Monday, December 19, 2005



Yesterday, the Colts lost, and today, the Flames lost to the Oil. I knew the Flames wouldn't go undefeated against The F**kers this year, and sure enough.

Lest there be any confusion--I'm unhappy. Quite. But I'm not discouraged at all, either. I think that right now, Calgary and Edmonton are the best teams in the conference. They're both incredibly tough to play against. And next time, the Oil isn't scoring 5 goals.

Furthermore, I'm at a place where a 5 GAA game doesn't bother me, because it's simply inconceivable that it could become a habit. Really, that's how good the Flames D have been over the past year or so.

Tonight's win by the Oilers proves a lot more about them than it does about the Flames. And oooh--that New Year's Eve game should be fun.


So what would bother you exactly?

Apparently it's not the thought that someone might have snuffled out a few backdoors to Kiprusoff, who still hasn't completed his first full season as a starter.

And even granting that the Oilers are never going to put up five on your boys again (KNOCK WOOD FURIOUSLY), you apparently aren't too worried that Big Oil will stop putting confused youngsters in net one of these days, and that your notoriously flaccid attack is doing well to get three against any kind of proper starter.

It's apparently no sweat that Iginla continues to do whatever the opposite of "dominate" is in these BoA games, and that he threw an embarrassing tantrum tonight when the game ended. And it's no problemo that Sutter's clear intention tonight was to wear down the Oilers with heavy checking, because he knows he's outgunned in a free-skate.

I already know from talking to you earlier that it doesn't bother you that the Oilers have put half their away games behind them, and are now dead level with SI's Stanley Cup pick.

You're on record as not being concerned that the Oilers have half a dozen guys who can put a game on their backs and pull the team to a comeback like a Clydesdale. I'm sure you're not worried that they've displayed more guts in the past week than the entire Flames franchise did from the years 1978-2004. Hell, I bet you aren't even half-scared that K-Lo might swing a deal for Biron or Lalime or somebody.

Meh. Kipper is what he is: the most fundamentally sound goalie in the NHL. He is, and will continue to be, better than anything the Oilers have or can trade for.

I didn't notice Iginla at the end, but I thought he was pretty good for the first two periods, at least. I think the fastest skater in the NHL is "Jarome after he's given the puck away". Clearly he needs to start scoring some more, but again, he's better than anything the Oilers have, or can trade for.

I'm on record as saying the Oilers are pretty good. But what you call guts, in the past week, I'd call lightning in a bottle. You can't live long like that.

And no, it's no problemo at all that the Flames' game is heavy checking. It serves them well in, say, a 7 game playoff series; any Canuck or Red Wing would have to agree. If I'm lucky, I'll get to see how Ulanov and Staios, and Smith, react after taking that for 4 or 5 straight games in April. Oiler fans better hope they draw the Stars again...

Are you kidding me? You're seriously suggesting that the Oilers will not be able to stand up to physical play? Because Staois, Smith, Moreau, Ulanov, Pronger, Smyth, Torres are all shrinking violets who like to play on the perimeter, I suppose. Puh-leeze.

One of Cosh's favourite parts yesterday was Iggy disolving into tears after the game. To that I would add the first part - him trying to push around and intimidate Peca during the game's first two minutes.

I'm sorry Mr. Iginla, but you don't have Mr. York to push around anymore.

Some points...

It was a close game, with both teams dominating equal amounts of time. Could have gone either way. Two extremely tight checking teams, yet the game kept a good pace.

Trying to find something - anything - to knock against Iggy is ludicrous. I'd rather have him on my team than any Oiler. (same w/ Kipper). But for crying out loud, can't we get some consistent depth up front so he doesn't have to play wing AND centre every shift?

Ference sucks. He gives the puck up almost as much as Peca. Trade him right fucking now. I never thought I'd be longing for Hamrlik's return (that's the gayest sounding thing I've ever said. Probably.).

Huselius - good for some production, but he's got to be close to the Flames lead in PIM's already. Too many stupid penalties.

Peca still sucks.

"more guts in the past week than the entire Flames franchise did from the years 1978-2004"

Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, is that you?

Meh. Kipper is what he is: the most fundamentally sound goalie in the NHL. He is, and will continue to be, better than anything the Oilers have or can trade for.

Clearly he needs to start scoring some more, but again, he's better than anything the Oilers have, or can trade for.

Obviously no one in their right mind would dispute this. The problem for the Flames here is that there's a very defensible argument that of the top 10 players on these two teams, 7 or so of them wear blue. I absolutely hate those fan boy arguments about whether Reinprecht is better than Horcoff or what have you, but Calgary gets absolutely destroyed after Iginla and Kipper. If Kipper has a bad night-it's game over. If Iggy has a bad night, it's tough for the Flames to win.

I don't criticize this model-indeed, I'm envious of it, I think it's a hellf of a loteasier for a savvy GM (which Sutter probably is, although I listened to him speak on the internet broadcast last night and when you don't have his face to distract you, you can't help but notice how dumb he sounds; I actually googled "Darryl Sutter learning disability" just to ensure that I wasn't crossing any lines with that remark) to fill in a roster with the support guys than it is to find two pieces like Iggy and Kipper (Sutter's falling backwards into him notwithstanding).

I'm on record as saying the Oilers are pretty good. But what you call guts, in the past week, I'd call lightning in a bottle. You can't live long like that.

