Quick Hits: Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames

We are unveiling a new feature on game days. Quick hits will consist of short notes on stats, quotes, analytics and other tidbits. We hope you enjoy.

  • Tonight is the 230th regular season meeting between Calgary and Edmonton. Edmonton has 96 wins, 107 losses, 18 ties and eight OT/SO losses in the previous 229 meetings.
  • The Oilers are 56-44-9-6 at home in the Battle of Alberta and 40-64-9-2 on the road.
  • Last season was the first time the Oilers swept the season series, winning all four games. The Flames have swept the season series twice, going 5-0 in 2014/2015 and 6-0 in 2009/2010.
  • The Oilers’ four game winning streak versus Calgary is their longest since winning six in a row between October 25th, 1985 to December 31st, 1986. They also won six consecutive games between 1983-1984. The Flames’ longest winning streak was nine starting October 16th, 2010 to January 21st, 2012.
  • The Oilers outscored the Flames 20-11 last year. Eberle led the Oilers with 4-3-7, while McDavid had 3-4-7 in the season series. Sean Monahan lead the Flames with 3-0-3 while Backlund produced 0-3-3.
  • Tonight is the ninth time the Oilers have begun their season facing the Flames. Edmonton is 4-4 in the first eight meetings. They won in October of 1982, 2006, 2010 and 2016. They lost in 1991, 2001, 2009 and 2014.
  • This is the Oilers 38th season opener. They have started at home 28 times with a solid 17-8-3 (ties) record. They’ve only started on the road nine times, 3-5-1 (tie).
  • “Last year there was just the pressure of making the team, but this year there is the pressure of top-four minutes and playing against better players. I’ve put a little bit of pressure on myself, but it is a great opportunity the coaching staff has given me and I have to take advantage of it. As a player, all you ask for is an opportunity and now it is up to me to make the most of it.” Matt Benning on his increased ice time.
  • Adam Larsson was named alternate captain today. He is the first Swedish player to wear a letter for the Edmonton Oilers. He’ll wear an “A” along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic. Todd McLellan said among the coaches he was the obvious choice. The coaches and players have immense respect for Larsson’s ability to play through pain. People in the organization have compared him to Jason Smith in that regard, and there are also similarities in how they play on the ice.
  • Mike Smith is excellent at playing the puck. The Flames have a very mobile defence as it is, and many expect Smith’s puckhandling skills will allow them to spend less time in their own end. “When he gets out and plays the puck he initiates the breakout. To create offence you need to be in the other team’s end for a while and that starts with a good forecheck. They have the ability to beat a good forecheck starting with their goalie,” said Todd McLellan.
  • It will be interesting to see how the Oilers attack the Flames. Every team wants to carry the puck in rather than dump it in, but you can’t carry it in all the time, and I wonder if we see the Oilers try more “soft dumps” to the corner so Smith can’t get out and play the puck.
  • On this day in 1983 Wayne Gretzky was named team captain, taking over for Lee Fogolin.
  • Johnny Gaudreau has points in five of the 14 games he’s played against the Oilers. He has scored a goal in only three of 14 games, but he’s scored twice in all three tilts. Gaudreau signed two days before the NHL season began last year and you wonder if that impacted him producing the lowest point-total of his career. He scored 24-40-64 as a rookie in 2015, produced 30-48-78 in 2016, but slipped to 18-43-61 last season. The Flames need him over 70 points if they want to finish in the top-two of the Pacific division and have home ice advantage in the first round.
  • Sean Monahan has 7-6-13 in 18 games versus the Oilers. He had three goals in four games last season. He has been very consistent in his three NHL seasons, scoring 31, 27 and 27 goals and 63, 62 and 58 points. Is this the year he reaches 70 points?
  • Also on this date in 1991, the Oilers traded Mark Messier and future considerations (Jeff Beukeboom) in exchange for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice, Louie Debrusk and future considerations (David Shaw).
  • Stop suggesting Jesse Puljujarvi is a bust because he isn’t in the NHL at 19. Take a quick scroll through last year’s top-20 scorers in the NHL. None of Nicklas Backstrom, Mark Schiefele, Nikita Kucherov, Leon Draisaitl, Brad Marchand, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brent Burns, Artemi Panarin, Blake Wheeler or Evgeni Malkin were playing regularly in the NHL at 19. Draisaitl was in Edmonton, only because they were bad. Brad Marchand had 1 goal in 20 games while Schiefele played four games at 19. Many players mature at different times. I’m not saying Puljujarvi will ever be as productive as these players, but writing off a 19-year-old because he isn’t ready for the NHL seems ludicrous for me. The Oilers are finally in a position where they don’t have to rush players who aren’t ready. This should be celebrated.
  • Predictions: McDavid scores 118 points. Tampa Bay/Columbus/Edmonton/Minnesota as conference finalists. I dislike those four picks right after I wrote them. Three expansion teams from the last 25 years. What an idiot.
  • Mike Smith is 17-3-1 all-time versus the Oilers. He has a .924 sv% and a 2.24 GAA. The Oilers did beat him in the final two meetings last year, and we’ll see if that trend continues, or if Smith goes back to dominating Edmonton. Obviously this is a much different team than the weaklings he preyed on during 2011-2015, but even with McDavid in the lineup Smith is still 4-2 versus Edmonton. He loves playing the Oilers.
Get ready to watch A LOT of hockey
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Tickets are on sale now for $30 and will remain on sale straight through until the date of the party, or until they sell out — whichever happens first. Your ticket will also enter you into all of the draws for NationGear prizes and the jersey giveaways that will happen throughout the night.

