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GDB +9.0: Entertainment Plus Execution (8:30pm MT, Sportsnet)

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Photo credit:Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is that not why you are here?” – Maximus Decimus Meridius.
It is one of the most memorable lines from the epic film Gladiator.
The NHL isn’t life or death, like being a Gladiator in the Roman Empire, but both unfold in highly emotional arenas.
Game one of the Pacific Division Final between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers didn’t lack entertainment. Sure, the goaltending and defensive coverage wasn’t top notch, but the game led fans through a wide range of emotions.
Flames were elated early. They were chanting “we want 10” only six minutes into the game, and they almost got their wish. But that elation and confidence waned, as the Oilers, seemingly out of nowhere, scored four unanswered goals to tie the game at six early in the third period.
While Flames fans saw their emotions range from elation, awe, concern, and nervousness over the first 42 minutes, Oilersnation experienced a much different wave of emotion. It started with shock, moved to disgust, likely anger, then sprinkles of hope as the gap shrunk from a four-goal deficit down to none. Suddenly there was hope, albeit it fleeting as the Flames regained the lead only 90 seconds after Edmonton tied it.
No one can say it wasn’t entertaining. It might have been ugly, in style, but sports is supposed to grab you emotionally and game one definitely did that. Tonight will be another emotional rollercoaster for fans in Alberta. It likely won’t produce 15 goals, a new BOA playoff record, but you should expect a vast array of emotions to flood your senses tonight.
The Oilers have to find a way to be ready to play at the opening whistle. Calgary thrives on getting a lead and they’ve proven all season they are ready most nights. The Oilers’ inability to score first consistently has been an issue much of the season. It has improved the previous few months, but not enough. I’d argue in six of eight playoff games the Oilers haven’t had the start they wanted.
When they were desperate and in need of a win in games six and seven v. LA, they showed up ready to play and carried it through each entire game. They need the same mentality tonight. Going down 2-0 to a more skilled opponent than they faced in round one won’t be ideal. A good start won’t guarantee they win tonight, but at least it won’t put them in chase mode. They haven’t been good when trailing.
The Oilers are 0-4 this postseason when allowing the first goal. They are 4-0 when scoring first. It might look to simplistic to say score first, but teams that score first are 41-16 thus far. The Flames haven’t lost when scoring first either.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Kane – McDavid – Draisaitl
Hyman – RNH – Puljujarvi
Foegele – McLeod – Yamamoto
Archibald – Ryan – Kassian
Nurse – Ceci
Keith – Bouchard
Kulak – Barrie
Russell
Smith
Those were the lines this morning, except @Devin Shore was skating in @Leon Draisaitl’s spot. We’ve seen Jay Woodcroft use different line combinations in the morning than what he runs in the game. I think we will see different combinations throughout the game, but I do believe Warren Foegele will return to the lineup after missing three games.
@Tyson Barrie didn’t skate this morning. He is under the weather, but is expected to play.
@Evander Kane shared his thoughts on many topics this morning.
“I think we can be a little bit more physical tonight and push back harder. I believe we will,” said Kane regarding the Oilers physical play.
He added. “If they’re going to go after our top guys, we’re going to go after their top guys. We didn’t do a good enough job of that.” He is bang on. The Oilers landed one hit on the Flames’ top offensive players. They need to get after Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Thachuk and the other skilled forwards.
When asked about the battle with Milan Lucic in game one. “I don’t know if there is much of a battle there. We welcome him to be on the ice whenever he is,” Kane said.
Expect a more physical affair tonight. Bring on the Battle of Alberta.

Flames

Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Mangiapane – Backlund – Coleman
Dube – Jarnkrok – Toffoli
Lucic – Lewis – Ritchie
Hanafin – Andersson
Kylington – Stone
Zadorov – Gudbranson
Markstrom
Chris Tanev might draw in. The Flames have started well much of this season, scoring first in 57 of their 90 regular season and playoff games. Edmonton has to match their intensity early in games.
Tkachuk had a good reminder yesterday how life is always more important than hockey.
“I do work in Calgary with kids in similar situations,” said Tkachuk this morning. “Obviously we’ve seen a lot of videos of Ben throughout the year. Yesterday I was shown a picture of fans holding the sign and we wanted to do something similar with the players. I have seen the video (Nerf gun) of him shooting me in the head, or pretty close to it (laughs), so I thought it would be good to send a video back instead of just a picture.
“Obviously it is way bigger than hockey. It doesn’t matter who you are rooting for, we are cheering him on. He doesn’t like us (laughs), but that is just what the game brings, but we are all thinking about him and his family. He is a true warrior. We are definitely cheering him on and hoping for the best for him.”

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: It will be a closer game. I sense it goes to overtime, and Oilers find a 4-3 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid continues his ridiculous playoff run. He reaches the 20-point plateau in his 9th game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Derek Ryan scores for the first time in 19 playoff games. His last playoff goal was April 17th, 2019.

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