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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Flames

Oilers open the season with a Battle of Alberta showdown against Calgary at Rogers Place

by Paul Gazzola and Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers open the 2017-18 season tonight at Rogers Place against the Calgary Flames. 

You can watch tonight's game across Canada on Sportsnet or listen via 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Video: OILERS TODAY | vs Flames Pre-Game

Read the game preview below and check back after morning skate for a pre-game report, lineup updates, videos, quotes and more. 

Video: THE PANEL | Season Opener Preview

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Tuesday's Oilers practice and media availability, including an interview with GM Peter Chiarelli.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - Flip the page.

Because Chapter 38 in the Book of Oilers begins Wednesday.

Plenty happened in the last section: the club accessed the post-season for the first time since 2005-06; signed franchise fixtures Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to long-term contracts;  inked support players Zack Kassian, Kris Russell, Eric Gryba and Jussi Jokinen; acquired Ryan Strome and added 2017 first-rounder (22nd-overall) Kailer Yamamoto to the mix. 

Now, pen meets paper as the script continues.

"It's like school's starting over again," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "It's the first exam we're going to take. The classroom is prepared but have they paid attention? Have they done their homework? Are they ready to apply what they've learned and how well can they do it?"

Each lesson is a module for these young Oilers. In 2015-16, McDavid was introduced to the National Hockey League and suffered a clavicle injury that kept him sidelined for 37 games. 

In the 2016-17 campaign, Edmonton coursed through the season unscathed. Cam Talbot solidified his stature as a certified starting keeper, Draisaitl emerged as a bonafide scorer and the team's blueline established their game.

"The classroom may be further ahead now," McLellan, in sticking with the school theme, said. "The way it's constructed, the absorption of how we want to play, the experience and depth. All of those factors are a little bit further down the line but what I can tell you is that it doesn't guarantee success."

STOKING THE FLAMES

In the 2016-17 season-opening edition of the Battle of Alberta, the Flames were doused 7-4 in the first-ever regular season game at Rogers Place. 

Calgary's re-tooled their team over the off-season, adding veteran keeper Mike Smith, stalwart defenceman Travis Hamonic and are expected to sign the Ageless Wonder Jaromir Jagr, who will not play Wednesday.

"It's a big game already, honestly," said Oilers Captain McDavid. "Divisional points are huge."

Calgary holds the active record for the longest winless streak in a season opener, riding a seven-game skid (0-6-1). Combine that with the bitter fact that the Oilers defeated the Flames each meeting in 2016-17 and there's sure to be some motivation for the visiting club.

"I think they'll be the first ones to tell you that losing all the games against us last year really hurt them in the playoff push," said McDavid. "Ultimately they got in but it puts you behind the 8-ball."

ALTERNATE CAPTAIN ADAM

Before Edmonton hit the ice for pre-game skate, the club announced defenceman Adam Larsson as an alternate captain. Internally, it was an easy decision to make.

"The choice was unanimous when we pulled the coaches and when we brought the leadership group in, it was as close to unanimous as could be," said McLellan. "They were very supportive of it."

Larsson scored very high in his first season as an Oiler, registering four goals, 15 assists and 19 points in 79 games. He ended the campaign plus-21 and excelled in the post-season. The Swede tallied two goals and four assists in 13 playoff games, providing a calming presence on the back end.

"The way he came into a new organization and the way he played last year, he deserves it," said fellow compatriot and defence partner Oscar Klefbom.

LINEUP NOTES

Four skaters will be playing their first game with the Oilers: Yamamoto, Strome and Jokinen. 

Yamamoto is expected to start on the second line with centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and left winger Milan Lucic. "I'm sure he'll be nervous tonight, that'll be normal," said McDavid of Yamamoto's debut. "But once he gets settled in, it's just another game." 

Fellow newcomers Strome and Jokinen will converge on a line with Drake Caggiula. Strome will play centre.

Oilers expected lines:

Maroon - McDavid - Draisaitl
Lucic - RNH - Yamamoto
Caggiula - Strome - Jokinen
Khaira - Letestu - Kassian

Klefbom - Larsson
Russell - Benning
Nurse - Gryba

Talbot
Brossoit

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (0-0-0) vs. FLAMES (0-0-0)

TV: 8:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet

Head-to-Head:

Edmonton and Calgary met four times last season, with the Oilers winning all four contests. It was the first time the Oilers had ever taken every single matchup against the Flames in a single season. 

This season, this is the first of five meetings between the teams. After tonight, they'll meet December 2 in Calgary, January 25 in Edmonton and March 13 and 31 in Calgary. 

Oilers team scope:

All eyes, of course, will be on Connor McDavid after his outstanding 100-point season last year. McDavid picked up right where he left off in the pre-season leading the NHL with 10 points in five games played. ... Kailer Yamamoto could make his NHL debut tonight. The 2017 first-round Oilers draft pick had an outstanding pre-season with five goals (to lead the NHL) and six points in six games. ... Leon Draisaitl looks to build on his career highs last season with 29 goals and 77 points in 82 games. ... Ryan Strome makes his Oilers debut tonight after being acquired this offseason from the New York Islanders in exchange for Jordan Eberle. 

Flames team scope:

Jaromir Jagr will likely not play tonight for the Flames as Calgary announced its opening day roster on Tuesday and number 68 was not on it. Calgary boasts one of the top bluelines in the NHL in Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Travis Hamonic in their top four. Calgary's leading scorer last season was Johnny Gaudreau with 18 goals and 61 points in 72 games. Sean Monahan led the team in goals with 27 in 82 contests.  

By The Numbers:

Neither the Flames nor Oilers have ever had a player record a hat trick in their season-opening game. ... Calgary hasn't won in each of their last seven season openers (0-6-1). ... Jaromir Jagr has the NHL record for most career points in season openers with 13 goals and 39 points. 

Injury Report: 

Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera (knee) is out.

-- Marc Ciampa, EdmontonOilers.com

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