NOTE: We are in Calgary today and will provide pre-game video interviews following the morning skate as well as lineup updates.
EDMONTON OILERS (2-0-0) at
CALGARY FLAMES (1-1-1)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet (HD) - HD Channel Listings
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Edmonton/Flames Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
|CALGARY - MARCH 29, 2008: Tom Gilbert and Jarome Iginla compete for the puck near Dwayne Roloson's crease during the 2007-08 regular season.
by Jen Sharpe & Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
Although the Oilers experienced rough starts in their first two games of the regular season, the club is hoping for the same end result -- a win -- tonight in Calgary.
Following a 3-2 season-opening win over the Avalanche Sunday night, the Oilers replicated the feat Wednesday night in Anaheim for their first road win of the year. That night, the Oilers fell behind early but rallied for the victory on the strength of goals from Sheldon Souray
, Lubomir Visnovsky and Shawn Horcoff
The Flames are also coming off a win -- a 5-4 home victory over Colorado Tuesday night. The win was Calgary's first of the season, following a humbling season-opening 6-0 defeat in Vancouver Oct. 9th and a narrow 5-4 loss to those same Canucks Oct. 11th.
Though tonight's game is the first of the regular season between Edmonton and Calgary, two exhibition contests proved the heated rivalry survived the summer. In two pre-season games, the clubs combined for 148 penalty minutes, including an impressive 59 for the Oilers and 39 for the Flames on Oct. 3rd, the most recent encounter between both clubs.
Tonight's game is the first of six between the Oilers and Flames this season, as well as the opening game of a double-header Battle of Alberta. The clubs bring their rivalry to Rexall Place Saturday night. Last season, Edmonton finished 2-1-0 vs. Calgary.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (12:00 P.M.): Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is expected to make his NHL debut tonight. He was the first goaltender off the ice following the morning skate.
OILERS TO WATCH: Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is expected to make his NHL debut tonight against the Flames. Deslauriers had a 26-23-5 record with a 2.90 GAA and .912 save percentage last season for the Springfield Falcons... Through two games, Edmonton's leading scorer is defenceman Denis Grebeshkov with three assists. Last season, Grebeshkov had only four points -- all assists -- through his first 38 games... Shawn Horcoff has scored a goal in each of Edmonton's first two games... Sam Gagner is yet to record a point but leads the Oilers with nine shots on goal so far this season.
FLAMES TO WATCH: Former Oiler Curtis Glencross plays his first regular season game against his former club tonight. Glencross has one assist through three games with the Flames... Todd Bertuzzi is off to a fast start with three goals in three outings... Newcomer Mike Cammalleri and blueliner Dion Phaneuf lead the Flames in scoring with four points apiece... Jarome Iginla is off to a slow start with only two points -- a goal and an assist -- in three games.
Edmonton – The Oilers are healthy; Calgary – The Flames are healthy.
FAST FACTS: All-time, the Oilers are 81-85-19-1 against the Flames with a record of 33-51-9 at the Pengrowth Saddledome... Tonight is the first of 16 back-to-back games for the Oilers. Over the last six seasons (2001-02 to 2007-08) the Oilers have played back-to-back games 75 times and are 32-27-6-10 in the first game and 30-31-10-4 in the second game.
The Other Side
- Inside the Game: Power Surge - The Calgary Flames gained their first win of the season as the power play, 0-13 in the first two contests of the year, scored three times to lift the Flames to a 5-4 win over Colorado. ...more
- Special Visitors - Two special visitors, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son, Ben, dropped in on the morning skate on election day in Canada. | Photo Gallery | ...more
Odds and Ends
From the Wire (AP)
Todd Bertuzzi is a polarizing figure in the NHL, and his offseason signing by the Calgary Flames wasn't universally applauded by the hometown fans. The 13-year veteran, however, is winning the Flames' faithful over with a strong start for his new team.
After leading the club to its first win, Bertuzzi looks to continue his hot start as the Flames host the archrival Edmonton Oilers in a Northwest Division matchup Friday night.
Bertuzzi is a two-time All-Star left winger with 243 goals and 340 assists in 796 games, but he may be best known for blindsiding Colorado center Steve Moore and punching him in the side of the head while playing for Vancouver in 2004.
The hit left Moore with three fractured vertebrae in his neck, among other injuries, and got Bertuzzi suspended for the rest of that season. The incident continues to follow the 6-foot-3, 245-pound forward, who still gets booed in arenas throughout the league.
Bertuzzi's past made him a controversial signing in July, but Flames fans appear to be warming up to him after he scored twice to lead Calgary (1-1-1) to a 5-4 victory over Colorado on Tuesday. He has three goals in his first three games.
"Todd played an excellent game for us, the whole line had jump and you could see that he's recapturing the form that we've seen in the past and that's exciting for our team and our fans," Flames coach Mike Keenan said Tuesday.
Bertuzzi redirected some of the praise to Jarome Iginla, the team's leading scorer in each of the last seven seasons who had a short-handed goal and an assist Tuesday for his first two points of 2008-09.
"You have to give credit to our captain," Bertuzzi said. "He stepped up and fought their tough guy (Cody McCormick), did awesome against him, got a goal and an assist, and turned the game around. That's what leadership is all about and that's why we're moving in the right direction."
Calgary's first meeting with Edmonton (2-0-0) could serve as a progress report for the Flames. The Oilers beat Anaheim 3-2 on Wednesday, getting 23 shots over the final 40 minutes after managing five in the first period.
"The second half, we took it from them and played better," said Mathieu Garon, who made 33 saves. "We worked hard and took more shots on net, that's how we are going to score goals."
Like the Flames, the Oilers got a big lift from an offseason acquisition. Lubomir Visnovsky, brought to Edmonton in a trade after playing his first seven seasons with Los Angeles, scored a power-play goal 2:41 into the third period for the winner.
"It was my first shot. The coaches were saying after the second period to shoot more," Visnovsky said. "It was very important for our power play and for my confidence in our next game."
A win in that game would give the Oilers their first 3-0-0 start since 2005-06, when they finished with 95 points and made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since winning the Cup in 1990.
The Oilers and Flames were 4-4-0 in the 2007-08 season series, also splitting four meetings in Calgary.