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Flames vs. Coyotes game preview: Sylvan Lake edition

They're the Arizona Coyotes now, and the Flames are hosting them via Sylvan Lake as they continue the preseason.

Replace the Oiler with a Coyote. You might be able to recreate this picture for tonight.
Replace the Oiler with a Coyote. You might be able to recreate this picture for tonight.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Around the NHL, everyone is getting injured. A number of eastern conference teams are losing top players to preseason or even practice incidents. The Flames may have already lost Mikael Backlund before preseason even began, and that's no good, considering he's one of their best players. Sam Bennett has yet to play, as well - and the Flames are still keeping him on the shelf, at least for tonight's game.

Tonight, it'll be a number of decent Flames taking on the Coyotes. Here's the Flames' projected lineup:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Sven Baertschi Joe Colborne Morgan Klimchuk
Curtis Glencross Max Reinhart Josh Jooris
Johnny Gaudreau Markus Granlund Michael Ferland
David Wolf Turner Elson Brian McGrattan
Left Defense Right Defense
Kris Russell Deryk Engelland
Brett Kulak Raphael Diaz
Patrick Sieloff Sheldon Brookbank
Goalies
Joni Ortio
Doug Carr

  • Mason Raymond was supposed to play, but apparently he's injured as well. He's day-to-day with a lower body injury. Klimchuk takes his place.
  • If Backlund is out long term, the Flames need to find somebody else to take his spot down the middle. Colborne was originally a centre, and only just moved to the wing at the second half of last season, so why not try him down the middle? (Because he was bad in that position, and was much-improved when he was put on the wing. Also the Flames have a ton of centre prospects, many of whom could theoretically play a regular NHL shift this season. None of them are as good as Backlund, but neither is Colborne.)
  • Baertschi continues to get skilled linemates. It seems like the Flames are trying to give him a legitimate shot; now, he just needs to put it together. At the same time, he'll only be 22 when the season starts.
  • Reinhart and Granlund are both candidates to line up down the middle for the NHL Flames (and with Backlund's injury, it's possible they both do). Granlund's line in particular is interesting: he anchored one of the best lines of the Penticton tournament, centring Ferland and Jooris. He has Ferland back, but Gaudreau is a pretty massive upgrade. That should be a fun line to watch.
  • Reinhart's line, meanwhile, looks pretty solid. Those three players together seem like they should complement one another nicely. Jooris did well in the Penticton tournament, but now he's got an NHLer on the other side.
  • Elson proved he has some talent, and Wolf put up surprisingly great corsi numbers in the Flames' preseason game in Edmonton. McGrattan probably isn't going to get a thing done offensively, but maybe those two will be able to work something out.
  • That defence has a lot of truculence. Anyway, we're cheering for Diaz to perform well so the Flames sign him, because he'd seriously be a great addition - the Flames are so thin once you get past Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie.
  • Ortio and Carr are both supposed to play tonight. AHL training camps open Sept. 28, and Ortio is almost certain to be Adirondack's starter, so he may be around for just a few more preseason games. Carr is a 25-year-old camp invite who graduated UMass-Lowell last season, and played a couple of games for Abbotsford.

Puck drop is up north just a little bit at 5 p.m. MT. The game will be on CBC - televised hockey for us all!