After meeting in the playoffs for the first time in 31 years last May, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames should have a heightened level of animosity, but we’ll likely have to wait until October 15th, when they meet in the regular season, to see it.
Calgary will dress a veteran-laden lineup tonight, while the Oilers will travel a squad light on big-name talent.
Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander, Kane, Zach Hyman, Darnell Nurse, Cody Ceci, and Jack Campbell have yet to play a preseason game, and none will play tonight. Expect to see them at home on Friday in the rematch v. the Flames. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Brett Kulak, and Evan Bouchard are also expected to remain in Edmonton.
Head coach Jay Woodcroft will use the final five preseason games to get his main group of players ready.
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LINEUPS…

Oilers

Holloway-McLeod-Foegele
Janmark-Shore-Ryan
Benson-Malone-Virtanen
Esposito-McKegg-Petrov/Tullio
Murray-Barrie
Niemelainen-Demers
Samorukov-Kemp
Pickard
Skinner
**Not official, but best guess based on conversations I’ve had.**
Jake Virtanen will play his third consecutive game. He’s on a PTO and playing him often make sense. The Oilers need to see if he can help their organization, even in the AHL. Jason Demers played better than Ryan Murray on Sunday, and with so many young D-men poised to start in Bakersfield, I wonder if Demers would be interested in a two-way deal that gives the Oilers some depth on the right side. Having a veteran D-man alongside Dmitri Samorukov, Vincent Desharnais, Phil Kemp, Michael Kesselring, Alex Peters and Markus Niemelainen could be a benefit early in the season.
Desharnais hurt his wrist/hand in the Captain skates, and he was skating on his own last week, but after more tests they opted to have surgery. He will be out upwards of a month. I ran into him at the rink today and he is in good spirits, but this is not the start to the season he wanted. He really wanted to get in some exhibition games. Edmonton has really liked his progress, but this is two years in a row he missed preseason games due to injuries. Very unlucky.
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FLAMES…

Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli
Backlund-Kadri-Coleman
Lucic-Rooney-Lewis
Sutter-Bishop-McLain
Hanifin-Andersson
Zadorov-Weegar
Solovyov-Stone
Markstrom
Wolf
As is usually the case early in the preseason, the home team will dress more NHL players. Friday’s rematch will be the opposite with the Oilers’ top dogs going against Flames lesser lights. The Flames have three of their top four lines going and four of their D. This is a good measuring stick for players battling for spots in the Oilers’ bottom six. They have the opportunity to show Woodcroft they can handle tougher competition. Of course, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will face the toughest competition all season, but if Woodcroft can mix in his bottom lines against other teams’ top lines, then it will free up McDavid and Draisaitl to feast on the opposing team’s bottom six.

QUICK HITS…

  • The Oilers penalty killers will get a good test tonight as the Flames have their top PP dressed. The Flames went 3-for-7 in their first home preseason game v. Vancouver. It will be a much better measuring stick for Warren Foegele and the others who are looking to secure some PK time this season.
  • Foegele mentioned he added five pounds of muscle this off-season. He mentioned the past few summers he was dealing with nagging injuries and hadn’t been able to train like he did this summer. He said he feels stronger, and often players feel the extra weight/strength will help them wear down less over the course of a season.
  • The Condors training camp begins on Monday, and I’d expect a fair amount of players being sent down on Sunday. I’d also assume Petrov plays tonight and then, like the previous junior players in camp, he will be reassigned to North Bay.
  • The reason Virtanen is playing his third consecutive game is that they want to see if he has enough to offer to warrant a contract, even if it is a two-way deal. He also classifies as a veteran, so that helps them reach the minimum of nine veterans dressed for a preseason game. But the former is the main reason he’s playing again.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Calgary wins 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McLeod and Holloway stand out as the two best forwards.
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NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Malone scores his first of the preseason.

#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy) 
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.

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