Originally, tonight was supposed to be a clash between the Calgary Flames (16-21-3, 35 points) and the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately, Vancouver’s dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and to keep the trains running on time, instead the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers (25-14-2, 52 points) in the 250th regular season edition of the Battle of Alberta. Dress it up however you want, the Flames need points heading into their final game before the trade deadline.
The action starts at 8 p.m. MT on CBC and Sportsnet West (and the national feed) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!
For a view from the other side, check out OilersNation!

The Flames

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Mangiapane – Monahan – Dube
Lucic – Backlund – Nordstrom
Bennett – Ryan – Ritchie
Giordano – Tanev
Hanifin – Andersson
Valimaki – Stone
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Jacob Markstrom is tonight’s starter, backed up by David Rittich. The projected extras are Nikita Nesterov and Josh Leivo. The taxi squad is Louis Domingue, Oliver Kylington, Alex Petrovic, Buddy Robinson, Zac Rinaldo and Dominik Simon.
The Flames have new lines! After morning skate, bench boss Darryl Sutter explained the thought process behind the forward shuffle.
Well I think we’re at the point with this team where we’re not only looking for a full 200 foot compliment game out of all our forwards, but also some scoring chances and finish. And if you look at this week, we’ve basically put our top six offensive guys together and hopefully they have the mindset that they can play a puck possession, compete, 200 foot game. The third and fourth lines for ours, so-called third and fourth line, whoever we put on them, those guys are really responsible guys and they can play against everybody. So basically they’re together and we put the other six together and they have to contribute. Bottom line is we haven’t gotten enough out of those six guys, so we’re going to mix them up and see what they can bring. And that’s not just lately, that’s a season-long deal for them.
When the Flams score three goals or more, they’re 14-3-2. When they don’t, they’re 2-18-1.
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Tonight is the 999th NHL game for Milan Lucic.

The Oilers

Projected lines, via Daily Faceoff:
Draisaitl – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Haas – Yamamoto
Kassian – Turris – Chiasson
Shore – Khaira – Archibald
Nurse – Barrie
K. Russell – Larsson
Jones – Bear
Mike Smith starts for Edmonton, backed up by Mikko Koskinen. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss tonight’s game with a minor injury, with the other expected scratches are William Lagesson and Alex Stalock. Kyle Turris cleared waivers this morning, but hasn’t been demoted (yet). The taxi squad is Evan Bouchard, Tyler Ennis, Joakim Nygard, James Neal and Patrick Russell.
Since Sutter returned to Calgary, the Flames are 5-9-0. The Oilers? Since Sutter’s first game behind the bench on Mar. 11, they’re 8-3-2 and have put themselves in the top pack in the North. They have a realistic shot at the division crown, as well.
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The numbers

Calgary
Edmonton
Wins
16
25
Points (%)
35 (.438)
52 (.634)
Adjusted Corsi For
51.5%
48.8%
Expected Goals
51.4%
49.6%
Power Play
19.9%
27.1%
Penalty Kill
80.0%
79.1%

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 16-21-3 record, 35 points, and a .438 points percentage. They need 30 more points to punch their ticket to the post-season, the equivalent of a .938 points percentage over the remaining 16 games.
The Flames’ tragic number is 12.5. Any combination of 12.5 Calgary losses or Montreal wins eliminates the Flames from playoff contention.

Unfit to play report

The Flames are healthy.
The Oilers are without Oscar Klefbom, Slater Koekkoek and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

When last we met

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

Your recommended Twitter follows for tonight’s contest: