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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 30.0: Prepare for Battle – Part Deux (7pm MST, SNW)

There’s nothing quite like Battle of Alberta day, ya know? Whether you’re listening to sports radio or arguing with a stranger on Twitter or in the comments section here at the Nation, an Oilers/Flames game day is always a different beast for any Alberta hockey fan. And based on the first game of this year’s season series, tonight’s rematch is set up to be a beauty.

For the year’s first BOA that happened back in mid-November, we packed a bus full of the Nation’s finest and made our way down to Calgary to cheer our boys on to victory and make life miserable for any Flames fan that was within yelling distance. To start, that approach was a lot of fun as the Oilers jumped up to a two-goal lead early, but then when the collapse happened in the third period we took back all of the abuse we dished out and then some. Needless to say, it’s not much fun to be at the Saddledome when the Oilers drop a two-goal lead and end up with nothing after you’ve spent 40 minutes chirping. With the first rematch happening in our house, there is nothing I could possibly want more than to see everyone in a red jersey walking enjoying the same level of sadness as we did when we left Calgary.

Coming into the second game of the season series, the Oilers have a good opportunity for revenge as they’re going up against a Flames team that not only played last night but will also be short a couple of key players due to injury and suspension. As if winning a BOA is not motivation enough, the Oilers are only two points out of third place in the division and one point out of a wildcard spot, so I’m hoping the boys see that and approach this game with all kinds of hunger and desperation. If they can actually put together a full game and not fall down the rabbit hole of distracted decision making then we should be alright. That said, the Flames are the hottest team in the Pacific Division right now and winners of eight of their last 10 contests, making this a must-have game for the Oilers that certainly won’t come easy.

If Edmonton is going to avenge November’s loss, they’re going to have to be ready from the moment the puck drops and find a way to maintain that focus for 60 minutes. With the Flames playing last night, it’ll be crucial to get a good start to try and take advantage of any fatigue that Calgary may have. The boys need to throw hits when they have a chance, get the cycle going as much as possible, and try to spend as much time in the offensive zone as they can to wear these guys out. More importantly, the Oilers have to stay focused on their game and not get sucked into the probable Tkachuk-related shenanigans that derailed their night in Calgary. In that game, the Oilers started well but spent more time worrying about repaying the Flames with physicality than actually putting up more goals on the scoreboard, and that ended up being the difference. That can’t happen again.

This game will be another massive test to see where this team is at under Hitchcock and a huge opportunity to get themselves back in the playoff picture. Here’s hoping these two teams put on another great show.

NUMBERS

OILERS FLAMES
RECORD 15-12-2 19-9-2
WIN/LOSS STREAK W2 W5
LAST 10 GAMES 6-3-1 8-1-1
GOALS FOR 81 107
GOALS AGAINST 87 84
POWER PLAY 19.8 22.9
PENALTY KILL 76.7 77.4
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 31.4 32.8
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 29.9 28.0
TEAM SAVE% .908 .904
CORSI FOR% 50.79 53.84
PDO 99.02 100.2
TEAM SHOOTING% 6.58 8.36
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 51.53 53.07

Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUP

Oilers

Draisaitl – McDavid – Chiasson
Khaira – Nuge – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian
Zykov – Spooner – Rattie

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Benning

Koskinen

After blowing out the Minnesota Wild on Friday night, it makes sense that Hitchcock wouldn’t be making any changes to his lineups outside of Mikko Koskinen getting the start in net. Koskinen has a perfect 6-0 record at Rogers Place so far this season and we can only hope the big man keeps the train rolling tonight.

Flames

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Ryan – Bennett
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Neal
Czarnik – Quine – Hathaway

Hanifin – Hamonic
Brodie – Andersson
Kylington – Prout

Rittich

The Flames will be without both Mikael Backlund (injury) and Mark Giordano (suspension) tonight, which is certainly a welcomed sight for any Oilers fan. Backlund is the Flames’ best shutdown centreman and usually gets a healthy dose of Connor McDavid any time these two teams so having him out means that someone less qualified will be tasked with shutting the captain down. As for Giordano, he took a two-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit he threw against Koivu on Thursday night, which is a tough loss for Calgary’s back end. That said, the Flames lit up the Predators last night without these two guys in the lineup so while it certainly helps not having them in, there are no gimmes in this league and the Oilers are going to have to bust their asses to earn the win.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Flamesnation:

The Flames are without two of their de-facto “shutdown McDavid unit” Sunday night. It’s going to be a difficult task, probably one of the hardest the Flames have had this year. It’s a perfect storm of the worst variables coming together for a battle against their provincial rivals. The second night of a back-to-back, their best defenseman and potential Norris candidate suspended, and their best shutdown forward injured.

Hopefully he can be managed with the roster assembled and with as little shenanigans as possible. The team is already tops in the West and maintaining it is the goal. If they can steal a win on a schedule loss, with these factors in play then it’s great. It’s another hypothetical two points they need.

Oh and James Neal: please score a goal before Milan Lucic. Give us the Christmas miracle that fans so desperately need.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Oilers allow an early goal after a costly defensive collapse, but come roaring back in the second period with two goals by Connor McDavid. From there, the Hitchcock defensive strangulation game comes into effect and the Oilers lock down a 2-1 win.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Matthew Tkachuk will cheap shot anyone near him and refuse to answer the bell when called out for it. In one of those moments, Sportsnet cameras will get a great shot of his head retracting into his shell.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Both Milan Lucic and James Neal will have all kinds of opportunities to score tonight and will hit a combined total of six posts and crossbars.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/09/2018 – 11:00 am MT

  • Alberta Ice

    Talk about the BOA reheating again after a few decades of time out really looks good now. Oil have something to prove. Flames have something to prove. Are we looking at a future playoff series between these two teams this season now that Hitchcock has the Oil playing smarter and BP is making excellent adjustments game in and game out?
    Hopefully the game tonight will live to its hype – and each BOA hereafter!

