Friends, the 2021-22 Calgary Flames season will finally begin on Saturday night. After sitting idle for the first four days of the calendar – along with St. Louis, San Jose and Boston – the Flames will be among the last clubs to play their first games. But their first game is a big one: the 253rd regular season edition of the Battle of Alberta against the Edmonton Oilers.
The puck drops a little bit after 8 p.m. MT and you can catch the action on television via CBC (with Harnarayan Singh and Louis DeBrusk) or on radio via Sportsnet 960 The Fan (with Derek Wills and Peter Loubardias).

The Flames

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Dube – Monahan – Mangiapane
Lucic – Backlund – Lewis
rotating – Gawdin – Ritchie
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Hanifin – Andersson
Zadorov – Tanev
Kylington – Gudbranson
Valimaki
Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames, backed up by Dan Vladar. Michael Stone is unavailable due to COVID-19 protocols. Brad Richardson and Tyler Pitlick are out with injuries. Blake Coleman is unavailable due to suspension. So the Flames are going with seven defensemen and 11 forwards, at least for tonight, and have zero healthy extras right now.
It’s the Flames debuts for Trevor Lewis, Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson, while Vladar dresses for the first time in Flames colours as backup. (The debuts for Coleman, Richardson and Pitlick will have to wait.)
The Flames are infamous for their slow starts to the season, so grabbing a win against a divisional rival could be huge down the line – especially with how tight the Pacific Division standings are expected to be.
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The Oilers

Projected lines via Daily Faceoff:
Draisaitl – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Hyman – Nugent-Hopkins – Yamamoto
Foegele – Ryan – Kassian
Perlini – McLeod – Turris
Nurse – Barrie
Keith – Ceci
Koekkoek – Bouchard
Mike Smith (Forever A Flame) starts for Edmonton, backed up by Mikko Koskinen. Edmonton’s scratches are Tyler Benson, Colton Sceviour and Kris Russell.
The Oilers won their home-opener a few nights back, beating Vancouver in a shootout. They remain a potent offensive team with a deep forward group and a scary-good power play. The Flames need to avoid taking too many penalties against them.

The numbers

Calgary
Edmonton
Wins
1
Points (%)
– (-)
2 (1.000)
Adjusted Corsi For
57.3%
Expected Goals For
61.1%
Power Play
50.0%
Penalty Kill
80.0%

Unfit to play

As noted, the Flames are without Michael Stone (COVID-19 protocols), Brad Richardson (injury), Tyler Pitlick (injury) and Blake Coleman (suspension).
The Oilers are without William Lagesson (injury). Zack Kassian is expected to be cleared for this game and Devin Shore could be put onto the injury reserve to open up a roster spot for him.
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When last we met

Last season, Edmonton won six of the 10 meetings between these clubs. If you recall that the Flames missed the playoffs by four points, their performances against Edmonton was a key reason why.
This is the first of four Battles of Alberta in 2021-22’s regular season. All-time, in 252 previous regular season meetings of Calgary and Edmonton, Calgary has gone 126-102-18-6 (for a .548 points percentage). However: the Flames are below .500 all-time in Edmonton, with a 54-58-9-5 record (.484).

Know thy enemy

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest: