FGD: Likely Results

Ahh yes, the old Battle of Alberta thing that has one city snoring.  While we have seen one lopsided battle involving the Calgary Flames undergo a mild reversal of fortunes this season (two straight Flames wins over Vancouver), there’s nothing saying Calgary’s rivalry with Edmonton is primed to do the same thing.  The Flames have won nine straight games against the Edmonton Oilers heading into this season’s fifth round of battle (7 pm, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960).

Again, there’s nothing saying a reversal of fortune couldn’t happen in this season series, but from what we’ve seen the last nine games, the Oilers just don’t beat the Flames.  Whether they stake themselves to a 4-1 third period lead, score two early goals in the first period, come from three goals down to force a shootout, or anywhere else along the line…Edmonton just loses.  The last meeting was about as far from close as they come, however, with the Flames taking a 6-2 win at Rexall Place on January 21st.

The Lineup

The Flames will go with the same lineup they’ve gone with the last little bit, with Paul Byron and Lance Bouma seemingly switching spots, at least during line rushes yesterday.  The team didn’t have a full skate this morning, instead opting to go with an optional skate.  Otherwise, things remain the same up front and on the back end.

Alex Tanguay-Olli Jokinen-Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Krys Kolanos
Lance Bouma-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester-Chris Butler
Mark Giordano-Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich

Good news had both Curtis Glencross and Derek Smith skating with the rest of the group this morning, the first time they’ve been on the ice with teammates since their injuries.  The feeling is Smith could be back as early as Monday while Glencross is still looking like an early March return.  Still, it’s good news.

The Opponent

The injury situation keeps getting worse for Edmonton, as they’ve now lost Nikolai Khabibulin for at least the next week with a sore groin.  The main key to early season Oilers success has regressed to what we thought he might be in recent months, and now gives way for Devan Dubnyk as the number one guy for the next few games.  Neither have lit the world on fire and neither should be stealing anything tonight.  These are just projected lines, as Edmonton didn’t do rushes this morning, however Hall told me he’s play with Horcoff and Hemsky.  The rest come from talking with the Oilers media horde down here.

Taylor Hall-Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky
Magnus Paajarvi-Sam Gagner-Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth-Eric Belanger-Ben Eager
Darcy Hordichuk-Anton Lander-Lennart Petrell

Ladislav Smid-Tom Gilbert
Ryan Whitney-Jeff Petry
Andy Sutton-Corey Potter

In terms of skaters, that’s about as healthy as it’s been all year for the Oilers.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins remains out of the lineup for the time being, sitting on the sidelines with a shoulder injury for the second time this season.  Theo Peckham is missing on the blueline, as Potter makes his return tonight.  Hordichuk enters, Ryan Jones exits tonight.

Sniff.  This might be the last time us Calgary fans get to see Ales Hemsky at the Saddledome in blue and orange.  The chronically injured winger continues to leave Oilers fans wanting more, and for good reason.  He’s an effective top six forward when full strength, but that just isn’t anywhere near often enough.  With an expiring contract, Hemsky’s Edmonton days appear to be numbered; but then again, we said that at this time last year too.

The Story

For the Flames, there is zero excuse to lose this hockey game.  Riding an impressive eight game point streak, Calgary has risen to a Western Conference playoff position for the first time this season yet have no time to rest on their laurels.  As bad as LA has been of late, they aren’t going anywhere in this race and will likely take advantage of any Flames lull.  The same can likely be said about a few other teams in this race, so with much tougher games against Phoenix, Philly, and St. Louis coming on this four game homestand, a loss against Edmonton to kick it off falls under the "unacceptable" category.

  • everton fc

    I know I’ve commented Calgary’s lineup has the look of “expansion franchise” some evenings… But the Oilers certainly do look like an expansion team. “On paper”. Look at the Oilers down the middle. Wow.

    I like Byron w/Kolanos and Horak. Should see some spark from this trio. Looking forward to that prospect.

    Bouma and Jackman together… Nice. Look for Jackman and Eager to square off. Or maybe Sutton.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Flames have had a tendancy at times to play to the level of competition. Fortunately that hasn’t seemed to translate to the battle of Alberta. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    In addtion, even with being banged up:
    -Our 1st line is better
    -2nd lines are close – I’d still take ours
    -3rd lines – pretty close
    -4th line – ours is better

    All 4 D pairings are better.

    But the BIG difference is in net. Our goalie is WAY better. GO KIPPER!

    • Colin

      I’m pretty sure Hall, Gagner, Eberle is a better first line than any combination the flamers could hope to put together.

      Anyway, they were tonight, and that’s all that counts for now. Yay Oilers!

  • wawful

    Calgary has fallen to worse opponents than the Oilers (e.g. Twice to the BJ’s this season). Here’s hoping the team treats this like a real game and doesn’t get “surprised”!

  • Flames 2nd-4th lines:
    Tom Kostopoulos-Mike Cammalleri-Blake Comeau
    Paul Byron-Roman Horak-Krys Kolanos
    Lance Bouma-Matt Stajan-Tim Jackman

    Yeeeee… that’s bad.

    One legitimate NHLer in the bottom 9!


    That’s ok – right now Kipper could win a game with my beer league team in front of him.

    • jeremywilhelm

      1 legitimate NHL’er? I think you have a overly high standard for legitimate NHL’er. If you want to say 1 legimate top 6 winger in the bottom 9 then I’ll agree but we have guys in that bottom 9 that are of at least NHL 4th line quality.

      • By legitimate NHLer I mean above replacement level.

        Be honest, if any of the other 8 got injured and had to be replaced with a Waiver pick-up, would you even feel the difference?

        Seriously – this was my reaction.

        “Why are Tom Kostopoulos and Blake Comeau on the 2nd line, instead why don’t they use … (look at 3rd and 4th lines) … oh. Never mind.”

        • SmellOfVictory

          Comeau has looked like a capable middle-six player, and an argument could actually be made for Matt Stajan as well. Outside of those two (sorry Horak/Bouma, we love you but you’re not quite there yet), I’ll agree with you.

  • So, Kyle Quincey traded from the Avs for Steve Downie (Tampa) and then traded to the Red Wings for a first rounder and a prospect.

    If Quincey can get a low first rounder, what could someone like Babchuk, or Sarich, or Hannan get? This trade deadline is getting ridiculous.

    • everton fc

      Agreed. The return for some of these guys is way too high. Makes you wonder if Smith is set to return soon, will we see Feaster move a guy or two out of the blue line for some extra picks. A guy like Sarich I normally would have said late round, 5th tops. With what teams have already paid why can’t we get a 2nd or 3rd for him or Babs?

  • everton fc

    If we can move Babchuk for a 2nd/3rd round pick, Feaster gets a thumbs up.

    Sarich and Hannan – either might be worth a 2nd. That’s nuts!

    We need to keep Hannan, for now. Sarich and Smith can scrap for the 6th spot. We have no depth in Abby really. Wilson could be called upon. Maybe. But we have nothing there, unless they take a punt on Connelly, who’s neither scored nor stayed in the plus, on the farm.

  • AF

    I’m somewhat interested in Gaustad. Paul could be a good addition but at what price? I think the Moore trade set the bar quite high for a bottom six centre. I don’t like trading picks for rental grinders though so unless they want Babchuk I’d pass on that one.

  • everton fc

    He’s great in the faceoff circle. One of the best in the league. Gaustad, that is…

    I wonder if they’d take a punt on Babchuk…

    Or Stajan…

    One can dream…

    Not sure what they price would be. I hear a 2nd round pick and a prospect. But he’s a tough player. Gritty.

    I wonder what he wants to re-sign for? His hit is 2.3mill/year.

    From North Dakota. Like Jackman. Tough place!

    What about Comeau and Babchuk for Gaustad and a prospect/pick?

    Tootoo’s UFA. Any interest??