Monday, December 11, 2006


Thith potht ith a thymbol of the Griswold family Chrithmath

Off day for both the Oilers and the Flames today, so maybe this is a good time to assess the two teams' seasons to date. It's been a while since I did anything "fun", so in the spirit of the season, Meet The F**kers, and The Sports Guy's NBA previews, let's go through the Battle of Alberta with quotes from everyone's favourite Christmas flick, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

1. "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

To Peter Sykora, the #1 reason why the Flames are trailing the head-to-head Battle this season. The Oilers have scored six goals on Kipper; Sykora has four of them.

2. Frances: "Talk about pissing your money away. I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this was."
Audrey: "He worked really hard, Grandma."
Art: "So do washing machines."

To Darryl Sutter and Jeff Friesen. That Friesen's $1.3M contract would turn out to be a poor investment by Sutter was more predictable than a celebratory stabbing on Whyte Avenue. As for Friesen himself, is "Washing Machine" too unwieldy to be a nickname? His stat line now is 23GP, 0G/1A, team worst -1.

3. Margo: "You just march over there and slug that creep in the face."
Todd: "I can't just attack someone."
Margo: "Alright then, if you're not man enough to put an end to this SHIT, then I am."

To Kristian Huselius, for the best response to a challenge. Through 12 games this season, he had 2G/2A and was a -3. After being a healthy scratch in G13 @STL, he's come through in the last 14 games with 8G/6A and a +8. He's killing penalties, and his opening goal against the Canucks on Saturday was just a classic goal-scorer's goal: patience and a sweet backhand.

4A. "Honey, this is family we're talking about, not some strangers off the street."
4B. "Well if you need any help, gimme a holler, I'll be upstairs asleep."

To Kevin Lowe. (A) is how I imagine him responding to Pat Laforge when asked why he won't upgrade the powerplay coaching (note to younger readers: looking at the Oilers' roster for their last Cup season really pounds this home). (B) of course is his response when MacT grumbles about the quality of his corps of defensemen.

5. Clark: "How'd you get through it?"
Clark Sr.: "I had a lot of help from Jack Daniels."

To Coach Playfair, and the Flames' recovery from a brutal start. I can't imagine that JP cared much that the likes of Bob McKenzie and Steve Simmons had him on FireWatch, but he had to have been feeling a lot of pressure nonetheless. At 3-7-2, the Flames had recorded one convincing win, two close one-goal wins, a whole bunch of so-so performances with poor results, and three horrible home losses (SJS, NSH, WSH) where they were simply abused in their own house.

And he's still got some work to do. The PP and the PK are still well below average, and if the officiating the past few days is a sign of things to come, that's going to bite them hard. Starting tomorrow, the team plays 21 games in 40 days, with a total of one two-day break until the All-Star Break.

But, the team is playing well right now, and they look really good. Even compared to last season (and obviously I'm assuming here that the special teams will come around to a degree), they don't have glaring weaknesses. Oh, except...

6. Art: "The little lights aren't twinkling, Clark."
Clark: "I know Art, and, thanks for noticing."

To everyone feigning concern about the Flames' poor shootout record. We have the best goalie in the league, and we now have two lines that can not only score, but outscore the opposition. And we've only had two shootouts. Yeah, they're "wasted" points, but I just can't be moved to devote any concern to this minor (to-date) flaw.

7. "Is there going to be room for the angel, Clark?"

To Oiler fans and Fernando Pisani. Ellen Griswold wants desperately for everything to work out, and for her beloved to succeed in his quest, but she knows full well that this question is entirely rhetorical. "Can Pisani pick up this season where he left off in the playoffs?" Ooof.

8. "Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now."

To the Oilers offense. Unlike the specific case of Pisani, the NHL Rank = 20th of Oilers goal-scoring is a genuine shocker. And it's not like they've free-fallen since Smyth and Hemsky went out either. They just aren't putting it together. The Vaunt is naunt, indeed.

9. Clark: "My cousin in-law, whose heart is bigger than his brain..."
Eddie: "I appreciate that, Clark."

To... well, it feels unfair to single any one player out here. The list probably starts with Ethan Moreau and Darren McCarty, though.

10. "Every time Catherine would turn on the microwave, I'd piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour."

Wild card! Honour your least-loved, non-Freedom-55-taking member of the Edmonton media here. Here's to you, Bryan Hall, and I'd also like to wish Gene Principe a long and stable career.

11. "I simply solved the problem. We needed a coffin... Er, a tree. There are no lots open on Christmas Eve. Lewis burned down my tree so I replaced it as best I could. VoilĂ ."

"A coffin" -- that kills me every time. Anyway, to Bill Daly, for the most unintentionally revealing statement of the year.

12. Ruby Sue: "Rocky bit my thumb. He's nervous."
Clark: "Nervous or excited?"
Ruby Sue: "Shittin' bricks."
Clark: "You shouldn't use that word."
Ruby Sue: "Sorry. Shittin' rocks."

To Joffrey Lupul and Matthew Lombardi, for their way with words. Ron Maclean tried to interview Lombardi after the 1st vs. Vancouver the other night; regrettably, ML not only had the autopilot on, but failed to actually listen to any question. If it was Steve Armitage, I'd give him a pass, but jeez...

And finally (add your own in the comments if you like),
13. "Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is. Hallelujah, holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"

To Craig Mactavish... if you're going to spend ten grand insulting the ref, you might as well get your money's worth.


This is just a real nice surprise. Just a real nice surprise. Here's a little list. Alphabetical, starting with Amonte. And if it wouldn't be too much, I'd like to get something for you, Matt. Something really nice.

Have the Oilers struggled? I'd say more stumbled than struggled, and luckily for them, they're in the best division in the conference for struggling while staying in the lead. They could play 33% better and not improve their playoff seed. The biggest surprise is the lack of scoring and more importantly the lack of scoring depth. Depth was supposed to be the strength of the Oilers, and in the end it may well be, but right now, they look like a one line team with a good goalie. Their PP, I think has basically bottomed out; with the talent available I just can't see it getting any worse. Their PK is fabulous, which should allow them to play more aggresively, but I have a sneaky suspicion that their PK is good because they take relatively few penalties ( I could be wrong, check the tape), so if they do get more aggresive, their PK percentage will decline some.

Fine piece of writing...

You know, I'm in some crappy player pool at Mike Chen's, and I picked good ol' Friesen as my can't-score pick.

I mean, he was pretty useless last year, and then on top of that, you're going to throw him in a Flames uniform?

So far, I'm a genius.

Jeff, by the way, has a points-per-game going that is trailing 12 netminders.

Somehow that movie sounds more brilliant in this context.

You didn't think it was possible, did you James? Thanks.

My big regret is not figuring out a good way to use, "Can I take something out for you?"

Grabia, you going to throw this one on the ol' memory bank for around late May this year, when the Flames are celebrating the 1-month anniversary of Jarome's hole-in-one at the season-wrap-up golf tournament and the Oilers are engaging in trench warfare with the Ducks in the west final?

For all that has gone right for the Flames (Jarome showing up instead of Jarmoe, Kipper being Kipper, Phaneuf proving he can not only handle 2nd pairing minutes, but dominate while doing it, the 2nd line producing, etc.) and all the supposed underperformers on the Oilers, take a look at the standings, and who is tied for first?

Hint: they wear blue at home, not red. And don't give me that games-in-hand BS. Those only matter if you win them, and given that they're going to be made up while the Flames are on the road...there are no guarantees.

Nice article otherwise Matt. ;)

Sure, games in hand only count if you win them, but since the Oil have played two more games than the Flames at home, the Flames will make those games in hand up at home, where they have been unbeatable since Halloween.

As long as we're tossing out veiled hair splitting to support our favourite team, I note that Sagarin has the Oil 7th and Flames 8th in the NHL. He also has 7 of the top 8 teams being from the West.

I'm not so sure about the Oilers placement in his rankings, but I'm down with the East being a stinking pile of suck.

My only regret was that you didn't include audio clips, Matt.

And yes, SweatyO, I keep track of everything Matt says. Everything.

For "Can I take something out of you?".... I'd say that's probably what Roloson said to Nash just before he tried to castrate him.

Spectacular, sir. Simply spectacular

Instead of Bryan Hall, you probably should have name-checked John Short, who just retired from a quarter century of broadcasting to a baby's fart worth of fanfare. The scary part is that Hallsy could now end up outlasting him by a decade.

I wasn't familiar with John Short. Perhaps if he had been caricatured on a good hockey blog.

At any rate, he's not retiring totally, he's just done on the radio -- though the recognition of this being "Item 5 of 9 in a Graham Hicks column" is exactly a baby's fart worth of fanfare. ("Just put it down there with the rest of them, Greaseball.")

I feel as though I don't need to watch any holiday movies this season, thanks.

And no, I don't think "Washing Machine" is to unwieldy to be a nickname; it might be the only thing Friesen can handle.

Loved point 3 and am wondering if I can honour the Rog for point 10?

Nice to see Matt already at work on the 2007 Blog Awards.

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