CALGARY, AB -- In what many thought to be the season to snap a seven-season playoff drought, the Edmonton Oilers have failed to deliver on those expectations early.
While Edmonton’s youthful core of Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has matured, the Oilers still find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference (and NHL) standings with just 10 points through 21 games.
The Oilers have given up a league-worst 3.81 goals per game, while the offensive has manufactured just 2.29 -- 23rd overall. Edmonton’s recent run hasn’t helped those numbers either. The Oilers have scored just once at Rexall Place in four consecutive losses and have dropped five straight overall.
Still, those numbers mean little when it comes to the Battle of Alberta
This Season: 4-15-2 (14th in West)
Last Season: 19-22-7, 45 points (12th in West)
Notable Additions: D Andrew Ference, D Denis Grebeshkov, G Richard Bachman, G Jason LaBarbera, F Ryan Hamilton, F Jesse Joensuu, LW David Perron, C Boyd Gordon, D Philip Larsen
Notable Subtractions: D Ladislav Smid, D Mark Fistric, F Shawn Horcoff, G Nikolai Khabibulin, F Magnus Paajarvi, D Theo Peckham, D Ryan Whitney
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
Though he’s got just three goals and five points in 19 games this season, two of Yakupov’s tallies have come in his past three games. The 20-year-old former first overall pick has been a hotly debated talent in recent weeks after sitting as a healthy scratch and seeing his ice time and role fluctuate.
Nugent-Hopkins, one of three former first overall picks in the Oilers’ lineup, has failed to record a point in his past two games and has just one point -- a goal -- over his previous five. The 20-year-old former Red Deer Rebels standout is also minus-13 on the season.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Klefbom could make both his Battle of Alberta and NHL debut on Saturday. The 20-year-old former first round pick was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL by the Oilers on Friday and could slot into the lineup against the Flames. In 12 games with the Barons, Klefbom has one assist.
Eberle has paced the Oilers in scoring this season with four goals and 15 points in 21 games this season. He’s been a notorious thorn in the Flames’ side throughout his young career, too. The 23-year-old has seven goals and 17 points in 16 career Battle of Alberta match-ups.
Ference played parts of four seasons with the Flames but now finds himself on the other end of the Battle of Alberta. The Oilers captain has one point -- a goal -- in 21 games with Edmonton this season while averaging over 20 minutes of action per night.