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Oilers try to derail Flames' playoff push

by John Kreiser
FLAMES (34-25-12) at OILERS (27-36-7)


Last 10:
Calgary 6-2-2; Edmonton 3-6-1

Season Series:
Entering the last of six meetings this season, he Battle of Alberta has been one-sided; the Oilers won 6-1 in Calgary on Feb. 21 for the first win after four losses. In all, the Flames had won nine in a row against their provincial rivals.

Big Story: With nothing but pride to play for, the Oilers would like nothing better than to knock off the Flames in front of what's sure to be a full house at Rexall Place. The Flames have plenty to play for -- a win would jump them from 10th to seventh place in the West.

Team Scope:

Flames: The Flames are on their best roll of the season. Thursday's 4-1 home win against Phoenix was their fifth in a row. Four players, including captain Jarome Iginla, scored goals and Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves. The win moved the Flames within a point of the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference.

"It's fun to be back in this playoff race," Iginla said. "It's going to be interesting with so many teams here."

Oilers: Edmonton will be heading home in three weeks after its sixth straight non-playoff season. That doesn't mean the Oilers won't be revved up to play their biggest rival -- especially with the chance to put a crimp in the Flames' playoff hopes as an added bonus.

"It actually is [an important game]," coach Tom Renney said Thursday. "It's good. This is good for us. If we can tap into what we did last time in Calgary, we're in good shape."

Who's Hot: Iginla has scored in six straight games and has eight goals in his last eight. Rookie Sven Baertschi has scored in three straight games, and Mat Stajan has three goals and three assists during a five-game points streak. … Taylor Hall, the first player taken in the 2010 NHL Draft, has goals in four straight games for the Oilers and has 27 for the season.

Injury Report: The Flames has been without defensemen T.J. Brodie (upper body) and Chris Butler (leg), as well as forwards Tim Jackman (upper body), Michael Cammalleri (upper body) and Mikael Backlund (arm). Lee Stempniak (ankle) and Lance Bouma (upper body) both participated in Thursday's morning skate at the Saddledome, and Stempniak could be close to returning. … Edmonton will be without forward Ben Eager due to back spasms.

Stat Pack: Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester played in his 577th consecutive game on Thursday, moving him into seventh on the all-time list. … The Flames have won 16 of the last 18 meetings with the Oilers, including the last four in Edmonton.

Puck Drop: It's been a whirlwind ride for Baertschi, who was recalled from juniors on an emergency basis due to injuries and has to be sent back when one of the Flames' injured forwards gets healthy -- Stempniak could be only a day or so from returning.

For now, he's giving the Flames and their fans a taste of what he can do.

"I have no idea," he said when asked if he would be in the lineup against the Oilers. "Maybe I'll play tomorrow, maybe not. It's their decision. As soon as guys come back (from injury) I have to leave."

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