Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Battle of Alberta Game Day

Here we are, upon the biggest Battle of Alberta since the lockout (7PM MT, RSN West; Quinn, Ferraro, & Gene). The Flames and Oilers played two April Firsts ago, but because of the Olympic break, there were still 8 games left thereafter. (Also: Happy 2nd Birthday, Little Miss Sacamano!) Last year, you may recall, late season Oiler games were not too suspenseful.

This year, as noted yesterday, there's a lot at stake for both teams. The Oilers care about nothing but getting in; that's Job One for the Flames, too, but they're also hoping to avoid Detroit and probably San Jose in the 1st Round, preferring to get the playoff legs going before facing a team of that high asuperior calibre.

Lineup. 79 games into the season, here's how I see it: the Flames have 10 forwards who should be dressed every game (Huselius, Langkow, Iginla, Tanguay, Conroy, Nolan, Yelle, Lombardi, Moss, and Nilson). I think this is pretty uncontroversial. Huselius, even in a 7:00-per-game PP specialist role, is a better option than the alternatives. Nilson is a very good defensive forward who can hold his own against any opposition; and Moss has a bit of touch and does his part keeping the puck going in the right direction.

After that you have Primeau, Godard, Boyd, Nystrom, and Smith. I don't think Nystrom and Smith bring anything to the table; neither does any one thing particularly well (except possibly Nystrom on the PK, but he's far from irreplaceable). This means two of the others need to dress, and one needs to sit.

The by-the-book answer here is that Godard needs to sit. In 71 GP this season, he has 13 shots on goal, and the 4th line (aka the Godard line, use those interchangeably) can be counted on to get pinned in their own end for what seems like an eternity -- and then usually ice the puck -- several times a game. But! He has played 71 games, which means that Keenan sees clear value in having him dressed, even if I can't see it and/or this value does not exist.

Barring a Godard scratch, then it's hard to say which of Primeau/Boyd you want in. It depends a bit on the roles the coach has for everyone else. Right now, I'd be inclined to leave the Primeau-Lombo-Yelle line intact. They have held their own over the past 10 games or so, and in fact, Primeau has beaten a D-man wide in consecutive games! This could be a sign that he's on the mend from whatever condition was afflicting him most of the season (you know, the one that always caused him to assume a concrete-legged defensive zone stance in the manner of a very passive penalty kill, even at 5-on-5).

So no Boyd. But wait a second: why wouldn't you want Boyd in the lineup instead of Godard, again? He's been on for more frequent Goals Against than Godard, but part of that is playing against better players at times, whereas Godard is always on the Godard line playing the other guy's 4th line. And besides, most of this is mitigated by being on the ice for Goals For twice as frequently as Godard (and the rest could be mitigated, if desired, by managing Boyd's TOI as carefully as Godard's).

Plus, if the Flames are trailing in the game, clearly Boyd is a better option. And as a bonus, he can take Conroy's place on the 2nd PP unit, where his skill probably represents an upgrade.

Jeez, I'm pretty sure I've convinced myself here. I don't think Godard adds anything to the Flames' desired identity as a physical team: he doesn't play enough; most of the defensive corps are better bodycheckers than he is anyway; and clearly his presence has not magically meant that guys like Iginla and Phaneuf have to fight, or otherwise respond to challenges, less frequently. [SEE ALSO: Metrognome. ("HE DOESN'T ABLY DETER PESTS.")]

Tonight's Game. I hate this prediction as a rule (should be a great game!), but I have a tough time imagining that either team will have much of a edge in play. The Oilers have been doing a nice job creating scoring chances lately, but then again, there's no way on earth that Regehr & Sarich will have as ugly a game tonight as they did Sunday, and I don't foresee any goals off of cutesy passes through the slot.

Fun game day quote:
"I think he’s gotten away with a lot," said MacTavish of Regehr. "A lot of real dangerous hits and dirty hits in a lot of ways, where clearly he’s trying to hurt him. It’s really puzzling for me to see a player of Hemsky’s ability have to be subjected to that type of punishment."

Naturally, Regehr was asked for a response, and the big defenceman suggested Hemsky was responsible for much of the contact because he's so aggressive on the forecheck. As to why Hemsky usually comes out second best in the collisions, Regehr slyly said: "It’s usually the guy who’s stronger winning those battles."

I'm going to go with Calgary 3, Edmonton 2. Huselius rises from the dead with 3 points, including an assist on Iginla's 50th. Go Flames.


Prediction: a fitting 5-1 Oilers victory. Jughead, San Pisani, Gilbert Gilbert, Gagner West and Pinto with the tallies.

I'm still in Toronto, so if anyone has a suggestion as to where I can catch the game, it would be greatly appreciated. Sadly, this town just doesn't have enough Boston Pizzas.

Chili's? Flingers? There must be someplace where the waitstaff have flair.

For the record, Boston Pizza did open their first Toronto-proper location last December, at the thoroughly depressing Dufferin Mall. Doubt they'd have Sportsnet West on the TVs, though. But if you're dying for some Smokey Mountain, there you go

Doesn't Wayne Gretzky have some sort of sports related establishment in T.O. where a man can get a pint and watch the game?

Flames are going to finally get serious and quit screwing around and win by something like 10-1. Or 1-0. I never can tell with these guys.

Go Flames.

Hoops at Yonge/College
Madison Pub - Bloor/Spadina


I've watched playoff games at the Irish Embassy


but the Leafs are playing tonight!

Maybe it's just me but when everyone else listens to the Oilers podcasts and gets to the inevitable Bob "Van Wilder" Stauffer questions about Robert Nilsson, does anyone else think of the old SNL sketch about the Mr. Belvedere support group?

It's been a while since I've lived there, but this time last year, we gathered at a Shoeless Joe's at King and Dufferin.

I don't think they get lots of business there (the politest word we had for the place was "nondescript"), but they do seem to have lots of channels that show hockey.

Maybe it's just me but when everyone else listens to the Oilers podcasts and gets to the inevitable Bob "Van Wilder" Stauffer questions about Robert Nilsson, does anyone else think of the old SNL sketch about the Mr. Belvedere support group?

Is he two-timing Brocktoon...er. Lupul?

"I should want to cook him a simple meal, but I shouldn't want to cut into him, to tear the flesh, to wear the flesh, to be born unto new worlds where his flesh becomes my key."

Gretzky's on Blue Jays Way (2 blocks north of the Skydome) will have the Oilers game on for sure.

A nice, balanced view by author.

Go Blues!

Watch Godard score tonight...

Oh man, you're dead, dude. Tom Cruise is going to sick his lawyers on you.

Looking forward to a BIG GAME, with lots of BIG GOALS.

Also, I'm at work, so I'm going to miss it. Figures. Got my Oilers shirt on, though, so GOILERS!


Freaking Glencrossed!

DROUIN-DESLAURIERS, JEFF is the worst name for a hockey player ever. I just copied it, because I didn't even want to try to type it out.


How great was that Tarnstrom for Glencross deal?

Phaneuf's two best segments of the season occured while Eriksson wasn't his partner.

Watching Bubba on that first goal against explains why. He's effing clueless.


Sweet! Apparently, a huge tip by Grebeshekeshekov.

It's been too long since Aucoin has scored.

Lombardi looking good again this game.

Meanwhile St. Louis is hanging on by a thread against Nashville, 3-2 now...

There's the expected pinned/icing sequence by the Godard line.

If you ask my sister, Lombardi is ALWAYS looking good.

Which line is he playing on tonight?

Gagner had all 5 Flames on him on that play...

"2nd" line: Huselius-Lombo-Moss/Nolan.

Good game so far. Pretty even first period. Slight edge to the Oilers, maybe.

3-3, Nashville tied it.


God damn it St Louis.

Yeah, pretty good game. Oil with more scoring chances, Flames with more possession/zone time.

Come onnnnn.... BLUES!

Come onnnnn.... BLUES!

Considering the very real danger of the Flames dropping out if they hit the skids, are you sure you want the Predators in a playoff position?

Is it asking too much to hope that Nashville gets Stempniaked?

err...I think you should Matt's comment again there Bob.

err...I think you should Matt's comment again there Bob.

For whatever reason I was reading that as "come on, Blues [blow that lead]". I am ready to be corrected.

I admit this reading was biased by the fact that Matt is a Flames fan, and therefore... don't quite know where I was going with that, but still.

Thanks for blowing a three-goal lead, St. Louis. Who do you think you are, the Oilers?

Now win it in OT, you dinks.

It's three in the morning in Wimbledon. Two tired bears listening to this game and monitoring two others. This had better go well.

Stupid blues.

And...NSH wins.


Oh, the joys of divisional play. The Oilers and the Falmes get to kick the crap out of each other while, in the Comedy Central, the Predators are the only team with anything to play for and one of the only two teams with actual NHL players on the roster.

But no, this schedule is a great idea. Punish teams for playing in good divisions and ensure that the Preds have about six or eight points as a bonus because of geography. Nobody likes the Oilers, Flames, Avalanche, or Wild anyway compared to the hockeytown that is SMASHVILLE!

But no, this schedule is a great idea.

At least this is the last of it. But yes, what a stupid idea.

Preds win. Dys lead. Hemsky hurt. Refs destructive. Breaks nonexistant. I think Stan Weir went up to Hockey Heaven, took on the Hockey Gods in road hockey, embarrassed the hell out of them, and now they're getting their revenge.

... and Vancouver scores. Corking.

Wow. I'm only half listening to the game while I surf the 'net, but all of sudden I'm hearing a huge rush by Huselius, Primeau and Yelle.

Come on, come on, come on . . .

From Peter Maher: "A late goal, those are said to be big ones."

There you have it, from a Hall of Famer. A Big Goal!

Wow...stinker on Roli.

Gotta give it to you Calgary guys. Your boys came to play and are using their strength advantage for maximum effect. That and getting a shot on the Oilers net in the last 10 seconds of the period, which as we all know is pretty much a guaranteed goal these days.

So shoudn't the Sportsnet story now be: if the Oilers don't get this game to OT or win, the season is over?

And the 'Nucks just scored. This week has been all tease, really.

btw, does anyone know why the blues pulled legace after building a 3-0 lead? were they concerned about losing a good draft position?

If Vancouver loses, the Oilers can still take 8th from them via more wins. It's iffy, but still a possibility.

Whoops. I forgot about Vancouver.

Legace pulled something making a stop late in the period - hence the replacement.


Gleneration X = LIFE ITSELF!


This seems somehow...familiar.

Oh fuck.

Lombardi-Nolan-Huselius have been the best line tonight for the Flames

What a great game.

Oilers played really well.


Well, I gotta give it to them: they pulled a season out of total nothing.

What a game! Nail-biter the whole way.

Looks like Colorado has taken a lead over Vancouver, good for Edmonton, bad from Calgary.

I refuse to cheer for the Canucks, however.

And what's this? Colorado is leading now?

Sorry, Great 2008 Playoff Dinktease, this chap's hitting the hay. I can't take it anymore.

It was never likely to happen. They were too shitty for too long, and there were too many teams to overtake.

Still, these last couple of months are what being a sports fan is all about. Lots of hope. And lots of kids trying really hard almost every night. It makes me excited for the future.


P.S. Dear Kevin Lowe, please re-sign Glencross. You can make it my birthday and Christmas presents. luv, Jay

It was never likely to happen. They were too shitty for too long, and there were too many teams to overtake.

The end of the season is both inevitable and sad, like an old dog dying.

Plus, what the hell is this team supposed to do without Hemsky on top of everything else?

Considering we're eliminated, I really don't feel as bad as I could.

I think it's just because the ride was so much fun. We weren't supposed to do crap, after all, and we managed to make Brian 'Lucky Prick' Burke's pick a little bit worse. We saw a bunch of guys who had no business being here playing like hell, and the hurt was helped by the stakes not being all that high.

Besides, we have plenty of excuses. If not for the lousy divisional schedule, if not for Horcoff, and Hemsky, and Garon, and Torres, and Souray, and Pitkanen, and Moreau, if not for any of those things...

...I had fun. What can I say?

Thanks for another awesome year, BOA. Your countless volunteer hours are greatly appreciated. I have already folded up my vintage Oil jersey and am going to start thinking about gardening or something.


"Plus, what the hell is this team supposed to do without Hemsky on top of everything else?"

And don't forget, WITH Roli.

Gotta give this team full props. Down to nuttin' and still busting ass. Get rid of Stoll, sign a game breaking NHL'er and ink the kids. I think we're maybe 2 guys and six months healing time from a helluva run next year.

Le sigh.


Thanks, all. So now we switch to cheering against the Canucks full-time, right?

Hats off to the Oil. Hopefully no trash talking from fellow Flames fans. I predicted the Oilers would finish in the bottom third of the league (along with everyone else) and for most of the year they showed it. This turn around was amazing. The big thing is that it wasn't some washed up bum having a career year. It was young players whose best years are ahead.

But I would be remised without saying that the season isn't over yet Oiler fans... we'll take care of the Nucks for you in game 82!!

By the way, why does everyone think the Oilers are officially out. They play Van on Thursday and if Van loses the next 3, the Oil are in by virtue of having more wins.

Right now I feel like the Flames can beat any team in a 7-game series, but only because I know Curtis Glencross won't be on that team.

What a fucking player. How often did Loubardias call his name tonight, relative to (say) Fatty? 3:1? 4:1?

By the way, why does everyone think the Oilers are officially out. They play Van on Thursday and if Van loses the next 3, the Oil are in by virtue of having more wins.

Wha? Really? Even the Oilers are acting like the season is over.

Brent, Nashville has 89 points right now.

Brent, Nashville has 89 points right now.

Damn you, St. Louis!!!

Nice prediction Matt, couldn't have been much closer.

HAHAHA!!! I'm an idiot!!! I guess it was wishful thinking that the Nucks would get knocked out by the Oil

Lowetide in his own comments tonight:

I've said this before and don't want to pick on him but Jarret Stoll in an anchor. He hurts this hockey club on many, many shifts and honestly should be waived. Jarret Stoll is no longer an NHL hockey player.

Isn't this patently, obviously, clearly true? Stoll does not help the Oilers win.

From his few remaining defenders, I see a lot of the Brad Richards Defense: "oh, so-and-so teammate gets the best opportunities, and Stoll takes a lot of defensive zone faceoffs, and etc." All true, surely. But...

There are a ton of players in the league who aren't given the cherry opportunities (in fact, most of them don't get 20 games centering someone like Hemsky). Some of them make hay anyway, some don't. It's really tough to look at Player A and say that he's a victim of circumstance, when Player B -- in the same circumstances -- puts up a few numbers (or at least less worse ones) and looks good to the naked eye on occasion.

Lowe (and Mac-T, who obviously loves him) is a jackass if he so much as qualifies Stoll. In other words, I expect Stoll to be qualified.

What a pissoff. Vancouver lost to Colorado AGAIN. What is it with that team? Vancouver has dominated the Oil and handled the Flames pretty well, and can't buy a win against the crappy Lanche! If I see Theodore flop around even one more time and see the puck magicly hit his helmet strap and stop, i'll throw up!!!! Colo is a team that is livin in the past and will be swept away 1st round. Seems thought that St. Louis screwed the Canucks tonight also, as we are on the outside lookin in now...

A little late chiming in here, but most of the Boston Pizzas in Toronto are outside of the downtown area. There is one at Yonge and Sheppard now (which is right at a subway station), but beyond that, meh...

Go to any Shoeless Joe's, (there are a large number of them), or a St. Louis' (there are a number of them now too), and you'll be able to watch pretty much any game...

Actually, you could go to pretty much any chain bar in Toronto and get the game on at least one tv...

Oh, and the Boston Pizza that I tried to go to before the game when I was in Edmonton a few weeks ago was closed (which was kind of annoying)... Although the fish and chips place behind it was quite good (with a respectable beer selection)...

god, i love regehr and his desert-dry wit...

...oh, and full props to the oil for the last half of the season. seriously ? that was some seriously killer hockey..... and that's not an easy thing for me to say.

I went to the BP's at Dufferin Mall tonight. It was my only consolation.

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