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Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

FGD 42: New Year’s Eve with the Blackhawks (7pm MT, SN West)

After a disappointing effort against Vancouver on Sunday night, the Calgary Flames (20-16-5, 45 points) hope to close out 2019 on a winning note when they host the Chicago Blackhawks (17-17-6, 40 points). The Blackhawks aren’t the powerhouse they once were, but they’re a hard-working young team that could give the Flames fits tonight.

The action begins just after 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Backlund – Monahan – Bennett
Lucic – Ryan – Gaudreau
Rinaldo – Rieder – Frolik

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Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Stone

David Rittich starts, backed up by Cam Talbot. (Talbot played 49 minutes against Vancouver, so Rittich is basically the fresher goalie.) Today’s projected scratches are Mark Jankowski and Dillon Dube, while Zac Rinaldo and Sam Bennett rotate back in. TJ Brodie looks to be out with an illness. Per our pal Pat Steinberg, he’ll be a game-time decision.

Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward chatted about rotating players in and out on Monday after practice:

We’ve got depth on our hockey club. So the one thing with us is we’re going to use that depth when we see fit to use it. And sometimes it’s not… everybody thinks when a guy’s pulled it’s something bad going on. It’s not always that. You tailor your lineup to different oppositions. You tailor your lineup to different situations. So guys don’t always come out of your lineup because they’re playing poorly.

The watch word for the Flames in the first half has been “consistency.” In the sense that they haven’t had any. The same club that looked so good against Edmonton on Friday can also be the shaky team we’ve seen against Los Angeles and Vancouver this season. For a team that was defined by grinding teams down last season and chained strong outings together, you never really know what you’re going to get.

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The Blackhawks

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Carpenter – Toews – Kane
Debrincat – Dach – Strome
Kubalik – Kampf – Quenneville
Nylander – Smith – Highmore

Keith – Boqvist
Gustafsson – Murphy
Koekkoek – Gilbert

Robin Lehner starts for Chicago, backed up by Corey Crawford. The projected extra is Dylan Sikura. Olli Maatta missed their last game due to illness but may slot back in.

Since Chicago’s four game losing skid midway through the month, they’ve won five of their past seven outings. Some of those wins have been against pretty stiff competition: Colorado, Winnipeg and the Islanders. They’re a scrappy, talented group that boasts some fun, young players.

Fun fact: two players in tonight’s lineup, Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach, were born in the 2000s.

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The Numbers

Flames Blackhawks
Wins 20 17
Points 45 40
Adjusted Corsi 50.0% 47.1%
Power Play 18.9% 15.1%
Penalty Kill 84.1% 82.1%

Injury Report

The Flames are without D Juuso Valimaki (ACL surgery).

The Blackhawks are without F Drake Caggiula (concussion), D Olli Maatta (illness), F Andrew Shaw (concussion), D Calvin de Haan (shoulder), D Brent Seabrook (shoulder) and F Brandon Saad (ankle).

When Last We Met

This is the first of three games between these two teams. They last met last January in Chicago, where the Flames won 4-3.

Know Thy Enemy

Here are some key Twitter peeps to follow for tonight: