Edmonton Oilers: A Preview Of the Second Battle of Alberta This Saturday
We all know the story by now. "Eberle with a two on one, toe drags over Ian White, back hand for hand, top shelf over Mikka Kiprusoff, what a goal!"
After a memorable debut in the Battle of Alberta, Jordan Eberle and the Oilers face their provincial rivals yet again, this time away from the cozy confines of Rexall Place and on the road in the newly christened ScotiaBank Saddledome. Many questions accompany this game. Will Calgary be able to generate more scoring chances against the Oilers defense? Might they even get one by the 'Bulin Wall this time around?
And on the Oilers end can they prove, after getting heavily outplayed by the Florida Panthers and still managing a win, that Thursday night was not in fact a fluke, that this group can win games? Will there be any retribution on the Flames part after the MacIntyre/Ivanans fight?
The Calgary Flames finished last season the worst team in the NHL in offense, managing a mere 2.49 goals per game last season. Coincidentally, they ended the season the best defensive team, allowing 2.51 goals per game.
With the only offseason acquisition being Brendan Morrison, and that a desperation move due to injuries to Matt Stajan and Daymond Langkow, the organization has clearly put their faith in the coaching of Brent Sutter and his style of coaching, and plan on squeezing out 2-1 and 3-2 victories. Also, as of press time, no Flames defensemen had any points.
This is a group that includes Jay Bouwmeester, Ian White and Mark Giordano. If the Flames want to avoid a repeat of last season, they have to get their defensemen involved more in the offense, especially with the lack of depth and injury concerns at forward.
On the Oilers side, Tom Renney has the team playing a robust brand of defense, one that allows plenty of shots, but few quality scoring chances. Also, Shawn Horcoff looks to be invigorated playing with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and Nikholai Khabibulin is playing like he did when he won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.
Will this game be different this time around? Probably. With last change, you can bet Brent Sutter will get his shutdown pair out against the Eberle-Horcoff-Hall line, with Robyn Regehr logging big icetime. Mikka Kiprusoff will have to play solid, and not allow the soft goals that put the game out of reach that plagued him in the season opener. All we know for sure is that plenty of excitement happens when the Battle of Alberta occurs.
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