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AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers started game day with a morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, looking to end their four-game losing skid as they open a three-game trip.
"As a group in here we know that we need to be that way. The way the last game went, we're not happy with the intensity - especially in the third period. We want to get back to the way we know we can play," said Sam Gagner.
Gagner's line with Hemsky and Penner could potentially be matched up against the red-hot Rene Bourque line in Calgary. Bourque has five goals in his last two games and six in his last four for the Flames and has traditionally been a thorn in the side of Edmonton.
"I think there's another level we want to get to," Gagner said of his line. "If you're going to play against a team's top defenders on the other side you've got to be a line that's counted on to handle the load offensively."
Steve MacIntyre will be a likely insertion into the lineup as well as Theo Peckham. Both welcome additions, Renney noted, as the team aims to get bigger and more physical.
"I anticipate that. We need that in our lineup in any event," Renney remarked. "Regardless of who's in the lineup, we've got to push back."
In search of a shake-up, it's anticipated that head coach Tom Renney will put Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney together as the top pairing tonight.
"We're contemplating that move. We're thinking about putting those two together again. We'll see how it goes," said Renney.
Gilbert had 12 points in his first 66 games last year, but after Whitney came on board he picked up 19 points in 16 games as the two looked like an elite pairing at times.
"He's a great puck mover. He gets the puck up the ice as quick as he can and allows me to jump up the play as much as possible. We had great chemistry last year and our pairing worked out well."
"It's just one of those things. We gelled pretty well when I came over. He moves the puck really well, he's pretty easy to play with," he said. "We do a lot of talking out there, it's pretty vocal when we're out on the ice."
Whitney is also leading the Oilers in ice time this season. Coach Renney pointed out that the group has to help contribute more when he's out there or Whitney could be run ragged out there on the ice.
"Collectively, in order to help him pack on 26 minutes the other skaters need to make it as easy on him as possible."
STAIOS IN FOR FLAMES
One adjustment the Flames are making is subbing out newcomer Brendan Mikkelsson in favour of former Oilers blueliner Steve Staios.
"I didn't think Brendan had all that great of a game that second game. There were some turnovers that we don't want to have in our own zone," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. "I felt maybe a few more practices and getting a chance to watch a little bit would help him out in those areas."
Enter Steve Staios.
"Stevie's going to get an opportunity to come back in and we need Stevie playing well when he comes in."
Staios has had some trouble adjusting to being in that 6th/7th defenceman role but has been a consummate professional in his situation.
"It's been a difficult start to the season. We have a lot of good defencemen here and I've been in and out of the lineup," Staios remarked. "You've got to keep the right attitude and keep plugging away."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
Season series -- This is the third of six meetings between the teams. The Oilers earned a 4-0 victory at Rexall Place in the season opener, but the Flames answered with a 5-3 victory in Calgary nine days later.
Big story -- Round 3 in the Battle of Alberta features two teams headed in opposite directions. The Flames have won two straight and four of five. The Oilers have lost four in a row after winning their first two games of the season.
Oilers -- A lot was expected of the Oilers, who opened the season with talented rookies Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. They've played well, but it hasn't been enough.
The big problem right now is the penalty killing. After killing all nine power plays in their first two games, the Oilers have allowed nine power-play goals in 18 opportunities.
"It's got to get fixed," Oilers coach Tom Renney told the Edmonton Sun. "It's very debilitating when you can stay with a team five-on-five and your specialty teams go out and can't get the job done."
Flames -- They've won two straight, and their most recent win might have been their most impressive. The Flames scored four first-period goals on their way to a 4-0 win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
"I thought we had a really solid game by everyone, but I thought our forwards especially, they played really well," Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr told the Calgary Sun. "They were skating well. They were finishing all their checks. They were providing a lot of pressure."
Who's hot -- Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney has 4 points in his last three games, all assists. … The Flames have been getting outstanding play from forward Rene Bourque, who has 5 goals and an assist in his last two games, and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who has two shutouts in his last three starts.
Injury report -- For the Oilers, Theo Peckham has been dealing with a hand injury and is questionable. For the Flames, Daymond Langkow (neck), Ales Kotalik (knee), David Moss (shoulder), Raitis Ivanans (concussion) and Adam Pardy (shoulder) are out.
Stat pack -- Eight of the Oilers' next 10 games are on the road. … Nikolai Khabibulin is one of five goalies to have played every game for their teams this season.
Puck drop -- "Penalty killing is a mission. Guys that get a chance to do that, on the good teams, those players take it so seriously, they're so embraced with the concept of being a good penalty killer that they're so successful. We've got to get to that point." -- Oilers coach Tom Renney
-- Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer