Oilers vs. Flames - Hopefully With Much Less Punching

Tonight's game is not on television and Darcy Hordichuk isn't in the lineup, so hopefully there isn't a need for the unproven to prove themselves with showdowns at high noon.  The puck has yet to drop on the regular season and the injury reports are already stacking up for Edmonton.  Ryan Whitney's ankle is on everyone's mind right now, and Ben Eager is battling a concussion.  Taylor Fedun suffered "concussion-type symptoms" which is a what all the teams are calling concussions these days.  I'll be happy if the Oilers get through this one without suffering additional injuries.

As per the Oilers' website:  TONIGHT'S GAME WILL BE STREAMED LIVE ON EDMONTONOILERS.COM WITHIN THE OILERS MARKET ONLY (AB/SK/NWT/NU) DUE TO NHL REGULATIONS.

I don't know why the site is yelling at us about it, though.

More analysis after the jump...

Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers 

Rexall Place, 6:00 p.m. MDT
Television: None.

Expected Lineup:

Edmonton Oilers:

Hall (4) - Nugent-Hopkins (93) - Hartikainen (56)
Jones (28) - Gagner (89) - Keller (46)
Green (12) - Belanger (20) - Pitlick (68)
Tyrvainen (75) - Lander (57) - Martindale (66)

Barker (13) - Tulupov (86)
Sutton (25) - Gilbert (77) 
Peckham (24) - Petry (58)

Khabibulin (35)
Roy (30)

Hodgepodge for $800, Alex:

  • Nikolai Khabibulin is in net for the Oilers, which means this should be exciting for everyone involved.  The Flames start Leland Irving, the man who should eventually supplant Miikka Kiprusoff in net in Calgary.  Except for Nikolai Khabibulin, goaltending has been a strength thus far for the Oilers, which is really strange to type.
  • One developing story in training camp is the move of Teemu Hartikainen to the right side.  He's comfortable playing there and has one excellent performance to his credit there already this preseason.  I don't know if this change comes from management looking into the distance and seeing an opening on the right side with Hemsky's impending departure, or if he's over there because the other left wings in camp aren't as good on the right side, but Hartikainen is making the most of the opportunity.
  • Right side depth is extremely shallow tonight, so Hartikainen will skate with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins in the Ryan Smyth garbageman role.  Considering Hall's ability to shoot and create chances regularly, Hartikainen has a chance to get some points simply by mucking around in the crease.
  • Sam Gagner was excellent against the Canucks, but that was a lineup bereft of NHL players.  I was hoping to see him take on the Flames, and while I'm glad he's in the lineup, he's not getting much help. 
  • I'm also looking forward to watching Sven Baertschi, the Flames forward who fired seven shots at the Oilers in the YoungStars finale.  Baertschi scored twice in that game, but it was his ability to dominate the offensive zone that was most impressive.  Baertschi had 15 shots on goal over the three game tournament and was a treat to watch.  The Oilers have five NHL defenders on their roster tonight and if Baertschi can stand up to the stiffer competition, it will speak to how ready he is for the big leagues.
  • One positive about the defensive lineup is all six guys are on their natural side.
  • That Sutton - Gilbert combination looks like it's going to be the Oilers' top pairing to begin the season.  Even if Whitney is healthy, I'm willing to wager that combination will take on the tough minutes.
  • It's nice to see Theo Peckham paired with a defender who can move the puck.  Paired with Ladislav Smid against the Canucks, Peckham looked out of sorts in his own zone.  Hopefully Petry's passing and skating ability will help bail the combination out when needed and give Peckham a crutch to lean on.
  • Per the team site Ales Hemsky has been cleared for contact.  I can't wait to see him on the ice again.  His return is one of the most exciting things about this training camp.
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