  • Where: The Pint Downtown
  • When: Saturday, October 7th starting at 6pm
  • Why: Because we’ve got a hankerin’ for some partyin’
  • How Much: Tickets are $30 with net proceeds going to the victims of last week’s attack in Downtown

    • McRaj

      Reminds me of when we had the Bullin Wall and how his domination against Calgary ended in his first start as an Oiler on opening night. Let in the game winner with I think 40 seconds to go. Hopefully that’s how Smith does today.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        True, but Smith is playing behind a pretty good defence (at least on paper). Khabibulin was playing behind on an Oilers squad where defence WAS the goaltending

  • OilCan2

    Smith may have to get used to being pulled the way the Oilers are scoring. My calculations have the Oilers going for the sweep again and once more in the first round just for good measure.

  • The Yam Hammer

    There was a radio broadcast during Larsson’s injury last year where one of the guys described him having “the pain tolerance of a corpse”. I’m glad we’ve got a player like him, and I’m glad he got the A

  • OriginalPouzar

    Puljijarvi will, almost undoubtedly, be a material NHL player. We just don’t know what type of material player he will be – a responsible 2-way 2nd line forward that can score goals and play in all situations or a 1st line RW scoring 30 goals and being a material part of the offence.

    He needs to stop being compared to Matthews and Laine who are elite offensive players that are simply on a different level from Jesse.

    The fact that he’s starting his second season in North America, as a 19 year old, in the AHL is actually reasonable development.

    There is a history of top 10 draft picks from Finland (and Sweden) requiring a couple of AHL seasons before becoming material players in the NHL.

    Off the top of my head, Pastrnak and Rantanen started their 2nd seasons in North America in the AHL.

    For crying out loud, Drai started his draft plus 2 season in the AHL.

    Jesse will very likely be back this year – it might be as soon as 10 games, it might be 20 or it might be 50 but he’s likely to be in the NHL and I will posit that he will be a much better player.

    This will be a huge development year for Jesse, I’m confident in that.

    • Joy S. Lee

      I believe Jesse will be an offensive star in the NHL because of his toolkit, and his natural tendency to initiate and drive plays to the scoring areas. Some of it is hope, obviously, but I expect it’s just a matter of time and proper development.

  • deferoiler

    Didnt we finallly break the mike smith curse last year. Hears hoping that he legs an egg and is pulled. It was so much fun chirping elliot after he let in 3 goals on 5 shots

  • Joy S. Lee

    I expect the Flames to score a lot more goals this year, with Smith back there quarterbacking breakouts. That he has such a stellar history against the Oil is a bit intimidating, but between Connor, Leon, Lucic Maroon and Kassian, the Oil have a way of getting under the skin of goalies, too. I’m looking forward to seeing Smith’s hot-headedness come out during the season series, lol.

  • freelancer

    I put absolutely 0 stock into Smith’s record against the Oilers. It has everything to do with that up until last year the Oilers were horrible and also the style of play the Coyotes have which throws a wet blanket on offense either way. Neither of those are a factor anymore.

  • Hickster94

    “Stop suggesting Puljujarvi is bust….” Absolfrigginlutely. Jesse has only played on full year on the smaller North American pro ice surface, whereas Yamamoto has played on the NA ice his whole career. I completely agree with the decision to send Jesse down, one maybe 2 more seasons and he’ll find his game. And like Todd said, the evidence Yamamoto has put forth in the preseason has him on the roster tonight.