Season Series: This will be the fourth of six meetings between the two Northwest Division rivals. Calgary won the first three editions of the Battle of Alberta this season, outscoring Edmonton 10-4 in those games.
Big Story: While the Flames jockey for playoff positioning, their provincial rivals continue to deal with a rash of injuries to their top young players.
Flames: Calgary is in its home province but not its home arena as it wraps up a three-game trip. After visiting Edmonton, Calgary will head home for a rematch with the Sharks prior to the All-Star Game, so a solid outing will go a long way for the Flames who will want to feel good about their game as the month of January ends. The road trip so far as ended in a pair of 2-1 shootout decisions -- a loss at San Jose on Tuesday and a win at Los Angeles two nights later.
"It was a gritty game," captain Jarome Iginla said. "They played well defensively, especially after the first period. We only had a few shots, but we just stayed with it and didn't get flustered."
Oilers: Times have been tough for the Oilers since the New Year; Edmonton has lost seven of its nine games-- as well as three of its top young players. Taylor Hall joined the injured list on Tuesday when he suffered a severe laceration to his forehead during the warmup Tuesday in Columbus after a collision with a teammate. He needed 30 stitches and sat out against the Jackets and two nights later against St. Louis. The Oilers could have used Hall -- they wound up losing 1-0 to the Blues despite a 37-save performance by Nikolai Khabibulin.
Who's Hot: Iginla has five points in as many games for the Flames, including a two-game point streak and a three-point outing. … Khabibulin has held the fort for the Oilers, who have allowed at least 33 shots against in four of their past five games.
Injury Report: For the Flames, Curtis Glencross (knee), Brendan Morrison (upper body), and Henrik Karlsson (knee) are day-to-day, while Alex Tanguay (upper body) is week-to-week and David Moss (ankle) is out indefinitely. … Hall, Eric Belanger and Ryan Whitney are day-to-day for the Oilers, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins remains out until early February and top scorer Jordan Eberle .
Stat Pack: The Battle of Alberta, one of the NHL's great rivalries since the Flames moved to Calgary in 1980, has become a one-sided affair. The Flames have won the last eight games since being blanked in the 2010-11 opener for both teams, and 15 of the last 16. Calgary has won 10 in a row at the Scotiabank Saddledome -- including 2-1 and 3-0 wins this season.
Puck Drop: Flames coach Brent Sutter on the rendezvous with the Oilers:
""We go back up to cold weather (Edmonton) and we've got to do the same thing up there," he said. "We have a certain way we have to play. It allows us to have success when we do it the right way and again, you need goaltending and (Kiprusoff)'s gonna be there for us."
Belanger is day-to-day, so might be a pre-game call. I'd bet that Hall plays tonight - main concern appears to be the possibility of infection.
Do we ever need Nuge and Eberle back. Ugh. We might stand a chance if we could make that second line our third line without screwing anything else up. Toss Pajaarvi with RNH and Eberle when they are healthy, keep that first line as our second, bump down the Smyth line to the third line, and throw our Lander-Belanger-Eager as the 4th. Stupid injuries.
Hey boys & girls it's time for another Flamers gurantee night.
Here's what I've come to expect:
- lack of intensity and focus despite playing arch rivals
- veteran players to shrink 8 inches and not lead this team against arch rivals
- goofy coaching decisions to either not dress the few, the brave on this lineup and/or to simply choke off their oxygen/game time on the bench while Flamers assert themselves on team softy
- kipper will be brilliant camouflaging a lottery team who look & play like Cup contenders against their arch rivals
- Iginlia will score, beat up or Gordie Howe Hattrick his hometown team
- the Oil d will make some Flamer 4th liner look like Ovechkin or Crosby
No way they let Hall play. Kid looks like Frankenstein. Pretty sure the prescribed treatment for a massive head wound isn't to stick a tight, sweaty hockey helmet on it 4 days later and bounce it off NHL defenseman/boards/goal posts for 3 hours. No Hall till Nuge returns, I'm guessing.