Skip to main content

Battle of Alberta debut for Nugent-Hopkins

by Aaron Vickers
Edmonton Oilers rookie center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has experienced a lot of firsts in his four-game NHL career.

His fifth contest will introduce him to another one -- the Battle of Alberta.

While Nugent-Hopkins, the first pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, hasn't experienced the clash first hand, he's more than familiar with it, having played his junior hockey in Red Deer, which is situated almost exactly between the two Alberta cities.

"You always watch these games and they're always intense," Nugent-Hopkins said.  "There's obviously a big rivalry between the two teams. It should be really fun."

If Nugent-Hopkins is unsure of what to expect, he can ask teammate Jordan Eberle.

Eberle was introduced to the Battle of Alberta in his first National Hockey League game last season, scoring his first NHL goal -- this highlight-reel beauty -- against Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff

"It was a lot of energy in Rexall and probably my fondest memory in the NHL," Eberle said. "Everyone remembers their first goal and that was special to me."

Flames forward Curtis Glencross is hoping to make Nugent-Hopkins' Battle of Alberta debut a little less memorable.

"He's been walking around untouched for a few games," Glencross said. "It's not our style of game. There's a good chance our line will be up against him tonight, so we'll have to get some bangs in early and see how he likes hitting."

The contest could mark the season debuts for players on both sides.

Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, recovering from an ankle injury, is expected to be in tonight's lineup, as is Flames center Brendan Morrison, who has been sidelined recovering from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.

Morrison, who will decide following pre-game warm-ups if he can go, said the Battle of Alberta would be a great way to test his knee.

"It will be a good test," he said. "It's not going to be a pond hockey game out there, I don't think. I'm looking forward to it if I do play. It's going to be a game-time decision here, so I'll prepare like I'm playing and I look forward to it."

If Morrison can't go, expect Roman Horak to take his place.

Flames forward Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond also looks to make his season debut tonight, adding some grit to what should be a physical affair. 

Alex Tanguay - David Moss - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Niklas Hagman - Brendan Morrison - Rene Bourque
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Cory Sarich - Derek Smith

Miikka Kiprusoff will start in goal, with Henrik Karlsson the backup.

Jordan Eberle - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Taylor Hall
Linus Omark - Eric Belanger - Magnus Paajarvi
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Ben Eager - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid - Tom Gilbert
Cam Barker - Ryan Whitney
Andy Sutton - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin will start in goal, with Devan Dubnyk the backup.

For more on today's game, check out the preview here.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.