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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames 7, Coyotes 1 post-game embers: Stop, stop, they’re already dead

Sometimes, a really good team plays a mediocre-to-bad team (depending on how much stock you want to take into said team’s rather sizeable injury list) on the second of a back-to-back. This was about the result one could expect.

Feel of the game

From the start, it felt like it was the Flames’ game to lose, and really, it was. After all, when it takes the opponent over half a period to get their first shot of the game, and on a powerplay nonetheless, well, that’s probably a sign that you’re in control. Mike Smith came up big with some saves, and the Flames weathered it out until Mark Giordano was able to open the scoring late in the first. And then Sean Monahan made it 2-0 just over a minute later and, well, that was pretty much it.

The Coyotes had their fair share of almost chances but couldn’t get anything going for themselves; the Flames had their stronger share of chances and capitalized on many of them. They were cruising, and there was nothing the Coyotes could do to stop it: not even a late second period goal gave them much life, because then they were still headed into the third period facing a three-goal deficit, and the Flames just didn’t turn off the pressure.

The Flames played a complete game, and the result was a tired, lesser opponent getting crushed.

The good news

Expectations don’t always match up with reality. In their previous game, the Flames faced a Panthers team on the second of a back-to-back: another tired team near the bottom of the standings. They played a horrible first period before coming away with a win. This time, the Flames were ready from the beginning. Maybe it’s the extended home stay, maybe it’s the message that they can’t rest on their laurels, but the Flames didn’t really take any part of the game off, which is something we haven’t seen much of lately. At the very least, it’s an encouraging sign going forward.

Giordano continues to show just why he’s a Norris caliber defenceman, and as a 35-year-old playing his 800th career game no less. It wasn’t just the goals – although those shots were beauties – but things like when, before he opened the scoring, he was largely in control as he, TJ Brodie, and the team’s second line buzzed with some serious offensive zone time that could have been the team’s first goal then and there. He’s deft, he does the little things right, and then he has the athleticism and strength to back it all up and turn it into something tangible. He’s one of the rare, truly special ones.

You’ve gotta love all four lines getting in on the scoring. Garnet Hathaway was the only Flame who didn’t pick up a point; everyone else did. The top line showed off, as they are wont to do. The second line made a bunch of smart plays, as they are wont to do. The third line wasn’t as noticeable as they were against the Panthers, but it’s not as though they were a negative impact, either. And the fourth line opened the scoring and got in more minutes than normal in a pretty big night for them.

Some shoutouts to a couple of rookies in particular: Andrew Mangiapane picked up his first NHL point, and it was largely because of him the opening goal happened at all. He was buzzing around the offensive zone in both the first and third periods a fair bit in what has to be one of his best NHL showings to date – and mind, a lot of his exceptional play occurred well before the game was out of hand. The same goes for Oliver Kylington, who has his own flair for creating havoc in the offensive zone.

Smith didn’t just do his job: he played well. He didn’t just give the Flames a chance to win: he shut down some dangerous Coyotes chances back when the game was close enough they could have made a difference. Smith did his job; the rest of the team did theirs for him.

The bad news

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I mean, there were some defensive miscues and breakdowns that led to some Coyotes chances (including Kylington at the start of the second – whoops), and they ended up missing the net a number of times on their own, and things could have gone very differently for the Flames if they hadn’t. But that’s an extreme what if scenario. It isn’t bad for the Flames that the Coyotes got scoring chances; that’s going to happen literally every game.

There’s also that this wasn’t much of a measuring stick game for the Flames – sure, the Coyotes have been on an upswing lately, but they’re definitely not as good of a team as the Flames and they were playing on the second of a back-to-back – but it’s not like you get to pick your opponent. You play the hand you’re dealt. The Flames did it perfectly.

Numbers of note

50.63% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF on the night. Blame a 29.63% second period for the relatively low number, but that’s really only it.

47 – With a three-point night, Giordano tied the third most productive season of his career, 47 points in 64 games back in 2013-14, when he was a spry 30 years old. It’s been 45 games for him. And the Flames now have five players over a point-per-game, and are this close to having five 50-point plus players.

2 – Johnny Gaudreau is ranked second in NHL scoring with 69 nice points. Giordano is ranked second in defenceman scoring.

16:21 – Poor point-less Hathaway, who was also one of just two Flames forwards to not get a shot on net (the other being Derek Ryan), even though he got the third highest ice time out of all of them. It was a game in which Bill Peters could take advantage of the lopsided score to play his lesser players and he did just that.

17:46 – Dalton Prout played the least out of all Flames defencemen, and he still got a healthy amount of ice time. No need for benchings of any kind in a game like this.

+40 – The Flames have the second highest goal differential in the NHL. They finished the 2017-18 season with a -30. I guess the question that remains is: how high can they go? The Lightning led the way with a +60 in 2017-18; in 2018-19, they lead the way at +56 so far.

Final thought

There they are. It feels like this team has been waffling and playing down to opponents’ levels since mid-late December. They returned to top tier status with this game. Curious to see if that keeps up with this friendly upcoming schedule before the All-Star break.

  • freethe flames

    A good team win. Smith played well; glad to see. Neal had a primary assist; how many is that this year? Does BP give them the day off and then practice tomorrow? I wonder how Stone’s Dr appointment goes? When does Valimaki get back on the ice?

    After last nights performance does all thsi talk of Smith being done end? Will BT still look for another goalie? Are we comfortable with Smith and Gilles as a tandem “if something happens”? (Sounds like Gilles played well for the Heat yesterday in a 2-1 lose)

    With Stone seeing his doctor today will the talk for the need of a depth defender go away or will BT listen to all the people who want to trade Stone for peanuts. If he passes his Dr’s test will he go for a conditioning stint to the Heat? A couple of weeks ago BT said that Valimaki would likely be out till the end of January; has there been any further updates? Prout looked fine last night and if he is our 9th defender going into the playoffs we can probably live with that.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      You can’t look at one game and determine anything. Smith has had games where he looked great and followed it up with a stinker. At least he didn’t get a shutout, because his record the next game after is really bad. But to give him props, he played really dialed in last night. The team was good in front of him except for a few miscues (turnovers in the D-zone).

      • freethe flames

        You are absolutely right that you can’t look at one game to determine how Smith is playing. Last night he looked good; is that not the job of a back up? The question remains are the Flames confident enough with him as the back up going into the playoffs? Are they confident enough withe Gilles as #3.

      • Jobu

        Good win by Smith. He played well enough, but still had some warts to his game.
        He flopped around a lot.. and Jobu means A LOT!
        He also almost tripped over his stick trying to play the puck
        He let an easy puck go by him while he was daydreaming about the pass he about to make (which cost us zone control and generated a couple scoring chances against).

        Good on the man, but its clear the nerves and/or the rust are still there.

        That being said, Jobu thinks he will do fine as a backup.

    • Avalain

      Well, no, talk about Smith being done won’t end. I think the key thing with Smith now is that he remains as a backup. Everytime he’s done well and been given an extra game he has come back out and disappointed. So he gets a game once in a while, sure. But Peters should go back to Rittich for the next game.

  • Flaming Duck

    It was there game to win and they came out and played well. Nice to see Smith with s solid game, I hope he can build on it so we dont have to trade away some of the future or a roster player to replace. I’d rather this trade occurs in the off season where we have a bit more leverage – versus at the trade deadline. GFG.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    Slightly off topic, but I had a dream we traded Neal straight across for Zuccerelo. Likely never going to happen, even if we throw in a middling prospect or a pick, but a guy can dream. That third line needs someone out there who isn’t Neal, big time. I’d even try Mangiapane on that line, move Benny over to the right, and put Czar Ryan Hath as the forth line (my favorite iteration of that line)

    • HAL MacInnis

      Peters ain’t afraid to win at the cost of players’ feelings… management’s feelings, I’m not sure about yet. Even Neal knows he’s being treated different due to his contract. I just hope he finds his groove soon because his spot on the roster would be better served by someone like Quine… especially when you want some chemistry developed before the playoffs start. Neal is leading the Flames at -11 right now.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        I agree. Whatever the outcome, even if Neal stays, or its Quine, or whomever, that third line needs to get going. I say need with us second in the division, but it’s a long season, with still just less than half to go. Lines and players go through streaks. And either way, it would be just good developmentally to get Benny and Janko some consistency.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        Haha I took a cold and flu medicine last night that always makes me a bit wonky in the dream/sleep dept. Its either a restful sleep where I pass out, or a night of random and obscure thoughts. No in between

    • withachance

      I hate these point production comparisons. Yes, Chucky is the more offensive player of the three, thus he gets more points. But without Backs and Frolik to focus on puck retrieval and keeping the play in the offensive zone, can we expect Chucky to have a year like he is having now? Probably not.

      There is a reason why everyone that plays with Backs and Frolik have career years offensively. Combine that with the pedigree of Tkachuk we get a hell of a line.

      • Lazarus

        Funny you should mention that and I bring it up because everyone says the guys get career years with Backlund. Well when was Backlunds career year? 3 years ago..Tkachuks first year. The start of the 3M line. Last year Backlunds numbers sagged a bit comparatively primarily because Tkachuk missed the last 14 games and now with Tkachuk back Backlund is on pace for not 53 but about the same as last year while Chucky has gone next level.
        Basically I’m just sick of hearing he Backlund cult following trying to take credit for Chuckys success. They work well together but by no means would Chucky look lost out there without him. At all. Kid would excel on any line

        • withachance

          And I’m sick of people saying that Tkachuk is having a career year all by himself and giving no credit to Backlund’s role defensively and helping young players succeed in the Flames system. Im not saying Chucky was lost without Backs, but he’s certainly that much better with Backlund as his center.

          Put Tkachuk with Ryan and Hathaway and you think he can still project to 90 points a season? Doubtful.

      • benfr

        Not to take away from his impressive totals but 19 of his points are on the 1st power play and he has played 4 more games than Backlund and 17 more than Frolik. He is impressive but perhaps that isn’t the best way to demonstrate it.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    Also, I thought Kylington and Ras had phenomenal games. Kylington has really picked it up after a few meh games, and seemed more comfortable playing his game.

    Ras is already a really really good defenseman. He is some seriously good depth to have come playoffs, as I honestly don’t think he would be in over his head playing second line (last night prime example), or even top line minutes.

    Also, my good lord below Frolik is on a tear. Love rooting for him, especially with his rad scoring face

    Gfg!!

    • freethe flames

      Ras could have a couple last night. As a young guy he is pretty solid; I just wish he shoot more especially of the rush. Make goalies and defenders respect that cannon he has.

      • Cfan in Van

        I think everyone is waiting for Ras to shoot more. I think one thing he needs to work on is getting his shot away quickly, as I’ve noticed him struggle with that more than most vets do. He’s got a good one for sure, and I’m looking forward to him using it more.

  • aye

    Another impressive thing about the Flames this season is that they are getting the wins in regulation. The Flames have the highest percentage of wins coming in regulation, 26 out of 30, TBL has 27 out of 35.
    If the league actually used 3 point system for regulation wins, the Flames would have a much more comfortable lead atop the division and conference, and clear cut best team in the west. It would also show just how pathetic the Oilers and Ducks, that rely on the Bettman loser point system to appear respectable, truly are.

  • cjc

    First trade by Western Conference teams looking to beef up before playoffs: Dallas sends Devin Shore to Anaheim for Cogliano. Even though Anaheim isn’t out of this, they’ve lost 11 straight and been outscored by 21, so it’s maybe fair to say they are starting to sell. Actually this looks like a bad deal for Dallas though – Cogliano is way older, under contract longer, less productive . Suppose they value his playoff experience though.

    • freethe flames

      With things as close as they are for the wild card positions I could see a number of teams holding on to their assets longer than usual. Are there players I would like from both teams but only at a certain cost.

      • cjc

        That Minnesota/Colorado/Dallas haven’t got a good hold on the 6-8 spots is frankly embarrassing. Anaheim, Vancouver and Edmonton are only in this still because of other-worldly goaltending or having a generational talent on their teams. But it would be stupid of any of those three teams to hold onto their assets. I doubt you see any trades to Calgary though, simply because they are in our division.

  • Alberta Ice

    Great 800th game by Gio. I was realizing this AM that maybe this is what has killed the Oilers team in part – missing an experienced captain, skilled, hard working leader in his late 30’s by example like Gio. Not a flash in the pan, but an undrafted hockey player that only has gotten better with age like wine. He is so deserving of a Norris. It’s too bad McDavid was made captain of the Oilers at such an early age. But then again, when they didn’t have an equal to Gio on that team, they were pretty much forced to make that decision. Looked good at the time, but I can’t imagine the weight of pressure that must be on him these days to try to make that team better (and he won’t for that was Chiarelli’s job). For Alberta teams: It is the best of times (in the South); it is the worst of times (in the North).

