The Edmonton Oilers play their second game in as many nights for the first time this season with a match-up against the Calgary Flames.
The Oilers departed Edmonton immediately after their 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators last night. The majority of the team did not skate in the morning with eight exceptions: Ryan Whitney
, Sam Gagner
, Ben Eager
, Lennart Petrell
, Anton Lander
, Jeff Petry
, Theo Peckham
and Devan Dubnyk
The remainder got to rest up in preparation for the Battle-of-Alberta clash. The Oilers come into the game with a 2-1-1 record through four games. They could really put a dent in the 1-3-0 Calgary Flames with a victory.
"We've got to do a lot of the things that we've been doing," said captain Shawn Horcoff
. "We've felt really good about all the games we've played in so far this year. We felt (last night) that even though we were down one we outplayed them for 40 minutes and we were able to find a new gear and a new level of intensity there in the third and weren't going to be denied."
Head Coach Tom Renney agreed with the captain's sentiments.
"We have to pay attention to detail. We're not the type of team that can't ad lib our way through the game - certainly defensively," he said. "What we did last night, especially, was manage the puck a little better. We need to do that tonight. We know this team is going to come after us. Having played last night, I'm sure they're thinking 'we can go get this team.' Bottom line for us is to maybe manage the first eight or 10 minutes - use our bench to do that - and ultimately just start to play our game."
Coach Renney confirmed that Ryan Whitney
will return to the lineup tonight.
"He feels good. Talked to him last night after our game and he was anxious to get going," he said. "Ryan will be coming back into the lineup it looks like."
Renney was quick to point out that expectations for Whitney should be tempered somewhat due to his 10-month layoff.
"Let's not forget, he hasn't played a game yet. This is the exhibition schedule for him now. Let's keep expectations realistic and make sure he does deliver the puck with the kind of pace that the has."
Whitney, who took part in this morning’s 30-minute skate at the Saddledome, agreed with his coach’s assessment and expectations.
"I plan to keep it pretty simple for a couple games," he explained. "It's been 305 days. I haven't even played a game of shinny hockey, so my plan is to get it out and get it in, over and over.
"I'm excited to get back. It's been over a year, so I'm really anxious and really overly excited. I’ll be a little nervous, but I’m ready to go."
Encroaching on a calendar year since he last played, the 28-year-old blueliner expects some rust (and burning lungs), but, fuelled by adrenaline, it’s all part of being a pro.
"I'm sure it will feel like playoff hockey for me out there," Whitney said. "I've scrimmaged a little in practice, but I haven't been hit in a long time. I'm sure the old wind is going to be struggling a little bit when I get bumped, but that's stuff you have to deal with.
"It's the process of getting into a groove and getting into my usual schedule."
It’s been 305 days since the 6’3", 206-pound rearguard battled against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 28 at Rexall Place. That night he played only 3:48 before a rut in the ice and weak ankle joined forces to end his two-goal, 27-point campaign.
Although missing the season’s remaining 47 games and the first four in 2011-12 may have been a tough pill to swallow, Whitney described the circumstance as "a learning experience."
"It was obviously very tough. It took me a while to become the player I was last year, but I’ve got it in me to return to that form. I’ll just need some time to get back into the swing of things."
Several weeks ago, Whitney described his situation and slow healing process as "prohibitive pain;" something he certainly wouldn’t push to return too quickly from. The Boston, MA native is now pleased with his diagnosis, 33 days removed from camp’s Sep. 16 opening.
"There's going to be some time when you come back and feel stuff still; it's going to be like that for a little while, but at the same time, it's ready to go now. I’m comfortable with how everything feels.
"A little," he added when asked about feeling any pain. "It's stuff that I'll probably deal with for a little while, but at the same time, it's not slowing me down any."
Tonight, Whitney will be tossed into the proverbial fire against the division rival Calgary Flames. While he may have established his name as one of the league’s most revered puck-movers last season, the skilled D man will be driven to keep things simple in holding up his end as a pivotal impact-player.
"I’m going to focus on making the easy play, keeping things simple. If the pass isn't there, I’ll put it off the glass and out. That's not what I usually look to do, but that's the biggest thing for me.
"If I see a guy open and have time with the puck, I'll be looking to make a solid tape-to-tape pass. When I'm under pressure, it's about out getting it out of my zone and getting it out of trouble.
"I'll be nervous; I think every guy is nervous to start a season. But you have no idea how excited I am."
OTHER LINEUP CHANGES
Renney added that he might even go with seven defencemen as it was revealed later that Taylor Hall
has been under the weather. If he does, it will likely be Theo Peckham
who gets the call as Jeff Petry
, along with Sam Gagner
, was skated hard in the morning at the Saddledome.
gets the start in goal.
-- Marc Ciampa & Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com
- Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
: This is the first of six meetings between the fierce rivals. Calgary went 5-1-0 against Edmonton last season and outscored the Oilers 23-17 along the way.
: It's still very early in the season, but Tuesday's showdown could feature teams headed in opposite directions. Edmonton, one of the youngest and quickest teams in the League, has earned points in three of its first four games. Calgary, meanwhile, has won only once in its first four and has already allowed 5 goals in a game on two occasions.
: Ryan Smyth
came up big Monday night as he scored the game winner and added an assist as Edmonton earned a 3-1 victory against the Nashville Predators at Rexall Place.
and Ryan Jones
also scored for the Oilers, while Shawn Horcoff
had three assists as Edmonton tallied its second win of the season.
"It was an all-around 60-minute game from everyone tonight," Smyth said. "We played physical and got pucks to the net and when you do that good things will happen."
: Calgary failed to win its second straight game Saturday night, as it suffered a 3-2 loss at Toronto. The Flames experienced a lot of difficulty stopping Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who had a pair of goals and an assist as Toronto rallied from an early two-goal deficit.
"We feel we made some mistakes and that's a game that we were in pretty good control of and should have found a way to win," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.
: Flames forwards Olli Jokinen (1 goal, 3 assists) and Alex Tanguay (4 assists) are averaging a point per game.
: Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney
and center Sam Gagner
are day-to-day with ankle injuries, while winger Ales Hemsky
(shoulder) is out for likely another couple of weeks. … Calgary is expected to be without center Mikael Backlund (finger) as well as left wing Raitis Ivanans (concussion) and defenseman Brett Carson (back). Brendan Morrison (knee) could play and will likely be a game-time decision.
: Iginla, who has one goal in four games this season, is 15 goals shy of 500 in his Hall of Fame career.
: "It's a tough time when things aren't going well but a lot of times, a good team is a team that can deal with adversity. I think last year we proved that hey, we can be a good team when we do all the little things right. I know this isn't last year. A lot of things have changed." -- Flames center Brendan Morrison.