Oh look. It’s the Edmonton Oilers. Again.
I’m all for rivalry. Parochialism is what makes the world go ’round, and if you don’t have someone to hate, then sports just aren’t as fun.
This is just ridiculous.
On the one hand, I almost get it: you want to build excitement for the season nice and early, and what better way to do that than to run off a quick game or two against a team’s most bitter rival? Season opener. Sure. That’ll get everyone primed for the next 81. And hell, even the second game of the season a handful of nights later made sense, at least contextually, because the Flames needed revenge for that friggin’ egg they laid on national TV opening night.
But literally half their head-to-head schedule burned through in 19 days?
The fact that the Flames and Oilers have played each other three times now in Calgary’s first nine games of the season would be fine if Calgary’s entire schedule was made up of nothing but rivalry games. Oilers for a third of the season, Canucks for a third of the season, Detroit (or, well, somebody.. whoever. Doesn’t matter.) for a third of the season. Then this would make sense.
But y’know how much sense it makes to have these two teams face their most bitter rivals while they’re still getting their feet under them? Like most things in the NHL, it makes zero sense.
‘Course, they do this stuff in Major League Baseball too. The Red Sox and Yankees typically play each other for a series in both Boston and New York in April, then once again in about mid-July, and then a bunch more at the end of the season. But the difference is they’re playing 162 games, not 81. So when you go through three games in two and a half weeks, well, it’s a little much.
Further ridiculousness: After tonight’s game, these teams don’t meet again until New Years’ Day. And then, not again until March 26. How’s that helping the rivalry along? Hell, by then, the Oilers might still only have four points. Then the game is essentially meaningless!
Look, I like seeing the Flames win. I like seeing the Oilers lose. I therefore like seeing the Flames beat the Oilers. And that could happen tonight, given that, since that 4-0 embarrassment up in Edmonton, these teams have moved in opposite directions. Calgary’s season has only gotten better after a shaky start (and they’ve looked pretty well unstoppable since Rene Bourque went into killbot mode), and Edmonton has once again reverted to being the worst team in hockey.
Both of which are obviously fine by me.