Post-Game: The future is bright

It’s something we can’t escape. For as long as the Oilers have been terrible, there’s been a phrase repeated, non-stop: “The future is bright.” And even as we watched the Oilers get throttled by the Flames one last time in Rexall Place, a building that has seen better days both in general and on the ice, the mantra still repeated: the future is bright.

Is it really that bright in Edmonton, though? The only thing either of these teams had left to play for was pride. And the Oilers came out and lost 5-0, ensuring they would finish below the Flames in the standings for the 11th time in 12 years. 

The games between the two teams had been relatively close throughout the season. Except for this time, as Edmonton did as they are wont to do lately: get thoroughly embarrassed. Farewell, Rexall. This was a pleasant goodbye.

The rundown

Right from the beginning Joni Ortio showed he was here to play. He came out of his net, aggressive and challenging, and thwarted the Oilers – albeit to the extent of a call going against his team. T.J. Brodie was called for tripping Jordan Eberle, but it was more Ortio’s stick as Eberle cut in front of the net that resulted in the infraction.

Alas, the Flames were left without their top defenceman for the kill. No problem, however, as it was… Deryk Engelland to the rescue?

Engelland helped prevent the zone entry, which allowed Josh Jooris and Mikael Backlund to advance up the ice, resulting in Backlund’s 40th point of the season as he scored shorthanded to give the Flames an early 1-0 lead.

That was about it for a while. The Oilers had extensive pressure following the Flames’ goal: pressure that forced Brodie into a 2:03-long shift as he was unable to get off the ice, and pressure that didn’t see the Flames get another shot attempt until eight minutes after Backlund’s goal. At one point in the period, they were being outshot 9-2 by the Oilers, and holding on by the skin of their teeth. 

But then the Flames got their first power play of the game when Nail Yakupov high-sticked Lance Bouma. It appeared that they scored thanks to Dougie Hamilton’s point shot deflecting in, but the goal was quickly called off as Joe Colborne was ruled to have interfered with Cam Talbot.

The Flames had a strong end to the period, ultimately outshooting the Oilers 11-9, defiant of their ugly middle stretch.

The second frame saw the Flames get two power plays, both unsuccessful. Sure, they had the occasional chance – and they seemed to be getting closer to actually putting the puck in the net with each ensuing power play – but there were still no goals to be found.

At least, not until Colborne redeemed himself. Not on the power play, but at even strength, as Jyrki Jokipakka initiated the Flames’ rush up the ice, and a perfect pass from Backlund to Colborne saw the Flames take a 2-0 lead as Backlund picked up his 41st point of the season, and Colborne, the 100th point of his career.

And then the Flames got their fourth power play of the game, and it, too, was unsuccessful. Ortio kept up his strong play when called upon, though, and the Flames had a 2-0 lead going into the final frame at Rexall Place.

In which they wasted no time extending their lead to 3-0. Micheal Ferland replaced Hunter Shinkaruk on the top line, and some crashing and banging around the net courtesy of him, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau saw Gaudreau pick up his 29th goal of the season.

And then the Flames got their fifth power play of the game – and fifth time was the charm, as Gaudreau tucked in his 30th of the season from the very same spot, giving the Flames a 4-0 lead.

The party was short-lived, as Sam Bennett hooked Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, giving the Oilers a power play. The party came back, as Ortio stopped not one, not two, but three golden chances on the kill – and then, just as the penalty expired, Backlund went in on a breakaway and scored his second of the game, making it 5-0.

And then Nugent-Hopkins went off for hooking Brodie, giving the Flames their sixth power play of the game. One they weren’t taking seriously at all, as it resulted in Brandon Bollig (yes, he was on the power play) and Matt Hendricks nearly fighting, and both getting tossed from the game. A much more normal power play unit came out after, featuring both Gaudreau and Backlund, but again: no scoring on the power play, other than that one time.

The game closed out with Backlund and Gaudreau unable to get the hat trick, but Ortio picked up the second shutout of his career as the Flames left Rexall for the last time, seranated by the most beautiful of sounds: the Oilers getting booed off the ice.

The numbers

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Derek Grant 40% 80%
Micheal Ferland 58.62% 80%
Jakub Nakladal 54.85% 77.78%
Joe Colborne 64.52% 76.92%
Dougie Hamilton 70.27% 76.92%
Johnny Gaudreau 75% 75%
Matt Stajan 45% 75%
Jyrki Jokipakka 66.67% 70%
Brandon Bollig 35.71% 66.67%
Mark Giordano 52.94% 65%
Josh Jooris 40% 62.5%
Sean Monahan 70.27% 61.1%
Hunter Shinkaruk 60% 60%
Mikael Backlund 56.76% 55.56%
Lance Bouma 56.25% 50%
Deryk Engelland 53.12% 50%
Sam Bennett 26.32% 50%
T.J. Brodie 37.78% 37.5%

Why the Flames won

Ortio set the tone from the very beginning, playing aggressive and stopping pucks from the get-go en route to a 28-save shutout. Throw that in with the Flames capitalizing on the (non-power play) opportunities they got from the very beginning and the Oilers’ tendency to Oiler and, well, there you have it.

Red Warrior

I’m going to cheat here and go with two guys: Joni Ortio and Mikael Backlund.

As stated above, Ortio was stellar throughout the night: from the first chance he faced to the penalty kill and everything thereafter and in between. When the defence let him down, he stepped up, and stopped everything in his way. He was on a mission throughout the night, and it showed.

But Backlund deserves a lot of credit, too, as he officially reached a career season. He scored shorthanded to open the scoring; he put an exclamation mark on the night as he broke away to make it 5-0. He hit the 40-point mark for the first time in his career, and added two more for good measure. For a player who has been beset by injuries throughout his career, he’s had a healthy season – and a fantastic one to go with it.

Up next

The Flames have just two home games left this season. The first will be this Tuesday, April 5, as the Los Angeles Kings come to town for the last time. A year ago, this meant clinching a playoff berth. Today, not so much.

    • ville de champignons

      Yeah. But in truth all we need are 4th round picks to make their FOAs look like cold garbage. Every day is April Fools day in Edmonton, hey Rex?

  • Flaymin Frank

    Random Thoughts:

    1. Spanking the Oilers never gets old. Regardless of standings.

    2. Good on Bollig to call out Hendricks. Who wanted no part of that deal – Darrell Nurse wasn’t available to back him up.

    3. If Ortio starts next season like he finished this one, we’ll have an honest shot at the playoffs.

    4. Johnny G’s stick should be checked for flypaper tape. Damn he’s awesome to watch.

    5. I expect posters on this site to take shots at Deadmonton, but its almost cringeworthy when the HNIC crew does as well. I almost feel sorry for the Oil fans.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Hendricks is a coward. Bolig even dropped a glove….

    So is Nurse; what, there wasn’t a player available to fight who has never fraught before?! Typical Oiler coward!


  • BigRig91

    My roommate is an oilers fan. After handing over a 20$ Bill ten minutes ago and he is still losing his shit. Loving every second oof this he is threatening to start cheering for the flames . Almost feel bad for him .

  • RKD

    I love that photo, Backs celebrating. Talbot giving him a look and Taylor ‘Can’t play defense’ Hall skating away in dejection. The Oilers checked out a long time ago. Nice to know the losing culture hasn’t seeped into the Flames dressing room.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    I can’t wait to see the year-end record of the Oilers record WITH McDavid in the lineup vs without McDavid in the lineup?
    The Oilers are way better WITHOUT McDavid… Calder-not…

    Remember the look on McDavids face when he found out the Oilers won the lottery? How does he feel now?

    He is part of the worst team in the history of the NHL….. There has never been a NHL team with a worse winning % over a decade than the present day Oilers!!!!

