After three wins under the guidance of two-time Stanley Cup winning coach (and two-time Flames head coach) Darryl Sutter, the Calgary Flames (14-12-3, 31 points) can get to the .500 mark both in their season series with the hated Edmonton Oilers (18-13-0, 36 points) and in their season overall in what’s sure to be a heated Battle of Alberta clash. The Flames can move within just three points of their rivals (with two games in hand), so this game is massive in terms of playoff implications.
The action starts at 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet West (and the entire national feed) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
Tkachuk – Lindholm – Dube
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Mangiapane
Bennett – Ryan – Leivo
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Kylington – Valimaki
Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames, backed up by David Rittich. The projected active extra is Nikita Nesterov, while Joakim Nordstrom remains out with an injury. The taxi squad is Artyom Zagidulin, Alex Petrovic, Oliver Kylington, Dominik Simon, Zac Rinaldo and Buddy Robinson – Kylington will be activated for the game tonight.
The Flames are on their longest heater of the season: three games! But they’re also playing some of the best structured hockey of the season and under Sutter every skater on the team has an expected goals percentage north of 50% aside from Mark Giordano, Rasmus Andersson, Johnny Gaudreau, Brett Ritchie and Sean Monahan. (The hope is likely that these guys will bounce back considering they’ve generated so much offense, albeit not as much as you’d hope five-on-five).
If the Flames can keep this up, they may keep pulling themselves back into the playoff conversation.
Draisaitl – McDavid – Yamamoto
Ennis – Nugent-Hopkins – Puljujarvi
Shore – Archibald – Neal
Kahun – Haas – Chiasson
Nurse – Larsson
Lagesson – Bear
Jones – K.Russell
Mike Smith starts for Edmonton, backed up by Mikko Koskinen. A lot of the rest of their lineup is guesswork as the team says Jujhar Khaira and Tyson Barrie are day-to-day. Their lone healthy extra may be Patrick Russell. Their taxi squad is Dylan Wells, Theodor Lennstrom, Evan Bouchard and Joakim Nygard, but we’ll see what kind of shuffling they do before puck drop.
We all know what to expect from the Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are excellent, excellent hockey players. The rest of their team lacks their high-end skill, but can bring a lot of structure and hustle on a nightly basis. (Josh Archibald is arguably the embodiment of this, as he’s all hustle.)
The challenge, as always, will be to bottle up Edmonton’s all-world players and try to out-work their workers.
Adjusted Corsi For
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 14-12-3 record and 31 points (and a .534 points percentage). To hit 65 points, they need 35 points in their remaining 27 games – the equivalent of a .648 points percentage.
Unfit to play report
The Flames are without Joakim Nordstrom.
The Oilers are without Alex Stalock, Zack Kassian, Oscar Klefbom and Slater Koekkoek, and could be without both Jujhar Khaira and Tyson Barrie. Kyle Turris is on the COVID-19 unavailable list but has rejoined the team (and is skating).
When last we met
This is the fifth of 10 Battles of Alberta in 2020-21. The Flames have won two out of five. They won 6-4 and 4-3, but lost 2-1, 7-1 and 3-2.
Know thy enemy
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