    • HAL MacInnis

      When the Oilers made McDavid their captain, it showed the maturity of the minds that make those decisions. Most young guys don’t know their a$$ from a hole in the ground. I don’t think McDavid (at age 19) was the exception to the rule. Even McDavid would shut up and listen if Giordano had something to say.

    • cjc

      If Edmonton had a Gio they might be in a playoff spot, but doubtfully much more. There is too much dead weight pulling that team down, their struggles have nothing to do with making McDavid captain.

      Gio is very deserving of the Norris; he has a shot since people will either devalue Burns/Karlsson (they play on the same team) and there isn’t really a close competitor in the East. I won’t hold my breath though.

      • Derzie

        That’s some western bias showing there. Looking at the stats, Morgan Reilly & John Carlson have points and +/- in the neighbourhood of Gio. We get bombarded with news of Leaf greatness so often that real greatness (Reilly’s performance) gets overlooked. Like the All Star game, the vote is secondary. Gio IS an All Star and is leading the Norris race (again).

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Eastern bias is through the roof for Norris. Friedman could barely contain himself while talking about the Norris race on 960. He almost let it slip that he was full on the Reilly train and wasn’t getting off. What a surprise! Virtually all of the Toronto-based media want to make history by making Morgan the first Leaf to win the Norris. There may be enough petty hatred coming from Edmonton and Vancouver to vote for Reilly just to spite Gio and the Flames. That is certainly the case with that esteemed journo in Winnipeg who still holds a grudge against the Flames for what he claims was Peplinski cheap shotting Dave Ellet back in the ’80s! You know that vindictive old rogue ain’t gonna do Gio any favours.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    “The Flames have the second highest goal differential in the NHL. They finished the 2017-18 season with a -30.”

    It kind of blows my mind that we’re playing so much better this year, considering Lindholm is the only major upgrade we have on the roster and Ferland was a fairly decent subtraction. It really shows how awful of a job GG did last year. Not to pile it on the guy, but we would have made the playoffs last year with even mediocre coaching and it shows big time this year. Honestly a 80 Point goal differential swing is absurd for how little this roster has changed.

    • Cfan in Van

      It really is surreal. To think with a running total from last season, we’d already be back at a respectable +10 after erasing all of last seasons deficit.

    • HAL MacInnis

      It seems like only yesterday Gulutzan was stubbornly riding Smith to an early grave and running his masterful Brouwer Play. I tell ya, it was so bad… even management noticed! (Ba Dum Tss!) Thank you! You’ve been a great crowd!

    • cjc

      Need to keep in mind that there are also a lot more goals being scored. Calgary’s all-situation shooting percentage is 11.6 this year. They shot 7.8% last year. As bad as Gulutzan was, Calgary just had some bad luck last year, too. His biggest problem was that he was so. slow. to. make. adjustments. (e.g. Hamilton getting limited PP time until mid-season). Peters is not afraid to mix things up.

      And the roster has changed quite a bit. Half of our D-corps weren’t here (or weren’t regulars) last year. I count 4 regular forwards (Lindholm, Neal, Ryan, Czarnik) that weren’t here last year.

      But I’ll eat my slice of crow pie. I was skeptical of the Hamilton/Ferland trade, and I didn’t see Peters as much of a coaching upgrade, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by both.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I didn’t know much about Lindholm but I always felt that GG was what was holding us back last year. This team is not even clicking on a cylinders yet.

      • deantheraven

        Hard to quantify the difference made by moving Dougie out, if in fact he was a negative influence in the room, but ther’s no denying the impact made by the new Flames.I think Hanifin has more points in a slightly lesser amount of ice time, and Lindholm has most definitely been having a career year, far surpassing Ferland’s contributions to the ‘Canes offense (injury not withstanding).
        Neal, Ryan and Czarnik are all at or below replacement level. In other words, not much better than last year’s secondary FWD’s.
        Everybody, including management, was sad to see Ferland go, but it was necessary in order for Tre to pry Lindholm out of CAR.
        On ice impact we can quantify. Room value we cannot.
        That said, your points about GG’s style vs Peters are spot on. While I have issues with BP’s short bench in close games, I can understand his rational: it’s about winning this game, every game. Last night it was encouraging to see 3rd & 4th liners getting more ice time. My main worry is that our Top Six may get ridden to hard, and our Bottom Six not getting enough chances to maintain both skills and confidence.
        We could see a long season, no doubt because of the on ice additions and new bench personnel. Let’s hope they go deep this year, and next year, and the year after… Certainly looks more likely than it did the last time big changes were made.

