April 14 2013 02:50AM
Today started off much the same as any day when it's the Battle of Alberta. A conversation with a few of my friends that just happen to be Oilers fans (What can I say, I'm a charitable guy). The conversation involved much of the same banter that inevitably comes when the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers square off.
What really stuck in mind this time was when it was made pefectly clear to me that, "After that 8-2 beatdown, Hell would freeze over before the Flames were going to win this game tonight." I didn't really know if I should get too in depth on this one, after all, Calgary was dressing six, yes SIX, AHL minor leaguers tonight, and the Oil was bringing the full measure of the "draft pack".
Well later that day the snow began to fall here in Cowtown; and it kept falling. Could it be? Could Hell actually be freezing over? Let's see how it played out...
Well before Oilers fans could settle into their lazyboy recliners, with their Red Bull and Pork Rinds, they were down 1-0. TJ Brodie has been one of the few shining stars of the Flames this season; 26 seconds into this one, he would show us again why.
As the Oil tried to clear the zone, Brodie would jump in and beat the puck to the blueline. Keeping the play alive, he would make his way to the high slot before dishing the pass to Sven Baertschi. Sven would make the cross crease pass to a waiting Mikael Backlund, who would waste no time putting the puck over Re-Habby's shoulder, while Nik was still trying to remember where he stashed his wineskin.
The celebration would be short lived as Ryan Jones would steal the puck behind the Flames net. He would then find an unmarked Lennert Petrell in front of Joey MacDonald. The unmarked Petrell would get the Oilers first mark on the scoreboard and this one was back on equal terms
Shortly after, the Oilers thought they had taken the lead on the heels of "Yak City". The only problem is that someone should have told Yakupov that you're not supposed to or are allowed to kick the puck into the net. The review went to Toronto and they agreed, no goal. However, reports during the intermission were that Toronto FC were waiting for the end of the Oilers season so that they could sign Nail for the summer. They would only have to wait about 40 more minutes.
Calgary out-shot Edmonton 15-11 on the strength of three power-play opportunities. The Flames haven't much to brag about this season but their PP has been solid; hanging around the top-10 of the NHL all season. The Oilers late parade to the penalty box had the potential to come back and bite them.
Early in the second TJ Brodie would pick right back up what he started in the first. Starting the Flames PP rush, he would spring Tim Jackman up the left side. Jackman going hard to the net, wouldn't score, but a pinching Dennis Wideman would be Johnny-on-the-spot to jam home the rebound. Unlike Yakupov, he would use his stick, so the goal would stand and the Flames were back on top.
Your Calgary Flames wouldn't look back after that. It was time for the kids to have some fun.
Still just five minutes into the middle frame, Dennis Wideman would recognize an ill-timed line change for the Oilers. He would throw the puck up the boards to a waiting Lee Stempniak, who got just enough of the puck to tip it into Edmonton's zone. Ryan Smyth would be first back into the play and would do his best impression of a helicopter do its impression of a Nail Yakupov celly.
By the time Smytty spun his way out of the play, Sven Baertschi would pick up the puck and snap it passed a soon to be passed out Khabibulin. Though Sven's first of the year was unassisted, it was all started by the Flames picking up early on the Oilers seemingly cascading errors.
Shots were even in the second, but the Flames put up two on the board and were in full control of the game.
By the time the third got under way, there was one team that was just paying out the motions; and it wasn't the southern team. A loss for the Oil dropped their playoff chances from 2.3% to 0.3%. If it wasn't fun enough for Flames fans watching what turned out to be a Svensational game, it was time to give this win...
That's was the kids first of his NHL career and it was a beauty way to score it. He may not score a lot of those, but what a way to follow up his first NHL assist.
Why the Flames won...
There may not be much left to play for this season, other than the draft pick, but going forward, the Flames need to know what they have coming up in the system. Plain and simple, that's why these kids are up here; well that a whack load of injuries to their regulars.
That being said, the standing mean nothing in a game like this. The Oil are your provincial rivals and you just can't lose to them. Tonight was redemption for the last time these two met, and it had to have a different outcome.
That was the ending to this story that was the 2013 Battle of Alberta, it was up to the players to write the final chapter to make it all make sense.
It may not have had quite the same scoring quantity, but the quality was the sweeter for the fans and for your Calgary Flames. The goals from Baertschi and from Reinhart will be of far more importance to management than if they had dropped an eight ball on the Oilers.
Why did the Flames win? Because six kids from the Abbotsford Heat are expected to make a difference for this club in the years to come, while the Oil's beloved "Draft Pack" are firmly entrenched in what the Oilers are all about , which after this game, adds up to just a whole lot of.... Nothin.
Because the Flames and Oilers went head-to-head with their back-ups and Calgary's played like he didn't want to miss out on what this team was going to be about next year; while Re-Habby played liked he didn't want to miss out on last call.
There are so many possible choices to go with tonight.
Do we go with TJ Brodie, who started it all off tonight with key plays to give the Flames the lead on two ocassions? Maybe Sven Baertschi, who played 17 minutes and registered his first two point game with a goal and a helper?
What about Max Reinhart? The fact that his first of his career was the one that rubbed salt in the wound that was the Oilers playoff chances bleeding out like a Kosher ritual; that has to be good for his first Warrior honours, right?
Joey MacDonald perhaps, in one game, erased the #MacBackup tag, and is now possibly in the running as #MacStarter. Time and time again in this game foiling the Oil, sucking the life out of Edmonton's game and all their fans that were forced to watch the debacle unfold before their very eyes.
Nay.. Tonight we'll just give it to the whole team. In one of the most complete games they've played this year, it was a night that meant nothing to the rest of the NHL, but everything to two cities and their fans that love to hate each other.
Sum It Up
I can't say I'll be disappointed if the Flames lose every game from here on out; they played well tonight and they did it with an AHL lineup against Shelbyvill and all it's hopefuls.
The Oilers are obviously taking the cliche, "Hope springs eternal", a little too literal and as a Flames fan, I (as are the rest of you most likely) couldn't be happier.
It's amazing how a game like this can wipe away the bad memories of something like losing thirteen straight on the road. Hell, now they've won two in a row... #GoingForIt??
It's been fun to see the kids come up and not just play, but play well. From Horak, to Reinhart and Baertschi, even Carson, I don't have anything negative to say about the way they have played as a group, and as a team.
... And then there's this!
Wanye, Wanye, Wanye, you really asked for it!
What got into you? Surely you must have realized early in the season that the Oilers' roster was as full of holes as Swiss cheese? That the Flames have had the Oilers' number almost for ever. And I say this as a long time Oilers' fan.
What is so hurtful is that the Calgary rebuild that started 10 days ago is now ahead of the Oilers' rebuild that started five seasons ago. Jay Feaster will now smile and not worry about having to wander aimlessly in the desert as some other team that we know will continue to do.
Orchestra, cue the music...Turn out the lights, the party is over.
Things will continue to get more interesting for fans, as it seems they are going to be treated to yet another new face.
With St.Cloud being eliminated from the semi-finals of the Frozen Four, Newly aquired, and signed, Ben Hanowski is making his way to Calgary and from all reports, it looks like they are going to give the kid a chance to play.
I think that's a pretty exciting thing, and so I'm looking forward to that. No word on when he officially gets into the lineup, but I have to think Feaster and Hartley won't wait long, as they will want to parlay some of that intensity he'll have from the NCAA tournament and see what he can bring to the big stage.
Maybe he gets to make his debut in front of all of us, as your Calgary Flames take on the Minnesota Wild Monday at the Dome. Gametime is 7:00 pm. Catch it live on SNET-W or the Fan 960.