Game Preview: Flames vs Edmonton Oilers

CALGARY FLAMES (0-2-1 1 points) vs. EDMONTON OILERS (2-1-0 4 points) GAME 4

 

PREVIEW:

The Battle of Alberta is renew tonight as the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers, looking for their first win of the season. This is the first of four match-ups between the clubs this season with the next one not coming until April. The Flames have had the Oilers number the last couple of seasons, winning 15 of the last 18 but the Oilers have one the last two and many think this could finally be the season where the Oilers breakout. This game has all the makings of another classic in this provincial rivalry.

The Flames have had two days off since their hard fought 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks on Wednesday night. It was the Flames best sixty minute effort of the season as they battled back from a 2-0 deficit to get their first point of the season.

As good as the effort was on Wednesday in Vancouver, the Flames cannot afford to lose many more games. Their 1 point has them tied for last place in the West and they are chasing the Oilers who currently sit in 8th with 4 points. The Flames will get some much needed scoring depth up front as both Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka will make their season and Flames debuts, playing on the third line with most likely Matt Stajan centering them.

The Oilers come into the Dome after an emotional 2-1 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers showed they have matured, overcoming a disallowed goal late in the third before Nail Yakupov tied things up with a little over 4 seconds left in the game. Yakupov then celebrated like Theo Fleury back in 1991 but nonetheless, it was a gutsy win for the Oilers.

Miikka Kiprusoff will get his fourth start of the season, while the Oilers will counter with Devan Dubnyk who is also starting his fourth consecutive game.

 

PROJECTED LINES:

Flames:                                                                        Oilers:

1- GLENCROSS-TANGUAY-IGINLA                           1- HALL-NUGENT-HOPKINS-EBERLE

2- CAMMALLERI-BACKLUND-STEMPNIAK               2- YAKUPOV-GAGNER-HEMSKY

3- BAERTSCHI-CERVENKA-HUDLER                       3- SMYTH-HORCOFF-HARTIKAINEN

4- JONES-STAJAN-JACKMAN                                    4- HORDICHUK-BELANGER-PETREL

 

1- BOUWMEESTER-GIORDANO                                 1- J.SCHULTZ-N.SCHULTZ

2- WIDEMAN-BRODIE                                                  2- SMMID-PETRY

3- SARICH-SMITH                                                        3- WHITNEY-FISTRIC

 

1- KIPRUSOFF                                                              1- DUBNYK

2- IRVING                                                                       2- DANIS

 

EXTRA- BEGIN, COMEAU, BUTLER                            EXTRA- PAAJARVI, POTTER

 

INJURIES:

Flames: D- Anton Babchuk (Shoulder- IR)

Oilers: RW- Ryan Jones (Eye- IR), LW- Ben Eager (Concussion- IR), D- Theo Peckham (Hip Flexor- IR), D- Andy Sutton (Knee- IR), G- Nikolai Khabibulin (Hip- IR)

 

STATS:

Flames

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

C. Glencross

3

2

2

4

-2

A. Tanguay

3

2

1

3

-2

L. Stempniak

3

2

0

2

E

M. Backlund

3

1

1

2

-2

J. Iginla

3

0

2

2

-2

 

Oilers

PLAYER

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

J. Eberle

3

1

2

3

2

S. Gagner

3

1

2

3

-4

T. Hall

3

1

2

3

3

J. Schultz

3

1

2

3

E

N. Yakupov

3

2

0

2

-3

 

PP-

Flames: 36.4% (4th)

Oilers: 22.2% (15th)

 

PK-

Flames: 75.0% (21st)

Oilers: 83.3% (9th)

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:

 

GP

W

L

OTL

PTS

1. CHICAGO

4

4

0

0

8

2. SAN JOSE

3

3

0

0

6

3. VANCOUVER

4

2

1

1

5

4. ST. LOUIS

4

3

1

0

6

5. DALLAS

4

2

1

1

5

6. COLORADO

3

2

1

0

4

7. ANAHEIM

3

2

1

0

4

8. EDMONTON

3

2

1

0

4

 

9. MINNESOTA

4

2

2

0

4

10. NASHVILLE

4

1

1

2

4

11. DETROIT

4

2

2

0

4

12. COLUMBUS

4

1

2

1

3

13. PHOENIX

4

1

3

0

2

14. CALGARY

3

0

2

1

1

15. LOS ANGELES

3

0

2

1

1

 

MY TAKE:

Tonight is a huge game for the Flames and saying that at game four is definitely unusual.  In a forty-eight game season, when you are playing your provincial rival, who you are chasing for the 8th seed, you cannot go winless for long.

If the Flames play the same way they played for 50 minutes against the Canucks for a full sixty minutes, it should be a very competitive game tonight. The Oilers are coming into tonight’s game on a high after their emotional win against the Kings on Thursday night.

Hearing that Sven Baertschi will play tonight is a sigh of relief, to a certain extent. Playing Baertschi on the fourth line doesn’t make any sense to me though. Some might say Baertschi has not been as good as many thought in the first three games but it’s only three games and the kid is 20 years old. Everyone knew the expectations were going to be through the roof for Baertschi coming into this season and I feel the coaching staff is sending him a bad message by putting him on the fourth line.

Is he on the fourth line because he has zero points? Or is there another reason?

People will ask why he has not put up points like Vladimir Tarasenko and Jonathan Huberdeau, which really isn’t fair. Tarasenko has been a super rookie this season and has had more experience as he has been playing against men in the KHL for the last six seasons, compared to Baertschi who only has 21 games in the AHL. Huberdeau on the other hand, had three points in his first game but nothing since.

The biggest thing I look at when comparing rookies, is the opportunities these players have been given. Tarasenko has been playing on St. Louis’ second line along with Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen, while Huberdeau has been playing alongside Alex Kovalev and Peter Mueller.

Baertschi was given the opportunity to play alongside Mike Cammalleri and Mikael Backlund in the first two games but played with Stajan and Blake Comeau last game and is now set to play with Blair Jones and Tim Jackman.

I think Baertschi could fit great alongside Cervenka and Hudler but since Cervenka cannot play center in the defensive zone, according to Bob Hartley, Stajan takes that spot.

Baertschi’s situation bothers me as does the Cervenka issue.

The Flames are paying Cervenka 3.5 million dollars (pro-rated) and have sold him as a centerman from day one, the weakest position for the Flames. Yes, I understand he was hurt and could not attend training camp but even for a one year contract, you better be sure the guy knows the position you want him to play before you sign him.

It now takes an opportunity away from Baertschi.

Hartley better give Baertschi some fair ice time, and place him in situations where his skill set fits tonight.

Regardless of Baertschi, the Flames need a win tonight, plain and simple.

 

 

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