After an emotional night that culminated in a shootout loss, the Edmonton Oilers did not have to wait long to try and get that one back as they will be making their way down Highway 2 to Calgary for the fourth game in the season series. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s BOA night.
Seeing as both clubs are tied with 60 points, it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure out how important this game is relating to the Pacific Division standings and that the Oilers need to find a way to win despite playing their third game in four nights. To this point, the Oilers have only managed to secure one out of a possible six points versus the Flames and that’s obviously something that has to change, especially when you consider that first and fifth place in the division are separated by only four points. Now that the spectacle of the Kassian/Tkachuk shenanigans is out of the way, the focus really needs to be on finding a way to win this hockey game and making it happen by all means necessary. That’s not to suggest that the boys haven’t wanted to win the first three games, let’s not be ridiculous, but I’d rather see them build upon the strong game they had last night against the Blues over engaging in meaningless scrums that could land them in the penalty box. The refs aren’t going to do us any favours so we need to help ourselves — the points are just too important, ya know?
As always, the first step in cashing in a ‘W’ is to get a strong start which has been a challenge for Edmonton so far. In all three games, the Oilers have allowed a goal against in the opening moments of the first period which is obviously a tough way to get going and a disadvantage that needs to be avoided at all costs. Needless to stay, the teams in this league are simply too good to spot them an early lead and expect to claw back so keeping the Flames off the board early will be a major item near the top of the Oilers’ to-do list. In addition to the early goals, the Oilers have been outscored overall by a 13-7 margin and that’s an ugly stat to swallow based on how these two teams have put the puck in the net as a whole. As you’ll see in the numbers section below, Edmonton has a fairly significant advantage in goal differential over the Flames this season, and yet, they haven’t been able to work it to their advantage. That said, if the boys can pay attention to the details as they did last night against St. Louis then we should have a good chance to tucking two huge points in the bank.
Tonight’s game marks the fourth of five BOAs with the final installment coming on the last night of the NHL season (April 4th). As I mentioned above, the Oilers are still looking for their first win in the season series and I can’t think of a better time to get that done than tonight in Calgary.
|LAST 10 GAMES||7-1-2||7-2-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||48.80||50.09|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Archibald – McDavid – Kassian
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Benson – Sheahan – Russell
Gagner – Haas – Chiasson
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Benning
At the time of posting, the Oilers haven’t put out any information regarding what the line combos will look like tonight so I took last night’s lines and inserted Benson alongside Sheahan and Russell as a pure guess. Maybe Tippett will throw him into the deep end in Archibald’s spot on the first line, but I’m betting that we won’t know for sure until we get closer to puck drop?
Mangiapane – Lindholm – Tkachuk
Gaudreau – Monahan – Backlund
Lucic – Ryan – Dube
Bennett – Jankowski – Rieder
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Two bitter provincial rivals! Tied in the Pacific Division standings! Two massive points on the line! The Calgary Flames (27-19-6, 60 points)! The Edmonton Oilers (27-18-6, 60 points)! An Edmonton win puts Edmonton two points up with a game in hand. A Calgary win puts them two points up on the Oilers (and gives them some breathing room in the playoff race).
The Flames have captured three of a possible four points since the All-Star Break, grinding out a pair of tight, mature, shootout wins. Playing 65 minutes (and a shootout) probably isn’t a recipe for sustainable long-term success, but the name of the game right now is trying to keep pace in the Pacific.
The Flames need a win tonight to keep pace with the Oilers.
Edmonton hosted the St. Louis Blues last night, playing really well and grinding out an impressive 4-2 victory. The Oilers will be playing their third game in four nights, though, and you’ve got to wonder if the Flames push the pace early on if Edmonton runs out of gas.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers get a quick goal that sets the tone, and they use it as a stepping stone for a 3-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: After getting beat up by Zack Kassian a few nights ago, Matthew Tkachuk gets back to running around without feeling any pressure to answer the bell.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Milan Lucic scores a goal tonight that won’t matter but he’ll celebrate like it does anyway. Eric Francis will then speak at length about how important he is to the team and blah, blah, blah…
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