The Oilers and Flames will do preseason battle in Calgary and Edmonton tonight. Fans in Edmonton will get to experience the NHL hockey in the new rink for the first time, while Flames fans are anxiously waiting for GM Brad Treliving to announce he’s signed Johnny Gaudreau to a lengthy contract extension.
Usually, in the first home preseason games, the home team dresses many of their best players to reward the fans, but that won’t be the case tonight in either city for different reasons.
Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have had the past four days off after playing in the World Cup of Hockey. The Oilers other top centre, Leon Draisaitl, is still playing for Team Europe and won’t return to the Oilers lineup for at least another eight days.
Advertisement
Ad
In Calgary, Flames fans begin the preseason a little anxious. Gaudreau still doesn’t have a contract, while Sean Monahan is recovering from a back strain he suffered during off-season training, and Mikael Backlund’s return is unknown after he suffered a concussion playing for Sweden at the World Cup.
The Oilers and Flames will still have an NHL-heavy lineup in their respective rinks, and McDavid and RNH will return to practice tomorrow.

LINEUPS…

In Edmonton you will see:
Lucic-Caggiula-Eberle
Pouliot-Vesce-Puljujarvi
Beck-Khaira-Versteeg
Moroz-Platzer-Pakarinen
Klefbom-Larsson
Betker-Fayne
Niemelainen-Benning
Talbot and Laurikainen
Flames:
Bouma-Hamilton-Ferland
Higgins-Vey-Poirier
Pollock-Bailey-Hathaway
Korpikoski-Jankowski-Frattin
Hamilton-Wotherspoon
Kulak-Andersson
Grossman-Morrison
Gillies and Johnson
In Calgary fans will see:
Maroon-Lander-Yakupov
Hendricks-Letestu-Kassian
Christoffer-Sallinen-Slepyshev
Russell-Currie-Chase
Nurse-Davidson
Oesterle-Gryba
Jones-Bear
Gustavsson-Brossoit
Flames:
Tkachuk-Bennett-Brouwer
Shinkaruk-Stajan-Chiasson
Bollig-Dube-Klimchuk
Tuulola-Lomberg-Carroll
Giordano-Brodie
Jokipakka-Wideman
Kylington-Engelland
Elliott and McDonald

QUICK HITS

  • Griffin Reinhart will not play in either game. McLellan said he has a small tweak, but they expect him to play on Wednesday. He will need a fantastic preseason to be in the top-six on opening night.
  • Jordan Eberle changed his stick this summer. It is longer and he’s lowered the flex. He worked a lot on his one-timer this summer, but while he made some changes to his stick he was adamant about it not impacting his ability to stickhandle. His stick handling is his best asset and he’s confident the new stick will help his shot without hindering his puck handling skills. I’ll be watching how he shoots the puck tonight.
  • Andrej Sekera has been playing the right side at the World Cup alongside Zdeno Chara. Brandon Davidson has played the right side often, and he will tonight, and McLellan isn’t sure which of those two will start the season on the right side.
  • A great analogy regarding Davidson: You can only be Cinderella once. Now it is about improving on last year. McLellan believes the key will be not asking Davidson to do too much. “You want him to improve of course, but now it is about building on his consistency.”
    I can tell you Davidson is not comfortable or satisfied. He believes he can add more and is main focus is proving people last season was not a career-best.
    Advertisement
    Ad
  • I spoke with Patrick Maroon and he wanted to clarify some things about his losing 25 pounds. He weighs 227. Last season he finished the season around 242. When he discussed losing the 25 pounds, he was referring to the start of his training. After the season he took a month off and relaxed, like most players do, and often they gain some weight. So he is down 15 pounds from last year’s playing weight, but is actually down 26 pounds from when he started training in early June. “I feel leaner. I might feel faster, I can’t really tell (laughs), I’ve never been a great skater. My success has never been about speed, but feeling leaner and lighter hopefully makes me look quicker,” he said.
    Maroon was honest about how in the past he wasn’t as consistent as he needs to be. His focus in preseason is simple. “I am challenging myself to finish like I did last year. I’m still fighting for a job. I want to play in the top three lines every night. I want the job and I deserve the job and I have to show that.”
  • Draisaitl has been playing hockey since August, due to Olympic qualifying, and the games are more emotionally taxing than anything. Look for McLellan to give Draisaitl some rest when the WCOH is over, but also a few more days during the season. McLellan mentioned he felt mentally exhausted after the World Cup games, similar to playoff games, and it isn’t normal to feel that way in September. He will monitor Draisaitl’s rest closely this year.
  • If you are going to the Oilers game in Edmonton tonight, stop in at Maverick Autographs. I’ll be doing my show there (below Mercer Tavern, beside Transcend coffee) from Vacancy Hall. You can win a signed Grant Fuhn replica Stanley Cup and more.
  • Football fans: go to draftkings.com/gregor1260 for your chance to win part of $1.25 million. Free with first deposit. Also, would you be more interested in playing if it was for the NHL? Let me know. We likely will get an NHL pool going.

TONIGHT

GAME DAY PREDICTIONS: The home teams win each game with Edmonton winning 4-2 and Calgary picking up a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle and Lucic combine for two goals.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Versteeg scores the first goal. He grew up in Lethbridge and was a diehard Oilers fan. “My mom gave me no option to be an Oilers fan (laughs). I’m happy she did,” he told me last Thursday. His mom will be beaming when she sees her son score a goal in an Oilers jersey.
Advertisement
Ad
Recently by Jason Gregor: