Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Stretch Drive (Western Conference)

I've gone through "my" "data", and here's how I think the West playoff picture shakes out.
Minnesota and Phoenix have virtually no chance. They need to earn about 1.4 pts/gm the rest of the way to hit 95 points. It's possible, but know that only Ottawa, Carolina, and Detroit have performed that well so far this season.

It's apparently still the CW to portray San Jose as coming on strong, but it's just not happening. They were in 12th the day they traded for Thornton, and they're 12th today. They had that awesome 5 game stretch against (mostly) the East right after the trade, but they're not making up enough ground since.

I still like Calgary to win the NW by a comfortable margin. I assume the Oil will keep doing what they're doing. I'm pretty confident Anaheim is in; they had 18 points thru 20 games this season, and have 40 in the 31 since. This pace will put them in.

The biggest question is probably Vancouver: just how bad will these injuries kill them? They're even worse than Calgary on the road, but can they keep winning at home? If they can be an average team, i.e. earn 1.1 pts/gm, over the final 30, they probably just squeeze in the playoffs. If not... oh, what a shame that would be... by the way, since their 8-1-1 start, the Canucks have earned 46 pts in 42 games, which makes [uh, carry the one] about 1.1 pts/gm. How big is that playoff cushion, indeed.

Throw your own predictions in the comments, won't you?


Battle of Alberta - Event Hosting Division

Get yer stinkin' paws off our hosting bid.

If Calgary really wanted to host non-Olympic events, they would have considered it in the past, like, say, Edmonton has, many times.


More Free Love

Last week Matt pointed out correctly that we here at BoA are terrible linkers, and he highlighted a few other blogs that are great reads. It's not that we are obsessed with Alberta hockey . . . well, at least not exclusively obsessed with it . . . it's just that we're lazy hacks.

Anyway, I have a few more blogs to which I'd like to give a shout out. Some of them are already widely appreciated, but I'm not one of those guys who immediately starts hating bands when they sell more than 12 records -- if they're good they're good.

Obviously those are only a few of the great reads out there. There are lots more in our blogroll on the left, and we'll probably highlight some of them at a later date--of course there are those granddaddies that need no introductions like Hockey Rants, and Off Wing Opinion, and Hockey Pundits. There is also the rotating, semi-regular Carnival of the NHL, which is always worth a look.

Check 'em all out. Recieve a free muffin by mentioning this coupon.


Stretch Drive (South)

Yesterday Sacamano took a look at the Oilers' prospects over the final 30 games of the season. 96 points should indeed be good for at least the 8th playoff spot.

For the Flames to qualify for the playoffs, then, they need 30 points over their final 30 games. That should be doable: presently 23 of the 30 teams in the league are gaining a point per game on average.

What about 1st place in the Northwest? I'm going to guess 105 will do it. The actual number may be a little higher or (more likely) lower, but I'm pretty sure if any NW team earns 105 points, they're going to win the division. That means the Flames need 39 points over their final 30 games (something like an 18-9-3 record). That's right about the pace they're on now. Can they keep it up?
Key stretches:

March Road Trip: a ridiculous tour through the Central timezone where the Flames play the 7th and final game of the trip on the afternoon of Day 11. (Note that would have been left unsaid a week ago: we should probably have a backup goalie we're happy with for that.)

The next 5 games before the Olympic break. Four home games (CBJ, VAN, ANA, STL) and one roadie (SJS). 7 or 8 points in these games will cushion the NW lead, and make the post-Olympic schedule (which I should note is brutal for all teams) seem a lot less daunting.


Hockey Hockey Hockey, Hockey all the time!

The sharp newish blog Abel to Yzerman is hosting Carnival of the NHL #18: The Sawchuk Edition. It's focused on goaltending, and he covers our Carnival of the Oilers' Goaltending Woes nicely, and makes special mention of the comment thread. Which reminded me, this is too good to leave in the comments:
I'm not sure I can find an analogue for Conklin's sheer horribleness at this point. It's gotten so bad that I know he's got to be fighting an injury, but I actually can't think of one that is serious enough to account for his slow reaction times and lateral movement. Spine cancer? Bubonic plague?

Head over and check it out. And a quick reader bleg: anyone know why our traffic has jumped so much in the past few days? We've gone from a consistent 200-ish per day, for months, to over 400. It doesn't appear to be from any particular link, or a glut of Google searches. Were we mentioned on TV/radio/print? Or, are we suddenly just a lot more interesting recently, and the same ten people are visiting that much more? I need answers.


Hockey Hockey

Razor kills me:
I bet you noticed that the "Thank You Fans" has been removed from American Airlines Center ice. Why? I guess it was time? Actually most teams removed theirs long ago. The Stars thanked you long time.

Read the whole thing, including this broadcaster's plea that never specifically occurred to me:
Will the NHL ever get it through their thick, screw television, skulls that it might benefit the fan who is watching at home to hold the game from re-commencing for another 10 or 15 seconds after a goal is scored? I don't know of any other league that would spend as much time and energy finding ways to increase scoring and then treat the scoring of goals as a nuisance. A hard 45 seconds, that's all we ask.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Pulse of the Nation

One of Matt's favourite things is to catch a glimpse of hockey humanity in the TSN Message boards.

Here ya go:

Speak truth to power, friends.



Terrible ice conditions? Check!
Terrible officiating? Check!
Terrible opponent? Check!
Terrible game by Kipper? Check!
Terrible game, period? Check!
Terrible result? Uh, check, except for one of the alternatives.

Flames finish their roadtrip 2-2-1, which improbably is their second-most successful one of the year. All 5 Northwest teams have now played 52 games, with 30 to go. Standings:
Did I mention what a terrible game that was tonight?


Mark this date!

There it is folks. It took until Game 52 of the season, but I think we might have finally hit the Jarmoe Threshold: a Flames fan has actually shown some impatience (mild though it is) with Iggy.


How to cheese off your GM, coach, teammates and fans

Ethan Moreau has possibly broken his leg -- playing pick-up basketball.

Don't these guys have riders in their contracts about this sort of thing? My high-school volleyball coach almost had an aneuryism when I sprained my ankle playing pick-up hoops and had to miss the first round of volleyball playoffs. I can't imagine how K-Lowe took the news.


Parsing road records

So I'm thinking to myself earlier, "Gee, the Flames have had a lot of lousy road trips this season; I'm surprised they're even at .500". So I looked into it a bit more.

Calgary has played 27 games on the road so far this season (12-12-3). Their road schedule has consisted of two 5-game roadtrips, three 4-game roadtrips (not incl. tonight), and five single-game roadtrips (counting the consecutive games v. VAN on Dec. 23 & 26 as two trips, since they came home for Christmas in between). They have not played a single 3-game or 2-game trip.

I bring this up because there is one very favourable aspect of the Flames' road record thus far; call it the "playoff" context. Five times the Flames have left Calgary to play a single opponent; they're 4-1-0 in those games. (On the 4 & 5 game trips, they're 8-11-3).

The Oilers' road schedule (17-8-4) has been of an entirely different nature. They've played one 7-game roadtrip (4-3-0); no 4-, 5-, or 6-game roadtrips; three 3-game roadtrips (6-1-2); four 2-game roadtrips (5-1-2); and five 1-game roadtrips (2-3-0).

I'm not hacking on the Oilers here; they have more road wins than any team in the league. Also, all three of their losses in those 1-gamers came on very short trips to face a certain superior team at the top of their division. They're a very good road team, plain and simple.

But it is a relief to note that the Flames are at their road best on these mini-trips, which are the only kind there are when the games really matter.


Flames Game Day

For the 2nd time in three games, the Flames are taking on a team that has just dumped good players for no immediate return.

You never really know how a team will react in this situation. I essentially don't believe in the idea of Coach as Game Day Motivator, but this may be one of those few times where the coach actually earns his money in that respect.

On Thursday the Hawks traded Jaro Spacek somewhere, and their D really sacked up that night and shut the Flames out. Now, the Blues have traded their top two centres.

I'm not too distressed about the Weight trade. I wasn't really expecting the Flames to acquire him, and I'm not sure how much it would have helped anyway. Sillinger going to Nashville, however, worries me a bit.

He can't be that great; ten freaking teams have now let him go. However, he has 22 goals and he's playing damn well. I know this because he's killing me in my hockey pool. I'm in a twenty team league, and I'm presently 2nd, behind David Johnson. Roughly, he's got more good goalies and better D, but I have better forwards. That is, with two notable exceptions; Alfredsson, and Mike Sillinger. Sillinger's points, PP points, FO wins, and SOG have been killing me; the guy's been getting 10 fantasy points a game for weeks now. I don't think there's much doubt that the Predators just got better.

All that said: the Blues have been the worst team in the league this season, and now, they're worser. They have a grand total of three (3) wins this season against playoff teams: their two thumpings of Vancouver, and a 3-2 win over Detroit about 10 weeks ago.

Calgary must--must--win tonight. I'll predict a 4-1 victory. No idea if Kipper will be in net, or if it's Sauve's chance to redeem himself under extreme pressure (though not applied by the Blues, presumably). Go Flames.


Stretch Drive

According the the Amazing Zorak, 96 points gets you into playoffs in the West (only 87 needed in the East).

The Oilers are currently sitting at 62 points with 30 games remaining. If Zorak's projected cutoff is correct, the Oil only need to go .567 over the stretch to get in. If you look at the current points/game (as Zorak does) then the Oil are projected to get 98 points, but I think there is good reason to believe that they will be better than that.

First, their schedule certainly favours them:
Key Stretches:

The next 6 games before the Olympic break. 5 home games (CLB, VAN, ANA, MIN, STL) and 1 road game (COL). A run here sets them up very nicely.

End of March: A brutal stretch starting with a four game road trip (SJ, CBJ, MIN, MIN) followed by a tough three game home stand (CAL, DET, VAN), followed by a back-to-back road series in VAN then a game in COL, followed by MIN, LA , CAL, PHO at home.


Crazy Road Trip

Last night ended one of the most entertaining Oilers' road trips in recent memory.

Here are the highlights:

Game 1: The Oilers were looking tired and discombobulated until Smytty pulled the old stick tap on JS Giguere, who then went bananas giving the Oilers half a period of powerplay time--much of it 5 on 3. Four third period goals later and the Oil have a 6-3 come from behind victory.

Game 2: Another come from behind win, with Torres, D-Vo, and Moreau all cracking the seal on their recent scoring slumps.

Game 3: The Chris Freaking Pronger ties the game with 0.7 seconds left in regulation off a faceoff with 2.2 seconds remaining to force overtime. Hemsky and D-Vo fake Cujo into the popcorn stands, and Quimby stones all but one Coyote for the SO win. Unbelievable.

Staois Hole in One: The Oilers had their annual Phoenix golf tournament on this trip. After hacking his way to three straight double bogies, Staois holes a 3-wood on the fourth hole. Apparently the cheer from the team was huge. He might have just made himself untradeable. Can you trade a guy who sinks a hole in one in the team tournament? His quote: "All that is left in my wallet is receipts."

Transtrom and Spacek trades: After much smoke, it turns out there was fire. K-Lowe snags two very capable d-men for spare parts. In the case of Cross, it was a bonus addition by subtraction. I hope that both Rita and Cross find their games elsewhere. Both are capable but needed a change of scenery. Tarnstrom was a bit tentative in his first game as an Oiler, but Spacek looked great.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


An improbable win, indeed!

Ray Ferraro called this one "an improbable win". No doubt.

As Cosh noted in the comments to the Game Day post, the Orbs of Power did it again--scoring with less than a second remaining to force overtime. Then the Czechs and Quimby got it done in the shootout.

Pronger's goal actually came off of a faceoff in the Coyotes zone with 2.2 seconds remaining. Ferraro mentioned that in over 20 years of watching NHL hockey he has never seen that play actually work. I'm not sure I can agree. I'm positive I remember the Oil pulling it off a few years ago.

Despite the crazy way of getting it done, I'm going to say that the Oil actually deserved this win. They outshot the Coyotes and, to my eye, outplayed them for most of the game.

Cleary a stomach-punch loss for Phoenix and, even better, for all of the Calgary Fans out there who were no doubt watching the game and firing up their computers to leave nasty comments with 2.2 seconds remaining.

Quimby was solid again, especially in the shootout where he appears to be somewhat of a savant.

I'm on record saying that we should stick with M&M in net, and I'm reaffirming that position here.

The Oil are now the #1 road team in the league. Let's hope they can start to get it done at home over the next 3.

By the way, if anyone can help with the wacky formatting that seems to have beset this place, please drop me a suggestion in the comments. I screwed it up somehow by trying to put a table in the previous post -- but I don't have any clue how that would have affected the template, as it appears to have.


Terms of Battle

On a few occasions folks have asked about various phrases used around here--especially the etymology of 'Mayor Quimby'.

In response, I thought it might be a good idea to start putting together an Official Battle of Alberta Glossary. Naturally, I'm hoping to get as much help as possible from the wittiest contributors to this forum--i.e., You, our loyal and clever readers.

Speaking of glossaries, nothing beats Jim Rome's smacktionary. If you've never read it, I highly encourage you to put aside 30 minutes or so and go through it. Some hilarious stuff.

Currently our list is pathetically small and boring in comparison. I have faith that we can improve on this.
Mayor QuimbyNickname for Oilers' goalie Mike Morrison. Derived from his amazing Bostonian accent
TommyNickname for Flame Kristian Huselius. Derived from his uncanny knack of scoring goals by pinballing the puck off of multiple bodies, sticks, etc. Explained in more detail here.
LeGGNickname for Oiler Georges Laraque. Georges is often referred to as BG on the net ("Big Georges") but someone (MikeW?) noted that it really should be in French.
Robimus Prime Pleasure Motors from Covered in Oil coined this nickname for Oilers' prospect Robbie Schremp. Personally, I like Randy's "Popcorn" better, but they are both nice.
Orbs of PowerThe secret to the Oilers' current success. Otherwise known as "Chris Prongers Balls", the orbs are often prominantly featured in Oilers Pay-Per-View broadcasts. Coined by Cosh. (Banished In Shame)
JarmoeThe guy who is currently wearing #12 for the Flames. He looks like Iggy, he talks like Iggy, he draws Iggy's hugely bloated salary, but he sure doesn't play like Iggy.
The world wide collection of Oilers blogs. Coined by Madcrutch.
To be kept away from the other team's star players. E.g., Darryl Sutter phaneufed Dion Phaneuf against the Edmonton Oilers by playing him exclusively against Michael Peca's line. First used by Vic Ferrari from IoF.


Oilers Game Day - Phoenix


The Sun reports that Mayor Quimby gets the nod in goal, and that both Tarnstrom and Spacek will make their Oilers debuts tonight.

It's been a nice road trip so far (2-0) and tonight's game would seal the deal.

With the desert dogs having played 3 games in 4 nights, including last night, I see the Oil rolling over them.

Prediction: 5-1 (Stoll, Horc, D-vo, Tarnstrom, Bergeron)


Flames Game Day

The Flames play the Blackhawks this afternoon (1PM MST, RSN West) for the 4th and final time of the season. From today's Sun:
In Thursday's game between the Flames and Blackhawks, the United Center was half empty, as it will be today when they play the rematch.

The raucous atmosphere, which made going to a 'Hawks game of yesteryear an experience, is now gone.

"Very sad. It's still a hockey town, which is sad," Amonte said.

"People talk hockey and know hockey in this city. They are very knowledgeable about the game. They've just had a very bad taste the last few years and aren't supporting the team."

And from the There-Are-No-Coincidences Dept., did you see that Fox Sports piece naming Bob Pulford as one of the 10 Worst Execs in Sports?
Chicago is a magnificent hockey town. It has a rich tradition. The Blackhawks should stand among the NHL's elite franchises, given the size of their market and its potential revenue.

But Bill Wirtz, Michael Wirtz and their hockey man — Pulford — comprise the least progressive management team in the league...

The Blackhawks haven't won a playoff series since 1996. They have reached postseason play just once since 1997. The 2005-06 team is a disaster, too, and there is little hope for a turnaround any time soon.

The difference in on-ice success between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks over the past 10-15 years is entirely -- 100% -- attributable to the quality of their respective organizations, from ownership on down. There is not a single problem the Blackhawks have had in years that they can blame on anyone but themselves. As Tony Amonte says, it really is very sad.

But, the Hawks have a "fair chance" to compete, and their owner can make a few bucks for his trouble, which is all any fan wants, right?

[The photo, and many other delights, are at the website for the book Career Misconduct, a (cough) pretty critical look at Bill Wirtz.]


Good one, Steve

Ferguson likes to insist this is all part of a plan: And if the plan is to miss the playoffs, it appears to be working.

And yet if someone from the Leafs' organization punched Steve Simmons in the face, they'd be the one arrested and jailed. What a crazy world.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Someone Else's Game Day

We don't see this often, but neither the Flames nor the Oilers are in action tonight. The late HNIC game is Vancouver at Colorado, and fans in Alberta are united in one wish: let's get this game settled in regulation, please.

The Olympics are coming up on us fast. Here's the Battle of Alberta schedules up until the break:

Obviously the schedule is fairly favourable for both teams; one tough-looking road game in 7 starts is OK. I think it's a solid prediction that if either team goes on a good run, as they should, they're just about locked in for the playoff. If they don't, it's going to be some nervous times all the way until mid-April.

Friday, January 27, 2006


This one's for you, Tom

The Onion - NHL Players Protest New Goaltending Penalty
NEW YORK—Less than six months since players returned from a yearlong lockout, hockey is once again in turmoil following last week's announcement that "goaltending," or attempting to obstruct a shot on goal or impede the puck's progress with one's body or stick, would become a two-minute minor penalty, a rule change that went into effect Monday. "Increasing scoring with rule changes and cracking down on obstruction is one thing," said Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph, who claims his job is being banned by the league. "But to take a page from the NBA and just outlaw goaltending outright… Maybe it's just me, but I think that rule just plain goes against the spirit of hockey." Veteran NHL centers, forwards, and some defensemen took issue with Joseph's remarks, claiming he was still angry over being penalized seven times in the Coyotes' Monday night game against Dallas, in which Joseph had zero saves and lost 88-105.


Friday Big Prediction

I'm calling it now: Dion Phaneuf is going to the Olympics.

McCabe is probably out as the 1st replacement because of his groin. Special Ed is probably off the roster because of his groin. And Niedermayer is probably out because of his knee.

If all three skip the big roadtrip to Italy to rest and rehab, Canada needs to name two new defencemen to the roster, as well as (likely) one to the taxi squad in case of injury during the Games.

Already on the roster, assuming they stay healthy: Pronger, Regehr, Blake, Foote, Redden

The 2 or 3 new guys need to come off of the List of 81; the fellows who have been peeing in a cup for WADA for months, and are thus eligible for the Games. Here's who is left among the defencemen:
Adrian Aucoin, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Nick Boynton, Eric Brewer, Eric Desjardins, Scott Hannan, Barret Jackman, Kyle McLaren, Derek Morris, Dion Phaneuf, Chris Phillips, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios, Brad Stuart

That's 15 names. Desjardins has a dislocated shoulder and is out. Morris has a sprained ankle and is out. Brewer has a separated shoulder and is out. Aucoin has a recurring groin problem, and is in and out (groin in and out - heh heh).

That leaves 11. Boynton and Souray can't be considered even remotely seriously based on their play this season. That leaves 9.

Going back to the five guys who are on the roster, you'll notice that only 3 of them have any business playing on the PP in a major international tournament; Regehr has only 6 points on the PP this season, and Foote has only 3. Here's the 9 potential additions on D, with their PP production (G/A/Pts):
It's certainly possible that Pat Quinn will play a forward on the PP point at times, but it's unthinkable that they'll head to Turin without 4 qualified PP D-men. Phaneuf is clearly the huge favourite to fill this role, based on production: only Boyle and Stuart could even be considered.

In fact, Phaneuf and Pronger would probably be on the #1 unit. Pronger's the only (healthy) Canadian defenseman with more PP points than Phaneuf (6/21/27); you may also note that Phaneuf plays the same side and role does M-A Bergeron (with Pronger) on the PP, albeit a lot more productively.

A few other miscellaneous points in Farnsworth's favour: the Flames have only allowed 2 SH goals all season, and if you saw last night's highlights, I think you'll agree that the 2nd can be blamed pretty much 100% on Hamrlik. Also, he's only a year out of junior, and certainly fit for the 6-games-in-8-days schedule.

I think Phaneuf is the 1st addition, and Hannan is the 2nd. I hope Jovo and Niedermayer get well, but I think Canada is in good shape regardless. Make it so, Gretzky.


Friday Vocabulary Lesson

projection (Noun; psychiatry): a defense mechanism by which your own traits and emotions are attributed to someone else. Example:
As a friend of mine has pointed out, the problem with the Oil is a fragile psyche: when things are going poorly, we're entirely convinced we couldn't beat a team of retarded seals, and play as such. However, when things are going good, man, we could probably beat the Russian Fifth Calvary in a land war. We seem to have found our confidence again...


Friday Free Love

One thing we are (I am) pretty crappy at around here is linking and generally interacting with other hockey blogs. There's no slight intended, because there are quite a few which are really quite excellent. Below are five that (A) I enjoy a lot, and (B) haven't given a ton of recognition to; I invite my co-publisher to add his own if he sees fit. There's more, too, but this is a start.

Hockey Country
There is a sub-category of hockey blogs which are generally about following one particular team on a game-by-game basis, and this is probably the best of the bunch. When I read a blog about (say) the Ottawa Senators, I don't want to see AP game reports and recaps of the coach's press conferences; I want to see original takes based on the writer's own two eyes.

Chris McMurtry has found his own original format for rehashing Senators wins (usually), and it works well for him. He has his own (informed) opinions, and doesn't give much thought to the media's conventional wisdom (or the team's own statements) on who's good, who's bad, what's right, and what's wrong. Good on him.

Japers' Rink
Lots of Caps/Ocho content here, but JP also finds lots of other interesting NHL goings-on to link to. He also hands out the NHL trophies on a day-by-day basis, which is a terrific way for readers to keep up on what's up with the rest of the league. And handing out the Aiken Award for hapless performances is definitely inspired - it's enough to make a guy forgive him for the pop-up ads.

Vancouver Canucks Op Ed
I think everyone knows about the folks with the bookshop. The simplest way to describe their site is that they have a lot of fun writing it; ergo, it's a lot of fun to read. They're Canucks fans, but a good chunk of their items are about the NHL at large, including their famous Thursday Quote Sheet. It's generally very funny, and I suppose I should also mention that they have the best-looking hockey site there is.

Behind The Jersey
Call me a snooty MCP, but I would never have expected a hockey blog written by a 19-year-old girl to be readable, let alone interesting. More impressively, Christy's blog is probably the best one out there for appreciating the Game of NHL Hockey as a whole. It doesn't hurt that her home team has a lot of excellent and interesting veterans, but I frequently find myself reacting to her posts with, "Yep - hockey kicks ass."

Her regular "Behind The Blog" feature is original and inspired, and she also recently reminded me of this awesome quote:
"Aww, don't worry Doc. If that happens, I can always come back as a forward!" - Harold Snepsts after being advised by a doctor to wear a helmet to avoid brain damage

Read the whole entry; there's a bunch of beauties.

Covered In Oil
What can I say? I love their blog despite the fact that have little or no interest in their subject matter. It's quite possible that the three best writers in the hockey b***osphere are the three contributors to this site. I think I'd like their blog even if I hardly knew the first thing about hockey [shut up!].

The liberal use of boldface type; the stupendous metaphors; the clever post headers; the semi-comprehensible game ratings; and yes, the frustration at being on the wrong end of the name of this site: it all adds up to a fantastic read.

Bonus Up-and-Comer: Hello Hockey Fans!
Since we started this site, I've been looking for a Flames blog that consists of something more than the aforementioned off-the-wire game recaps, and it looks like frequent commenter MetroGnome might have the formula. Best of luck to you, sir: we're all depending on you here in the South.


Friday Fun Links

1) "Dominek Hasek" gives his take on goalie interference on The Fan 960 morning show (~20s .mp3 clip).

2) The Stars' Jussi Jokinen is still perfect in shootouts (as is the team), and is clearly starting to feel pretty bulletproof:
"I've used the same move and the same shot on all my shootouts," said Jokinen, who is 7-for-7 using the backhander in shootouts. "So why change up on something that is working."

"I've used the same move on Budaj in a preseason and a regular season shootout this year," Jokinen said. "He might have known what's coming, but he never stopped any of them."

Dude: karma. He has had help, though: Sergei Zubov is a respectable 4-for-7, and Dallas has the 2nd-highest S/O SV% in the league. (They trail only Montreal; remember Crosby's S/O goal on Theodore that sent both the water bottle and Pierre McGuire about 15 feet in the air? Only S/O goal the Habs have allowed this year.)

3) Darryl Sutter explains himself:
"I'm a firm believer, if you have a clear-cut number-one goalie, he's a 65- to 70-game goalie in the National Hockey League. That's what the top guys do and they win 60 percent of their games," Sutter said. "Your backup goalie, at the most if you're healthy, is a 15-start guy and I expect him to win 10 games. If he's not, then I'm going to try somebody else.

"With Philippe, I believe your backup goalie should give you a chance to win every night, not a chance to lose, and I don't think we've got that this year.

"He's got to be our best practice player, he's got to be your hardest-working player, should be your most improved player if he's a young player. That's not an ask thing, it's a demand thing, that simple." [My emph.]

Man, he doesn't exactly leave room for a bunch of follow-up questions, does he? That said, my two cents is that he's playing with fire. If you're going to call out a guy that harshly (and half-fire him), you'd better be damn sure that the rest of your players see the same problems in Sauve as you do. Otherwise you seem capricious, and your credibility with the team starts on a downhill slide to CrapTown.


Friday Baseball Standings

I guess I did volunteer.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Wild West Redux

Well, I went 3 for 7 on my game predictions for tonight. Why am I not upset?

Calgary got shut out by Chicago
Jarmoe put up some more big numbers: 0,0,-1, 2SOG, 2PM.
Vancouver lost
Nashville lost
Colorado lost
San Jose Lost
LA lost

Edmonton won.

I've also decided I'm very comfortable with the trades. I agree with everyone on Earth that the overabundance of d-men has virtually guaranteed that Lowe makes a move for a goaltender. It's a shame, really, because both Jussi and the Mayor have been playing pretty well the last few games. Quimby made at least 4 terrific stops at key moments tonight.


Trent Yawney:

Ten years later, and he's still killing the Flames.



Confusing lede from the CP:
LOS ANGELES (CP) - The Edmonton Oilers hope they have found the offensive blue-liner they've been looking for after acquiring Dick Tarnstrom from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in exchange for forward Jani Rita and defenceman Cory Cross.

Huh? I thought their biggest problem was in goal. And of course, Kevin Lowe has been looking for a first-line centre for a long time; that's no secret.
Tarnstrom has only 10 points (5-5) in 33 games this season while sporting a minus-10 rating on the struggling Penguins.

This trade may work out well for the Oilers, or it may not: I don't know. What I do know is that it will frighten precisely none of Edmonton's conference rivals. (Any player that you're tempted to describe as "a poor man's Roman Hamrlik" will not have San Jose quaking in their skates).

Related--Mudcrutch put a nice post up last night (with a chart!), summarized by this quote:
I doubt that Jackman or Tarnstrom bring significant improvement. Lowe should really be pushing the goalie angle right now--everything else is just window dressing.

UPDATE, 1 hour later: Now there's something to get more worked up about! The Oilers have acquired cheapshotting scumbag Jaroslav Spacek from the Chicago Blackhawks. In related news, Flames forward Byron Ritchie remains out of the lineup with a sprained MCL.


Oh no, we're busted...

Breaking News: Sports Illustrated has just discovered that Todd Bertuzzi was named to the Canadian Olympic Hockey team. And writer Richard Deitsch, in his "The Rant", is against it!

Ironically, the first sentence of his piece is, "Let's jump ahead a month." I've got a better idea, Richard: let's jump back a month, and then you can be one of the first 5,000 people in the sports media to express the exact same opinions you just wrote.

If you don't have a single original thing to say about hockey, then please: go back to covering tennis and steroid hearings.


Nickname Watch

OK, so he's a golfer, but I'm sure this applies to more than a couple of NHL players. And, it made me laugh.
Mickelson has earned many nicknames on the Tour, but our favorite is FIGJAM (F**k, I’m good—just ask me).

From GQ's "The Ten Most Hated Athletes" (ÞHockey Dirt)



I've been hurting my head for the past half-hour or so, spurred on by this TB post, trying to figure out how to satisfy everyone's complaints about the NHL schedule. Most people have one of these two complaints (and occasionally, both):
I've tried every permutation I can think of to come up with something elegant, and it's not happening, including switching to 4 divisions. In the end, I think the best solution (pending any expansion or contraction of the league) is a relatively minor tweak. It's also guaranteed to thrill precisely no one.

The NHL should increase the number of interconference games by 6, and decrease the number of intradivisional games by 6. This sounds a little convoluted, but it's really not that bad:
The change to the interconference schedule should (mostly) satisfy both fans and, ahem, "cost-conscious" owners. Each team would play 8 road games against the other conference instead of 5; in other words, one 3-game roadtrip would be across the country instead of in adjacent states/provinces. The transportation would be more expensive, but the hotels would be about a wash; every club should be able to handle the costs.

Also, (1) your team would play every other team every year, and (2) every team would come to your home arena at least every other year, instead of every third year. I think this would make most fans happy.

The change to the intradivisional schedule should (mostly) mollify those of us concerned about the unbalanced conference schedule. Calgary & Edmonton would continue to play the Hawks/Blues/Jackets 12 times a year, but Nashville and Detroit, instead of facing those 3 teams 24 times, would face them 19 or 20 times. Also, playing division rivals 6 or 7 times instead of 8 is a decent balance, as I see it: that's still plenty of games in which to develop & maintain the rivalries that most of us enjoy, but not as many as now, where literally, in your next 10 games, you can expect to play every team in your division. Again.

Translation: whatever ill or unfair effect you think the unbalanced conference sked has on the playoff race, my proposed changes would reduce it by about a third.

And don't forget, the unfairness issue would further be reduced by playing all the teams in the other conference (e.g this season, Toronto had to play the whole NW Division on the road, while Atlanta didn't have to play the NW at all).

As always, I'd be interested in hearing feedback on this.


Wild West Fest

It's a good night for Western Conference hockey fans.

With so many of the teams playing each other, there is reasonable potential for some jigging of the standings. On tap:

Minnesota v Nashville
Dallas v Colorado
Calgary v Chicago
Vancouver v Detroit
Anaheim v San Jose
Phoenix v St. Louis
and, of course, Edmonton v Los Angeles

Buffalo Bob's Predictions: Minnesota, Dallas, Calgary (ugh), Vancouver, San Jose, St. Louis, Edmonton.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


No screwing around

Wow, Sutter doesn't screw around. One bad game and he ships the Flames' backup goalie outta town. I guess you can do that when you have a good starter.

Hey Madcrutch, didn't you ask for Sauve yesterday?

In other news, Captain Canada Ryan Smyth pulled the ole stick tap on Giggy causing the Ducks netminder to go bananas.

Mrs. Sacamano was watching Lost so I was only getting the game during commercials, but every time I flipped back JS was skating out of his crease to hit someone, and the Oil were on a 5 on 3. It's a darn good thing, too, because the first two periods were so miserable I didn't even mind not watching.


Happy Robbie Burns Day!

Don't forget to eat your haggis, neeps 'n' tatties tonight while watching the game.

The piper image was shamelessly stolen and modifed from here (via the surprisingly upbeat HF).


Oilers Game Day - Anaheim

Season Record: 25-18-6 Season Record: 21-16-10


The stars aligned a little bit last night as Calgary, Vancouver, and LA all lost.

The next 5 games will go a long way to determing where Edmonton ends up this season. By my estimation they must win at least the three 'easy' games (Ducks, Phoenix, Columbus), and probably at least one of the other two (Kings, Canuckleheads).

The Ducks are currently only four points back of Edmonton for the final playoff spot, and they have two games in hand. But frankly, I don't think they are nearly as good as their point total would suggest. 10 OTL! 10? This is in contrast to Phoenix, who--despite their miserable goal differential--just might be better than their point total would indicate. If you just count wins and losses, Edmonton and Phoenix have pretty similar records, so do Edmonton and Minnesota. I feel sick just writing that.

In any case, the Oil have to go into a tough building (Ducks are 9-1-2 in their last 12 at home) and take a game. The good news is that Edmonton has the best road record in the NW (14-8-4), and they are 8-1-4 on the road over the last 13 games.

The bad news? Mac-T is starting to lose it. Word is that he bag skated the third and fourth lines, but not the top two. I'm not exactly sure why the second line got off easy--none of them have done anything recently. He must be usin' some ah dat der psy-chology.

I've always been pretty skeptical about the value of a bag skate, but I seem to recall it getting him some results last season, so we'll see.

Prediction: 5-2 Oilers (Smyth, Hemsky, Stoll, Torres, Dvorak)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006



Under the category Why the Flames' 7-4 Loss to Colorado Wasn't as Agonizing as it Could Have Been:

$200 - What is "Chuck Kobasew had a hat trick"?

$400 - What is "The Flames division record is still 13-4-2, and they get the Avs 4 more times, 3 of which are at home"?

$600 - What is "First game Kerry Fraser reffed all year, and as it turns out, I actually missed the guy"?

$800 - What is "Our goalie skated 190 feet to start a fight with Hardy Astrom, and may end up suspended for a game because of that instigator-in-the-last-5-minutes rule"?

$1000 - What is "My good mood after a win like last night's takes more than 24 hours and 7 GA to fade away"?

Also, the Canucks have been busy softening up the Central Division for us, and the Flames are still leading the division, with a game in hand to boot.

Also, how is it possible that the Mile High City has what seemed like the worst ice in the league?



Interleague play in the NHL is over. There were 150 games played; the West won 79 (17 in OT/SO) and the East won 71 (19 in OT/SO). That is, the West went 79-52-19; the East went 71-62-17.

The most lopsided Div. vs. Div. result was the Southeast vs. (surprise!) the Central, with a record of 19-3-3. For the West, the most lopsided result was tied: the Pacific went 16-8-1 vs. the SE, and the Northwest went 16-8-1 vs. the once-mighty Northeast.

The East's best interleague teams were Carolina (7-2-1, 15 pts), Tampa Bay (7-3-0, 14 pts), and New Jersey (6-2-2, 14 pts). Their worst teams were Pittsburgh (1-9-0, 2 pts), Toronto (2-8-0, 4 pts), and Boston (3-5-2, 8 pts).

The West's best interleague teams were Vancouver and San Jose (both 9-1-0, 18 pts) and Calgary (7-2-1, 15 pts). Their worst teams were St. Louis (1-7-2, 4 pts), Minnesota (4-5-1, 9 pts), Edmonton (3-3-4, 10 pts), and Columbus (5-5-0, 10 pts).

Just in case you were wondering.


Flames Game Day

The Flames take on the Avalanche tonight in Denver (RSN West, 7PM MST).

David Aebischer has been playing pretty well lately, so it's time for another Hardy Astrom whammy! He had a sequence of saves in the 1st period of Saturday's losing effort v. the Wings that has to be seen to be believed (about the 0:57 mark of the video clip).

The Avs won 8 straight before losing to the Chicago Winning Streak Killers and then Detroit. A Flames win tonight will vault them ahead of Dallas/LA into the 2nd seed, and depending on the Blue Jackets' home effort against the Canucks, could widen their NW Division lead.

And hey--let's not let last night's convincing win in the Battle of Alberta go by the wayside quite yet. Terry Jones has a nice piece in the Edmonton Sun, with an uncharacteristically observant lede:
The body language said it all.

"These guys own us. They own the puck. And they own us."

In the second period, you could see it from the cheap seats.

And it's true. They do.

Robin Brownlee, also in the EdSun:
Too often flat and without emotion and intensity were the Oilers, who didn't muster nearly enough fight in the latest chapter of a Battle of Alberta that's fast becoming a one-sided slap down.

Pucker up, boys.

Scott Cruickshank in the Herald also has a good lede, as well as a fine example of the ornery Sutter I mentioned the other day:
An incensed Jarome Iginla is something to behold.

The tough part, however, will be trying to find a brave soul to bloody his mouth every night.

"It doesn't uplift me, it doesn't uplift our team, he's a great player," shrugged Calgary pilot Darryl Sutter. "Jarome's energy level was better tonight than it was two nights ago. And his energy level looked like it was better than their best player's."

You think, coach? And finally, the TSN message boards, always good for capturing the spirit of the thing. Here's the first 10:

Monday, January 23, 2006



That...was a thumping. I see the Flames were outshot by ten, so the temptation might be to say Kipper was the difference. Not so much.

Kiprusoff was very solid, but this was just one of those games where the better team won. Iginla got irritated early, and then popped a couple of goals. The Flames cycled the puck well in the Oilers' end. They picked up loose pucks, and won battles. Tonight at least, we saw two teams headed in different directions.

If you watched the game, who would you say was the best Oiler? Torres was pretty good, and seemed to have more pluck than anyone else. Smyth was OK; Stoll was OK. Hemsky and Horcoff were pretty invisible. I barely noticed my man Peca, after that 1st period sequence where he headed (helmeted?) the puck and then gave Leopold a hard two-hander on the back. And the defensemen: in a big, home, divisional game, how can your D be so timid? I don't recall a single big hit delivered by an Oilers' D-man, let alone a big play that could have helped their team's result.

With Vancouver's loss to the worst team in the NHL (again), the Flames are now alone in 1st in the Northwest with a game in hand. Also, the Flames have now earned 9 points this season in the Battle of Alberta, the Oilers have earned 4, and there's two games left. By at least one measure, the Flames just clinched the season series.

The Flames now have bigger fish to fry, trying to move up from the 3rd seed in the conference. The Oilers had better sack up, as that comfortable margin over Anaheim and San Jose is narrowing, and rapidly.

It was a pretty good night for Calgary Conservatives, of which I am nominally both but strictly neither. Congratulations to Stephen Harper: I guess the next time I see the Prime Minister in a Flames sweater, I'll know he means it.


Yep, big night

"Both events are televised, but only one is worth watching." Indeed. Not convinced? Here's the Battle of Alberta and the federal election, head-to-head:

As you can see, The Battle of Alberta is a clear 6-3-1 winner.

I'm predicting a positive result for Team Red in both the game and in Edmonton Centre (and in the spirit of that riding, don't forget to keep stuffing our ballot box!).

Goooooooooo Flames!

[P.S. This blog is not a politics-free zone per se; however, we require every political comment to be tied to hockey in some way, regardless of how tortured or lame that connection may be. Fair warning.]


Register Your Vote -- it's BoA Night!

Well, it is that time of year again.

The time when competing ideologies run smack into one another. When the forces of light meet the forces of dark. When our fearless leaders put their credibility on the line. No, friends, we're not talking about the Federal Election; we're talking about the infinitely more compelling Battle of Alberta. Both events are televised, but only one is worth watching.

It is the sixth time these teams have met this year, with the 3-2 edge going to the Calgarians.

The Flames are 5 up in the standings and currently sit atop the NW division. For Oilers fans, the difference between 3-down vs 7-down after tonight is stark.

The good news is that the Oilers have lit up Kiprusoff for 5 goals in each of the last two games. Sadly, the Flames scored 6 in the New Year's Eve game. I don't see the horsemen scoring that many tonight. I don't know who gets the nod in net for Edmonton - probably the Mayor - but either way I'm confident that the goaltending will be there.

For all you lurkers out there, the time for fence sitting is over; it's time to stuff the ballot box: Oilers or Flames.

Game Prediction: 4-2 Oilers, with an empty netter. Laraque extends his scoring streak and gets the game winnah!

Election Prediction: a whopping 71% of eligible BoA readers will support the Oilers

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Sore, Sore, Sore

I apologize to all of the Oilers fans out there for abandoning you over the last few days. I unexpectedly went skiing in Jasper over the weekend.

Although during junior high and high school I was a skiin' fool, this was only the third time I've strapped on the boards in the last 15 years. Needless to say the day after skiing (i.e., today) I was totally unable to get out of bed, nevermind try to find an internet cafe in Jasper to chime in about the Phoenix game.

I come back today to find about a million Flames posts. Talk about kickin' a guy when he is down, Fenwick

Never fear, however, because I am back and pumped about tomorrow night's BoA.

Go Oil!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Flames Game Night

Chris Drury and the Buffalo Sabres are in Calgary tonight. Drury got a bit of bad rap in Calgary; he was widely thought to be very unhappy here, but from the accounts of people who'd be inclined to confirm such a thing, it was simply that he's just not much of a smiler.

However, that in no way mitigates the fact that he was pretty damn disappointing. When the Flames acquired him from Colorado for Derek Morris, most of us were expecting him to increase his production, being an unquestioned first-line #1-PP-unit guy. He responded with a 23-30-53, -9.

In retrospect, I'm pretty sure that it was the expectations that were out of whack, not his performance. He's a 25-goal guy, and his sublime knack for scoring big goals with Colorado was more a function of his fine team than a special "clutch" gene.

He's getting quite a bit of gloss for the Sabres performance this year. He's an awesome faceoff guy, although his +/- rating of -8 on the season is none too impressive. Perhaps he's become more of an active, vocal leader; I don't know--I'm just glad he's contributing whatever it is he's contributing somewhere else. (Fun, eyebrow-raising fact: he wears the number 23 as a tribute to the pennant-less Don Mattingly.)

The Canucks beat Buffalo on Thursday by sawing-off on PP goals, beating them at even strength, and getting pretty good goaltending. That sounds to me like a formula that Calgary can execute. 4-2 for the good guys. Go Flames.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Strange Headline Dept.

Flames Olympians come up clean in drug testing - calgaryflames.com main page.

I know Berard tested positive yesterday, but isn't this a dog-bites-man story? Also, the sense of relief conveyed by such a headline is kind of, weird -- it seems more suited for a family blog, where Mom posts that Kimmy Passed Her Driver's Test!


"He does not suffer fools or slackers gladly."

Nice piece by George Johnson on Darryl Sutter at ESPN.com:
His is the face on the franchise. Not Iginla's. Not Kiprusoff's. Make no mistake where the power lies, either. Other people may have fancy titles and swell write-ups in the official media guide, but the buck starts and stops in only one place. Banana republic dictators have less sway than this guy.

Sounds about right. His success speaks for itself, and I'm pretty sure that's the only way he wants to be judged.

I don't write about Sutter much, mainly because I have the same attitude. Team success means he's doing a good job. If the team fails, that means he's not. And plus, he's got enough people in the regular Flames media (like George Johnson, for example!) more than willing to toot his horn.

My personal favourite thing about Darryl Sutter, though, is definitely listening to his press conferences and media scrums on the radio. It's actually a little surprising that he's so well-liked by the media, because it always sounds like he has a strict policy of never agreeing with them about anything.

To be more clear: he always starts every answer by rejecting the premise of the question. If anyone has tape of Sutter answering a question by starting with the word "Yes", or "Yeah", or anything remotely affirmative, please give me a heads-up. He never sounds pissy about it (although 'ornery' would be fair), but the beginning of every answer is essentially a rebuke of the questioner.

If you asked him today, "Do you think Jarome Iginla has gotten untracked?", or some such variation, he'd respond that the goals aren't the issue, it's something about hard work, taking care of the little things, putting himself in positions to be successful, etc. etc. If you're hoping to hear him comment about the importance of Jarome Iginla scoring goals, you'll need to ask him a somewhat unrelated question about goaltending, or the powerplay.

Once you get used to it, it's pretty entertaining.



Since it's a little tricky to grasp what's going on in the standings (particularly the playoff races) when the teams have played a different total number of games, here's the NHL standings, baseball-style:

(If anyone knows of a site that shows the standings this way, on a continuously updated basis, please drop a comment.)


Buried lede?

Today in the Globe & Mail, Rob Blake talks about the injury problems with Team Canada's defensive corps. It's obviously a concern, yet for some reason, the article doesn't go into what will happen if McCabe and Jovocop still have their groin problems in (say) two weeks.

Put another way (since I haven't read this spelled out anywhere else), Dion Phaneuf may yet be a Canadian Olympian. Candidates to replace Special Ed on the team (and McCabe on the taxi squad) would include Phaneuf (28 pts, +3), Dan Boyle (30, -7), and Scott Hannan (12, -3). Past that, we're looking at guys like Steve Staios and Derek Morris (and M-A Bergeron?). Stay tuned, folks.


Friday's History Lesson

Nice win by the Flames last night. It wasn't as close as the 3-2 final score would indicate; the Flames forwards dominated a depleted Montreal defense most of the game.

Unfortunately, the first period was marred by some brutal, brutal officiating. There were 5 minor penalties called in the first 7 minutes of the game, and as far as I'm concerned, all five were ridiculous. There was a charge that wasn't a charge (Iginla); a hook that wasn't a hook (Streit); a trip that wasn't a trip (Phaneuf); a crosscheck that was harmless enough that Iginla maintained control of the puck (Souray); and a hold that wasn't a hold (Leopold).

The first call that the refs got right was fighting majors for McCarty and Souray; I guess that's hard to cock up. Unfortunately for Souray and the Habs, he also got a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure, as McCarty was cut badly by some brace that Souray had around his wrist. (My understanding is that the call was by the book, although the infraction is a misnomer, since it most certainly was not deliberate. Souray will not be suspended).

TV play-by-play guy Roger Millions noted after the Phaneuf non-trip (I paraphrase): "It used to be that referees erred on the side of caution. That's not the case anymore." Why not? Even if you are the world's biggest supporter of the harshest imaginable obstruction crackdown: why not? There is absolutely no logical connection between (A) calling more stickwork & interference as fouls and (B) being sure these fouls were actually committed before blowing the whistle.

The first ten minutes of last night's game was the kind of thing that makes a guy wonder about the NHL's true motives: are they trying to crack down on cheating, or are they just trying to have more powerplays? I hate, hate, hate dwelling on this crap, but here's one fan's opinion: hockey officiated that way is unwatchable.

Related: I just finished reading a nice book that came out in September called (wait for it), "The Battle of Alberta". I'll have more to say about it in the next while, but there's one graf I wanted to share that has some relevance to this discussion.

Again, the book was written before this season started. I'd italicize some parts, but I don't think any emphasis is needed. From the section on the 1984 Smythe Division Finals, pp. 123-124:
While Sather complained about the refereeing and the lack of calls on all the hacking and whacking, [Charlie] Huddy says the games were actually made all that much better because the referees used their judgement and let the iffy plays go. That's a big difference from the game today, where the two-referee system can see each team get up to 10 powerplays per game. "Back then, the refs let us get away with so much stuff," recalls Huddy. "That has changed, now; the refs see and call everything. Back then, they let us play. And that helped create some of the great battles; like, for me, trying to clear big bodies like Peplinski and (Joel) Otto away from our net."

Thursday, January 19, 2006


More Oilers Goalie Speculation - for Peter

Just to drive Peter crazy, I'm going to start another thread on the Oilers goaltending situation to report that da Bruins have apparently claimed goalie Craig Anderson off of waivers from Chicago.

I don't like that. How can we unload Conky on them if they already have a terrible backup?


Oilers Game Day - Sharks

Season Record: 24-17-5 Season Record: 21-17-7


Yikes! It is a battle for the final playoff spot. The Sharks have won 9 of their last 11. The Oilers have lost three straight.

And not only are they trying to take our playoff spot, but they are trying to take away our northern Albertan livelihood.

Of course, it appears that Shark oil is used for somewhat different purposes than Athabasca crude . . . (insert your own joke here about San Jose's butts, wraps, and dented shafts)

Prediction: 4-2 Oilers

As usual, you will have to go elsewhere for a postgame report since this one is only on PPV. Plus, I'm going to see Bjorn Again AND Nearly Neil tonight at the Jube. Yep, you read that correctly - they are playing together. F-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c!


Flames Game Day

It's always fun to play the Montreal Canadiens, and they come to town tonight for a 7PM MST start (Sportsnet West).

For the second time in a week, the Flames play a team hot off of canning their coach. The Islanders rode that adrenalin for a whole game, following their win over the Flames with an 8-1 crushing by the Canucks. Montreal is marginally more talented than NYI, so the 2-game high they've had since Julien got fired seems about right.

I think the Habs will be totally hapless tonight. I think that equates to (A) about a 4-1 Calgary victory, and (B) Gainey and Carbonneau, just in case they're having "thoughts", remembering that the Habs weak record in the past 2 months hasn't just come from a lack of effort & inspiration. There's some loft issues there too.

For the view from the other side (and this should really be a feature of our game previews), check out Sisu Hockey. Here's something I didn't know:
So, the Montreal Canadiens now have a collection of eight Selke trophies behind the bench: Gainey has four, Carbo has three and Jarvis one. I pity the forward (Mike Ribeiro) who backchecks lazily.

No kidding. And I think Tommy is due for some more pinball wizardry. Go Flames.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Carnival of the Oilers' Goaltending Woes

Hot topic we got here.

Tom Benjamin:
I expect the Rangers are doing whatever they can to move him but it's hard to imagine any team stupid enough or desperate enough to live with terminal immaturity.

Mmmm, wait a second.

Don't the Oilers desperately need a goaltender?

That's what drives the goalie decisions at this point? "He hasn't sucked in this location recently."

Mike W:
I guess the Oilers didn't play all that well last night against the Senators, especially our goaltenders, most specifically Ty Conklin, who must be run out of town immediately.

Chris McMurtry:
Craig MacTavish made a comment recently about his team having the potential to be the best club in the league if not for their flaws, and though he didn’t elaborate as to what he thinks those flaws are, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know who he was talking about. I’m sure Ty Conklin’s ears were burning...

Jes Golbez:
How can the Oilers still be in the playoffs ahead of the Minnesota Wild despite having the worst goaltending this side of Armenia? Jussi Markkanen had a decent start and then got worse, and now Ty Conklin is back and he just continues to suck.

The Puck Stops Here:
Their regular goalies Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin have been among the worst regular goalies in the NHL so far this year. In fact the strongest string of good games has come from one-time NHL player of the week Mike Morrison... If Edmonton could add a legitimate starting goalie without damaging the rest of their core, the team could be dangerous. Until then, they are likely an also ran.

And probably still my favourite bit, Sacamano:

"Yep, Conky is either dead or is on his way to market."


This is just a test - read only if you have lots of time to waste.

Wow. It looks like you can include videos right into blogger now.


Maybe we should put that Flames "Red Hot" video on a constant loop.

This is the end of the test.


James Brown is Dead

I haven't played a video game since they added a second button, so I'm not entirely sure what this is all about.

When did Ference, Primeau, Cullen, Fleury, Varada (when did he learn to throw kidney shots?) Thornton (with the C no less!) join the Oilers?

Lest the Flames fans feel left out, here is a pretty amazing video of life at Cowtown U during the 1980's. An asstounding time, indeed!


Conspirazoid Goalie Rumours

It is getting desperate in Oilerland.

For a while now there has been rampant (and apparently unfounded) rumours about the Oil trying to acquire Theodore from Montreal--perhaps for Le GG.

Now the tin-foil hat crowd has noted that Jordan Sigalet has been recalled to Boston from the Providence Bruins, and that Team Implosion starting goaltender Andrew Raycroft didn't practice with the team this morning.

Now maybe he is injured/sick/whatever, but maybe all of this is the prelude to a trade. Bruins fans seem to think so. Oilers fans are pretty divided in their opinion of whether or not Raycroft is actually an upgrade on anything we already have.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Damn Morissoconkannan!

What do you mean last night's loss wasn't the fault of the goaltenders?

Forget it. I'm not buying it. Afterall, not one of our goaltenders scored any goals last night--not one.

It has to be their fault, because I'm not sure whether or not I can take it if we start losing games on the back of weak play by the rest of the team.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Familiar territory

And suddenly, the 9th-place San Jose Sharks are only 6 points behind the Oilers with 3 games in hand. Oh, me-oh-me-oh my! Also, being .500 at home is not a marker of a guaranteed playoff team.

If the only the poor EIG had had, say, $4M to spend this past offseason to acquire a top goalie. Damn runaway player salaries! It is to weep.

[P.S. I have to go "earn" a "living" for a few days, and appearances here will be sparse. I expect Peter, jhuck, Dirk, and the rest of you good Flames fans to ensure the loo-sahs don't take it over with their depraved rantings about MacT and the goalies. Late.]


Why? Why!!!!!

I know I've been a little stats-obsessed lately, but this question needs answering, and it should be of interest to every hockey fan. So I'll bring it up again:

Why is (per minute) even-strength scoring up by 20% while special teams scoring is not up at all? It confounds!

It's easy to justify why some rule change (or changes) is improving even-strength scoring. It's less easy, though still possible, to imagine why some change is helping ES scoring more than Special Teams scoring. But it is extremely difficult to explain why Change X (Y, Z, etc.) is helping ES scoring, but is not helping PP scoring whatsoever.

To take one example only, one might tend to attribute an increase in scoring overall this year to the smaller goalie equipment. But why isn't PP scoring up? If smaller goalie equipment really is making a difference, then some other change is negating that difference on the PP. What rule (or other) change is harming the PP? It confounds!

Your help is needed. In the comments to TB's post on this topic, a number of ideas have been tossed out, and mostly dismissed (judge for yourself).

One idea has been that there's been a big increase in ES goals in the seconds after a PP ends, because there has been so many more PPs. I did what I could to analyse this, and figured out that Maybe this accounts for 1-2% of the 20% increase. No dice.

Tom's idea, which is still under review, is that ES scoring is up, but PP is not, because of the handful of rules that reduce ES stoppages (but have little effect on PP stoppages): the no-change icing rule, tag-up offsides, no redline, etc.. He's guessing that this is resulting in (A) wearier players who can't get a change and (B) more bad line changes.

This seems kind of plausible, but his intuition says that these problems would be exacerbated in the 2nd period when it's even harder to get to the bench. Not so, say the numbers. ES/PP time is not readily available broken down by period, but overall scoring is actually up less in the 2nd period than it is in the 1st and 3rd. (1st: +28%, 2nd: +13%, 3rd: +24%).

Your help is needed. It confounds!

[Postscript: as previously noted, special teams scoring actually is up by 8.5% this season. But if you correct for the astounding 134% increase in 5-on-3 scoring, it is unchanged.]


Look it up in your Funk & Wagnall's

The definition of Serendipity, hockey version:
(N.) When your best player scores a hat trick on Hat Giveaway Day

As Red & Black Hockey notes (click through for a photo):
Roughly 18,000 hats were handed out, but not nearly that many went home.

Both Sacamano and I have sacrificed hats with considerable sentimental value in the same situation, and for my money, there's probably no experience more satisfying in a regular season game.

This Hart Trophy race is seriously interesting, too. Eric Staal is the best player on the top team in the league (today), and is T4th in goals and 7th in points. Add the fact that James Mirtle was the only non-Canes-fan in the world to pick them for the playoffs, and it's bloody tough to argue against him.

Jagr is leading the league in points, again on a team who almost no one (almost! ow! my arm doesn't reach back that well...) picked for the playoffs, and has the Rangers in a very sound position. Alfredsson and Forsberg have made excellent cases for themselves. Ilya Kovalchuk is leading the league in goals and has dragged his team into 7th place in the East, and climbing.

In the West, you probably have to look at the goaltenders (Thornton is the only guy in the West in the NHL Top 10 scorers). Turco, Vokoun, and Kipper will all be strong contenders if their team wins their division, or especially the Conference. (And really, if San Jose keeps pushing and makes the playoffs, then Joe Thornton deserves consideration himself).

It'll be a dogfight. It also looks like there's going to be 16 pretty good teams in the playoffs; you'd have to be a sucker to bet on a frontrunner with short odds.

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