    Good times!!!


  • smatic10

    Apart from one lengthy offensive zone shift in the first period, Deadmonton played an AWFUL game. It was a truly pathetic effort.

    Jokipakka played a really solid game. Kevin-Nak is a really solid third pairing. I wouldn’t mind that pairing moving forward.

    Winning the lottery over them would be truly priceless.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    FIVE – Zero, that’s the homage the Flames paid Rexall Place. It couldn’t have been scripted better with Gaudreau (the 4th rounder) with 2 and the big and local Colborne with 2 more. Zero goals for the Oilers, fitting end of an era in a building that is failed for a full decade.

  • McRib

    Connor McDavid is going to be a great player in this league, but so is Johnny Gaudreau!!

    Honestly in making the comparison of whose going to be better, I would look at Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane this season. Sidney Crosby is likely the better player on paper, but who has more points this year, two more Stanely Cups, etc. If Calgary can continue to surround Gaudreau with talented players I see no reason why he can’t be the more productive of the two during their careers (at least when it matters), as we know one player doesn’t make a Hockey team (Oilers record with McDavid this year is actually worse than without, obviously an anomaly, but still says something about effectiveness from one player on an team in NHL).

    The Flames may very likely end up drafting sixth and not first, but that’s fine with me after watching the losing culture that has taken over the Oilers dressing room after tonight’s performance, I couldn’t care less about where we pick in Top.7-8, going into the summer on a positive only gives guys like Gaudreau more motivation for the future. I want winners, not “best players in the league”. Not to mention Pierre Luc-Dubois or Alexander Nylander would be a fine pick to keep improving our club and I have a ton of faith in our GM to continue to improve things down the road dramatically outside of a “draft pick”. Great day to be a Flames fan!!

    • Jake the Snail

      “Connor McDavid is going to be a great player in this league, but so is Johnny Gaudreau!!”

      But, don’t forget Sean Monahan. *Sean Monahan (13-20-33) is tied with Connor McDavid (10-23-33) for the third-most points in the NHL since the all-star break. The top two are Sidney Crosby (15-25-40) and Joe Thornton (9-28-37). *Data from Darren Haynes

  • TheBear64

    Despite the poor season, I really like this team. The number of young Flames players with great talent and great character is amazing. The Flames have done far better with much later picks than the Oilers have with all those top picks.

    It’s only a matter of time until these guys start making heads turn all around the NHL and the team will start becoming a real top contender. Start with Gaudreau, who is head and shoulders better than anyone on the Oilers team, and is still getting better. Then go througout the lineup… Monahan. Hamilton. Bennett. Ferland. Frolik. Wotherspoon. Shinkaruk. All of these guys are highly talented and are on the upswing of their hockey careers.

    Even older guys are showing big improvement on this team, like Backlund, Colburne and Jooris. They are feeding off the excitement generated by those younger guys, and are building a winning attitude that will carry this team far in the years to come. Colburne especially has impressed me… after languishing on the Bruins and Leafs teams and not showing too much, he has become an important part of the Flames’ lineup.

    The CBC guys were talking about “who’s going to be Calgary’s goaltender next year”, but I think we’ve seen tonight who should be Calgary’s goaltender next year. Ortio is looking like the guy for the Flames. I liked him earlier in the season but thought he was not ready yet to step in. He has improved greatly over the season though, and I feel he is very much ready to become Calgary’s no. 1 goalie now.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Careful not to read too much into being better than the Oilers.

    They are not the benchmark for anything but failure.

    How is our rebuild going compared to Tampa Bay? That is the question.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    First, I really enjoyed watching Nakladal and Jokipakka tonight. Jokipakka was patient and composed, while Nakladal put a guy in a headlock while pushing him to the ice. Both fantastic.

    Second, while I was getting a beer and basking in the game (tank be damned, for one night) I could’ve sworn I heard the announcer say “there’s no doubt that the future is bright” while referring to Edmonton. This, in regards to the leagues worst team, again, which was currently getting pummeled by another of the leagues slightly less worse teams.

