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FEATURE: Bring the Fire

"The two teams don't like each other too much and it's the Battle of Alberta, but we're revving it up to get two points," said Oilers forward Zack Kassian, who will return to the lineup for Wednesday's Battle of Alberta

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - The heat is on and the smoke is slowly permeating to Edmonton.

If that's the case, bring the fire.

The third chapter of the 2019-20 Battle of Alberta will take place Wednesday at Rogers Place in what is expected to be a fiery affair between the provincial rivals. 

Emotions reached a boiling point in the last match between the sides but members of the Oilers aren't focused on settling the score physically. Instead, they're looking to inflict revenge on the scoreboard with two crucial points available.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Ignited 01.28.20

"Obviously the two teams don't like each other too much and it's the Battle of Alberta, but we're revving it up to get two points," Zack Kassian, who served a two-game suspension for mixing it up with Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk in the previous Battle of Alberta, said.

"We're treating it like a playoff game. We're treating the next 33 games like playoff games. We need to get to the playoffs. That's our mindset."

While points and playoffs are the focus for the Oilers hockey club, fans and media members from both sides have only stoked the flames - no pun intended.

"It was a bit of a circus a couple of days after and it's carried on," Kassian continued. 

"At the end of the day, this would have happened 10 or 20 years ago once a game. What happened on the ice happened on the ice and you move forward."

Extra eyes will be in attendance for Wednesday's game with the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety Head George Parros announcing that he will be in Alberta's capital city for the grudge match. That doesn't change anything for the Oilers.

Video: RAW | Zack Kassian 01.28.20

"This isn't the '80s where we're just going to line brawl," Kassian, who has 13 goals and 28 points in 44 games this season, said. "It's going to be a hard-fought game and it's going to be an intense game but we have to play between the lines. Both teams are going to preach that.

"It's about the two points. That's the way we're going to stick it to them."

Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett extinguished the dramatics immediately in his media availability on Tuesday and offered his perspective.

"Think of it this way: If this was the first game of the playoffs, would you be out to try to settle scores and stuff like that? It's about winning," he said.

"I think what's going to happen is it's going to get blown up by the media and I think that the game is going to be played hard. Each team is going to play hard to get the two points."

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 01.28.20

Kassian and Tkachuk took centre stage in that early January clash but every member of the heated rivalry is embracing the reignited Battle. 

For Matt Benning, it's akin to playoff puck.

"It's hockey. I love this," said the defender, who is expected to get back into the lineup Wednesday after being sidelined due to a concussion injury.

"Brings you back to playoffs. Guys are coming after you and you're going after guys. But we just have to keep our emotions in check. You grew up playing hockey for games like this."

And for Kassian himself, it's all in good fun.

"It's a blast," he said. "It brings the fire and brings the passion."

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