    • Lazarus

      Not to say Backlund isn’t important but I believe his star will fade a bit more now..Tkachuk bossing the 2nd Line and almost singlehandedly carrying the scoring on that line combined with Lindholm as the new Swede Do-it-all-well Darling (with a scoring touch Backlund could never come.close too)

      • withachance

        Lindholm getting more Selke recognition due to his awesome points totals, not because he’s a better defensive forward than Backlund.

        Tkachuk really isnt bossing the line – case in point, he was less noticeable offensively when Backlund was injured. Its really easy to make an argument that Backlund is not contributing when you only look at points totals. Does anyone every expect Backlund to be a point a game player, cause I dont….

        • Lazarus

          No one in their right mind would expect that out of him these days. Not even with a young gun shooting the lights out riding shotgun..he still won’t come close

          • withachance

            Thats my point. Why would you use point production against a player when his job really isnt to pile up points. He’s going to be around 0.5PPG, and Im happy to get that from a defensive centre

        • Lazarus

          What about last year when Backlund and Frolik lost Tkachuk for the last part of the season. Tkachuk -1 in 68 games. Backlund -21 on the year and Frolik -19. I wonder how 2/3 of a line could be so much different, this year with Tkaxhuk back the plus minus is all stellar again..so who is bumping who really. I rest my case

          • withachance

            You rest your case on +/- stat, which is completely irrelevant. Barkov is -17 currently, OEL is -18, Tarasenko is -14. You’re telling me all of these players are bad?

          • Lazarus

            I don’t rest my case on +/-. I like points but you go to the defense and you can think what you want about the stat but it doesnt change the fact that Backs fell off the map with it while Tkachuk didn’t. Pretty obvious…Tkachuk left the lineup and The 2Ms bled goals. Surely you remember the end of last season? It wasn’t pretty..

          • Off the wall

            My dear friends on FN. You both make valid points. This isn’t a pissing contest though.

            Backlund is a shut down centre, yes? Give credit where credit is due. He’s good at his role!

            Tkachuk is incredible, however you can’t score if you don’t have 2 other players contributing to that line. It’s a team thing.

            Lindholm is on our 1st line. Say what you will about Selke, they’re both very complimentary on this team. I think we’re missing the forest here.

            I take it you both hate Monday’s?
            I do too. Don’t fight friends, take it out on me if you must.
            No black eyes, I have people to meet today!

            I have better things to do than argue over the 2nd best team in the NHL.

            Keep your sticks on the ice. It’s a great game!!

          • withachance

            You want to talk about last year – what was pretty about last year? Nada. Zilch. Premier players can have terrible +/-, and average players like Sissons and Dillon can be in the top 10 for the stat. It tells you nothing. You literally whipped out +/- and then said you rest your case. Dont take it back after you’ve said it…

            I’m not saying Tkachuk is not a great player. He’s the team’s present and future and is an amazing player. But Backlund makes him better and as a pair are greater than their parts.

          • Flaymin Frank

            People people. Talking hockey ain’t algebra. 1 + 1 does not equal 2 when comparing last year’s results to this year. Too many intangibles. Backlund is very good in his role and was rewarded by management. Chucky will reap his rewards this summer with a nice contract. In the meanwhile, enjoy.

  • Off the wall

    It appears that today might be a good time for a story. A few members on here have me thinking about the need to be right, even when I’m not.

    So as you know, I play old-timers hockey. It’s a pretty fun group, however you’re always going to have one or two that think they’re in the NHL. Go figure!

    The last two games, I’ve been naughty. I called out one of my team members for being a Dick.
    He is,(but that’s not the point) in fact his nickname is “Wrongway” I didn’t give him that name, it was there before I played with this group.

    Everyone plays the ‘wrong way’ according to him. He’s constantly telling others how to play their position. It gets tiring and old.

    Well Otw doesn’t like being told what to do at the best of times.
    So naturally, when he told me on the bench, how to play my position, I told him to “ stick it” though I didn’t exactly use those words. I might have got in his grille, no I did get in his grille. If he didn’t have the cage on, I probably would have poked his eyes.