    How many more summers are we going to have to hear this ridiculous narrative?

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    I was having a rough day but a scroll through OilersNation really put some pep in my step. Here’s a highlight (sorry about the language etc):

    “boys I think I need a little break from the old Oilers. I’d just like to send out a hearty f8ck you to the players for being ass sucking losers. I’ll send another f8ck you to the media for lapping up and spitting out every piece of rotten lies this franchise has to offer. Last I’d like to send a gigantic f8ck you to Katz, Lowe, and MacT. You ruined this team. I hope those three get corn holed by a gorilla and get gorilla herpes.”

    Angry, angry times.

    I wonder what texts McDavid is getting from Messier right now?

    • Cfan in Vic

      Oilersnation was a pretty entertaining read.

      The best part of that quote, was that it was from our pal Oil City Roller. Later, he was getting pretty upset about Flames trolls. This from a guy who trolled this site daily, for 8 straight months, before finally giving up and realizing that they were finishing last again.

      Feels nice.

    • Stu Cazz

      Agreed! Unfortunately I think the Matthews camp will force a trade to the Coyotes regardless! Whoever has first overall will have a major decision. This is going to get ugly…similar to the Lindros/Quebec situation.
      Matthews is already on social media heavily promoting his relationship with the Coyotes and crediting them for his success to date…yikes!

  • Franko J

    Three thoughts:

    I wonder who from the Flames are invited to participate in the upcoming World’s?
    I can think of at least six players on the roster.

    Funny how a goaltender changes the confidence within a team. Down the stretch the Flames with Ortio in net have managed to play pretty good. While there are plenty of fans who want to see the Flames obtain a number one caliber goalie between the pipes {Bishop, Elliott, and Andersen} for next year I think Ortio deserves a shot as well. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see both from a individual and team perspective a good fit for the organization going forward.

    Another deficiency on the Flames is apparent when it comes to the RH wing position on this team, as the team appears to be sitting in the sixth spot in the draft standings hypothetically could there be a scenario the Flames move their pick for a legitimate RW. If so, who should they target?

    • MattyFranchise

      I’d be perfectly fine with a Ramo/Ortio tandem next season. Ramo is the definition of league average when he gets playing time and Ortio has shone when he gets time as well.

      • Stu Cazz

        You may be satisfied with average but I am not. Next year my expectations will be higher as it is year 4 of rebuild. Ramo as you say is average and that does not what will get you into the playoffs…..An exceptional veteran goalie with Ortio as backup is required!

        • OKG

          The problem with going for better than average before this team is ready, is ending up in a Montreal type situation where the quality of the goaltender masks the quality of the team in front.

          The most dominant cup winning team of the decade has probably been the 2010 Blackhawks. They had a pretty average goaltender in Niemi but won despite that. That also set the table for a team culture willing to discard mediocrity (…Niemi).

          Compare that to a team like the Hurricanes. They won a cup off of a hot playoffs by Cam Ward but then invested their entire future into that one player and failed to build in front of him. What did that get them? One playoff appearance since 2006. They can’t get rid of their franchise goalie Ward soon enough suddenly.

          Let’s expand to the Rangers. Lundqvist. Every year he gets them to the dance. And every year he even gets them deep. But they’re not a contender. Every year they lose to teams that are build to contend.

          And that brings us to Montreal. The ultimate example of a team that is nothing more than it’s goaltender.

          Average Goaltending is how you build strong defensive habits and also don’t settle for poor offense. Strong defensive habits and strong offense win championships, not elite goaltending. And by then Ortio will Da Franchise anyways.

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Good comments. RH wing? Anyways…I think seriously that LA is in HUGE CAP TROUBLE for next year and we can seriously get Tyler Toffoli. That would be my #1 choice for a good first-line RW. They really want to keep Lucic and even without him, huge cap troubles there.