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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 38.0: No Passengers Against Calgary (7pm MT, SNW)

The Edmonton Oilers are 4-2 against the Calgary Flames this season. They’ve outscored them 26-17. Thirteen players have scored a goal and 20 players have at least one point. They have defeated the Flames by getting offensive contributions throughout the lineup. It is trend they hope to continue tonight.

Here is quick comparison to the 18 skaters dressed tonight and their season points/game average and their production against Calgary.

Player Season P/GP P/GP v. CGY
McDavid 1.70 2.33
Draisaitl 1.46 1.33
Barrie 0.86 1.17
Nurse 0.73 1.00
RNH 0.73 1.00
Yamamoto 0.46 0.50
Chiasson 0.37 0.60
Puljujarvi 0.36 0.83
Khaira 0.35 0.40
Kahun 0.31 0.60
Russell 0.27 0.50
Kassian 0.26 0.50
Shore 0.26 0.33
Archibald 0.24 0.40
Larsson 0.22 0.33
Haas 0.14 0.40
Bear 0.12 0.33
Jones 0.06 0

Only Leon Draisaitl and Caleb Jones are below their season average. Draisaitl has eight points in six games. So let’s be clear: he isn’t playing poorly at all. Jones only has one point all season, so being pointless against the Flames isn’t a big negative either. My point was the Oilers have gotten contributions up and down the lineup against Calgary which is why they have scored 4.33 goals/game.

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In their four victories Edmonton has averaged 4.75 goals/game. In their two losses they averaged 3.5. So their offence has been consistent. They’ve lost when they got leaky defensively. In their four wins they allowed a total of seven goals (1.75 GAA), but in their two losses Calgary scored 10 goals (5.00 GAA). Edmonton doesn’t need to cheat to create offence against Calgary. Play solid defensively and their overall offensive talent is better than Calgary’s.

The Flames can’t match the top-end offence of the Oilers. Tyson Barrie (0.86 points/game) is third on the Oilers, but he’d be leading the Flames in points and P/GP.

Calgary is 1-5 in their previous six games and they’ve scored a total of nine goals. Four of them came in their only victory — 4-2 over Winnipeg. Their inability to score has cost them games. They’ve lost 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 and 5-1. It is hard to win when your offence scores five goals in five games. Don’t let the Flames offensive players gain confidence by giving up easy looks. This should not be a game where the Oilers have to score four goals to win.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Archibald– Haas – Kassian
Shore – Khaira – Chiasson

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Nurse – Barrie
Russell – Larsson
Jones – Bear

Smith

Caleb Jones, Dominik Kahun, Alex Chiasson and Mike Smith are in, while William Lagesson, Tyler Ennis, Kyle Turris and Mikko Koskinen come out. Tippett has gone back to his top two lines that led them to an 11-2 record between January 30th and February 25th.

I think the Haas line could be a key tonight. Kassian has been much more involved in games since returning from injury. He and Josh Archibald are the most physical forwards on the team and along with the speed of Gaetan Haas that line needs to be disruptive tonight.

One area the Oilers need to be aware of defensively is covering the slot while Calgary is cycling the puck. The Flames are second in the NHL in creating shots from the slot off the cycle and they are fifth in the NHL at creating slot shots off the forecheck. Edmonton is 29th in limiting shot attempts from the slot off the cycle, so I’d watch to see how the Oilers handle the Flames off the cycle. Calgary doesn’t generate very much off the rush. They are 26th in generating shot attempts off the rush, while the Oilers are seventh.

Neither team is very good at getting second chance (rebounds) from the slot. Edmonton is 28th while the Flames are 31st. So we likely won’t see a lot of second and third opportunities tonight.

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Flames

Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ritchie
Lucic – Backlund – Bennett
Nordstrom – Ryan- Dube

Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Tanev
Nesterov – Stone

Markstrom

The Flames are still hoping for more offence from Sean Monahan. He’s having his worst offensive season of his career with only 7-15-22 in 35 games. He has been a really good goal scorer since entering the NHL in 2013/2014. He has scored the 15th most goals in the NHL (201). He is having a tough year finishing, but him bouncing back to score 20 next year would be a really safe bet. If I’m an opposing GM, I’d try to buy low on him this off-season.

The Flames are 23rd in GF/game at 2.57, but they are top-ten in many creating offensive zone possession.
**ES stands for even strength. NZ= neutral zone.**

They are 5th in OZ possession. Oilers are 6th.
5th in ES OZ faceoff wins at 50.9%. Edmonton is 8th at 49.8%.
2nd in OX dump in recoveries. Edmonton is 16th.
7th in ES pressure OZ dump-ins without opposition exit. Edm is 29th.
4th in ES Forechecking success (Opposition doesn’t reach NZ). Edm is 25th.
3rd in ES contested loose puck recovery win%. Edm is 13th.

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The Oilers are second in ES controlled entry success rate, while Calgary is 28th. The Flames create possession, but it is off of dump ins, while Edmonton creates offence off the rush. It will be curious to see which team can impose its strengths on the other tonight.

If interested, Craig Button released his top-75 prospect list. Edmonton has four players: Philip Broberg (8), Dylan Holloway (9), Evan Bouchard (43) and Stuart Skinner (71). Keep in mind this is a rankings about today. In a year a lot can change. Some players will go up, some will fall on the list. Even a few years after being drafted it is difficult to accurately project what players will become. So much can change from year to year, and opportunity and organizational depth also plays a factor for many prospects.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Flamesnation.ca:

If you think the Flames have a snowball’s chance in Hawaii of making the playoffs, they need wins. A lot of them. And maybe a time machine, too. If you think that this season is lost, there’s value in Darryl Sutter trying stuff out and setting a tone for the fall, and wins and good habits are still important.

Needless to say, the Flames need to find ways to battle and make life difficult for their opposition – far too often, they’re a relatively easy night at the office. The Flames have nine fights this season: four have been against Edmonton. Say what you will about the impacts of fighting – brain injuries flat-out suck and broken hands aren’t much better – but the Flames have at least battled against Edmonton this season.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton puts another nail in the Flames’ coffin with a 3-2 victory. I don’t think this will be an overly entertaining game. I hope I am wrong.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid scores his 22nd goal of the season, and picks up his seventh goal in seven games against the Flames this season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jones, Bear and Russell have yet to score a goal. Russell has 0-7-7 in 26 games. Bear has 0-3-3 in 25 games while Jones has 0-1-1 in 17. They have a friendly wager on who scores first. Russell stuns them scoring his first goal in 92 games. Jones and Bear split the cost of a buying Russell a new buckskin cowboy hat for losing the bet.

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