    Well the old fart didn’t appreciate it, so we had some fun dialogue for about 2 minutes. Nobody won, we just hated each other more than ever. Foolish really!

    He refused to pass me the puck the entire game. So naturally, I spewed venom at him on the ice as well. We almost dropped the gloves. However, I’m 10 years younger and really didn’t want to fight. But if he would have took a poke at me, I was going to fight him. Yup, immaturity at it’s best. From 50 and 60 year olds.

    Well last week he fired some pucks at me in warmup. On purpose. Apparently, he holds grudges.

    I was eager to continue the battle, however I skated beside him after that incident and just gave him a long look. Not a word came outta my mouth.
    Sometimes you can say a lot, by saying nothing at all.

    Whenever he was on the ice, I took a shift change. It didn’t matter if I was only out for 20 seconds. I didn’t need to get myself riled up again. It wasn’t worth it.

    The game ended uneventful, no swords were drawn, no words to hurt each other.

    He hasn’t dropped his “ hate on” for me, after all he knows everything. He’s probably going to do something this week to irritate me, but I need keep my head about me.

    I shouldn’t have got in his face. This is all on me, not him. Otw knows better. You see, in an effort to be right, I was WRONG!
    Silence is golden!!!

    However the saying goes, “Where there is no Flame, the fire dies out”

    I was wrong for calling him out. Especially when the team witnessed it.

    • deantheraven

      I wasn’t there, OTW, but I have to side with you and support your actions. I’ll offer my own story, unsolicited as it is, in lieu of me telling you what to do.
      I had a similar guy on a team many, many years ago. He had a way of chirping his own teammates that got me (and most others ) riled up and out of the game far too often.
      He was a big D-man with a good point shot. I was the diminutive, Sheep Disturbing Twirp. I had a way with words that used to be effective against opposing players. I also had a good memory and when he started in, I pointed out his flaws (in ways I wouldn’t repeat here or at home in front of the Kid). He got louder and I upped the anti, meaning I stood up in the room and puffed out my pigeon chest.
      Did I mention he was the captain? (though not by any vote I remember).
      We didn’t drop the gloves, thankfully, and some team members had my back in the argument. They took my side and we made him see the error of his ways.
      Bottom line for me, if something needs to be said, I say it. Thankfully, others agreed and I didn’t get my head handed to me. I got respect, even from Bruce.
      The rest of the season was more harmonious, but we still didn’t make the playoffs.
      I hope you’re not going to be too hard on yourself about this, OTW. You weren’t wrong, the way I see it.

      • Off the wall

        Thanks gents. Love the story Dean. I appreciate your way of dealing with it. Well done!
        I’m diminutive too, guess we make up for lack of size, huh?’

        Hal, you’re a funny guy, since when have I ever been quiet about anything? Monk is a NO GO!

    • FlamesFanFromMI

      Well while we are topic of stories, here is mine. Unlike you guys I was one of those nerdy kids at school so I was way ahead of my age group. Nonetheless I am now in IT and been doing it since 93. Was working on this environmental labs and their IT department was 10 years behind. So they made me the supervisor in IT. I start correcting things and all of sudden every issue got resolved. We started creating and finishing new project on time. During that process I ended up having difference of opinion with the lady ( that was my boss’s side chick) so they start micromanage me and I had to report to 3 people and getting pulled in 3 directions. The owner used to have “ beat down “ meetings where he just rip ppl and get away with. When he got to me I got up and left the meeting. Later that week he ended up firing me. Until this day I regret telling him to F off .

  • TheWheeze

    I made a comment here about potential Edmonton housecleaning at the upper levels in the off season. Some on FN were wondering why so many talk about Edmonton here. Well, FN, allow me to explain. For those of us who grew up during the Gretzky era of the early to mid 80’s, the Battle Of Alberta was the biggest war in hockey. Fans were rabid. It was the best hockey ever played. It was a rivalry unlike anything the NHL has seen since. Days before a game it’s all you would hear people talking about. The Game. Well, I guess I’m one of the few who would really like to see this rivalry awaken once again. As a die hard Flames fan many of you may have trouble rationalizing my thinking but it brings me no joy to see the Oilers stumbling so badly. I guess you had to be there to get my take on things.