BOA Round 214: Flames at Oilers

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is the fifth meeting of the season (and 214th meeting overall) between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. It’s their last meeting until next season, too. I’d say the season series is up for grabs, as each team has won twice – the road team always won – but the Flames needed overtime in both wins at Rexall. The Flames need a win to tie the season series in terms of points earned.

That’s about as far as this game goes in terms of “significance.”

Calgary has 63 points and 12 games left. Edmonton has 59 points and 11 games left. The gap can close considerably with an Edmonton win, while a Calgary win probably cements their draft placement.

THE HOME TEAM

It goes without saying that it’s been a disappointing year in Edmonton. I don’t think they spent time and money bringing in Dallas Eakins to lead the club to 29th place. The Oilers lost two nights ago to Buffalo, but have been playing solid lately, winning five of their last 10.

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Hall – Gagner – Perron
Lander – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Hendricks – Gordon – Pitlick
Gazdic – Smyth – Jones

Ference – Schultz
Marincin – Petry
Klefbom – Fraser

Fasth

Viktor Fasth gets his first Battle of Alberta start. He was 2-0-0 with a shutout in two games against the Flames while with Anaheim.

The Oilers obviously have some skilled players (that top line, that second line) and are starting to figure out the “depth role player” riddle. That third line is actually pretty solid. But the defense is a bit dodgy, so you can figure out why they are in the general area that they are, standings-wise.

Oddly, Edmonton has the edge on Calgary on the power-play, the penalty kill and in five-on-five goal differential. How come Calgary’s higher in the standings? Probably because Calgary’s gotten some big contributions from their back-end (Giordano & Brodie, primarily) and some from their depth guys, while Edmonton remains top-heavy.

But if they can ever build something around that top group, wowzers. Granted, we’ve been saying this for years, but the Oilers could be scary-good if the guys building the team had a plan besides “draft high.”

THE ROAD TEAM

The Flames are smarting a bit after last night. On one hand, they scored five goals! On the other, they gave up six. To Nashville, who rarely scores. Yikes.

Lines, via Daily Faceoff:

Cammalleri – Backlund – Byron
Glencross – Stajan – Hudler
Agostino – Monahan – Bouma
Westgarth – Colborne – McGrattan

Giordano – Brodie
Butler – Russell
Smid – Wotherspoon

Ramo

Karri Ramo returns after being out since before the Olympics with an MCL sprain. Joni Ortio returns to the AHL and Joey MacDonald is the back-up for the rest of the year.

Now that they’re getting healthy, the Flames are rapidly beginning to resemble an NHL team. Kenny Agostino makes his Battle of Alberta debut after making his NHL debut last night, playing 12:40 in the loss to the Preds. Returning to the line-up is Kevin Westgarth – slotting in for T.J. Galiardi on the bottom line – and God, I hope Westgarth doesn’t try to fight Gazdic again.

The Flames have also won five of their last ten games, so they’re about as “hot” as the Edmonton Oilers right now.

SUM IT UP

It’s a late-season game between two teams that are well out of the playoff picture! The best each club can hope for some emotion in this tilt, as each group tries to gain some momentum to close out the year.

Let’s hope that this time next season, these games have a little bit more significance in the standings, because hockey’s better when the Flames and Oilers are both doing well and Alberta is a place visiting teams fear to tread.

  • Randaman

    I have seen players other than Hall throw water bottles before so lay off on the grow up comments! Eakins on the other hand is more worried about his suit jacket than the absolute ass kicking they are receiving? I mean benching your best player over an accidental incident. Now that goes beyond childish! Kick this guys ass to the curb now because if you thought he lost the room before, he has definitely lost it now!!

    • The Soup Fascist

      Why would you think a new coach would resolve the Oiler issues? Have you not fired your coach almost annually over the last 6 years?? And where are the Oilers today??

