GDB Game Notes: Flames @ Oilers

The Flames are rolling into Edmonton riding their longest winning streak of the season for the second edition of the 2018-19 Battle of Alberta. Here are your game day notes.

1. The Flames are having their hottest stretch of the season so far right now. They’re riding a five-game winning streak and last night’s win over Nashville at home bumped them up to first place in the Western Conference. Their 19-9-2 record has them on pace for 109 points which would be the second most points they’ve had in a season in franchise history. The most, of course, came in 1988-89 when they won the Stanley Cup after going 54-17-9.

2. Everything is rolling for the Flames right now. They’re scoring goals at a high rate, which has been the story for most of the season, but now they’re also getting good goaltending. Mike Smith got off to a terrible start to the season and David Rittich took over the starting gig from him. Recently, Smith has caught fire and has earned the net back from his backup. Smith stopped 25 of 27 shots last night against Nashville and all 31 shots in a 2-0 win over Minnesota on Thursday.

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3. The last time Rittich played was a wild 9-6 win for the Flames in Columbus. Rittich started the game and allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first period. Smith came in in relief and wasn’t much better, allowing three goals on 16 shots. Thankfully, the Flames managed to explode their way to nine goals, erasing Columbus’ early 4-1 lead.

4. Rittich started for the Flames in Edmonton and Calgary’s first meeting of the season. After going down 2-0, he stopped everything in the final half of the game, allowing the Flames to come back and win 4-2. Mikko Koskinen also started in that game for Edmonton, stopping 33 of 36 shots in a losing effort. It’ll be the same goalie matchup tonight in Edmonton as it was last month in Calgary.

Edmonton Oilers loan defenceman Evan Bouchard to Allsvenskan

5. In the first Battle of Alberta, things hit the fan when Mikael Backlund got into it with Connor McDavid and Matthew Tkachuk joined as the third man in. Zack Kassian went after Tkachuk later on in the game and Tkachuk predictably turtled. That’s his game. He gets into the other team’s head and pulls them away from their game. After that, the Flames took control of their game and mounted their comeback.

6. The Flames will be more prepared for a scrap if it happens tonight. They have rugged defender Dalton Prout on the roster ready to step into the lineup and apparently they’re going to call up tough guy Anthony Peluso from the AHL to slot him into the lineup. That, at the very least, gives them legitimate dancing partners if somebody like Kassian wants to get into it again.

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7. The Flames already have a depleted roster so them throwing in tough guys rather than, well, actual effective players works nicely for the Oilers. Mark Giordano will sit out due to a suspension, Mikael Backlund has a concussion, and Michael Frolik has a lower-body injury. That’s Calgary No. 1 defenceman and two of their butter shut down forwards out for Sunday’s game. They’re also playing the second leg of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights.

8. I mentioned above how Tkachuk getting into Edmonton’s head was a game changer in the last BoA. The Oilers badly need to stay out of the penalty box as the Flames have a very effective power play. They’re scoring on 22 percent of their chances, and the last time teams met, it was Derek Ryan’s late second period power play goal that shifted the tides before the final frame. The top power play of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, and Matt Tkachuk has combined for 21 goals this season.

Tyler Benson skating with UofA, awaiting Europe assignment

9. This will be the 10th game in the Ken Hitchcock era in Edmonton. The changes he’s made are already noticeable. The Oilers are a much more stingy team defensively. If you take away the game against Dallas when Connor McDavid wasn’t playing, the Oilers have allowed two or fewer goals in each of their past five games. They also currently sit 10th in the league in goals against.

10. The Oilers enjoyed their biggest offensive outburst of the season on Friday night against Minnesota. They exploded for seven goals in a dominant showing against a team who isn’t easy to score on. With a difficult two-game road trip in Colorado and Winnipeg coming up, this is a really important game for the Oilers to win. They have the schedule to their advantage and need to capitalize. I hope we see the same energized Oilers we saw Friday against Minnesota.


From peewee to the pros, Albertans loves the atmosphere, energy, and life lessons that take place at rinks across the province. And where there’s an arena, you’ll find an ATB branch nearby—with our team members cheering and fundraising along with you. See more information at ATB.com.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/09/2018 – 10:00 am MT

  • BrandieBear

    I hope the oilers can keep their heads in the game and I’d love to see them stick to Hitchcock’s systems. These are 2 huge points for us right now and they can’t get caught up in the dumb stuff. That being said if someone wants go out there and roll Tkachuk or break his face I wouldn’t be terribly upset. If he wants to take liberties with our guys then there needs to be someone taking exception to that. He’s a dirty player and it’s time someone holds him accountable.

