Flames visit Oilers for second time in five days
Thursday, 10.08.2009 / 7:30 PM
FLAMES (3-0-0) at OILERS (1-1-0)
Season Series -- Calgary won the first of six Battle of Alberta games this season with an entertaining 4-3 victory Saturday in Edmonton's home opener. That game turned on a last-minute miscue by new Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, whose turnover allowed David Moss to score the winner. The Flames visit Edmonton only once more this season.
Big Story -- Despite being 3-0-0 (for the first time since 1993-94) after Tuesday night's win against Montreal, Calgary is still feeling its way under new coach Brent Sutter. "We've had to deal with a lot here as far as how we want to play and what kind of team we are and the guys have been fantastic and very receptive," Sutter said earlier this week. "There is change, and that takes time, and they're focused in on doing that."
Flames -- The good news is the team is undefeated and has two huge divisional wins under its belt in the first week of the season. The bad news, however, is that the top line has yet to get on track. Jarome Iginla had a power-play goal Tuesday night, but he and Olli Jokinen have combined for just that one goal so far. "It's great to see different lines (producing) on different nights and that's part of a good team," Iginla said.
Oilers -- Khabibulin rebounded from his inauspicious debut in the best way possible, notching win No. 300 of his career in the next game, a 5-4 shootout victory against Dallas. "That was a hard way to lose that first game so it was good to see the team rewarded tonight," he said. "It's nice to hit that milestone but right now I am just happy that we won the game. I'll try to build on it and make sure I don't stop at 300, I guess."
Who's Hot -- Eric Nystrom can't miss right now for the Calgary Flames. He has two shots on goal and they have both gone in; he shares the team lead in both goals and points. Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf has also been bringing it early with two goals of his own. For Edmonton, Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner are carrying the load through the first two games. They have combined equally for four of Edmonton's seven goals.
Injury Report -- Edmonton started the season with some pretty serious dings. Fernando Pisani is out indefinitely with a back injury, while Ethan Moreau and Marc Pouliot are day-to-day with lower-body injuries. For Calgary, John Armstrong is on injured reserve, while Brian McGrattan is day-to-day with a sore shoulder and defenseman Cory Sarich is battling a lower-body injury.
Stat Pack -- Here's a little statistical anomaly after just three games into the season. Calgary's power-play conversion percentage is 71.4 percent after lighting the lamp on five of its first seven tries. Meanwhile, the Flames have killed off just 75 percent of their penalty-kill opportunities. Usually, if those two numbers together approach the 100 percent neighborhood, a team will be happy.
Puck Drop -- Forget all the numbers. Forget the fact that Khabibulin has allowed eight goals in his first two starts. Forget that Iginla and Jokinen have combined to score just one goal between them. None of that matters. This is the Battle of Alberta, and it is emotion and work ethic that will carry the day.