EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames can still get temperatures rising. Saturday, the teams meet in the second game of the season series, at Rexall Place.
"Hockey is like everything, it goes in cycles," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Both franchises are in unbelievable hockey markets. Right now we're in a rebuilding phase and there is no secret formula, you need time.
"With time you're going to have growing pains. You see some bright flashes, you look at [Calgary's] Sean] Monahan and [Edmonton's] Taylor Hall and [Nail] Yakupov, and those guys are the building blocks. You need to surround them with quality veterans. You look at teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks a few years ago, they went through the same thing and today they're leaders in the League."
The Flames were expected to struggle this season, beginning their rebuilding phase with the trading of Jarome Iginla last season and the offseason retirement of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Oilers were thought to be further along with three No. 1 draft picks in their lineup. Yet the sides were separated by two points in the standings, with the Oilers are at the bottom of the Western Conference, heading into the game Saturday.
"It's interesting that these two teams used to be the two teams that were at the top, and now we're fighting where we're at now," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "When I was watching a lot of hockey in junior or the first year of pro, I always liked watching rough games on TV and you used to lick your chops when you saw it was going to be Calgary and Edmonton playing. You knew it was going to be a great game.
"I don't think that has changed. I think the players understand that there is a long rivalry; you could call it a hatred for the other team. I expect to see that [Saturday]. I don't mean going out and seeing a bunch of fights, it's probably going to be a very, high-paced, competitive, with a little bit of chippyness in the game."
This game marks the return of Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid to Edmonton; he was traded by the Oilers a month ago to create salary-cap space so the team could sign free-agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Smid spent the previous seven seasons with the Oilers.
"There are some mixed emotions," Smid said. "It's a little weird, but at the same time I'm excited to come here and play my former team. We had a tough game [Friday] and we have try and take two points back to Calgary."
The Flames go into the game having lost 3-2, at home, to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 8-2 Thursday with Hall collecting his fourth-career hat trick.
"It's important for us to get a good start," Hall said. "If we came out [Saturday] and had a lackadaisical start and we got down early, we'd forget about our past successes. I think it's important for us to really get out there and take the play to them. We have to go after them and play our game."
Reto Berra will start in goal for the Flames with Karri Ramo having played against the Avalanche the night before. Devan Dubnyk makes his third consecutive start for the Oilers with Bryzgalov sidelined by a neck and head injury sustained against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
The flu has made its way through the Flames dressing room, so Hartley will have wait until game time to see who will all be available.
"We have lots of guys that are doubtful right now," Hartley said. "We're battling the flu, we're battling a couple of injuries. The only thing I can tell you about the lineup is that Reto Berra will start in the net. We have lots of game-time decisions."
Here are the projected lineups:
David Perron – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov
Ryan Smyth – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky
Ryan Jones – Anton Lander – Luke Gazdic
Andrew Ference – Philip Larsen
Nick Schultz – Justin Schultz
Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
Scratched: Jesse Joensuu, Corey Potter
Injured: Ilya Bryzgalov (neck), Boyd Gordon (upper body), Richard Bachman (groin), Tyler Pitlick (knee)
Mike Cammalleri – Matt Stajan – Lee Stempniak
Jiri Hudler – Mikael Backlund – David Jones
Sven Baertschi – Paul Byron – Blair Jones
Lance Bouma – Joe Colborne - Lane MacDermid
Ladislav Smid – Shane O'Brien
Mark Giordano – Chris Butler
Kris Russell – TJ Brodie
Scratched: Derek Smith, Christopher Breen
Injured: Curtis Glencross (knee), TJ Galiardi (back), Sean Monahan (foot), Dennis Wideman (hand), Brian McGrattan (lower body)