October 26 2010 12:52PM
The fact that the Flames take on the Oilers tonight is exciting. The fact that 33.3% of Calgary's opposition to this point have been the Oilers makes it significantly less exciting. Nonetheless, here they are...for the third time this season, the Calgary Flames take on the Chosen Ones, and for the second time at the Scotiabank Saddledome (7 pm, Sportsnet West, The FAN 960).
Gameday at the 'Dome as the Flames are playing their best hockey of the young season, coming off one of their most impressive wins in recent memory: a dominant 4-0 win over the Sharks at home on Sunday night. Calgary has won four of five games, and beat the Oilers last time out by a 5-3 score.
Welcome back Steve Staios...although some would rather not welcome him back. Staios returns for the Flames in place of Brendan Mikkeslon, who played two games before Head Coach Brent Sutter made the change. The thought yesterday was that Staios would play, so it didn't come as much of a surprise. Sutter said Mikkelson wasn't very good on Sunday and they're going to need more from him. After the pairings were juggled up Sunday night, they look to be back to normal tonight:
Robyn Regehr-Ian White
Mark Giordano-Cory Sarich
Jay Bouwmeester-Steve Staios
As for the forward ranks, nothing changes, as the lines stay exactly the same:
Alex Tanguay-Matt Stajan-Jarome Iginla
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Rene Bourque
Curtis Glencross-Mikael Backlund-Brendan Morrison
Craig Conroy-Stefan Meyer-Tim Jackman
Miikka Kiprusoff gets the start in net, coming off his second shutout of the season and 36th of his career on Sunday.
Ken't has his Oilers preview up right now, and it's good stuff. It's an Edmonton team that opened the season 2-0 and haven't won since, entering their seventh game of the season. Now 2-4, the Oilers are reeling for the first time with their new young nucleus, and Tom Renney's team is being tested. In listening to Assistant Coach Steve Smith yesterday, he says they're doing all they can to make sure it's a positive atmosphere each and every day, regardless if the team is winning or losing. Right now, there's more of the latter as opposed to the former.
Make sure you read Gregor's preview from OilersNation and here are projected lines and pairings, subject to change...
Magnus Paajarvi-Shawn Horcoff-Jordan Eberle
Dustin Penner-Sam Gagner-Ales Hemsky
Taylor Hall-Gilbert Brule-Andrew Cogliano
Steve McIntyre-Colin Fraser-Ryan Jones
Ryan Whitney-Kurtis Foster
Ladislav Smid-Tom Gilbert
Jim Vandermeer-Theo Peckham
A few things that catch my eye in this one. First of all, it was funny hearing from Flames forward Olli Jokinen this morning in setting this game up. He was talking about getting set, and he brought up the opening night loss in Edmonton without being prompted. Clearly, it's still something that the Flames remember, the 4-0 drubbing they suffered at Rexall Place at the beginning of the month. Never bad to have added motivation I guess.
Second, Calgary's powerplay is something I'll be watching very closely. Yes, they're just 1/12 in their last two games, and just 3/37 overall, but they have moved the puck much more effectively as of late, and have generated some fairly impressive scoring chances. Against the Sharks, they were particularly good, and don't forget that two goals against Columbus came just as a man advantage was expiring. If they continue doing what they've done, they'll start to have success...whether or not they do is another story.
While the Flames no longer have a long overall win streak over Edmonton, they have won six straight games against the Oilers at the Saddledome. The last time Calgary has lost to their provincial rivals at home was back on October 17th, 2008...more than two years ago.
It's game 900 for Olli Jokinen tonight while Tim Jackman gets into game 200...as for Craig Conroy, he'll be playing in his 999th career game. 1000 will come Thursday against the Avalanche. It's also Miikka Kiprusoff's 34th birthday today.