If you ever listen to Oilersnation Radio, you’ve probably heard Tyler say that “you’re not in trouble until you lose at home.” On Friday night, the Flames lost at home and that means the Oilers have an opportunity to steal home-ice advantage in this series.
Heading into Game 2, the Oilers needed to show not only us but themselves that they were not going to be outworked in this series. They needed to come up with the kind of effort that would not only get them back into the series but also let the Flames know that this team is a different animal than the Dallas Stars. Yet, despite the need for a strong start, the boys found themselves down by a pair only six minutes in and that left a lot of us feeling that “here we go again” vibe in the pit of our stomachs. Undeterred by the challenge, the Oilers battled back with urgency and relentlessness and it was clear to me that when they’re playing that way, the Flames have a hard time handling the smoke. But don’t get it twisted, there’s no cockiness here, Gord knows that the Calgary faithful had more than enough of that for all of us, all I’m saying is that Edmonton can hang with anyone when they’re playing their game and we didn’t see nearly enough of that in Game 1. We played the Flames game and lost. But when we played our game on Friday, we won. The tricky part, of course, will be dishing up another serving of that same deliciousness tonight at Rogers Place.
If the Oilers are going to grab the series lead tonight at Rogers Place in Game 3, we’re going to need the same level of effort, hustle, and execution as we got in the last 50 minutes of Friday night’s contest. Furthermore, the boys will also need to figure out how to start on time as the Flames have collected early goals in four of six periods in this series so far, and I don’t think it takes a rocket surgeon to figure out that won’t work if the trend continues. Yeah, the Oilers have had Jacob Markstrom’s number a little bit and it’s allowed them to claw their way back into both games, but wouldn’t it be nice to avoid that need entirely? Wouldn’t it be cool to start with the lead instead? Of course, that’s easier said than done. As we know, the Oilers have struggled with their starts throughout the regular and post-seasons and it’s an issue they’ll need to solve in a real hurry, especially with the opportunity to steal home-ice advantage right here in front of them. If they can carry forward some of that urgency we saw as the game wore on, I really like our chances of grabbing this win but if they can’t then we very well could be in store for another long night. As much fun as Game 2 was for all of us, what happened two nights ago doesn’t matter anymore. Lke Kobe Bryant said back in 2009, “job’s not finished.”
Let’s see what the numbers say.
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||53.33||60.60|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Kane – McDavid – Draisaitl
Hyman – RNH – Puljujarvi
Foegele – McLeod – Yamamoto
Archibald – Ryan – Kassian
Nurse – Ceci
Keith – Bouchard
Kulak – Barrie
The thing that I’ve been wondering all morning is how much more this roster has to offer after playing its best game of the series on Friday night at the Saddledome. Even though we won that game — splitting the series in Calgary was huge — I still don’t think the Oilers played to their full potential, and I’m hopeful that having Rogers Place buzzing in their corner will help them get there. As for the line combos and d-pairings, we didn’t get any updates after the morning skate so I just carried over what we got in Game 2 but will be sure to jump in and make any adjustments I see once news comes out.
Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Dube – Jarnkrok – Toffoli
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie
Hanafin – Andersson
Kylington – Stone
Zadorov – Gudbranson
I’m fully expecting the Flames to hit the ice at full speed tonight to try and take the crowd out of it, and that’s a challenge the Oilers will have to do a better job of managing than they have through games one and two. If we can get through those first few minutes (maybe push back for once?) then I think we’ll be okay, but if the Oilers find themselves down early again then we could be in trouble. Over and above getting a good start, Edmonton needs to shoot from the parking lot and make life miserable for Jacob Markstrom. The dude has not been good in this series and the Oilers need to take advantage of those struggles by throwing absolutely everything they can at him and crashing the crease to pick up the garbage he’s sure to leave available.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
After splitting a pair of games at the NHL’s second-oldest arena, the Scotiabank Saddledome, the best-of-seven series between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers now shifts to Rogers Place, one of the NHL’s newest venues.
While the Flames have been a very strong road team over the past several seasons, they need to change their fortunes at Rogers Place to have success in these playoffs – they have one of their worst records there among all the road buildings in the NHL.
Rogers Place opened to begin the 2016-17 season and the Oilers have had Connor McDavid on their roster for that entire span, meaning whenever they’ve played in Rogers Place (aside from a few injury absences) that hockey club has had the ability to use McDavid in their preferred deployments.
Weirdly, the Flames actually have a high home ice points percentage than Edmonton since Rogers Place opened, but it probably took a while for the Oilers brass to build a team around McDavid.
Since Rogers Place opened, the Flames have been equal parts streaky and unsuccessful in that building during the regular season:
- They lost their first five visits to Rogers Place, going 0-3-2.
- Then they won their next three visits.
- Then they host their next three visits.
- Then they won once.
- And most recently they’ve lost three in a row.
All-told, the Flames are 4-9-2 at Rogers Place, capturing a third of the available points, and being out-scored 49-35. Among Western Conference teams, only Los Angeles (.227) have fared worse than Calgary at Rogers Place.
Game Day Prediction: Oilers play their best game of the series so far and ride it to a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Flames will try to silence Connor McDavid and they will fail.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers score first!
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