The Edmonton Oilers will limp into their final game of January as they get set to host the Calgary Flames in the third installment of the Battle of Alberta this season. Edmonton won the lone meeting at Rogers Place this season 3-0 back on opening night, then knocked off the Flames down the highway in early December to take a 2-0 lead in this head-to-head battle.
Tonight, the Oilers will be trying to bounce back from their most embarrassing performance in a good number of years. Edmonton was dominated by the Buffalo Sabres on home ice, losing 5-0 and failing to generate a single quality scoring chance all night long. Hey, maybe the home team will actually show up for this one.
Cam Talbot starts for Edmonton, but if January has proven anything it’s that there is a good chance he won’t finish. Mike Smith is expected to start for Calgary.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Try not to embarrass yourself. Seriously, what this team did on Tuesday night was an absolute disgrace and it isn’t the first time they have done it this month, let alone this season. Bottom line is the Oilers need to show up tonight and work hard for 60 minutes. Act like you give a damn, then we can worry about winning.
Calgary: The Flames’ offense has struggled as of late, scoring just three goals in their last three games. Against a weak Edmonton defense, they’ve got to find ways to generate second chances opportunities. Cam Talbot has struggled with those on the season, and if the Flames can create traffic in front of the net they should have some chances to light the lamp tonight.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Connor McDavid has simply dominated the Calgary Flames since entering the NHL. Compliments to @ThomsonCam on Twitter for finding the following stats. McDavid is 7-1 in his career against the Flames, has registered 14 points in those eight games and has 6-3-9 at five-on-five. Yeah, I suspect he’ll be ready to roll tonight.
Calgary: Dougie Hamilton is a major weapon from the blueline for the Flames, and is a key contributor to their powerplay. Against the worst penalty kill in NHL history, it is almost a certainty that Calgary will find the back of the net at least once on the man advantage. I suspect Hamilton has a big role in what happens on the powerplay tonight.
Brandon Davidson will return to the lineup for the Oilers, who may be going with seven defenders tonight according to Jack Michaels of 630 CHED. Michael Cammalleri, a healthy scratch on Tuesday, will also return to the lineup. Who comes out? Mark Letestu and Iiro Pakarinen stayed on late this morning and are the prime candidates to sit. No official word, however.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Drake Caggiula – Connor McDavid – Anton Slepyshev
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Strome – Zack Kassian
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Jujhar Khaira – Brandon Davidson – Michael Cammalleri
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
Calgary recently recalled Marek Hrivek from AHL Stockton and it is expected we will see him tonight. Michael Frolik is close to returning from a broken jaw, but he isn’t ready yet. Calgary’s lineup is unofficial as they didn’t skate this morning following last night’s 2-1 overtime loss against Los Angeles.
Calgary Flames Lines:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Michael Ferland
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Troy Brouwer
Sam Bennett – Mark Jankowski – Garnet Hathaway
Marek Hrivek – Matt Stajan – Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
T.J. Brodie – Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak – Michael Stone
The Oilers have won six straight against the Flames dating back to October, 2016. The Oilers won all four meetings between the sides a year ago, and took the first two of this season’s Battle of Alberta. This is the third of fives contests between the teams this season.
If there is one silver lining for the Oilers in yet another lost season, it is that they have dominated the Pacific Division. Edmonton is 9-2-0 against the Pacific this season, and is the only team within the division to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights, a feat they have accomplished twice so far.
Mercifully, the Oilers will have an extra long break for All-Star weekend. The team’s next game is exactly seven days from now when they will host the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place. The rest of the NHL reports back for games starting Tuesday night.
A good friend once told me to always bet on consistency. Consistency says the Oilers have owned the Flames as of late. Consistency also tells me that this is an Oiler team that simply doesn’t care and that has been getting bulldozed for a majority of the month.
Flames 4 Oilers 1. Enjoy the All-Star break.