Yeah, I'd agree. The really weird thing is how they're getting it done at the moment. The model for this team the past few years has been squalid special teams paired with average to excellent even strength play. This year they're getting outscored at ES but both the PP and PK are hanging out in the middle of the league. I figure the PP cools off but if the ES play picks up, it shouldn't matter. They're lucky to be getting the points they're getting right now, no doubt, but the Flames aren't exactly blowing the doors off the joint either-they've been racking up their share of close wins.

I don't mind the "lighting in a bottle" argument to a certain extent -- certainly nobody thinks they can keep on winning games by going down 2 goals.

But at some point you have to accept that it is more than that -- I'd argue it comes sometime around the point when you get points in 13 of your last 15 games (including 7 road games), and when you beat your two biggest rivals in back to back games. But I guess everyone draws their own line in the sand.

You know what? Screw the lightning in a bottle theory.

The Oilers are 6-1-3 over the last 10.

They are 10-2-3 over the last 15.

And they are 16-5-3 over the last 24 (i.e., since the 7 game losing streak ended).

In other words, they have been winning at essentially the same pace since late October, despite having played 7 games on back-to-back nights, almost 60% of their games on the road, and having a goaltending situation charitably described as uncertain.

These guys are for real.

Wasn't guts, just lightning in a bottle? Hey, use whatever phrase you like to describe the object you got your head beat in with. But no one in that Flames locker room thinks your team got unlucky last night. You can start with Iggy--"The first half of the game was ours, the second half theirs. We have to find a way to hold the lead"--if you want to ask them.

In fact, if you're not worried about the Oilers, maybe Sutter should call you up for pointers. Intimidation has never been a terribly advisable tactic against this team, and with Pronger and Peca added to the bottom line in place of two Pillsbury doughboys, it borders on suicide. From front to back, I'm not sure I can find one single Oiler I wouldn't describe as tough.

This Edmonton team isn't ready to contend with the eagles just yet. Its most notable weakness, aside from the typhoid afflicting its goaltending contingent, remains the PK. It's rated 12th in the league but I think that obscures the Oilers' tendency to get desperate and take additional penalties on the kill. Vancouver showed signs of working around our heroic shot-blocking, which I've been waiting with dread for someone to do. Rita and Conko the Clown have to be considered weaknesses for as long as the team tolerates their presence (which probably isn't long now in the Meter Maid's case).

What I'm saying is that these weaknesses are already the ones Calgary is least well-designed to take advantage of. We can live with a suboptimal PK against the league's 21st-ranked PP; we can get by with average goaltending against its 29th best offence. From here on out, Jussi is probably going to get the starts. Basically, for Calgary, that means they can count on three goals at home and two at Rexall. You have to hope Kiprusoff can make that kind of production stand up--and he probably will, at least once more, in the regular season.

But in a playoff series? Hah. Phyllis, wherever you are, intercede with the authorities and make this happen.

What this amounts to, matt, is that our dads can beat up your dads, anytime, anywhere.

(Hey, the day my old man can't take out someone named "Fenwick" is the day we split a Pil, drag him out to the quonset, and finish him off with a two-by-four.)

I agree with Matt. Meh.

The Oil have had a great run the last few weeks winning one goal games, usually in overtime or the shootout. That requires some guts, sure, but there is a fair bit of luck mixed up in that too, and luck can turn on you.

Last night, the Flames were a Daymond Langkow goalpost away from going up 5-3 just before the tying goal was scored. If the Flames get that bounce, it's game over. They didn't get it of course, but it was not guts that kept that puck out.

Anyway, the Flames have been rolling along fine lately even though Iggy is not producing the offence he can. He'll get his game together again soon.

I also agree with Matt that these are the best two teams in this division. I can't figure out why Vancouver is still hanging around. Given they have a bunch of games against the Flames and Oilers in the next couple of weeks, they should start drifting down the standings where they belong.

I love it.
Flames fan - "if a couple of our shots go in, then its game over and we would have won."
Oilers fan - "well, actually, the oilers outshot the Flames, and outchanced them too, remember Jarret Stoll's shot that almost bounced in but hit the goal post?"
Flames fan - "our goalie is better, if he played good we would have won."
Oilers fan - "ummm, 5-4, that was the score."
Flames fan - "we would have won, but we didn't"

You'd think the Flames would be used to losing after so many seasons of it in the past, but no, one winning season and now they "should have" won every game. Seriously boys, you lost, accept it.

Interesting statistic: in games where Ralph Klein admits he is cheering for the Flames, the Flames are winless.

But on the other hand, it was good to hear that all the Flames and Oilers players will get that $400 cheque, I was a little worried that some of the players wouldn't get through the winter. phew.

Don't get me wrong, the Oilers beat my team fair and square and I'm not saying otherwise. That was an exciting game and the Oilers looked like, well, the Flames with their third period pressure game.

Still with all the gushing from the normally fickle Oilers fans on this blog, you'd think your team just won the Stanley Cup or something.

New Years Eve should be fun times. Go Flames.

I fully expect the Oilers to disappoint me. It shields me from pain.

However, the Oilers keep winning despite themselves, and I can't remember the last time the Oilers had 5 wins more than losses for more than a two or three week period. And you'll have to allow for some gloating, considering the title of the blog.

What goes around, come around.

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