Rebels using final games to prepare for playoffs

The Red Deer Rebels close out their regular-season schedule with two meaningless games tonight and Saturday versus the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. Whoa . . . let’s back up a bit. The games might be insignificant in the sense that neither team can move up or down in the standings — with the Oil Kings having clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference and the Rebels having nailed down fourth place — but they will serve as timely tune-ups for the playoffs, scheduled to open in one week.

The Red Deer Rebels close out their regular-season schedule with two meaningless games tonight and Saturday versus the defending WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.

Whoa . . . let’s back up a bit.

The games might be insignificant in the sense that neither team can move up or down in the standings — with the Oil Kings having clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference and the Rebels having nailed down fourth place — but they will serve as timely tune-ups for the playoffs, scheduled to open in one week.

“They are important games for us in the sense that we want to continue to do things right. We don’t want bad habits to creep in,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter, whose club is 7-2-1-0 in the last 10 games. “We want to keep our confidence level up to where it is.”

To that end, Sutter’s home-ice roster tonight will mirror the lineup that will take on either the Swift Current Broncos or the Prince Albert Raiders in Game 1 of a conference quarter-final next Friday at the Centrium.

As for Saturday’s roster at Edmonton . . . not so much.

For the second half of the home-and-home at Rexall Place, Sutter plans to replace No. 1 netminder Patrik Bartosak with Bolton Pouliot and will rest his top line of Rhyse Dieno, Turner Elson and Brooks Maxwell and the blueline pairing of Mathew Dumba and Brady Gaudet.

“Depending on how we play Friday, we’ll do something different in Edmonton,” said the Rebels bench boss. “Some of our other players, like (defencemen) Riley Boomgaarden and Kevin Pochuk will get a chance to play.”

For tonight’s game, the Rebels’ top line will remain intact while newcomer Jordan DePape will join the second unit with Tyson Ness and Wyatt Johnson. The other lines will have Joel Hamilton between Matt Bellerive and Dominik Volek, and Conner Bleackley centering Cory Millette and Cody Thiel.

“Again, the biggest thing for us this weekend is just making sure that our structure is where it needs to be, along with our work and intensity,” said Sutter. “Those are the biggest things we’ll be looking at.”

Sutter will also be focusing on his club’s special teams, in particular the power play. While the Rebels’ penalty kill is the league’s third-best, the club’s man-advantage units are operating at a mediocre success rate of 17.3 per cent, which is 17th overall.

“We want to work on our special teams during these two games. Our penalty kill has been pretty good this season, but we have to continue to improve our power play, although its been better lately,” he said.

“Through this recent stretch, the last 10 to 15 games, our power play has scored some pretty key goals for us. It has to provide momentum for you in a good way. It can never be a momentum-changer going the other way.”

l The Rebels’ first-round playoff opponent won’t be determined until Saturday.

The Raiders currently sit fifth in the conference, two points up on the Broncos, who take on the lowly Regina Pats tonight and Saturday in a home-and-home set.

Prince Albert, meanwhile, closes out with a pair of home games against the surging Saskatoon Blades tonight and Saturday.

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan speaks in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday in this image from his Facebook page.
Red Deer MLA Jason Stephan sounds off on socialism in anti-lockdown speech

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has applauded his government’s COVID-19 response, saying… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu
Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Atlanta United's Mo Adams, right, challenges Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo during first half MLS soccer action in East Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo says he finished the season with an injured leg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jessica Hill
Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speak to the media during a visit to the Molson Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, January 16, 2020. City councillors in Vancouver voted unanimously this week to ask federal officials for an exemption to Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a decision advocates hope will blaze a trail for the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use in other municipalities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Senator Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Sinclair is planning to leave the Senate early next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter during a bi-weekly news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Most Read