Monday, January 07, 2008



Five Mondays ago, in the A.M. of December 3rd, Andy posted a screencap of the Western Conference standings. The Flames were 10-13-4, and in pretty desperate shape; the Oil was 12-14-1, had just swept the Cup champs in a home & home (outscoring them 9-1), and Pisani had just returned to the lineup.

Since then, the Oilers have not won a single game in regulation. They have gone 6-7-3, which is meh but not blecch, unless you look at it in terms of the opponent's record, which is 10-0-6.

The Flames, since then, have gone 12-1-3: one solitary regulation loss to go with 10 regulation wins (opponent's record = 4-10-2). In the process, they have vaulted from 13th to 3rd in the WC standings (or 14th to 4th baseball-wise, if you prefer).

These are some pretty stark numbers, although not news to most readers. Here is what's amazing: through those 5 weeks, in which the Flames were so successful that they jumped 10 places in the standings, they have actually lost half a game to the Red Wings.

It is simply stunning how good the Wings have been this year.
So to recap: their weakness appears to be a PK that's better than 25 other NHL teams. (That or the SH goals allowed, but since they're not likely to be playing Patrick Sharp in the playoffs, I think it's a non-issue).

Actually, the Wings have but one problem, and it's that the playoffs don't start for 3 more months. When they're this dominant, it's hard to envision how things can go sour, but this is sports, isn't it: as soon as the present seems like it ought to stay the same forever, things change slightly, which induces more change, and...

To be clear, bus crash scenarios aside, the Wings are definitely going to be at least very good come April. The only way they lose 4 of 7, though, is if they slip from dominant to merely excellent, and another team gets a few bounces. This -- seriously -- is the dark lining in the silver cloud of the Flames' surge: I'm not sure that they're any closer to beating the Wings in the playoffs than they were this past April.

Their best bet at the moment looks to be winning the NW; this forestalls any meeting with the Wings until the WC Finals, and as such (A) gives the Wings an extra month to slip from dominant to less-than, and (B) gives two other teams a crack at getting lucky first.


Ahem, I think you might be getting a little ahead of yourself there, Matt.

All credit to the Flames for turning around a poor start to the season.

That said, you might not want to continue to underestimate the Canucks, as many of your Flames-fan bretheren are wont to do. (I realize you admitted in a previous thread that this team is better than last year's, but your confidence about the Flames winning the NW and not worrying about facing the Red Wings in the conference finals seems to belie your previous modesty.)

First, the Canucks trail by only one point. This is mainly because they have recently fallen behind the Flames in number of games played (two games in hand, as of now).

Second, the Canucks have been consistently good all season long, while the Flames are presently at the crest of an outstanding stretch of play. Provided the Flames come back down to reality again soon and the Canucks maintain the pace they have kept on for most of the season (a reasonable expectation, in my view), I think you might find the Canucks again putting some distance between themselves and the Flames.

Weren't the consistent-all-season Canucks 5-8-0 on November 3rd? Yep!

At any rate, I thought I was pretty clear that winning the NW was their best bet to beat the Wings in the playoffs, not that I was predicting them to do either. If not, well, that's what I meant.

Ah, fair enough. It just goes to show you cursory reading of blogs is an unfortunate by-product of perusing them while at work.

And, fair point also on the Canucks start to the season. I suppose I exaggerated slightly, though I think my (intended) point about the Canucks being consistent for a long period of time (about thirty games now) holds up well enough.

If you assume for a minute that the Flames will get points in each of their next three games (Phoenix, Islanders, Oilers; not exactly Murderers' row), then they'll have earned points in 19 of their last 20 games. A quarter of a season! I wonder if there has ever been such a streak with such mediocre goaltending? Probably not since the salad days of Gretz and the mid 80s Oil.

Trivia: How many regulation wins do the Oilers have in their last 63 regular season games?

Answer to follow...

The Oilers have 7 regulation wins in their last 63 regular season games.

To quote Matt this is probably "not news to most readers" but I find this stat stunning. 7 of 63?

The real bad news for Mac-T is there are no shoot outs or 4 on 4 in the playof..... oh, never mind.

GF-GA per game = 1.40. 2nd in the NHL is Ottawa at 0.82; 2nd in the WC is Vancouver at 0.44!

Just one exclamation mark? There ought to be seven behind that statement. Yergh, what a stat.

The Canucks seem to be playing better without Bieksa. In fact, their entire blueline has been unlucky with injuries over the first half. Salo hasn't had the same offensive numbers like last year either. I'm actually quite stunned that the Canucks are still holding their own, and besides Roberto Luongo I cannot think of a good reason for them to still be in the thick of it. I'm scared about what may occur once the Canucks get "healthy" again. Will they suddenly become a sub-.500 team again?

All season my friends and I have said that Calgary is the scariest team in the NW, and I still agree with that.

Bofa trivia... you have made my night with that stat. M'heh!

ha! you jinxed the might Oil...they WON IN REGULATION tonight!! Look out Calgary and Vancouver!

Oilers for the Stanley Cup!

Detroit is on pace for almost 130 points this season, which sounds scary, but keep in mind 05/06 they ended the season with 124 points . . . and lost in the first round to Edmonton. Detroit has a recent history of poor playoff performance. Their only claim to fame is that they've only lost to the eventual WC chmpions in the last few years.

Ng, regardless of the amount of points they had, Detroit was nowhere near as dominant last season as they have been to this point this year.

Like Matt said, here's hoping they come down to earth a bit before the playoffs.

05/06 they ended the season with 124 points . . . and lost in the first round to Edmonton

Yeah, but that year, they got something like 45 of 48 points from STL, CHI, and CBJ. This year, they're only .500 in the division (7-7-2), but a whopping 25-1-1 (.944) outside the division. I mean...WTF?

Also, I take stunning pride in Edmonton being the team responsible for one of those "1"s.

Also, I take stunning pride in Edmonton being the team responsible for one of those "1"s.

Likewise for Anaheim. Taking 3 of 4 points from Detroit thus far looks like quite the achievement, even though it was almost entirely done on the back of a lunatic named Bryzgalov.

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