Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers
Opposition: Copper 'n Blue
TV: CBC (HD)
The only thing better than opening the season by beating the Vancouver Canucks would be beating the Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers. While the Oil have been replaced at the top of the Flames rival chart by the aforementioned Vancouverites, it's always fun to hand ol' Shelbyville a loss, especially in front of their own mulleted crowd.
As evidenced on Thursday, the introduction of Brent Sutter hasn't washed away some issues lingering from the last season. Calgary's big guns were silent against quality competition while some of the depth guys carried the mail. The team also gave up a ton of shots - a lot of them of good quality - so it looks like the club is still adjusting to the new systems.
All that said, there were obviously some positives (Giordano, Bourque fully healed, Kipper played well, Bouwmeester leading the team in ice time, the power play, the 4th line) and, with apologies to Oilers fans, the competition won't be quite as stiff this evening.
Proprietor of Copper 'n Blue Derek Zona had this to say about his team:
Five players make their home opener debut for Edmonton tonight -- J.F. Jacques, Patrick O'Sullivan, Ryan Stone, Gilbert Brule, and Nikolai Khabibulin. One, Mike Comrie, is back for his second stint. Coach Pat Quinn spent all of training camp looking for big tough guys to play like big tough guys, and the result is a lineup that no one could have possibly imagined in August. Jacques, Stone and Brule are going to have skate hard, play hard, hit and drop the gloves to stay in the lineup, so look for them to try and make an impression against Calgary. Lubomir Visnovsky is not all the way back from his shoulder injury, to it will be interesting to see how he handles the Flames' style. The Oilers lack a secondary faceoff man, so Quinn is going to ride Horcoff in the circle until someone emerges or Tambellini adjusts the roster.
Expect to see Horcoff matched up against Iginla this evening since the Oil don't have much in the way of proven heavy lifters. To say that I'll be disappointed if Iggy-Jokinen-Moss can't handle the trio of Hemsky-Horcoff-Jacques is probably an understatement. No insult intended towards Horcoff et al, but...it may be time to change things up if the Flames current top line doesn't get things done tonight.