It’s been a strange two weeks for the Edmonton Oilers, who saw three games postponed last week against the Montreal Canadiens, a makeup game jammed in on Tuesday night, and tomorrow’s game against the Vancouver Canucks postponed. Tonight, the Oilers will play their first home game in 13 days before heading back out on the road Sunday.
The ‘Battle of Alberta’ resumes tonight at Rogers Place as the Oilers take on the Flames in the seventh of ten editions of the battle for the 2020-21 season. Edmonton won the last meeting on St. Patrick’s Day, and currently holds a 4-2-0 record in the season series. The sides will meet one more time in April, on the 29th right back in Edmonton.
David Rittich gets the go for the Flames, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Start fast. The Oilers found themselves down 1-0 less than a minute into the game on Tuesday night against the Canadiens, and never really got into the game after that point. Against a Flames team that is struggling right now, a good start is a must. If Edmonton can do that and set the tone, they should be in good shape.
Calgary: Harass Edmonton’s star players. When the Flames knocked off the Oilers on March 15th, they did an outstanding job of knocking Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins off of their game. That stymied the Oiler attack, and allowed the Flames to play at their pace. If the Flames are able to do that tonight, they should be in a good position to collect two points.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Dominik Kahun is once again on the clock. Kahun will skate with Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto tonight, trying to cement a top-six role on Dave Tippett’s lineup card. Kahun has offensive ability, but hasn’t flashed it on a consistent enough basis so far this season. Can he breakthrough tonight against a Flames team struggling defensively?
Calgary: Mikael Backlund is a strong two-way forward who has offensively thrived against the Oilers this season. In six prior meetings, Backlund has scored six points (2 g, 4 a). That’s tied for the series lead among Flames skaters. He’s tasked with the tough matchups and produces offense. He’s a key cog for this Calgary team.
The Oilers earlier today assigned F Tyler Ennis to the taxi squad, assigning G Dylan Wells to AHL Bakersfield to make room. G Alex Stalock was activated off of injured reserve, and will be scratched for this game. Also scratched is defenseman William Lagesson, who is joined by forwards Patrick Russell and Kyle Turris.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Dominik Kahun – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Josh Archibald – Gaetan Haas – Zack Kassian
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Kris Russell – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
The Flames enter tonight’s game in a very good spot when it comes to health. They have no injuries to report.
Calgary Flames Lines:
Matthew Tkachuk – Elias Lindholm – Andrew Mangiapane
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Brett Ritchie
Milan Lucic – Mikael Backlund – Sam Bennett
Joakim Nordstrom – Derek Ryan – Dillon Dube
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Nikita Nesterov – Oliver Kylington
“Calgary is a rivalry game,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said Friday morning. “We’re expecting a really tight game. They’re a desperate team and coming off our last game, we should be a desperate team also. We’ve got some points on them but we want to make sure that we keep them behind us. It’s a huge game for us and I’m sure Calgary is thinking the same way.”
Connor McDavid saw his lengthy point-streak end on Tuesday night. The Flames are just what the doctor ordered to get back on track. In six games against the Flames this season, McDavid has 14 points (6 g, 8 a). That leads all skaters on both teams.
The Oilers are firmly in playoff position as the stretch drive commences, but they could improve their record at Rogers Place. The Oilers, in twenty games this season, are 12-8-0 on home ice. The Flames, meanwhile, are 7-11-2 on the road this season.