Sean Monahan on the wing! Play drivers spread out throughout the entire top nine – Tkachuk and Mangiapane on the top line, Dube on the second, Ryan and Gaudreau on the third – which should make line-matching easier. If nothing else, this shows that there are no sacred cows to Geoff Ward: the 3M line is spread out among three different lines, as is the former top line.

It’s been 29 games of the Flames muddling around and not looking particularly impressive for 60 minute increments. Why not get wacky and see if something different works?

The Sabres

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Olofsson – Eichel – Reinhart
Skinner – Larsson – Sheary
Mittelstadt – Johansson – Vesey
Girgensons – Asplund – Rodrigues

Montour – Ristolainen
Scandella – Jokiharju
Miller – Bogosian

Linus Ullmark starts for the Sabres, backed up by Carter Hutton. Their lone healthy extra body is Jake McCabe.

The Sabres continue to putter along. They had a bit of a crash in November after a white-hot October start, but they demolished New Jersey in their last outing (putting up seven goals). If nothing else, they feel confident in their ability to score goals and make life challenging for teams when they make defensive mistakes.

The Flames will need to be smart and structured to grind out two points against Buffalo.

The Numbers

Flames Sabres
Wins 13 13
Points 30 31
Adjusted Corsi 51.0% 49.9%
Power Play 16.5% 18.6%
Penalty Kill 85.4% 74.7%

Injury Report

The Flames are without F Sam Bennett (upper body), D Juuso Valimaki (ACL surgery) and F Austin Czarnik (lower body). Czarnik is in Stockton on a conditioning stint.

The Sabres are missing F Vladimir Sobotka (knee), D Rasmus Dahlin (concussion), F Tage Thompson (shoulder), F Kyle Okposo (concussion) and D Matt Hunwick (neck).

When Last We Met

The Flames beat Buffalo 3-2 in overtime back on Nov. 27. It required a dramatic comeback.

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some key Twitter peeps to follow for tonight’s game: