Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Classic Battle of Alberta.

Tonight on Hockey Night in Canada, the country will get a chance to watch the Battle of Alberta as the Oilers will host the visiting Calgary Flames at Rexall

Between the two clubs, the Calgary Flames have few opportunities left to clench a spot in the post season.  At the moment, the Flames (84 pts) are sitting in 10th spot in the west behind the  Dallas Stars (85 pts) Anaheim Ducks (86 pts), respectively.  A win tonight could possibly launch the Flames into 8th spot, however both Dallas and Anaheim are also slated to play.  

With the West as tight as a Mason Jar, leaving Rexall tonight without 2 points will be an absolute disaster for the foes in the south.  

"We've been in a little bit of a rut in our last five or six games," said Edmontonian Jarome Iginla.  "We're not coming out and playing as confident or assertive as we need to. In the first period to give up four goals is not going to win you many games. It's unacceptable. Obviously it's a tough loss at this time of year."

For the Edmonton Oilers, they have only one task tonight: Beat the Flames. 

For the 5th straight year the Oilers are playing the role of "spoiler"; and why not snap the 8 game losing skid live on CBC?
“We’re excited about this,” said head coach Tom Renney, “It’s a huge challenge for them and I think they savour the opportunity. It’s fun to be part of the Battle of Alberta regardless of each other’s circumstances. Calgary still has an opportunity to make the playoffs and for us it’s motivation to do everything we can to prevent it."

“Hockey Night in Canada, Calgary, and we have a chance to knock them out of the playoffs,” said rookie Jordan Eberle who scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game versus the Flames. “This should be fun. I know for sure that everybody in that locker-room is pretty excited about this.”

While the frustrating feeling of losing is incurring the wrath of every Oiler in the dressing room, the Oilers just have to play their guts out and leave everything on the ice.
"It's frustrating, obviously," Eberle said. "We've got some guys out that help us with offense but collectively as a group, we should be able to put the puck in the net. I think it comes down to getting the puck to the net first off and getting second opportunities."

Then again, perhaps the team needs to just "chill" and have some fun.

“We don’t have the points to play for like Calgary does, but we also won’t be as nervous,” said the Swedish rookie Magnus Paajarvi. “Sometimes when you have so much to play for it can work for you or it can work against you. We can be more relaxed, but we still have to match their battle level.”

During the morning skate, Tom Renney used his blender and concocted yet another interesting line combination.  The most glaring change is on the 1st line where, Chris VandeVelde and Teemu Hartikainen will join Eberle; a combination which should create some much needed high energy.
"They've got a lot of energy. They've been playing well, too, and anytime you get guys like those that are willing to kind of battle with you in the corner and win puck races, it's good," Eberle said. "I think with our line anyways, we've kind of been talking to each other and it's just a matter of getting pucks to the net and trying to bang in some greasy ones."
Eberle - VandeVelde - Hartikainen
Paajarvi - Cogliano - Omark
Jones - O'Marra - Reddox
Jacques - Fraser - MacIntyre

Goaltender has yet to be announced.
"We know we've got a formidable opponent tonight and we're going to have to make sure we can play to our depth as well to have success," Renney said. "So we put some combinations together that we think will help us do that and also afford guys the opportunity to play and experience the NHL so we can have a good look at them."    

Doesn't matter who is playing where, the Oilers just need to beat the Flames.

Flames, Oilers 7pm Pacific on CBC Hockey Night In Canada

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