Into the unknown

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

1. WILL RICKY RAY BRING HIS 'A' GAME?

Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia believes the key matchup today is in the trench - but really, the key to this game is Ray.

If he delivers his best effort, it will be very tough for Montreal to win.

He made the Alouette secondary look foolish in their last meeting, passing for 438 yards and two TDs.

His composure in the pocket shouldn't be a problem.

"He is probably the most calm young quarterback I have ever been around," said former all-star RB Mike Pringle from his home in Mississippi this week.

But his confidence could become a major problem if he isn't on target early. Without a TD pass in seven games and having being yanked in his last three games, he must have a good start today.

If he doesn't, how many times can Jason Maas pull this team out of the fire before having some sort of setback?

2. CAN ERIC LAPOINTE ESTABLISH A RUNNING GAME AGAINST THE GREEN AND GOLD?

Montreal will likely need to have success on the ground to win.

The Alouettes could barely move the ball on the ground in their two meetings against Edmonton's top-ranked defence this summer and were very fortunate to escape with one win.

The Als running backs combined for only 34 yards in the first game and just 22 yards in the other.

If it weren't for Ezra Landry's two special-teams touchdowns in the first contest in July, Montreal would have been soundly beaten in both games and outscored 65-44.

A lack of a running attack plays right into the hands of the Eskimos defence.

"That means they unleash Joe Montford and all those guys and pressure the quarterback," said Pierre Vercheval, RDS football analyst who'll broadcast today's game in French. "So, the Als - who want to throw the ball - have to be a little more balanced than they want to be."

3. WHICH KICKER WILL SHOW UP?

Sean Fleming says his field-goal range today is 52 or 53 yards, but after having a quad problem last weekend, how will his kicking leg hold up if he is forced to kick and punt several times over the first three quarters?

And how will Montreal rookie Damon Duval handle the pressure?

This is his first-ever professional football championship game.

In the biggest game of the regular season, Duval was horrible. In front of 51,279 fans at Olympic Stadium last month, Duval couldn't hit a field goal, missing all three attempts.Since then he has only missed twice in four games, but that loss at the Big O cost Montreal first place.

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ROSTER CHANGES

EDMONTON

IN: WR Rob LeBlanc

OUT: FB Mathieu Bertrand

MONTREAL

IN: RB Jonas Lewis

OUT: RB Robert Edwards

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HURT PARADE

EDMONTON

Davis Sanchez (groin), Mike Bradley (knee), Taylor Inglis (knee), Mathieu Bertrand (ankle)

MONTREAL

Robert Edwards (ribs)

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BY THE NUMBERS

1 - Edmonton has won just once in four Grey Cup games in Vancouver in the last 34 years.

5 - Montreal has won five Grey Cups since 1949 - all against Alberta teams

10 - The number of times the Esks and Als have met in the Grey Cup.

7 - The number of wins for Edmonton in those 10 games.

THEY SAID IT

"This guy can make you miss, he can hit the hole and the most impres- sive thing is his pass blocking. He's going to let you have it every play.''

- Montreal DL Anwar Stewart on Edmonton RB Troy Davis.

"I think he is the most important player to his team in this league.''

- Edmonton coach Rick Campbell on Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo.

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HEAD TO HEAD: AVERAGES FROM TWO GAMES THIS SEASON

- TOTAL OFFENCE

In Edmonton's win during the regular season, Ray and crew put up 507 yards of offence.

EDMONTON: 758 yds

MONTREAL: 670 yds

- TURNOVERS

Edmonton turned the ball over four times in its win in August.

EDMONTON: 6

MONTREAL: 3

- PENALTIES

Penalties against either secondary could play a huge role.

EDMONTON: 164 yards

MONTREAL: 215 yards

- AVG. TIME OF POSSESSION

In 22 games this season Edmonton has held the TOP advantage 18 times.

EDMONTON: 32:13

MONTREAL: 27:47


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