Oilers Gameday: January 22nd vs Calgary    

Oilers Gameday: January 22nd vs Calgary    

 

After a demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Panthers more and more major media pieces on the Oilers free-fall have been produced. Sure, the further from the team’s day-to-day some of these opinions might be more well informed than others, but it’s a sign of the times that they are all converging, agreeing that major changes of some sort are not too far in the future.

 

What these changes should be are of course to be decided. Personally, I would say that the entire process of the Oilers as an organization needs some reimagining, that Groundhog Day is more about the manner in which the very systems of practice are decided more than any one player, coach, or even general manager. Can one really put this on Koskinen, or Barrie, or Hall, or Eberle, or Eakins, or McLellan? Sure they all have their faults and parts to play, but clearly the philosophies for development, acquisitions, and team building over top of them did not help.

 

All that said, the Oilers are better than their record since December indicates. The team even showed some gumption in coming out strong in their last game, yet the longer the game went the further they fell behind. Tonight is yet another opportunity to break the spiral of negativity with the Flames in town.

 

The Flames, like most of the Canadian teams whose schedules have been most disrupted by COVID, have been sputtering as of late with a 3-6-1 record in their last 10 games. Despite that the Flames have looked much more purposeful in their first full season (again) under Coach Sutter, morphing into a strong defensive team. Unlike the Oilers, who have a long BMV receipt of an injury list, the Flames are almost completely healthy.

 

Needless to say it should be a battle of Alberta that features 2 strongly motivated, if not desperate, teams. We’re expecting to see Markstrom and Koskinen start for their respective teams.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME

 

Edmonton:

  1. Patience and resilience. The Flames defensive structure will make offence hard to come by, somehow the Oilers have to sustain their efforts more than last game, and can’t get frustrated if their scoreless streak continues.
  2. Penalty Kill. At one point a key strength of this team, the penalty kill has fallen below 80% and to the bottom third of the league. With little room for error the Oilers need to find their rhythm in this area quickly.

 

 

Calgary:

  1. Stick to the plan. The tight checking of the Flames is precisely the style that should give the Oilers a lot of trouble.
  2. Opportunistic scoring. Especially with an early goal the Flames would be well positioned to demoralize the Oilers and control the game.

 

EXPECTED LINEUPS

 

Edmonton: Barrie is injured, Skinner returns from protocols, Kassian is out with a job COVID illness.

 

Perlini – McDavid – Yamamoto

Foegele – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi

Benson – McLeod – Turris

Shore – Ryan – Sceviour

 

Nurse – Bouchard

Keith – Ceci

Russell – Koekkoek

 

Koskinen

Skinner

 

Calgary:

 

Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk

Mangiapane-Backlund-Coleman

Lucic-Monahan-Dube

Lewis-Richardson-Ritchie

 

Hanifin-Andersson

Kylington-Tanev

Zadorov-Gudbranson

 

Markstrom

Vladar

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Edmonton: The lineup is thinned, and it’s hard not to love his positive attitude, but Perlini on the top line might be a bit much, especially given that goals have been hard to come by, even for McDavid and Draisaitl. As much as I believe that the Oilers don’t really have much of a choice at this moment, no doubt we will be hoping to see a surprising stretch of offensive output from the positive Perlini.

 

Nurse and Bouchard are reunited, which is probably for the best at this point. Bouchard is talented but still inexperienced. As much as we love to see players get their chance and excel, development is rarely linear, and young players will always be subject to ebbs and flows of strong play.

 

Another example of this might be Stuart Skinner. Both Bouchard and Skinner are players I believe in, and I often think they should be used more than they are. Ultimately both will have tough stretches. The important part is that they are put in positions to help them grow their confidence and abilities, and starting goalie or top defenceman for a team hoping to contend might be a bit steep.

 

 

Calgary: Funnily enough it does not seem like there have been sweeping and unexpected changes across the lineup under Sutter’s regime. The top line of Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk has been very strong all season, and are clearly the most talented group that the Flames can throw over the boards. Coleman and Mangiapane are capable 2nd line contributors.

 

Perhaps the boldest lineup love by coach Sutter is moving Monahan down to the 3rd line, but it does show the importance that the Flames place on the centre ice position. A similar or parallel move for the Oilers would surely see Nugent-Hopkins lower in the lineup.

 

The Flames top 4 on defence is quite strong. Hanifin and Andersson are both solidly in their primes, somewhat undervalued, as well as nice stylistic contrast from each other. Hanifin is smooth skating while Andersson is rough and ornery, however both can and will play on both special teams units.

 

Similarly in their strong play and complimentary styles, Kylington and Tanev form a strong pair as well. Tanev (and his brother) is often overlooked, and brings a lot of physicality and effort that sees his impact far exceed his “skill level”. Meanwhile Kylington has started to truly come into his own this season, with smooth skating and strong passing.

 

Like the 4th line, the 3rd pair is made up of players that fit the style Sutter likes his teams to embody. Although these aren’t necessarily players that most would say are impactful, they know their roles and can deliver on them. They go a long way towards clarifying the identity of the team as a whole, perhaps bringing focus and clarity. 

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About Charles 51664 Articles
Charles writes for the Headline column of the website. He has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism. He has worked for more than 1.5 years in a media house. Now, he joined our team as a contributor for covering the latest US headlines. He is smart both by him looks and nature. He is very good with everyone in the team.