FGD 38: The 249th Battle of Alberta (7pm MT, SN West)

Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
After a trip to Vancouver, having their game postponed and then flying to Edmonton, the Calgary Flames (16-18-3, 35 points) are back in action in what’s sure to be an intense and emotional game against their old friends, the Edmonton Oilers (22-14-1, 45 points). The Flames need some momentum – for their present or their future – and games like tonight’s are crucial to putting rubber to the road as the club tries to move forward.
The action starts at 7 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
For a view from the other side, check out OilersNation!

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Bennett
Nordstrom – Ryan – Dube
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Valimaki – Nesterov
Jacob Markstrom is tonight’s starter, backed up by David Rittich. The projected extras are Michael Stone and Josh Leivo. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Oliver Kylington, Alex Petrovic, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo and Dominik Simon.
Update: no Backlund, as he’s day-to-day with an unspecified injury.
If you think the Flames have a snowball’s chance in Hawaii of making the playoffs, they need wins. A lot of them. And maybe a time machine, too. If you think that this season is lost, there’s value in Darryl Sutter trying stuff out and setting a tone for the fall, and wins and good habits are still important.
Needless to say, the Flames need to find ways to battle and make life difficult for their opposition – far too often, they’re a relatively easy night at the office. The Flames have nine fights this season: four have been against Edmonton. Say what you will about the impacts of fighting – brain injuries flat-out suck and broken hands aren’t much better – but the Flames have at least battled against Edmonton this season.

The Oilers

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Archibald – Haas – Kassian
Shore – Khaira – Chiasson
Nurse – Barrie
K. Russell – Larsson
Jones – Bear
Mike Smith starts for Edmonton, backed up by Mikko Koskinen. Their projected extras are Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis and William Lagesson. The taxi squad is Dylan Wells, Theodor Lennstrom, Evan Bouchard, Joakim Nygard, James Neal and Patrick Russell.
Edmonton’s been a little less up and down this season than in years past, and this consistency is why they’re among the top outfits in the (Scotia NHL) North Division. And, as always, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are treats to watch and terrifying to play against.

The numbers

Points (%)35 (.473)45 (.608)
Adjusted Corsi For51.4%49.3%
Expected Goals51.7%50.5%
Power Play20.5%25.9%
Penalty Kill80.8%77.6%

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.
The Flames have an 16-18-3 record, 35 points, and a .473 points percentage. They need 30 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season, the equivalent of a .789 points percentage over the remaining 19 games.
The Flames’ tragic number is 16.5. Any combination of 16.5 Calgary losses or Montreal wins eliminates the Flames from playoff contention.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are healthy.
The Oilers are without Alex Stalock, Oscar Klefbom and Slater Koekkoek.

When last we met

This is the seventh of 10 Battles of Alberta in 2020-21. The Flames have won two out of six. They won 6-4 and 4-3, but lost 2-1, 7-1, 3-2 and 7-3.

Know thy enemy

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