Can you believe that it’s November 17th and this is only the first time the Oilers and Flames have met so far this season? It’s weird, right? Thankfully, the wait is over and the 239th edition of the Battle of Alberta is finally upon us.
As you read this, I’m on a bus packed with 50 Nation citizens and we’re making our way down to Calgary to help make sure this train stays on the rails. After making it through a tough four-game losing streak, the Oilers came roaring back with a big win against Montreal. But, in my opinion, they’re still in need of some support and we’re taking it upon ourselves to head into enemy territory to send them our energy and love. With our boys going 2-4 in their last six games, we need the wins to start piling up in short order or risk falling further back of the playoff group — it can’t happen. Selfishly, I don’t want to be going all the way to Calgary to see another loss. When we did our first bus tour of Calgary back in February, the Oilers dropped that game in an uninspiring fashion and I can’t bear the idea of seeing the same result again tonight.
Considering this is the first game the Oilers are playing against not only the Calgary Flames but the Pacific Division in general, I damn well hope the boys are fired up to play. Not only do they need the points but they’ve lost far too many games lately, and when you combine that with the fact that this is the mother truckin’ Battle of Alberta we’re talking about, anything less than a complete and total effort will be unforgivable. I mean, you’d have to think that this is one of the easiest games to get fired up to play, right? As I post this from the back of the Nation Bus, I’ve already got fresh cold ones beside me that are waiting to be cracked and I want these joyful, delicious beers to be the start of something beautiful, not the start of a miserable Saturday.
The Oilers have had a great run against the Flames over the past couple of years (7-2 in the last two seasons) and it would be a wonderful, splendid bit of luck for us all if they can continue the trend tonight.
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||52.7||52.73|
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Caggiula – McDavid – Draisaitl
Spooner – Nuge – Rattie
Lucic – Marody – Chiasson
Khaira – Brodziak – Kassian
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Benning
Gravel – Russell
The big news for today’s game is obviously the addition of Ryan Spooner who was acquired for Ryan Strome and where he will slot into the lineup. Based on Chiarelli’s conversation with Reid Wilkins from yesterday, it seems like Spooner will be playing on the wing so that makes me think he will be playing with Nuge on the second line, but I’m only guessing. I guess we shall see. With Tobias Rieder on the shelf for a next month, I was also curious to see how the Oilers would fill that hole. According to yesterday’s practice lines, Ty Rattie gets back into the top-six and will slot in next to Nuge and Chiasson with the latter moving to his off-wing. Koskinen gets the call in net as he looks to build off that big win against Montreal. Does he get win number six tonight?
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Dube – Jankowski – Neal
Frolik – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
Was anyone else hoping that the Flames were going to play Mike Smith tonight? Dude has been a sieve all season long and I was hoping that we were going to benefit from his generosity tonight, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
David Rittich can’t start the remaining 60+ games for the Flames. Barring going with three goalies on the roster, demoting Smith, or trading him away, Smith is going to be on the Flames no matter what, and that means he’s going to get at least some starts no matter what. But the Flames should be cleanly leading the division at this stage of the season, and they aren’t, and it’s way, way too often you can point to just one guy for the loss of so many points.
I’m sure it sucks a lot for Smith, a person who’s nearing the end of his limited career window and almost certainly has a lot of pride that’s taking a beating right now. But you know who it sucks even more for? The other 18 guys on the ice. And I feel for them way more.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers forget about the struggles that have led them to this point and continue their recent run of success over the Flames, walking away from dome with a 4-3 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Nation crew that lands in Calgary will be the drunkest group in the 403 area code.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Everyone on the bus ride down to Calgary is at risk of tetanus just by stepping foot in the Saddledome.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/17/2018 – 12:00 pm MT