FGD #79: Farewell, Rexall Place

Today doesn’t just mark the final Battle of Alberta of the 2015-16 season: it marks the final time the Flames and Oilers will ever play in Rexall Place.

And honestly, it comes at a really bad time. The Flames and the Oilers have a storied rivalry with one another, one that’s been exceptionally pathetic for the last… eh… 10 years or so, let’s say. They used to meet in the playoffs; now, they’re duking it out at the bottom of the standings.

On the ice, the players are going to try to win. There’s no getting around that. This game is about future jobs and current pride. There’s a special level of hate there, and I’m sure players like Joe Colborne and especially Hunter Shinkaruk are more geared up for this opponent in particular than others.

The standings are a whole other matter. The future of both franchises isn’t a concern on the ice, but it is to us, more so than this one last battle for pride. Because here’s the thing.

Yeah, it’s the Oilers. And if there’s any opponent you want to beat, it’s them.

But.

If the Flames win, they’ll have 72 points. And the Oilers will only be able to collect a maximum of 71 on the season; 72 of it’s an overtime loss, but with fewer ROWs. The Oilers would be guaranteed to finish below the Flames, and the Flames would be locked out of 30th place.

So if you want the best lottery odds possible, if you’re still in denial of the inevitability of Auston Matthews going to Edmonton… you want the Flames to lose.

I hope this is the last season of this, because it’s not fun.

The Flames

Via Daily Faceoff:

Johnny Gaudreau 
Johnny Gaudreau
Sean Monahan 
Sean Monahan
Hunter Shinkaruk 
Hunter Shinkaruk
Lance Bouma 
Lance Bouma
Mikael Backlund 
Mikael Backlund
Joe Colborne 
Joe Colborne
Micheal Ferland 
Micheal Ferland
Sam Bennett 
Sam Bennett
Josh Jooris 
Josh Jooris
Brandon Bollig 
Brandon Bollig
Matt Stajan 
Matt Stajan
Derek Grant 
Derek Grant
T.J. Brodie 
T.J. Brodie
Dougie Hamilton 
Dougie Hamilton
Mark Giordano 
Mark Giordano
Deryk Engelland 
Deryk Engelland
Jyrki Jokipakka 
Jyrki Jokipakka
Jakub Nakladal 
Jakub Nakladal

So, basically the same lineup as last game. With Jyrki Jokipakka back in the lineup, Brett Kulak is back in Stockton. Emile Poirier, however, remains up on emergency recall, so there might still be some question in regards to some forwards’ statuses. If everyone available is ready to go, though, the only person Poirier can replace in the lineup is Shinkaruk. And that doesn’t seem likely to happen, as the Shinkaruk-on-the-top-line experiment continues. 

Joni Ortio gets the start.

The Oilers

Via Daily Faceoff:

Patrick Maroon 
Patrick Maroon
Connor McDavid 
Connor McDavid
Jordan Eberle 
Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall 
Taylor Hall
Leon Draisaitl 
Leon Draisaitl
Nail Yakupov 
Nail Yakupov
Lauri Korpikoski 
Lauri Korpikoski
Mark Letestu 
Mark Letestu
Iiro Pakarinen 
Iiro Pakarinen
Matt Hendricks 
Matt Hendricks
Anton Lander 
Anton Lander
Zack Kassian 
Zack Kassian
Andrej Sekera 
Andrej Sekera
Mark Fayne 
Mark Fayne
Jordan Oesterle 
Jordan Oesterle
Griffin Reinhart 
Griffin Reinhart
Darnell Nurse 
Darnell Nurse
Adam Clendening 
Adam Clendening

Man, I know the Flames’ defensive depth isn’t exactly the best thing ever (and has actually gotten better with some departures), but you look at the Oilers and it’s just… wow. Okay.

Cam Talbot gets the start tonight.

The numbers

Calgary Edmonton
Wins 32 30
Power Play 16.5% 17.5%
Penalty Kill 74.3% 80.5%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.7% 48.2%
Faceoffs 48.6% 48.9%

When we last met

Jan. 16, 2016. A Saturday night game, much like this one. The Flames really beat up on the Oilers in the first period, but came away with just one goal to show for it; the Oilers then beat up on the Flames the rest of the game, eventually tying it in the third and winning the shootout, 2-1. 

It might have been the worst game I watched all season. The only thing I really remember from it was rolling around on the floor begging for it to just end already, I don’t care who wins, make it stop. It was real bad. So hopefully, despite the Oilers vs. Tanking conundrum tonight presents, it’s at least an entertaining conundrum.

There have been three other Battles of Alberta this season: the first saw the Oilers stomp on the Flames, 5-2; the other two went in the Flames’ favour, 5-4 (the Flames’ first regulation win of the season, courtesy of Michael Frolik’s first career hat trick with just nine seconds to go) and 5-3.

The race to the bottom

If the Flames beat the Oilers in any capacity, 30th place is out of the question.

The good news? The Jets picked up a point last night, and the Canucks won a game, so the Flames fell back into 26th place, just one ROW up on Winnipeg for 27th.

Other games of interest today:

  • Detroit at Toronto – a Leafs win would be nice, and draw them to within one point of the Flames.
  • Montreal at Florida – if Montreal loses out and Calgary wins out, they’d tie in points. Even a Montreal overtime loss would be nice to ensure that doesn’t happen.
  • Buffalo at New York Rangers – the Sabres are five points up on the Flames thanks to five extra overtime losses. Any more points they can pick up so the Flames can’t catch them would be nice.
  • Columbus at Carolina – the Jackets went 4-9 in March. That’s annoying. A win would tie them with the Flames in the standings.
  • Washington at Arizona – Arizona’s like Buffalo: probably not a threat to finish below the Flames, but any points they can pick up to close out the year would be nice.

Sum it up

Give Rexall Place one hell of a final Battle of Alberta, and possibly help further cement the Oilers as the worst team in the NHL along the way. Or swallow a ton of pride for a faint shot at superior lottery odds. Yikes.