Oilers Gameday: @ Flames

The Edmonton Oilers tonight play the middle game of their three-game road trip. After a tough 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, the Oilers return to Alberta to take on the Calgary Flames in the first of a two-game miniseries.

This is the fifth of ten meetings between the Oilers and Flames this season. The sides met nine days ago at Rogers Place in a spirited affair that saw the Oilers squeak out a 3-2 victory. It was Edmonton’s third straight win against the Flames this season.

Jacob Markstrom gets the nod for the Flames, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.

Keys To The Game:

Edmonton: More sustained zone time. The Oilers created a lot with their top line on Saturday night, and got enough from their veteran third line. Other than that? The Oilers had some chances, but didn’t sustain enough in the final forty minutes of their loss against the Canucks. Part of that was fatigue, but part of that was also an inability to get behind the defense and create plays. The Oilers must be better in that area tonight.

Calgary: Outwork the Oilers. Under Darryl Sutter, the Flames have gotten back to playing a physical, hard-working style of hockey. That’s not the brand of hockey that the Oilers like to play, they’d rather play a more open brand. If the Flames can outwork Edmonton, play physical and wear the Oilers down, they’ll get back in the win column against their hated rival.

Players To Watch:

Edmonton: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins needs to start producing at five-on-five. While the overall numbers look good, Nugent-Hopkins is staying afloat thanks to powerplay production. His five-on-five play? It hasn’t been good enough this season. Quite frankly, Edmonton needs more from RNH at even strength. Can they get it tonight? He’s too good of a player to stay in a slump like this. He is overdue.

Calgary: Milan Lucic has played for Sutter before and enjoyed success under the veteran coach. Lucic had a spirited fight with Josh Anderson last week, and dropped the gloves with Darnell Nurse nine days ago. Lucic is going to want to provide his team with a spark, and he’s going to want to send a message to his former team.

The Lines:

Kyle Turris remains on the COVID-19 Protocol List and is not available to the Oilers. D Caleb Jones and F Patrick Russell will both be scratched, while Kris Russell and James Neal return. Dominik Kahun remains a healthy scratch, while Zack Kassian (IR) has yet to be cleared for game action.

Edmonton Oilers Lines:

Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jesse Puljujarvi
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson

Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
William Lagesson – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Ethan Bear

Mike Smith

The Flames only have one injury on their active roster, as veteran forward Joakim Nordstrom is day-to-day with a lower body injury. Prospect goalie Tyler Parsons (ankle) is on IR.

Calgary Flames Lines:

Matthew Tkachuk – Elias Lindholm – Dillon Dube
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Brett Ritchie
Milan Lucic – Mikael Backlund – Andrew Mangiapane
Sam Bennett – Derek Ryan – Josh Leivo

Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Juuso Valimaki – Oliver Kylington

Jacob Markstrom

Game Notes:

“Their coach has brought some life into their team,” Darnell Nurse said earlier on Monday. “A team that’s playing hard and not going to be an easy challenge by any means. It’s going to be a good test. Any time you play a rival, especially a provincial rival, it’s always a good test.”

After a setback in the series opener, the Oilers have enjoyed some success against their rivals. Overall, the Oilers are 3-1-0 against the Flames this season and have outscored them by a 16-10 margin. Dating back to last season, the Oilers have won four of their last five with the Flames. That doesn’t include their exhibition victory in July during the ‘Return to Play.’
Edmonton has enjoyed some quick starts this season. The Oilers offense leads the NHL in goals scored during the first period, lighting the lamp 36 times. That could be important tonight, as the Flames are 4-10-1 when surrendering the first goal this season.