CALGARY — When a game gets tighter like both teams promise for Game 2 on Friday night, the physical game tends to escalate as well.
Less ice means more contact, and both teams welcomed that when speaking out after morning practices on Friday. Edmonton, in particular, as they are probably the smallest dog in this fight with more to prove on a physical level.
“They’re a team that’s going to be physical,” Oilers winger Evander Kane said of the Calgary Flames. “They will try to intimidate and talk a lot, but I think we handled the situation pretty well. I think we can be a little more physical tonight, push back a little harder. We’ll show that tonight.
In Game 1, the Flames didn’t hesitate to rely on Oilers captain Connor McDavid. Matthew Tkachuk had his glove in McDavid’s kiss whenever possible, and Milan Lucic rocked the Oilers captain with a solid bodycheck that sent McDavid flying.
What is Edmonton’s best recourse when its captain is abused?
“Well, if they go after our best guys, we’re going after their best guys,” Kane promised. “I think we didn’t do a good enough job in this last game. We’ve done a good job defending each other, (but) I think that’s the best way to handle this.
As for Lucic, Kane came straight to McDavid’s defense after the hit. He’s the smaller man, but Kane faced Ryan Reaves when he and the big winger had bad blood in their former teams. The story says he would fight Lucic, if things got bad.
“I don’t know if there really is a battle there,” Kane said. “I think we would be happy for him to be on the ice, when he is.”
Flames coach Darryl Sutter knows all about brotherly love.
But did he or any of his brothers offer the same kind of brotherly support that Brady Tkachuk has been talking about in recent days?
“I don’t think we traveled to do it, but we definitely supported each other,” said Sutter, who has six brothers, five of whom played in the NHL. “There were a lot of us and we were certainly supporting our brothers, and that’s what Brady does.”
So while Duane and Brent were busy winning Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders, what was he doing?
“If you were away (from the playoffs), you were home this weekend helping dad with the harvest, all of May (on the weekend),” said the Jolly Rancher of the family farm. of Viking, Alberta. “Everyone always asks, ‘What did you say to your brother when you shook his hand?’
“(It was) ‘Who’s riding the tractor on Tuesday?'”
There’s more mystery surrounding the Oilers’ Game 2 roster than the Flames, who would love to see Chris Tanev return to their blue line, but likely won’t.
It’s impossible to gauge the Oilers roster from their morning practice session, but it looks like Warren Foegele could head to the left wing. Leon Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie did not skate, but both are expected to play.
Here are your projected lines for Game 2.
Sutter insisted before the series began, “This is not an Alberta battle,” arguing instead that the north-south clash is about bringing Albertans together.
Tkachuk illustrated this perfectly on Thursday by going a step further than a heartwarming photo of Flames and Harvey the Hound fans holding a sign of support for five-year-old Ben Stelter, a young Oilers fan suffering from a rare form of brain cancer.
Tkachuk filmed a video, holding the same sign while sending his love to the beloved Oilers fan who made videos in support of his club.
“Things like that are very close to me, dealing with things in Calgary with kids in similar situations,” said Tkachuk, who has seen a lot of how much Stelter means to the Oilers and their fans. “I saw the video of him shooting me in the head (with a Nerf gun), or pretty close, so I thought it would be good to do a video back, instead of just a photo.
“Obviously, it’s much more important than hockey. No matter who you support, we encourage it. We know he doesn’t love us and that’s exactly what the game brings, but we’re all obviously thinking of him and his family. He is a true warrior and we follow him every step of the way while he is at the games.
“We definitely encourage him and hope the best for him.”
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