The Edmonton Oilers will square off against the Calgary Flames tonight at the Pengrowth Saddledome at 8 pm MT. Over the past three years, the Battle of Alberta has seemingly been losing its relevancy. However, with the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames currently tied in points with matching 6-2-1 records, it seems that the old BOA is heating up again this year.
Though the Calgary Flames are currently leading the BOA with a perfect 2-0 record, the record itself belies the actual play of the previous two games. At this point, there’s no need to reiterate some of the bounces that turned these two games. However, the Oilers were one mishandled puck and one goal off a high-stick away from getting more than the single point in the previous two games.
Despite the Oilers start to this season, tonight they will continue to battle adversity with a litany of impact players out of the game whether due to concussions or the flu. In fact, Dan Tencer’s reported that both Gilbert Brule and Mike Comrie will be out tonight (flu). As well, Souray, Staios, Pisani, Pouliot, and Stone are out with various injuries.
Looking at the Oilers lineup tonight, more than ever with Brule and Comrie out, Pat Quinn looks to have loaded up on the first line–something that he’s tried to avoid in the past. Our fourth line looks downright scary in more ways than one. I imagine that it won’t see much ice time.
Edmonton Oilers projected lineup:
Penner – Gagner – Hemsky
Moreau – Horcoff – O’Sullivan
Jacques -Cogliano – Nilsson
MacIntyre – Stortini – Strudwick
Smid – Visnovsky
Gilbert – Grebeshkov
Chorney – Peckham
Calgary Flames projected lineup:
Glencross – Conroy – Iginla
Dawes – Langkow – Bourque
Sjostrom – Jokinen – Nystrom
Prust – Boyd – McGrattan
Bouwmeester – Sarich
Regehr – Phaneuf
Johnson – Giordano
Kronwall – Pardy
Period 1 Summary
- Iggy’s got balls, I give him that. He followed up the Souray ‘accident’ by running Bulin in the first minute or so of the game which sent him to the box
- Visnovsky’s flying out there and scored on the power play with a feed from Hemmer I believe
- Grebs is having a rough game again, he took what initially looked like a cross-check from Bourque on the powerplay and turned the puck over. Bourque scored on the ensuing rush.
- Steve MacIntyre squared off with McGrattan early in the game. McGrattan gets the nod for the fight.
- Overall, it looks to be a fairly even period in terms of shots: 9-9
- I missed it, but some at lowetide suggest that Iggy caught Stortini with a stick that cut him.
- Iggy will be in the box for roughing heading into the second.
- I have to say that the Flames are not only pretty physical but a pretty dirty playing team–albeit I may be disregarded as a biased Oilers fan.
Period 2 Summary
- Initially Calgary scored 3 unanswered goals including a wrap around with Smid standing in front of the Oilers net looking confused as well as a rebound goal from getting out-worked by the Flames.
- Defensive lapses aside, Calgary managed to convert a redirect on the powerplay. Calgary seems to be pretty effective this year at redirecting floaters from the point into the back of the net.
- Though I thought we were playing the Calgary Flames, it turns out that we’re playing the Calgary Stickmen.
- Smid and Giordano fought in the second in close fight with Smid getting the takedown.
- JFJ took a brutal cross check to the back of the neck after just hitting the post on a redirected point shot. The Oilers did convert on the ensuing power play with the goal from Dustin Penner.
- Jokinen went to the box on a holding call and while on the powerplay, Stortini took a second high stick to the face.
- Current score: 4-2 with the Oilers entering the third with a short 2 man advantage.
- Well, Calgary converted on the powerplay with Horcoff in the box to end the game at 5-2.
Not really much to say, but it’s a tough loss for the Oilers. At some point without making too many excuses, it’s difficult to persevere with too many players out of the lineup. We were out shot heavily 38-25. As well, we had difficulty getting off any shots from prime scoring locations with only 4 shots from the sweet zone tonight while allowing 18 against. On the other hand, it’s pretty difficult to win a hockey game when you allow 5 goals against. The game was won in the second period and our many defensive lapses caught up with us.
Overall, the Calgary Flames do seem to play a particularly dirty brand of hockey. To be certain, they did get called enough to send them to the box on several occasions. I wasn’t really expecting the Oilers to win with their depleted roster, but the game might have been closer than it seemed. Calgary’s first goal resulted from a cross check on Grebeshkov at the point while the Oilers were on the power play. Grebeschkov didn’t make a smart play at the point, but a penalty could have been called. Gilbert failed on the 2:1 to block the pass which resulted in a short-handed goal against.
For the second and third goals by Calgary, there were turn-overs in the neutral zone and some bad defensive deficiencies by the Oilers. The goal on the wrap around was brutal to watch and is probably one that Bulin should have stopped. The other goal by Calgary in the second period resulted from a sloppy rebound by Bulin and poor defensive coverage in front of the net by Gilbert. Calgary’s fourth goal occurred on a power-play on what looked to be a redirect from a high-stick.
Aside from these problems, Calgary’s mean/big defensemen kept the Oilers from shooting or gaining entry in front of their net. Even Penner seemed sheepish at times and was somewhat out of place near Calgary’s net. There’s no question that Calgary protects that zone with aggressive urgency. Calgary also played a relentless forecheck which kept pressure in our end. With our depleted roster, Calgary was able to exploit our weaknesses. Our offense was pretty much non-existent after our top line.
To start with, Khabibulin was peppered with shots and made quite a few good saves. Two goals that changed the game in the second period were soft in my opinion–especially letting in a run-of-the-mill wrap around from behind the net. Penner played a solid game yet made a few lapses with some bad passes to no one–mostly from inside Calgary’s zone which went back to the Oilers zone. Our top line of Penner/Gagner/Hemsky looked pretty good. However, other than our top line, the Oilers had zero offensive depth.
Moreau didn’t have much to offer up during this game offensively or defensively. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “O’Sullivan shoots… just wide of the net,” I would be on my way to being a wealthier man. Horcoff’s continuing on pace for a sub 20 point season while not living up to his famed 2-way player status either. Perhaps Moreau on the second line subdued any potential offensive threat of that line.
Did Cogliano play? He was pretty much invisible for much of the game. Nilsson had a pretty terrible night and his play was brutal to watch. Gilbert/Grebeshkov are having a hard time with the tougher minutes themselves. Stortini racked up a ton of minutes during the game and seemed to play quite well. Oh Lubo! Lubo’s an excellent player and was something to watch for sure.
You can clearly see a pattern here in which the Oilers were largely kept from shooting in high percentage shot locations. Conversely, the Oilers did a very poor job of stopping Calgary from shooting from prime scoring locations.