Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers have a chance to change the narrative. After an embarrassing three-game series sweep at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Oilers play host to the Calgary Flames with a chance to reset, strength their grip on a playoff spot and return to their winning ways.
This is the fourth of ten meetings between the Oilers and Flames this season. Calgary won the first game on home ice 6-4 on February 6th, but the Oilers responded with a 3-1 win on February 19th in Calgary and a 7-1 win in Edmonton the next day. The Oilers have outscored the Flames 13-8 in the series’ first three games.
Jacob Markstrom gets the go for the Flames, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Get back to basics and compete. The Oilers sagged way too easily in their sweep at the hands of the Maple Leafs. They need to stick with the gameplan and cannot let the Flames get them down even if the Oilers once again surrender the first goal. Stick with the plan, keep battling and keep fighting. The bounces will come for the Oilers if they can stay with it. They are the more talented team.
Calgary: Jump out to an early lead. The Oilers are a fragile team right now that has quickly sagged after giving up the first goal in each of the last three games. The Flames, meanwhile, seemed to figure it out offensively on Thursday night and now want to make an impression on a new coach. Attack early and make the Oilers quit.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Connor McDavid doesn’t stay quiet for long. The captain of the Oilers was held off the scoresheet in all three games against the Maple Leafs. That almost never happens. On top of that, McDavid has feasted on the Flames, including a hat-trick the last time the teams met. With pressure on his team, expect McDavid to answer the call. He’s done so time and again during his career.
Calgary: Matthew Tkachuk is an emotional player who routinely beats up on the Oilers. This season has been different. Tkachuk has been relatively tame, and has been a non-factor in all three prior meetings. With a new coach at the helm, expect the fiery and emotional leader to step up in a big way tonight in a key rivalry game for both sides.
The Oilers recalled F Devin Shore from the taxi squad today, and assigned F Joakim Nygard back to the taxi squad. Kyle Turris, Patrick Russell and Tyler Ennis will all be scratched, while defensemen William Lagesson (IR) and Evan Bouchard are also slated to sit.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Kris Russell – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
After Derek Ryan returned to the lineup for the Flames on Thursday, Calgary has perfect attendance in regards to health right now. One interesting lineup note? Sam Bennett is expected to again be a healthy scratch.
Calgary Flames Lines:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Josh Leivo
Matthew Tkachuk – Elias Lindholm – Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic – Mikael Backlund – Andrew Mangiapane
Joakim Nordstrom – Derek Ryan – Brett Ritchie
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Nikita Nesterov – Juuso Valimaki
“There’s going to be ups and there’s going to be downs. The last three games we were down but we can’t dwell on it,” defenceman Darnell Nurse said after morning skate. “Our first business to handle is to bring our work hats, put our heads down and just get to work tonight.”
Although not expected to return tonight, William Lagesson could be close. The rookie Swede is nearing a return and will be evaluated today. If he does get the clearance to return, a natural move would be to assign Ennis or Bouchard to the taxi squad and replace Kris Russell with Lagesson. Still, Monday seems like a more likely target date.
McDavid has simply feasted in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ over the years. This season is no exception. In three games this season, McDavid has seven points (4 g, 3 a) and leads all skaters in scoring. He scored his second hat-trick of the season the last time these two teams met 14 days ago. Overall, McDavid has scored 29 points (19 g, 10 a) in 23 career games against the Flames.