GD13: Oilers @ Flames - Prove It
Tonight should be a blast for Oilers and Flames fans as it marks the first of ten Battle of Alberta's that we will get to watch this season. Last year saw some of the most entertaining bouts we have had in over a decade; RNH dropping the gloves, Matt Tkachuk and Zack Kassian going off, Mike Smith and Cam Talbot dropping the gloves. Good times.
Both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will be looking to make a statement tonight for different reasons.
For Edmonton, they are currently running on a three game winning streak and have played their best hockey of the season against the Leafs and Senators. Some will be quick to point out how bad Ottawa is but this is a team that just a couple days ago beat the Canadiens. Edmonton will be looking to keep this streak going against their provincial rival and prove that they belong in the playoff conversation.
For the Flames, they will be looking to avoid a three game losing streak after dropping their last two to Winnipeg. Their last game in particular was a rough affair where they were completely outchanced in the second period. Calgary will want to get back into the win column and back to their brand of hockey.
I don't know if we should expect the same kind of fireworks we saw last year but tonight should hopefully be a really close game with some physicality and hard checking. Both the Flames and Oilers have been criticized this year for not being as engaged as they should be in games. These are the types of games that should get both teams ready from the moment the puck drops.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
- This is just a guess right now as Tippett hasn't stated the full lineup. Khaira was taken off the Taxi Squad as it looks like Haas is out so I think we see him draw in. Bear has been retroactively placed on the IR but has been skating. He will not be in tonight but could be back in as early as Monday.
FLAMES LINE COMBINATIONS
4 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1.) Here's Johnny! - Gaudreau has been back to producing like his old self, currently leading the Flames in goals and points (3 of his goals have been on the PP). Monahan hasn't found the back of the next as easily but he is getting chances. Calgary has two great duos right now in Monahan and Gaudreau and Lindholm (who has transitioned strongly back to centre) and Tkachuk. It'll be a battle of the top end talent and the Oilers need to play these guys heavy.
2.) Disciplined Aggression - Both the Oilers and Flames have had success this season on the PP. Calgary sits 16th on the PK while Edmonton sits 25th. Edmonton needs to play heavy hockey against Calgary but needs to toe that line and not take a half dozen minor penalties either. On the flip side, Edmonton needs to use their speed to try and force Calgary into taking bad penalties. Special teams could be the difference in this one.
3.) Marky Mark - Markstrom has come as advertised for the Flames thus far with a 0.920 SV% and being an all round solid netminder. His record against Edmonton is 9-6-2 with a 0.912SV%. Calgary's defense has been solid, specifically the Hanifin Tanev pairing but Edmonton needs to make this game about more than just the goalie battle.
4.) Keep It Up - Tyson Barrie, Domink Kahun, and Jesse Puljujarvi all scored the first goal in the past couple games and have each looked better since. Yamamoto and Draisaitl and RNH and McDavid will do some heavy lifting but if these players can score or help carry the game it would go a long way.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They capitalize on the special teams battle and keep the game open.
THE FLAMES WIN IF...
They force the game to the boards and muck up the ice to prevent the Oilers from breaking out.