The Oilers are back in action tonight at
Rexall Rogers Place the Saddledome, where the Flames playoff hopes hang in the balance. A loss to the Oilers tonight and the Flames will almost certainly find themselves on the outside, looking in.
Matthew Tkachuk is expected to miss tonight’s tilt with a concussion, and while that might mean that no one gets caught by an errant knee, it also means that one of the more entertaining players to watch is out.
(At some point this might turn into a Flames pregame. Sorry.)
Keys to the Game
- Score first. Score often. Keep the puck with Connor or Leon because there’s not much else to hope for.
- Stay out of the box and try not to force the Flames to take penalties either. The penalty kill is still real bad, and the power play isn’t much better.
- Force the Oilers to take penalties. It’s a strategy that has worked for most other teams in the league this season.
- Honestly, keep the Oilers to the perimeter. They can’t seem to get too many pucks through from the outside, so it’s easy to defend.
Players to Watch
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the lone remaining first-rounder from the Tambo years, is starting at left wing tonight. He seems to play well with Connor McDavid, and has perhaps found a new home on the top line.
- TJ Brodie seems to be one of the sparks for the Flames. When he’s on, the Flames are on and when he’s not the team responds in kind. The stakes are high in this game, and if Calgary wants to find success, they’re going to need Brodie to really step up.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Pontus Aberg
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Mike Cammalleri
Anton Slepyshev – Ryan Strome – Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula – Jujhar Khaira – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Ethan Bear
Andrej Sekera – Matt Benning
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Micheal Ferland
Sam Bennet – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
Chris Stewart – Mark Jankowski – Garnet hathaway
Troy Brouwer – Matt Stajan – Curtis Lazar
Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic
Brett Kulak – Michael Stone
Ok, class. We’re starting over.
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) March 13, 2018
We’re at the point in the season where people are looking at decision of previous management teams and trying to decide which decision could have been made differently to better the team. In this case, the only answer is “most decisions”, but the most interesting discussion right now surrounds Connor McDavid’s ELC, and whether it’s been wasted (spoiler: yes).
With bonuses, McDavid can make up to $3.75m this year and is arguably the best player in the league. His output for that cost is unreal. Next year, when his salary cap hit goes up to $12.5m the Oilers might find themselves in a world of trouble. With ~$60m tied up in 13 players, the Oilers are going to have to figure out how to add skill and speed without adding a bunch of money.
If only there were some elite wingers on value contracts somewhere….