      • Randaman

        I just can’t stand his egotistical demeanour and that hair? My wife always comments “someone should tell him to choose a new style”. I was an advocate for hiring Sutter in the first place

      • MattyFranchise

        Just because we have gone through a number of coaches in past years should not mean that Eakins gets a free pass. Why shouldn’t he be scrutinized for his performance. There is always the argument that the players on the ice determine your success but the Oilers had some good things going under Krueger (ie. special teams) that absolutely fell off the map this year. There were portions of this year where we looked absolutely lost. Something has to change and the trade market would not be friendly to what we have to offer.

        • BurningSensation

          When do you hold the players accountable? Specifically the 1st overalls. They simply are not performing. HNIC showed 4 instances where Taylor Hall was dogging it on goals AGAINST.

          Yes, I can see where another change of coaches will help!

          • RedMan

            I understand the idea of holding the players accountable, but isn’t that the coaches job? If the players feel that they can gingerly skate back because they don’t get their knuckles rapped for it, is that not a failing of the coach? The only real way to improve this team is for them to establish a culture within the team that makes it impossible for guys to take a shift off because they will hear about it or have their butt stapled to the bench for a while as a result. Adding guys like Hendricks and Gordon to the roster will go a long way towards this but if the coach does not hold the players feet to the fire it only goes so far. How many times through the year has Eberle, Hall, Gagner, etc looked invisible out there? I can’t remember one time where one of those three sat for a period of time due to lack of performance, or there was any real implication for their perceived indifference, or at least it wasn’t public. Is your solution to trade them all? Do you think you will get anything close to their actual value at this point? Do you think that course of action makes us better in the long run?

          • piscera.infada

            Structural issue. When you lock up that “core” (Ebs, Hall, RNH) at 6 million each for the next 7 years, you’re kind of stuck with them. Regardless of what you do, they are the de facto leadership on that team. You can bring in as many Smyth’s or Ference’s as you want, you can stitch or remove any letter you choose from their jersey, and they’re still going to be the guys everyone will defer to. It’s going to be tough sledding until those three buy in to something – you can’t honestly tell me that the failed buy-in of that core is on the multitude of coaches they’ve let go season after season (there’s one constant).

  • Serious Gord

    Just looked it up – EDM finishes remainder of season with two or fewer points and it will be the worst in history. And it is pretty much a lock that they will have had the three worst seasons in franchise history all under Lowe and within the last four years.

    Moral of the story:

    You can’t rebuild a team properly on the ice unless you first rebuild the management properly. The way you do that is remote the highest person in the org and work your way down.

    You would expect An executive like Katz to know that.

    • Serious Gord

      Katz doesnt run the oilers like a normal business. Its a hobby. A toy thing. Its common knowledge that Katz has been buds with KLowe for years. Success will never start from the top down when you cant fire your buddy.

  • The Soup Fascist

    “Calgary’s fourth line getting to play MEANINGFUL minutes?”

    IT’S freaking 8 to 1!!

    They had masks to protect the noggin when Hrudey played ……. right?

  • Serious Gord

    Went to a jays game a couple of years ago and they got shelled by Tampa (as usual) particularly one particular pitcher.

    Heard over the radio he was being waived/released before we even got out of the parking lot.

    Kevin Lowe should fire himself before Reed and Rob open up the phone lines…

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I have a feeliing that when we wake up tomorrow Edmonton may have a press conference announcing the dismissal of Dallas Eakins. If I am dreaming pinch me and awake me from this nightmare. Last post of the night. Gotta go kick the dog.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Eakins’s explanation in the presser sounded like the court hearing in Top Gun after Maverick’s flat spin. “We just could not recover from it. We tried everything and we couldn’t recover and it just went deeper and deeper.”

  • BurningSensation

    I have been an Oilers fan for life and I currently live in Calgary. I got to march down Jasper Ave 5 times as a kid celebrating our cup victories. But to put it in perspective, our last cup came 24 years ago. While I don’t discount the cups that we won, we can’t keep pointing to it like a scoreboard. It just makes us look desperate.