Gameday Preview: Oilcans on Parade


Edmonton Oilers' Ales Hemsky (L) is stopped by Calgary Flames' goalie Miikka Kiprusoff during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Edmonton October 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

The Auld Enemy make their first visit to the Moneypit (as per wi) this evening, fresh off a haphazard performance in St. Paul Thursday night that lead to their first loss of the season. The first meeting between these two clubs gave most folks that cheer for the Flames a bad case of agita, but from what I’ve seen of Edmonton since last week, it isn’t because they’re particularly good.


The Oilers have enjoyed a bit of fortune in splitting their two subsequent encounters, to be quite honest™, as they escaped their game with Florida on the back on some Shawn Horcoff hoofery. They were badly outshot and out-chanced by the Panthers, and although they weren’t as putrid at EV at the Xcel Center, their old PK bugaboo bit them hard, as the Wild scored on four of six chances when a man to the good.

I suppose if nothing else, the last two outings have acted as a corrective to the "plan the parade" exuberance that was seen after last Thursday. That’s likely for the best, as that sort of baloney should be left to the experts.

On a more serious note and record aside, I think the Oilers are about what they were expected to be. They can certainly skate, but a few of their young men have some things to learn about defence, and their backline is a couple of players short of being NHL quality. The Oilers aren’t without good forwards, though, and the return to health of Hemsky and Horcoff gives Edmonton a reasonable facsimile of a top six.


The weak link in their first two lines is, and barring reassessment will continue to be, Taylor Hall. He hasn’t been openly bad, but he’s not a world-beater, and the suggestions that he was a top end NHL forward right out of the gate will almost certainly end up seeming optimistic. Still, the Oil haven’t been torched when the first two units have been on the ice at EV.

The third line has been an absolute train wreck, though, and the continued use of Andrew Cogliano as a center has drawn the ire of more than a few of the more perspicacious types that follow the Grease. He, Paajarvi and Brule have managed the rare trick of being badly outshot while starting in the other team’s end the majority of the time. That’s not good.

As I mentioned in the open, I’m not exactly convinced that the Oilers have more than about 3 or 4 proper NHL defenders at the moment, and the ones that they do have are just OK. I will concede that Tom Gilbert is clearly the best of the lot, and the occasional bollocking he takes from the dim for not being physical enough amuses me to no end.

I don’t doubt that he’d be perfectly suited as a 3rd D on a contender, but the guy is a very good player, and if the Oilers ever wanted to give him away, they’re more than welcome to take a couple of physical stay-at-home guys from Calgary, including one they have some familiarity with. 

Personnel aside, the one item that’s been of interest to me from a tactical POV regarding this iteration of the Oilers is the fact that Tom Renney hasn’t really hard-matched lines this season as much as he’s arrayed his forwards by starting position. If you looked at the ZS link I posted, you’ll notice the the Gagner line has started in their own end quite often, but not necessarily against the other team’s better players.

That’s not the norm around the league, and I’ll be curious to see if that’s a long term plan on Renney’s part or just a short term artifact. Like Pat Quinn, he’s done his share of rolling lines, and for a team that might not regard winning as this season’s end game, I can understand to a degree.

In the opener between these teams, it didn’t make any difference who played against who, as the Flames spent the first period in an absolute dither. Edmonton was quicker to the puck at nearly every turn, and if the Flames want to have a chance, controlling tempo is a must. I know people would prefer a fast pace for stylistic reasons, but a slow-down game that forces some of the younger Oiler forwards to work on the boards in their own end is the best avenue to a Calgary win.


"The Flames aren’t going to out-skill many teams; two shutouts in three games has the Flames shooting more blanks than any fighting scene in The Other Guys. The Flames first line of Jarome Iginla/Olli Jokinen/Alex Tanguay has combined for zero points" – Jason Gregor,

  • Word is, Steve MacIntyre will be back in the line-up. I know it’s probably for some fuzzy hope of intimidation, but I consider it good news. The Flames can use any edge (in terms of actually playing hockey) they can get.

    • OilFan

      Steve will be intimidating to say the least. I’m looking forward to seeing him run Kipper ( i.e Glencross ). Is tonight the night Reger get’s his ? I always like the battle of Alberta. The rookies in Edmonton are dieing for another break out game and the Flames are a great match up to make that happen.

    • Subversive

      You would think that, except that Brent will hear the news and include Ivanis in the lineup. Whew, saved once again! Thank goodness we have him on the roster!

  • OilFan

    Hall is 18 that’s half the age of almost all Flames. Iggy the weakest link in Calgary hasn’t done much but I guess it’s only three games. It’s funny how Flames fans knock the Oilers young rookies do I sense jealousy ?

    Robert write a article about the meetings the flames had and the fact they can’t score any goals. Leave the Oilers articles to Oilersnation.

    • Perhaps you should take your own advice.

      Read where ? Hall is going to be a world class talent give him a chance. I think you where reading about Backlund ?

      I read this at Oilersnation. Via Lowetide:

      Probably Taylor Hall. He is “in between” right now, not handling the puck much and chasing it a lot. Off the rush, he doesn’t appear to have the previous drive to get around NHL veterans and is left to make a less creative play (and sometimes forces a play without success). With kids, it takes about 5 minutes to start losing confidence, so this is an issue Renney needs to address.

    • Hey there bud. Just like to say the Flames have beaten the Oilers 9 times before our last meeting. And I totally understand where your coming from, If my team was a complete dud and another team (especially one with such an epic rivalry) beat them senseless for an entire year, I would be very happy at the result of our last meeting. So good on ya bud! To put things in perspective for you, the last game between Oilers and Flames had the Oilers playing at their best and Flames playing at their worst. Tonight will be a different story! Thanks for the visit, but you’ve over-stayed your welcome.

      • OilFan

        I expect Calgary to have the jump tonight. On home ice and being the underdog. Three games into the season and look at the injuries time for more excuses.
        “To put things in perspective for you, the last game between Oilers and Flames had the Oilers playing at their best and Flames playing at their worst” lol.
        “Thanks for the visit, but you’ve over-stayed your welcome” At least sign up an account before you talk about visiting.

        • OilFan

          Not once have I ever used injuries as an excuse. I know injuries are apart of hockey and some months are better then other and some years are worse then others. And what did you really even say in your last post?? Most of it were quotes from me. And as far as being jealous of your prospects… Even a monkey knows that by tanking your team year after years, your gonna get high draft pick. Just another wave of young talent thats gonna be forgotten about next year ie. Cogliano and Gagne

  • OilFan


    Um not sure I would be over here spouting off to much just yet. The Oilers have won like 2 of the last 20 or so games on the road and haven’t had a winning season against the flames since the early 2000’s. So I would wait a few, maybe more, years before I come into someone elses backyard and take a crap on the lawn!

  • Oilers89

    The Oilers having 500 plus man games lost means that they tanked, nice to know. The Oilers last year and the year before were so injured that they were icing a AHL team basically, so don’t take cheapshots at the Oilers record against the Flames in recent years. I think you will find the season series to be much closer this year.