    • wiseguy

      The best answer to Tkachuk is to line up Lucic and Kassian against little Johnny and Mony. Anything Tkachuk does to Connor gets paid back with interest to those 2.

        • Microwave

          I wouldn’t call that the best plan, it’s playing right into the narrative of being pulled into penalties before the game started. They have their normal shutdown players out, play to win, putting the slowest line to ‘pester’ the top speed line sounds like a disaster. McDavid just needs to play his game. I get it it’s the battle of Alberta, but this is completely winnable without playing down to a team that’s depleted.

          • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            I agree. Gio played over 23 mins in the last BoA and Backlund just north of 18 mins. If the Flames slot in Hamonic and Hanifin against McDavid I suspect we’ll learn how slow Calgary’s D is without a shutdown centre trying to bottle up McD. Speed kills. Arvidsson would’ve made a difference last night. McDavid will tonight.

  • hagar

    Number 9 has lots to do with kosk being the goalie for most of the games.

    Go oilers!! I am legit butterfly kinda excited already. Might have to go for a walk or something this afternoon to kill time.

  • Rama Lama

    I for one love how Zach Kassian is playing lately…….but he needs to have his wits about him if we are to win tonight. With Hitchcock in charge he should have no problem communicating this to Zach…….hopefully.

    Well at least now we do not have to contend with retarded line changes two minutes into the game…….go OIL!

  • Serious Gord

    Well THIS will be a test.

    Will Hitchcock do a better job coaching than tmc did the last time these two teams met?

    Will we have as good or better goaltending than the flames this time?

    Will the stars play like stars?

  • OldOilFan

    2 Games in hand…on Vegas.

    The Oil have fought hard and done well (especially first 2 weeks of schedule under TM, and recently since Hitch arrived)
    to be sitting where they do now: 1 point out of a Wildcard spot, with 2 games in hand, trailing Vegas.

    Hitch was in the right place at the right time to “inherit” the games-in-hand advantage that the Oil had achieved before he got here. The team was backsliding when Todd was dismissed, yes. But giving credit where credit is due: TM’s record this season was better than it appeared to be, courtesy the games in hand.

    Now we await the outcome of the “big 3” (next games) on tap: Cal, Col, Wpg.

    Hitch is a wordsmith and he didn’t pull any punches when he “adroitly” referred to the next 3 tilts as a critical measuring stick for the Oil.

    Are we gonna be a 9-2-1 team under Hitch after this run, or a 6-4-1 “same old, same old,TM/PC, DoD” kinda team?

    • The future never comes

      Todd’s time was up here, he lost the room. Does not mean he was a bad coach but clearly starting with last year he could not rally the troops together. I don’t miss him. Look at St Louis and Chicago, they got new coaches, they are still playing bad and losing. We got a new coach and they are 6-2-1, I don’t think this is a coincidence. If we still had Todd that record would probably be 2-6-1, as they were starting to drastically fall with 1-6 in his final games.

  • Oilswellthatendswell

    Last night Calgary took advantage of a depleted and weak Nashville team. We have to do the same to Calgary. All “signs” point to a victory. They have played 3 games in 4 nights. We have home ice line change. They are out 3 of their top shutdown guys, and we have Hitch as coach this time. We have played a much more responsible and defensively sound game under Hitch, so as long as we stay out of the penalty box (looking at you Kass and Looch), we can keep Conner on the ice and he can own the Flames like he has before. I predict 3-1 Oil with 2 goals and an assist by McD.

    • OldOilFan

      Agree, Hitch has cleaned up the defensive game. Thanks to that work alone, the Oil are less likely to lose “should win” games.

      I’m a Hitch fan, by the way. My post (above) was meant to be a compliment to to him for correctly (?) eyeballing the next three games as a BIG measuring stick for where the Oil really stand vs. the West.

  • Odanada

    What will the refs be calling tonight? Are they letting everything go?
    Sooner or later, Tkachuk will have his head down or put himself in a vulnerable position and that is the time to lower the boom.
    Until then, the best revenge is always winning the game

  • FlamesFan27

    Can’t wait! The BOA is back! I find it pretty funny with the turtle comments about Tkachuk. Of course he turtled against a 4th line borderline player, just like Dumba did the other night (and I don’t blame Dumba for not fighting either). Tkachuk is a star (tied with Drai in points) – why would he risk injury or even give the Oilers offsetting penalties?