  • Beer_League_Ringer

    I think these are the biggest 2pts of the season so far. I give us the (narrow) edge based on belief: 1) Hitch will work the bench hard and out coach his opponent (plus last change); 2) 2/5 of the Flames’ best defensive players are not playing. I expect to see Connor and his rocket skates in all situations, Hitch will double shift him all night.

  • Gary

    No Giordano D
    No Backlund F
    No Stone D
    No Frolik F
    No Valamaki D

    Half of the Flames defence is out plus this is there 3rd game in 4 nights, should be ripe for the pickings tonight. Theyre also due to play a stinker game.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      To be fair, “No Stone” shouldn’t be on that list. Him out is a good thing for us.

      Additionally, I don’t know if we’re “due” for a bad game. While all teams have them, with truly elite teams they’re harder to predict because they’re fewer. Not as many. And farther apart. With elite teams.

      Like us, I mean.

      ( But seriously I’m really looking forward to this game!!!)

  • Abagofpucks

    I just hope the boy’s play smart under Hitch tonight and dont pull the cheap shot game. The plan has to be follow Hitch’s game plan. If the Oil can get the lead and keep it, they can worry about retribution at the end of the game. The most important thing tonight is beat these pretender’s on the score board and get the 2 point’s.

    • Silkymits

      I disagree to a point I run the goalie on the 1st three plays not to hurt him just to send a message and don’t take a fight unless cowardchuck wants to fight Lucic that’s the only fight I take then I tell him your getting run every time your team steps out of line that’s how these coward play so we hve to stoop to there level

  • TKO

    having gone 8-1-1, the flames, coming into a weekend where they play 3 in 4 nights, with major players out, would be happy to win one this weekend, and of course the best one to win was the one for first place in the west, which they won handily. While of course everyone wants to win the BOA, it just isn’t as important to the flames, who can afford to lose one. The oilers on the other hand, being miles out of a playoff spot at thanksgiving, have a major hill to climb and will have to go about .700 the rest of the season to get into the playoffs… so this game is paramount to the Oil. goflames go! destroy the bottom feeder no depth goon team

    • Freddie the fog

      After your top 4 boys your scoring drops off quick …7 , 5, and 3 goals. Pretty much what all NHL teams deal with. So your great ” depth” and the Oilers no ” depth” is grossly exaggerated

  • Abagofpucks

    Like i figured the Flames will have two palooka’s in the line up because the rest of their team is afraid of us. They will be all over Conner with the cheap shots and the ref’s whistle’s will be in there pocket’s. And if anybody breath’s on there beloved Johnny goo goo and Mr Turtle we will be in the box.

  • regw

    It is wonderful, Christmas is coming around, and, I am still watching the standings! A rare treat for an Oilers’ fan.
    The B.O.A. is always awesome. A special shout out to all those whom have made it special for me for over 30 years;
    Sheehy
    Hunter
    Otto
    Loob
    Badger Bob
    Harvey the hound…
    Tkachuk
    Vernon
    And specially, that loud little bast@rd, with a “red” jersey in the 3rd row behind the Oiler bench.
    What a special list of Grinches, who have given me three decades of 1st class entertainment.
    My Christmas wish (bells ringing) is an Oiler victory with over 60 minutes in pentalties for this game, followed by a playoff matchup in the near future.

  • Alberta Ice

    Weird. A lot of chirping and trolling going on both the ON and FN sites. Oh, yeah. The big boys of BOA play tonight! When this game’s over, there will be a whole lot more chirping going on between the foes. Merry Christmas and try keeping peace on earth ya all. Enjoy the game.

      • Alberta Ice

        Hey, BtF2.0 , I just looked again at the standings. Who would have thunk it? If the Oilers win, they are in the playoffs. If the Flames win, nothing changes for them. So a much bigger game for the Oil. Can they respond? Hey, remind me at the end of the game to look at the standings. And let’s enjoy the game as a BOA blockbuster.

  • KPUZ

    This kind of game is where Lucic and Kassian should excel. Fans will forget all the past and stand 100% behind you if you can thrive in a game like tonight’s game. Go Oilers!

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Let it be played , Flames are deeper but we will see. One last thing, MCDAVID.
    Johnny the jockey , you need a good slash little man. Lucky this league is a bunch of the new millennials , or you would be filling water bottles and you and every flames fan knows it. Becoming the game of girls , no offense ladies but you play no contact.
    Go Oilers. Calgary , everything about you sucks. I can still smell the saddlejoke with a south wind. When are you going to become a real NHL City. Go play on the corral if its still there. That’s where you belong. If it smells like —- , it must be —-.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    I still would like to see Khaira McDavid and Chia’s son.
    Play Draisailt Nuge and Puljujarvi.

    McDavid doesn’t need Draisailt as much as Draisailt needs McDavid.
    Nuge could benefit a lot more with Draisailt on his line than McDavid would.

    If managed and coached properly the second line could become quite a treat.
    I believe Khaira has enough game smarts and tools to compliment McDavid consistently.

    • Freddie the fog

      Burke pretty much said as much on HNIC last night. Not a real contender. Besides we all know Calgary doesn’t win in the playoffs. The City not even original enough to come up with it’s own nickname when the Atlanta Flames moved there. Brutal.