The Edmonton Oilers grinded out a 3-1 victory last night in Winnipeg to complete a two-game sweep of the Jets. The win pushed the Oilers to 7-2-0 against the Jets on the season, and has them three points up on the Jets for home-ice in the first round of the North Division playoffs. Tonight, Edmonton returns home to complete a back-to-back set.
The Oilers play host to the Calgary Flames in the ninth of ten meetings in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ this season. This opens a two-game miniseries between the teams, which concludes on Saturday night at Rogers Place. The Oilers are 5-3-0 against the Flames this season, and 3-0-0 against them at home.
Jacob Markstrom gets the go for the Flames, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Engage early. When the Oilers last played the Flames on April 10th, they were never really in the hockey game. Now, there were a number of other factors off the ice at play here, but the bottom-line is the Oilers weren’t good enough. Edmonton needs to attack a Calgary team with a low confidence level and a banged up defense. Get on them early and make them think it’s going to be a long night yet again.
Calgary: Increased physicality. The Flames don’t have the top-end talent needed to outgun the Oilers, but they do have enough size to make life difficult for Edmonton through the neutral zone and at the blueline. If the Flames can clog the lanes and make Edmonton play a slower game, they’ll have a chance to keep their season alive.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Kailer Yamamoto has played some really strong hockey since the line of he, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was put together eight days ago. Yamamoto has been outstanding on the forecheck, and has been creating scoring chances without any success finishing. It feels like it is a matter of time until he finally breaks through. Will tonight be the night, against a team and goalie that has struggled against the Oilers?
Calgary: Elias Lindholm doesn’t get the love of Calgary’s other stars, but he’s on a different level right now. Lindholm leads the Flames with eight points (4 g, 4 a) in eight games against the Oilers this season, and leads the team with 41 points (15 g, 26 a) in 48 games. He’s also scored in four of Calgary’s last five games. He’s as good a bet as anyone to impact the game offensively tonight.
The Oilers, no surprise after playing last night, did not hold a skate this morning. That said, the expectation is that the lineup will remain the same. That means Kyle Turris, Patrick Russell, William Lagesson, Kris Russell and Alex Stalock will be healthy scratches. Joakim Nygard (hand) and Jujhar Khaira (upper body) remain day-to-day and will not play.
Zack Kassian (lower body) and Slater Koekkoek (upper body) are both on LTIR and will not paly. Kassian’s timetable for a return is unknown, while Koekkoek is skating and hopes to be back soon.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Dominik Kahun – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Devin Shore – Ryan McLeod – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Dmitry Kulikov – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
The Flames suffered a big loss recently when defenseman Noah Hanifin injured his shoulder against the Montreal Canadiens. Hanifin is done for the remainder of the season. Josh Leivo, meanwhile, is on the COVID-19 Protocol List and will not travel to Edmonton.
Calgary Flames Lines:
Johnny Gaudreau – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Andrew Mangiapane – Sean Monahan – Brett Ritchie
Milan Lucic – Mikael Backlund – Dillon Dube
Joakim Nordstrom – Derek Ryan – Buddy Robinson
Mark Giordano – Chris Tanev
Nikita Nesterov – Rasmus Andersson
Juuso Valimaki – Michael Stone
“If we play and continue to build our team game the way we hope, the standings will take care of themselves,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said on Thursday. “We have to make sure that our game continues to improve. All the little parts of the game that need to be clicking at the right time, that’s what we’re working on every day.”
Can Connor McDavid hit 100 points? The captain added three assists last night and now has 84 points (28 g, 56 a) in 47 games. McDavid needs 14 more points to hit the century mark, and is currently on pace to finish the season with exactly 100 points. He’s currently riding a five-game point streak where he has scored a remarkable 15 points (5 g, 10 a).
This is the ninth set of back-to-back games that Edmonton has played so far this season. In the second half of those sets, the Oilers are just as dangerous as the first game. The Oilers are 6-2-0 in the second half of back-to-back sets this season. They are 1-0-0 against the Flames in the second half of a back-to-back, beating them 7-1 at Rogers Place on February 20th.