Welcome, friends, to the GDB you’ve been waiting for as the Edmonton Oilers will face off against the Calgary Flames for the first time since the night of shenanigans that happened back on January 11th at the Saddledome.
After nearly two weeks away, the boys are back from their bye week and finally set to tackle the third BOA in the season series, and I don’t know if either city could be any more excited. As far as build-up goes, this baby has about as much as you can get around here. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that it feels like it’s been ages since these two teams last met considering the drama that surrounded that last game, ya know? After countless interviews, tweets, and hot takes from all sides, it’s time to put the hype train on the shelf and actually play what is sure to be a massive divisional game with a potential four-point swing in either direction. Ignoring the sideshow that’s been trailing this thing for weeks, tonight’s matchup is meaningful for both sides as they’re each jockeying for position near the top of what is no doubt a very tight Pacific Division.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, and I know that I’ll rightfully take shit for it in the comments section, but I’m kinda bummed to be in Mexico right now because it probably means that I’ll miss this hockey game. After being in Calgary for the last one, I’m incredibly jealous of each and every one of you that will get to participate in any way, whether it’s at Rogers Place, on social media, or here in the comments section because this night has all the makings of a great time. I mean, how long have we hoped for the BOA to actually mean something again and the fact that we’ve got a game like this one that means this much in terms of pride as it does in the standings is all we can really ask for as hockey fans. So from my room here in Cancun, I ask that each of you enjoy the night and have a great time with this hockey game because it’s bound to be a great one.
With both clubs currently tied with 57 points, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out how important this game is in terms of Pacific Division supremacy. Forget the Kassian/Tkachuk stuff, the billboards, and the general beef between fanbases, the most important takeaway from tonight’s hockey game is going to be the two points that go to the winner and that really should be the focus here. Yeah, it would be fun to take a pound of flesh but I’d honestly rather see the boys close out a win instead. Will the Oilers find a way to win their first game of the season series? I certainly hope so.
|LAST 10 GAMES||6-3-1||6-3-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||48.57||50.32|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Neal – McDavid – Kassian
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Nygard – Sheahan – Archibald
Gagner – Haas – Chiasson
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Bear
K. Russell – Jones
All I can think about is how well the Oilers played in their last game before the break against the Coyotes and hope to Gord that they can find a way to keep those good times rolling. Do I expect Riley Sheahan to put up another four points? No, but I do how that the recent run of depth scoring is something that can continue. Know what I mean? Of course you do.
Mangiapane – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Gaudreau – Monahan – Backlund
Lucic – Ryan – Dube
Bennett – Jankowski – Rieder
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
I don’t really have much to say here aside from readily admitting how much I dislike the Flames. They need to lose, and that’s all I care about.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Oilers have 57 points and a .582 points percentage. They’re second right now in the division by way of having played fewer games than the other three teams at 57 points. They have seven games left against the good Pacific teams and six against California. Their schedule involves five sets of back-to-backs, 15 road games, and an average opponent points percentage of .561.
So how does all of this look for the Flames?
- The number of games left against the California teams is promising, as the Flames can grab points against teams that are (a) diminished and (b) likely to sell before the trade deadline, making themselves even weaker.
- The number of games left against the teams they’re battling with is equally promising – including three against the Oilers – as they’re effectively masters of their own fates now.
- Overall, their travel isn’t bad, they don’t play a ton of back-to-backs, and they have the lowest strength of schedule of any of the five teams.
The Flames have been really inconsistent this season, but they’ve gone through the worst of their schedule and relative to the other four Pacific teams they’re battling with they have the easiest path to the post-season. They just need to beat the teams in front of them and it’s probable – though not inevitable – that they can find a way into the playoffs.
Game Day Prediction: Oilers get an early goal that sets the tone for the night, and they use that hot start to power themselves to a 4-2 victory.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Matthew Tkachuk will avoid answering the bell because that’s apparently the kind of guy he is.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Tonight’s game is way more mellow than anyone could have expected as both sides are more focused on the scoreboard over anything else.
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