GDFD No. 10: Wait, they’re GOOD?

Welcome to the Game Day Fire Drill, for this, Calgary’s 10th game of the season on Oct. 24, 2009.

The one thing I really hate about all these games against the Oilers so early in the season is that it pretty well removes whatever drama there might have been from later matchups. 

Three Battles of Alberta in October alone? Come on, NHL. There’s a reasonable balance between too much of a good thing and not enough. Theoretically, the teams could meet every five weeks or so throughout the season and that would be perfectly nice. Enough time between games that you don’t get sick of seeing the other guys, but not so much that you forget why you hate them in the first place.

This, though, is crazy. The three in October is one thing, but now the teams don’t meet again until December 28th. Then they play on New Years Eve. Then they end the season series less than a month after that. I don’t know about you guys, but I want to see these teams playing when games REALLY start mattering. Last year, with all those games in March, was awesome. It added even more gravity to one of the best rivalries in the league. By that time this season, we’ll have forgotten what playing the Oilers even feels like.

There are even some better solutions within an unbalanced schedule. Major League Baseball has every Red Sox/Yankees season series go thusly: three or four series in April and early May, maybe one in late July, then two or three more in September. It at least accomplishes its goal — get the rivalry heated up for another year, let it cool off a little, remind everyone who their rival is around the midway point of the season, then have a bunch more games when they mean so much more than an ordinary Red Sox/Yankees series.

I know this is shocking: the NHL screwed up again. BREAKING NEWS!!!! But there has to be some amount of reason put into scheduling these games. This isn’t Panthers/Coyotes. This is a real rivalry that a LOT of people care about.

Get it together.

Who

The Calgary Flames (6-2-1 for 13 points. Tied for second in the West, tied for second in the Northwest) and the Edmonton Oilers (6-2-1 for 13 points. Tied for second in the West, tied for second in the Northwest).

When

8 p.m. Mountain time and 10 p.m. Eastern time. All other time zones should throw up gang signs with livestock.

Where

Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.

Calgary is 4-1-0 at home this year, and 2-0-0 against Edmonton. The Oilers are 1-1-0 on the road, which isn’t so good, and one of their regulation losses this year was, of course, to Calgary.

What (to hate about the Oilers)

Dustin Penner — Where did this guy come from? Didn’t he suck like… yesterday? How does he have almost as many points as Joe freaking Thornton? How does he have two fewer goals than Alex Ovechkin? How does he have more points per game than Marty St. Louis? It’s the oddest thing.

Ales Hemsky — And hey, if you don’t hate this guy, you should at least hope that Robyn Regehr puts him into the glass 12 or 15 times tonight. Y’know, unless you hate charities. You don’t hate charities, do you?

They actually seem to be good — These bums have the same record as the Flames? Come onnnnn.

Nikolai Khabibulin — There’s an old adage that says you have to be good to be lucky, but Khabi is, of course, proof that simply isn’t true. His GAA is right around 3, and his save percentage is dangerously close to .900. And yet the Oilers keep winning even without a lofty shooting percentage. It’s fairly befuddling, and COMPLETELY upsetting.

Why

It’s the Battle of Alberta, baby. Would you want to be anywhere else? Enjoy the game and feel free to chitchat about how much the Oilers suck.