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FGD 39: A pair with the Maple Leafs (7pm MT, SN West)

It’s the start of a quick back-to-back set for the local sports team, likely followed by some games that will be postponed. The Calgary Flames (16-19-3, 35 points) host the Toronto Maple Leafs (24-10-3, 51 points) in the first of two holiday weekend games. The Leafs lead the (Scotia NHL) North Division, while the Flames are grasping at their dwindling playoff hopes.

The action starts at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

For a view from the other side, visit the fine folks over at Leafs Nation!

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The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Bennett
Nordstrom – Ryan – Dube

Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Stone – Nesterov

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David Rittich is tonight’s starter, backed up by Jacob Markstrom. The projected extras are Juuso Valimaki and Josh Leivo. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Oliver Kylington, Alex Petrovic, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo and Dominik Simon.

With the trade deadline looming, could this be the last start as a Flame for Rittich?

Mikael Backlund’s back after missing Friday’s game in Edmonton, and he’ll play in his 727th career game. It’s also game 997 for Milan Lucic, who’s closing in on that vaunted silver stick for hitting 1,000.

The Flames played a smart, structured game against Edmonton. But their special teams sunk them. They’ll need to stay out of the penalty box against a high-powered Maple Leafs attack.

The Maple Leafs

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Hyman – Matthews – Marner
Galchenyuk – Tavares – Nylander
Thornton – Kerfoot – Spezza
Mikhayev – Engvall – Simmonds

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Rielly – Brodie
Muzzin – Holl
Dermott – Bogosian

Michael Hutchinson starts for Toronto, backed up by Jack Campbell. Their active extras are Adam Brooks and Timothy Liljegren. The taxi squad is Ian Scott, Veini Vehvilainen, Alexander Barabanov, Scot Sabourin, Martin Marincin and Alex Galchenyuk (who’ll be activated for the game).

The Leafs have very little cap space and keep dealing with juggling injured goaltenders, but they keep finding ways to win games. They’re atop the Canadian division and are almost into the territory where they can just roll lines and not worry about burning out their big guns. They’ll be judged by how they do in the playoffs, so they need to make sure their best players are ready for mid-May.

The numbers

Calgary Toronto
Wins 16 24
Points (%) 35 (.461) 51 (.689)
Adjusted Corsi For 51.5% 51.8%
Expected Goals 51.6% 54.2%
Power Play 20.2% 24.1%
Penalty Kill 80.0% 77.7%

The drive to 65

If you peruse most standings projections, it becomes apparent that 65 points probably gets you into the playoffs. That’s a 32-23-1 record, or thereabouts, or a .580 points percentage.

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The Flames have an 16-19-3 record, 35 points, and a .461 points percentage. They need 30 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season, the equivalent of a .833 points percentage over the remaining 18 games.

The Flames’ tragic number is 15.5. Any combination of 15.5 Calgary losses and Montreal wins eliminates the Flames from playoff contention.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are healthy.

The Leafs are without Freddie Andersen, who’s nursing an injury.

When last we met

The Flames have captured five of a possible 12 points from their games with Toronto so far, going 2-3-1. Their last meeting with the Leafs was a 2-0 shutout loss.

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest: