Friday, October 31, 2008


Friday Baseball Standings

**Enjoyed the game last night, though I think I've seen enough of Bertuzzi in the dying minutes (or worst, minute) with a 1-goal lead, thank you very much.

**Also enjoying: the recent comment threads at Lowetide. The rank & file are in a pretty foul mood. Related: if "The Answer" is still an appropriate nickname for Steve MacIntyre, what is the question? (Mine is, "How do you make the Oilers' 4th line as effective as the Flames' was last year?")

**Halloween Fun Link: from the FAN960's Mike Richards, a 45-second clip of TSN's Darren Dutchyshen answering the door for trick-or-treaters. Particularly recommended for those who like their parodies right on the nose. Bonus link: Steve Armitage doing the same.

Happy Halloween. And Go Flames.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Flames Game Day

I'm pretty intrigued by this game tonight against the Bruins (7PM MT at the 'Dome). By record, the B's are one of the best teams in the East so far this season; more impressive is that they've gotten there playing most of their games on the road, and against pretty good teams to boot (including the other 4 NW teams).

Having flicked by the TSN panel on Tuesday during the BOS/VAN intermission, I'm also curious to get a look at the Bruins "system". Though Claude Julien stresses defensive responsibilities as much as anyone, I'm always a bit skeptical to hear any system given a whole lot of credit for success. A closer look at a team that plays a stifling defensive system generally reveals a team who (A) has the puck a lot, and (B) is getting good goaltending.

No one-nil tonight. He's one of the NHL's truly good shits, and I miss the guy, but with A-Fence on the defence, you're going to be giving up some scoring chances.

Calgary 4 (Phaneuf, Moss, Langkow, Iginla)
Baahhstin 2 (Guy who the Flames traded for Ruslan Zainullin x2)

Go Flames.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I said 4th in the division, right?

I prematurely eulogized Joe Sakic once before, so I don't want to do it again (and that isn't really what this post is about anyway), but the Avalanche look like a one-line team. Stastny-Moolay-Hedjuk is a terrific line, mind you, maybe one of the best in the league, but they had virtually every one of the Avs' scoring chances tonight.

Every other line of theirs got pounded this evening. David Moss absolutely demolished everyone he played against. Glencross, Boyd, Conroy, Bourque were all dominant in varying degrees. Primeau, Prust, and Nystrom faded after a strong start, but still a bunch of shifts against 19/Tucker/whoever and played that line to at least a draw.

As always, if the bounces had been a bit different, the 2 points could have gone the other way, but; when it comes to the Avs vaunted forward corps, I'm not real sure what the proverbial emperor is wearing.

(Or maybe it's just Tony Granato's fault.)


Flames Game Night

Colorado @ Calgary, 730PM MT, RSN West.

The Avs have reeled off five straight wins, and they're hot: Astrom has been stopping a lot of pucks, and Team Granato has been making good on a lot of scoring chances.

Kent notes in his early season review that "Rene Bourque is quietly becoming a Keenan favorite I think". No question about it. I mentioned before the Caps game that the Flames are seeing a lot more shifts end in the other guys' zone than in their own. So much so, in fact, that there is but one Flame who has been sent on by the coach for more faceoffs in the defensive zone than the offensive zone (at EV). Sarich and Regehr are close, but it's M. Bourque who holds that distinction. Which I suppose makes the fact that he's one of only three regulars with a plus plus/minus that much more impressive.

Prediction: a goaltender is pulled at some point, and the Flames win 5-3, salted away with an EN goal for Iginla -- giving him an unnatural hat trick. (Not quite as impressive as Cogliano's, but whatever.) Go Flames.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


BoA Review: Flames PPV

I can't say that it's the most I've enjoyed a Flames pay-per-view broadcast (that remains, and likely will for some time, the shooting gallery in St. Pete last season), but it was easily the highest quality broadcast the team has ever put on.

The HD picture was terrific, a massive improvement over previous seasons where the video seemed roughly YouTube-quality. There were no technical difficulties to speak of, another massive improvement. They left the PP clock on for 20-30 seconds after Arnott had scored, and that's it: basically, the product seemed technically equal to Hockey Night in Canada, or TSN (insert obligatory Hockey Theme riff).

I was fairly impressed with Rob Kerr in his play-by-play debut. He was wearing a suit that no doubt costs five times as much as anything he's ever owned, and looked sharp. I found his voice and commentary to be generally pleasant and informative. Though I realize it's a matter of taste, I think his WWF-mode for calling fights is ridiculous, and comes off very junior hockey. (The absurdity was underlined last night when Prust fought Tarnasky: he bellowed 'DOWN GOES TARNASKY'; simultaneously (to his credit) realized it wasn't really a punch; but then kept yelling at the same volume 'THOUGH I THINK THAT WAS A BALANCE ISSUE AS MUCH AS ANY PUNCH'.)

There was only one area in which Kerr was an utter failure, and that was in eliciting any insightful or entertaining comments from "colour" "analyst" Charlie Simmer. Seriously, sir, is there any point in the game where it's not especially important to really knuckle down and be solid? I heard some variation of that phrase after goals against, after goals for, at the beginning of periods, at the end of periods. Our last prime minister got mocked, and rightfully, for his penchant for saying that absolutely any issue he was asked about was a "very, very high priority". As such: if it's always a key time of the game, then it never is.

Also, momentum. Yeeaaaggghhh. Look, I'm not rabidly anti-intangibles, I swear. If a coach or fan wants to look at the previous night's game and say, "I thought that fight / hit / save / shift was what changed the momentum in our favour", then fine. Might well be true, I certainly don't feel the mood of the bench through my TV.

However, the concept of momentum in a hockey game as expounded by Simmer and some of his ilk is a real schmozzle. A semi heading westward along the highway has momentum, because even if you shut the engine off, someone is going to have to do a lot of work to get it going back eastward. Simmer assigns all sorts of importance to momentum, AND talks like it can switch back and forth on a dime, frequently and without warning, which must mean that (at the time) it isn't worth much. It has got to be one or the other, doesn't it?

But even forget that: can we all agree at least that the actual benefit to scoring the first goal is not that "you take the momentum away from the home team in front of the crowd", as Simmer was trying to convince me, but that you're up 1-0? Momentum, such as it is, can change back and forth, but that goal is staying on the scoreboard no matter what. It's permanent. Also, the object of the game is not to outmomentum the other team.

I think what it is is that "momentum" in hockey is a dressing room concept used to represent the idea of playing well (i.e. outchancing etc.). If you just had a really good shift but didn't score, what did you achieve? You grabbed some momentum for your team. It's immediate, and has at least the illusion of being tangible (if not actually true most times in the English sense, or ever in the physics sense). As a feedback mechanism, it's a lot better than the AC telling you, "if you have enough shifts like that over the next ten games, you'll probably score several goals".

In that context, it makes sense. But it doesn't excuse an analyst for beating the momentum drum all night, even if he is an ex-player. Not only is it nonsensical, it's boring.

Friday, October 24, 2008


One more for the road

I don't know who the heck "Dave Martin" is, but his story sounds very similar to Dave Berry's.

***Update*** Dave Berry is now Dave Berry.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Flames Game Day

Flames @ Predators, 6PM MT, Flames PPV

I'll be giving the pay-per-view a shot this eve, now in HD and featuring new PbP guy Rob Kerr.

It was certainly nice to see Kipper put in a solid performance on Tuesday vs. the Caps. It was the first time this season that the broadcast team didn't have to use the phrase, "I'm sure he'd like that one back".

I wasn't blown away though, and this hilarious and on-point bit from Chris Selley, from three autumns ago, has been bouncing around in my head for a while:
Despite Leafs fans' unfailing willingness to climb inside their goaltender's head for in search of forgiveness — he was screened, it was a rolling puck, why the hell did Berg put his stick out?, he was distracted by a flashbulb, that was goalie interference!, well maybe if we had a Canadian captain he wouldn't have to make those saves, etc. — the fact remains that Edward Belfour's job is to stop all the routine shots and a huge majority of the "unstoppable" ones. These days, it's not happening. I like Belfour, and I know he starts slow, but the facts are the facts.

One of the key theoretical benefits of having better forward depth, as I think the Flames do this season, should be games like this one: on the road, against a coach who likes to try to exploit your third line with his best offensive line. Surely GlenX-Conroy-Moss should have more success neutralizing Arnott and Dumont in Nashville than Nystrom-Lombardi-Boyd did last season. We'll see.

Calgary 4 (Phaneuf, Glencross, Cammalleri, Iginla in OT)
Nashville 3

Go Flames.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



"I don't get too caught up in the blog world"
--J.J. Hebert, Media Relations Director, Edmonton Oilers

Here, J.J. Let me help you out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

There's a kind of hush--Covered in Oil

Friday, October 17, 2008

It Ends--Covered in Oil

Thanks for nothing, Edmonton Oilers organization--Hot Oil

The Edmonton Oilers are Afriad of the Power of the Internets--Barry Melrose Rocks

This One Hits Hard--NHL Arena Program

Two major blows to the hockey blogosphere--Cycle like the Sedins

How to kill a hockey fan--Battle of California

Caps and Oilers Are More Than a Conference Apart--On Frozen Blog

Oilers Pull Plug on Blogger--Going Five Hole

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oilers Need To Come Up With Press Box Policy For Bloggers--Cult of Hockey

Petty power-trippers deserve an Oil embargo--Out of Left Field

The Edmonton Oilers Will Not Tolerate Your Live-Blogging Shenanigans--Deadspin

The Edmonton Oilers Chase Blogger Out of Press Box--HF Boards

Covered in Oil Shut Down--The Pensblog

Blogophobia in Edmonton--Can't Stop The Bleeding

"They want all the fans to be like rabbits and sheep"--Battle of Alberta

Covered In Oil Blogger Booted from Game!--Oilblobosphere

I don't want the press pass and other musings--Hot Oil

Oilers: "Fans are just not that important to us."--Here Come the Bruins

It continues...--Covered in Oil

Oilers Give Blogger the Boot--Eric McErlain, NHL Fanhouse

The Morning(ish) After--Still No Name Sports

About the Maple Leafs--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Light Your Candles--Wrap Around Curl

All class, all the time--Five Hole Fanatics

Stupidity-Oilers Pull a KGB--Strange Deadfellows

Saturday Roundup: 1. Find Pacman; 2. Sue Pacman--The Big Lead

Hockey Night Live Blog: Caps vs. Devils-- Eric McErlain, NHL Fanhouse

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Covered In Oil embargo: The screwballs have spoken--Out of Left Field

Rallying the Base--Pension Plan Puppets

Edmonton Oilers get a blogger beat-down after censorship--Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy

Covered in Controversy--Sabretooth's House

No Soup For You!--Scarlett Ice

100th Post: In Defence of the Blogger--Minnesota Wild Times

Blog Police--James Mirtle

The People Have A Right To Know--Robin Brownlee, Oilers Nation

Fighting the Good Fight--Strange Deadfellows

Monday, October 20, 2008

Osataan sitä muuallakin/--Karhuherran Murinat

Oilers Brass are Petty Bureaucratic Tyrants--The Blueland Chronicle

Another NHL Team Misses a Chance to Embrace the Future--Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Most Blogs Are "Horrible" And Have "No Accountability": Gregor--Cult of Hockey

Accountability is key in hockey bloggers/press box controversies--Elliotte Friedman, Puck Daddy

High School Party Game--Black Dog Hates Skunks


Wanye, What Do You Think Of All This Oil VS Blogs Stuff?--Oilers Nation

Elliotte Friedman on hockey blog/press box

The Edmonton Oilers are Blog Haters!!!--NESW Sports

Point/Counterpoint: Bloggers And Limits--NHL Arena Program

The Oilers, Blogging, & The Sith--Mike Chen, Kukla's Korner

Bloggers Again--Tom Benjamin, Canucks Corner

Sad to see Savard go and not afraid to show it--Adam Proteau, The Hockey News

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"It's Not The Oilers Against The Bloggers," Oilers PR Man Hebert--Cult of Hockey

the whole story-and the last one to boot--Strange Deadfellows

Morning Link Dump--Andrew Stoeten, The Score

PR 101--Bitter Leaf Fan Page

The Line Was Crossed--Paul Kukla, Kukla's Korner

The Great Blogger Debate Continues--Avs Talk

And Now You Know...The Rest of the Story--Minnesota Wild Times

Edmonton Oilers Boot Blogger From Press Box For Abusing Press Pass--Zs Newsbits

blogging blackout until the end of the week. that's a full lid. thank you very much.--Daveberta

Scared of social media? Follow Batman’s lead--MasterMaq

Snivelling Oilers Blogger Not the Big Story--Orland Kurtenblog

In ur pressbox, disrespecting ur d00ds--Punjabi Oil

Ruminations on the relationship between blogs and pro sports teams--Raptors Blog

Keepin' It Live--Keepie-Uppie

Begun, The Blog Wars Have--Deadspin

Edmonton Oilers PR admits censorship, fights for media rights--Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All I'm Saying About Bloggergate And The Oilers Web Aspirations--Cult of Hockey

Edmonton Burning--Pensblog

Edmonton Oilers Blogger Banned Due to Content--Zs Newsbits

Oilers should move with the times and accept bloggers--Vancouver Province

Heart of the Matter--Lowetide

The Oilers blogger controversy--North of 49 Hockey

Blog Wars--Vue Weekly

The Hockeywood Insider: I'm a Mac, he's a PC--Life in Hockeywood

Desperate times calls for desperate measures--Life in Hockeywood

Friday, October 24, 2008

Teams slowly reacting as bloggers hit the NHL--Craig Custance, The Sporting News


Flames Game Day Gallimaufry

The Flames host the Capitals tonight at the Saddledome (730MT, TSN). Here's a whole bunch of things that have been on my mind the past few days.

**I thought the best Oiler in the B2B set was Erik Cole. Nilsson was probably his equal in the Friday game, where I thought the Oilers were unquestionably the better team, but Cole looked fantastic both nights.

**I'll refer you to my caveat from a few months ago, but I really think that the idea of "sticking up for your teammates" via fisticuffs -- especially in response to legal stuff -- is extremely overrated and quite possibly counterproductive. By throwing down with MacIntyre after Boyd was checked heavily and cleanly, Brandon Prust proved that he has guts, but he also took an entirely predictable beating (though I was surprised it wasn't worse), and took a 2-minute minor. The Flames were already scrambling a bit with the 2-0 lead, and the immediate follow-up to Prust's show of moxie was PK, GA, GA, GA.

I would submit that -- as inspiration goes -- Dustin Boyd's Hemskyesque willingness to go into the corner at full speed, seeing full well that he was going to get crunched, and then getting back up sorely but gamely... that should have done it. Recall too that, in the preseason, the Oilers were up 3-1, MacIntyre stuck up for Pouliot (who was not anxious, but certainly willing, to go with Vandermeer and also returned uninjured), and the Flames ended up with the 4-3 Win.

**Somewhat related: I'm thrilled that MacIntyre made such an impact (and/or was credited with doing so) in a very early game. I don't think it changes the fact that he's not an NHL-quality player, or the fact that the Oilers' forward depth is worse with him on the bench than in the PB. What is does change (mean) is that now there's a much better chance that MacT dresses him for 65 games rather than 25 (the importance of first impressions, etc.), and consequently that over the long sample of those 40 extra games, his presence in the lineup will cost them some points (a couple? few? dunno).

**Goaltending. Kent W had a really smart post in the summer about drafting goaltenders. You ought to read the whole thing, but the sentence I'm going to grab for my purposes is, "Goaltending is a wholly unique position and one that is paradoxical by nature."

It is indeed. A goalie who reliably stops pucks at a rate well above average is worth his weight in gold (proverbially; literally, he's worth much more). One who stops them at a below average rate, however, is worthless.

If Jarome Iginla declines noticeably over the course of his 5-year, $35M deal, he'll be overpaid, but he won't be worthless. First he'll slip from 1st All-Star calibre to being a Modano (plays tough minutes but sees his numbers drop) or an Arnott (puts up good numbers, but mostly on the PP and in softer minutes). Then he turns into a Rolston/Tkachuk type, and finally into a Recchi/Roenick type. Still able to help the team, just not in the way he was at his prime.

If Miikka Kiprusoff declines noticeably over the course of his 6-year, $35M deal, he'll be worthless and they'll have to stop playing him PDQ. If he doesn't perform reasonably close to expectations, he's not useable. $6.75M/yr on Roberto Luongo is the best possible use of that money; $6.75M/yr on Nik Khabibulin is the worst possible use of that money. (Today, that is.)

I wrote at some length here in the spring of 2007 -- when it seemed fairly clear that both weren't affordable unless the rest of the roster was really weak -- that I thought Sutter was going to extend Iginla and roll the dice/play hardball/play chicken with Kipper. Apparently I was projecting my inner wise man onto him. At any rate, I obviously and sincerely hope that Kipper finds his form RFN, but I will repeat what I said recently: the worst case scenario is not that he's awful and McE has to pick up a big chunk of the load; it's that he's subpar and keeps getting rolled out there on pace to start 75 games.

[Sidebar: I find it amazing how different, just within Canada, the fan/media culture can be about goalies. Vancouver and Toronto are absolutely polar opposites. Luongo has a mediocre stretch, and there's a freakout about how he's letting down the team. In TO, the goalie seems to be the absolute last guy to have the finger pointed at him.]

**Skill vs. Luck. A handful of games into the season seems like the opportune time to start addressing this. I guess the key point is this: when you read those two words bandied about in discussions of statistics, skill refers to things that are repeatable and (thus somewhat) predictable, and luck refers to things that are not. The mistaken impression a lot of people get, and take offense to, is that skill means the ability to perform a particular task or tasks, and luck means something that was undeserved. Not so, in this context.

Say Tiger Woods and I head down to the Par-3. On the first hole, I hit a 150-yard 8-iron to 25 feet and then sink the putt. He misses the green by a few feet, chips to 8 inches, and taps it in. In English, I didn't get particularly lucky, because I have the skill to hit the green from 150 years and to sink 25-foot putts (I just don't do either very reliably); Tiger occasionally misses the green. There were no crazy bounces involved. Nevertheless, I got lucky to beat Tiger Woods for that first skin, and if anyone were to watch it happen and conclude that I'm more skilled than Tiger Woods, they would be mistaken and soon disappointed.

Alexander Semin may well be full value for his 6 goals and 10 points thru 5 games, but nobody thinks he's going to score 100 goals and 160 points this season, and his failure to do so will not be because he doesn't play as hard or as smart as in the first 5 games. Likewise, though Ovechkin is on pace to score 50 points this season, he will undoubtedly end up with many more, and it won't be because of any major change in attitude or effort from today.

The trick here, of course, is how do you know when it's luck and when it's skill... after all, there are 71 other players presently sitting at 3 points along with Ocho, and not too many of them are "unlucky" to be there.

[Sidebar #2: think about all the player quotes you've read or heard in the past couple of weeks. There are a lot devoted to wanting to get off to a good start, not wanting to dig a hole, etc., and very few along the lines of it's early, it'll come, etc. Basically, these teams and players are damn serious about performing their best, exerting maximum effort, and winning already. It's something to keep in mind when the playoffs come and everyone's debating who can bring it -- do you see a lot of teams or players holding back on October 21st? Do you feel like there's some teams, and players, succeeding right now because there's no pressure?]

**The Flames -- currently sitting 30th out of 30 in the NHL in Team +/-. This would suggest that the preseason fears that they'd take a big EV step backwards are becoming reality.

Here's the thing: I don't think they are.

I've spent a lot of the last season+ being persuaded that, subject to some obvious caveats, the world is round, and that when it comes to hockey,

Winning the Possession/Zone Battle --> Winning the Scoring Chance Battle --> Outscoring

I've seen enough good evidence, and I think followed along closely enough myself, to believe it. The big onion in the ointment is goaltending: clearly with all else being equal, if Vancouver trades scoring chances of equal quality then they're going to win more games than they lose. There are also gifted players who will convert on a higher percentage of their chances than average; there are teams that are a lot better at keeping in the other guy's end than they are at creating anything out of it; etc.. But on average, and certainly as a predictor, having it in the other guy's end a lot and outshooting him is a good sign.

So far this season, the Flames have had 33 more EV shifts end in the offensive zone than the defensive zone. That is a really big number. By way of comparison, Detroit is +10 by this measure; Washington -2; Montreal -17. Calgary's Corsi# (Shots For minus Shots Against, includes misses and blocks, at EV) is +36.

The idea is not to say, "Don't believe your lying eyes, they've actually been great so far this season." The idea is that you can believe one of twothree things going forward:
  1. They will continue to give up a remarkably high number of good scoring chances as a proportion of shots; let a remarkably high number of good scoring chances end up in the back of the net; and fail to convert good possession and lots of shots into quality scoring chances and goals
  2. The advantage in possession, zone time, and shots will (sooner than later) lead to much, much better results at EV than they've gotten so far
  3. It's the possession and shot advantage that's the fluke; that'll reverse.
(3) is less likely than 1 or 2, but I'm getting short on time here. I believe (2).

**I had no idea, but apparently, according to the Oil's VPComm, this site is direct competition for Naturally, I'll be removing their link from the sidebar shortly.

**Calgary 4 (Giordano, Iginla, Moss, Phaneuf in the shootout) Washington 3 (Ocho x treis). Go Flames.

Monday, October 20, 2008


The Seventh Man

Congratulations, Mr. Moss. And well done, City of Edmonton. A finer choice for a Giant of Edmonton could not have been made.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Battle Night Live Blog

7:12PM - It's on, yo. Lemme just go throw some kids in bed.

7:34PM - Stupid, stupid, stupid. Keenan goes with Kipper again tonight. If you're not going to use your backup on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, in a building where he had a shutout a couple of weeks ago, well... let's just say you forfeit the right to act surprised and offended in the future when Not Using Kipper = International Incident.

8:06PM - Prediction time! How about Calgary 3, Edmonton 1. Iginla, Cammalleri, Boyd, Nilsson. Go Flames.

8:10PM - No WAY that's Spirit of the West. How damn old am I?

8:12PM - Conroy/Iginla/Cammalleri were on 3 different lines last night.

8:15PM - Bourque/Langkow/Bertuzzi with a pretty nice shift. I've pretty much loved Bourque so far this year, and needless to say, I'm a lot more pleased with Bertuzzi than I expected to be.

8:17PM - Flames PP. It looked awfully good last night, for that first ~4 minutes at least (lots of chances, culminating in the goal by 7).

8:18PM - 1-0 Flames. A pretty dominating PP, and Bertuzzi keeps up his 82-goal pace thru 5 games.

8:22PM - You know what's annoying? Stick penalties in the offensive zone. Am I right folks? [/bad comedian voice]

8:25PM - No more blood on the 2nd PP, but a bunch more decent chances. The Flames should absolutely be better this season with the man advantage. And apparently when we get back from seeing that Scotia Visa ad for the umpteenth time this week, they get another crack at it!

8:32PM - It's incumbent on me to point out that both Prust and Nystrom are dressed, neither of Primeau/Roy are. Good shift by the 4line, drawing that too many men penalty. :)

8:34PM - Strudwick with the own goal, 2-0 Flames. Glad I'm not counting Crawford's use of the word "unfortunate" tonight, someone's really got to talk to him about that.

8:39PM - I have the same first thought every game I see Stortini for the first time: "Bet that guy has awful breath".

8:42PM - Hemsky and Gagner get the love for the breathtaking this n that, but that Hit-and-Spin move my Iginla on Mr. Lubo was sick. Also, Conroy with an extralegal-looking run at Hemsky: hasn't he heard that the Oilers have an enforcer now?

8:46PM - Camera 1 is having a hell of a time following the puck from right to left. A kink in his/her neck, perhaps? Vertigo?

8:57PM - Shots 17-3 Calgary, and the Oil blocked 10 more. Good period. Nothing interesting from Milbury and Hrudey in five minutes, which is too bad, they're usually good for at least one take.

9:04PM - Just about the start of the 2nd. Fairly quiet night around teh web, typical for both (A) a weekend and (B) games where the Oilers are losing.

9:10PM - There's the perfect example of why these Oilfan revenge fantasies about MacIntyre running so-and-so through the boards are absurd: SMac couldn't even successfully run a stationary Cory Sarich.

9:15PM - Wow! Brandon Prust's most successful fight ever! Also, notwithstanding my previous comment, nice hit by MacIntyre -- I had no idea. Also impressed that Boyd went for it anyway, he saw what was coming.

9:20PM - Go Time goes top corner, 2-1 Flames. Comes at the end of a good PK + good half shift for the Flames, but that was a bad breakdown to let Moreau walk out and take a clear shot from there.

9:24PM - Moss sent in alone, but wobbles on an edge, then can't beat Garon. Prust out with a "bad back" apparently, which should be fine since he wasn't bound to be getting many more shifts anyway.

9:27PM - Conroy with the EXACT SAME ERROR as last Saturday, but this time it's Fernando instead of Hank Sedin. 2-2 Tie.

9:30PM - erk? Giordano and Kipper both get pwned by Siciliano, 3-2 Oilers.

9:36PM - MacT after the Grebs penalty: "Charlie? What's happening? Explain to me what's going on, Charlie?"

9:40PM - Flames with a pretty good 4-on-4 PP here, but no friends. Time for an extremely short 5-on-4 now that Bertuzzi is back out of the box.

9:52PM - Yeah, so not quite as good a period. I wonder what Five Hole Fanatics thinks about Conroy's performance as the Iginla centre? If only he had written about this issue once or twice before.

In unrelated news, Alex Tanguay was 2-0-2, +3 tonight, and his line with the mostly written-off Saku Koivu and the heretofore undistinguished Guillaume Latendresse has been one of the best in the Eastern Conference.

9:57PM - Should be an interesting 3rd. This is the kind of game where the losing fans just hate the team when they go to bed, because they were dominating and had it in hand.

10:07PM - Kipper needs a re-boot. He looked absolutely clueless on that Nilsson breakaway. Or, they could just keep trying the same thing as they have been for a year or so, and just assume that playing his way out of it is the way to go.

10:17PM - Speaking of Mark Lee (in the comments) I just enjoyed his "And Garon stands tall!" while Garon was on his belly covering the puck.

10:22PM - "Garon, relentless with the stopping, and the pucks, and the hoiven claven.."

10:33PM - Love how Marc Crawford doesn't understand the 4v4 rule ("Iginla can't come out until after the whistle.") He was a coach or something, wasn't he?

10:34PM - That's a bad weekend for the Flames. And the Oil hasn't looked this good since the Lupul team started 6-2.

10:47PM - Here's the interesting figure from tonight's game. Numbers at EV only:

Goals: 0 (Cgy) - 3 (Edm)
Saved Shots: 21-19
Missed Shots: 9-9
Shots that were Blocked: 22-6


10:51PM - Tonight's moment of Frank Mactavish: saying he called (and calls) the 1st period timeout to settle himself down, not just the team.

11:19PM - So being a Flames fan, I'm not too inclined to panic at a bad start (three seasons ago, they also started 1-3-1, and ended up winning the division by 8 points), but of course I'm concerned. I liked splitting up Iginla and Langkow (and expected as much in the offseason), and I thought that -- Conroy excepted -- most of the forwards looked pretty decent tonight.

The first of the two things are that it's a bit of a Chinese fire drill in the defensive end too often. I do think this will improve, and substantially, but sooner would be better than later. The second is obviously Kipper. He isn't terrifying me out there, and I think Hrudey was basically correct pre-game when he said that Kipper hasn't been as bad this season as his numbers would indicate, but jeez. If you had, uh, a friend who was concerned in July that Kipper might have lost the plot, or at least declined irreversibly, what would you show him from this season to ease his mind?

Onward, we venture outside the NW Division for 12 of the 13, where perhaps the lads will find their way. Thanks for hanging out tonight, everybody. Go Flames.


"They want all the fans to be like rabbits and sheep"

Flashback: March 1, 2007
Robert Vaughan used orange duct tape to spell out “Trade Lowe” on the back of his jersey when he attended the Oilers-Phoenix Coyotes game Tuesday night at Rexall Place.

He says he was stopped and taken to a small room in the bowels of the arena where two men, identifying themselves as representatives of the Oilers, told him the sign was offensive to management. “They want all the fans to be like rabbits and sheep,” said Vaughan, who’s owned season tickets for six years and is considering whether to renew them. “I feel violated.”

Moments after he and his nephew walked into the main concourse, he says he was tapped on the shoulder by two men in suits. They identified themselves as representatives of the Oilers and asked Vaughan and his nephew to accompany them.

Vaughan says they were taken to a room where the men told him to rip off the duct tape. He said he refused and tried walking to the door, when one of the broad-shouldered men blocked it. “He bluntly said I was not going to leave with that written on my back,” said Vaughan. “I said, ‘Are you threatening me?’ ”

[...]“I’m choked,” Vaughan said. “I’m extremely disappointed and I want a letter of apology from the Oilers. I bleed copper and blue. They took away my freedom of speech.” [...] “I was venting,” he said.

The Oilers did not return repeated phone calls yesterday.

This is what came to mind when I read Dave's account of being turfed from the Rexall pressbox for having the gall to update Covered in Oil while officially being there on other business.

Not to say I don't care about it, but the issues of New Media, This is the 21st Century, etc. are drums for others to beat, and if you scroll down to Links To This Post at the bottom of Dave's piece, you'll see that they're being beaten. Although it's worth underlining that, while Dave was reluctant to be categorical about it, it's as clear as Kevin Lowe's rapidly receding hairline that the problem was what Dave was writing, i.e. the exact same irreverent and unvarnished takes for which he is known and beloved, not that he was live-blogging. If he just was live-blogging scoring chances and who "looks sharp out there", he wouldn't have been touched -- no more than someone with EBERLE4EVER duck-taped to the back of his sweater would be called down into the bowels.

More than anything else, I just feel lousy for Dave. Apart from the fact that this was a pain in the ass professionally, there is no worse thing as a fan of a pro sports team than to be unavoidably confronted with the fact that, at root, it's extremely stupid. You're rooting for a private business who in the end will do whatever they damn well please for their own reasons, and occasionally exhibit, to use an old Cosh phrase, "the priggish imperiousness of a cop or civil servant".

And as much as I'd love to make this into a BoA-style "your poo stinks and mine doesn't" thing... no. There's a reason I've never attempted to contact the Flames organization, get a press pass, an interview, or the like. Actually, there's two reasons, the first of which is that I like this blog the way it is: it's personal, I don't owe anyone any favours, and I don't have to abide by anyone's rules and guidelines but my own.

But the other reason is that I really don't want to know what the response would be; I have no interest in them assessing the value (or not) of my contributions to Flames fandom, and I don't wish to be eyeballed skeptically like some kind of saboteur and/or troublemaking teenager. Like Dave was. He'll be missed and CiO won't be the same without him.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Battle Game Night

At the 'Dome, 7PM MT, RSN West.

Calgary 4 (Phaneuf x2, GlenX, Cammalleri)
Edmonton 1 (Souray)

Go Flames.

(BoA drinking game here, intro to the 08/09 Oilers here)


Meet The F**kers: 2008

(Flashback 3 Years) The first skirmish of the season in the Battle of Alberta goes down tonight, and as a service to Flames fans who have neither the patience nor the stomach to follow what's going on in Oilerville, I introduce to you the core of the 2008/2009 Edmonton Oilers roster.

In goal, we have the NHL's grumpiest old man, Dwayne "Roli" Roloson; Mathieu "Matthew" Garon; and Jeff "Name Shortened to Fit on Sweater" Deslauriers. A three goalie system hasn't worked in the NHL since one of them was Bunny Laracque, but perhaps MacT and Mr. Tambelline Man anticipate having more than one of them in the crease simultaneously.

"Mr." Lubo Visnovsky and Sheldon "9-1-1" Souray; the NHL's dreamiest PP point tandem. Both healthy somewhere in the grey area between "usually" and "occasionally". Quality decision makers in the category of "wives and girlfriends"; it goes downhill from there.

The Oiler defense also features Steve Staios, now sans perv stache as well as a step or two, and Tom Gilbert -- who made the team last season by virtue of being better than Ladislav Smid, and "earned" a 6-year $24M contract by virtue of (a) EV offensive numbers that will never be repeated, and (b) defensive skills that appear to have peaked somewhere around last season's All-Star break. It's a defensive core that will be frightening to some well into the next decade; perhaps that "some" will be the rest of the NW division, but my guess is that it's more likely to be the folks on the #8 bus.

Ethan "Go Time" Moreau (at left, working out in the offseason), 4th-line LW yet captain and official leader for some reason. Possibly the last player in the league who still hasn't received the 2005 memo about what you're not allowed to do with your stick when the other guy has the puck.

I say possibly because the guy who should be captain, C Shawn "Horc" Horcoff, may be the other. No doubt the next time the Oilers organization needs to trot out a player to defend the indefensible, it'll be Horcoff again, as Moreau will be off somewhere rehabbing something.

The Kid Line: Andrew "Marchant Without the Possession Skills" Cogliano, Sam Gagner "West", and Robert "Row-Bear" Nilsson. The future of the Oilers, bearing in mind that "the future" is a rather long and indefinite time, and does not imply in itself anything positive.

Kyle Brodziak and Zack Stortini are the other young fellers up front; no nicknames yet, but rest assured that they'll take the form of "Poor Man's ____".

Dustin "The Flying 'Too Much Time In The' Fridge" Penner, Erik "June 2006 YEAH BABY" Cole, Ales "On the Cusp" Hemsky, and winger Fernando Pisani mostly round out the forward corps. Decent enough players who probably don't have enough help and certainly aren't good enough to do it on their own. The Oilers also have someone named "Steve MacIntyre" on the roster, but not much sense in profiling him as I'd like this post to have a useful shelf life beyond November 15th.

Hope this helps, Flames fans!

***Andy update*** BoA drinking game!


It's a BoA weekend, time for a drinking game!

I'll let Matt and Sacamano throw out the prognostications for this weekend's back-to-back, home-and-home Battle of Alberta extravaganza. Me, I just want to get people happy. So, in that vein, this weekend, when watching the Flames versus the Oilers, take a pull from the bottle when:

• Kipper gives up a ten foot rebound
• Pisani wins a faceoff
• Phaneuf hides from a fight
• Stortini hugs somebody
• Regehr hits Hemsky from behind
• Staios makes a defensive error
• Bertuzzi takes a dumb penalty
• Moreau finishes the game healthy
• Iginla takes a shot
• Gagner gets a point
• Keenan grimaces and tosses an ice chip in his mouth
• MacT crosses his arms and shakes his head
• Stock fumbles a line
• Milbury calls someone lazy/terrible/overrated
• MacLean drops a pun
• Principe drops a pun

And if that doesn't get you smashed enough for your liking:

• Every time someone says "Battle of Alberta," "Glory days" and "icing called."

That should do the trick. Have a great weekend, everyone. If you print this off (nay, when!) and head out to a Boston Pizza, house party, or even Pengrowth and Literally. Crush. this weekend, please be safe. And don't drink and drive. Smytty would not approve. GOILERS!!!

***Bonus Round***
• One long drink in honour of our comrade, Pleasure Motors/DMFB/Dave Berry. Can be done at any point this weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Not a primer. A potbOiler.

I wasn't going to write anything for the Oilers/Ducks tilt tonight (8pm MST, TSN)--as I have some other texts I need to my worm my way through instead--but I met a fan of the site today, and she threatened to beat me to a pulp if I didn't record something on this here page in her honour.

I have no treatise to offer on Chris Pronger, no binding thoughts on the cracked relationship of Kevin Lowe and that bastard title Brian Burke. Unfortunately I cannot even catalogue the evening's events as they take place, even though I am sure the game is going to be a real page turner. But I can offer to my friend the biblioilphile my thanks, a heartfelt Crosby, as well as this prediction, Ex Libris Andy Graba. So that is what I will do.

Prediction: 3-2, Oilers. Steve MacIntyre leaves George Parros frayed, cut and with a spine lean, and Pisani, Penner and Souray do the rest of the damage, with Souray scoring the winner on a missal from the point.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Flames Game Night

Avs @ Flames, 8PM MT, TSN.

It's always tempting fate to put up the Hardy Astrom -- doubly so when the Flames goalie has an .807SV% -- but I can't help myself. Here's my favourite Astrom anecdote, recycled from a GDT a few years ago:

Giving the red light a workout was never a concern while Hardy Astrom was in goal for Don Cherry's Colorado Rockies in 1979-80. "First practice in Colorado, we were working on breakout drills. I shoot the puck at Hardy from the far blue line, and it goes right through his legs. 'Fluke,' I figure, so I shoot another one. Right through his legs again. 'Next drill,' I said. Actually, Hardy was a nice guy, he just had a weakness with pucks."

Early season indications are that you might want to take the Over in this one, alright; Kipper and Budaj have shown little so far, and the Avs have been bombarding the other net with shots.

So naturally this will end up being a low-scoring squeaker. Flames 2 (Phaneuf, Langkow) Rockies 1 (Mike McEwen). Go Flames.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


We're already 1.5 games up on the Flames!

While all you jokers have been diddling with your spreadsheets and watching shift charts of meaningless preseason games, I’ve been drinking beer, kicking ass, and getting laid. Or something like that.

My point is that I don’t have a clue about this Oilers team. Seriously, not a clue. I figured I would just play myself into shape throughout the first month of the regular season. So, as is my usual practice in such circumstances, I’m going with the collective wisdom of the good folks on the #8 Abbotsfield Route (between 4:00-5:00, Monday, Wednesday & Friday).

Here’s the Good Word. Book it.

On Dustin Penner:

Dark Haired Guy: “The guy spent his summer juggling. Juggling!”
Mullet Man: “I’m pretty sure he’s just another Isbister, except that he’s getting paid a fuck load more.”
Dark Haired Guy: “Did you hear that Mac-T is going to play him on the 3rd line – and the pus is happy about it? God help us.”

On Erik Cole

Dark Haired Guy: “Jesus, he looks good, huh?”
Mullet Man: I dunno. If he was so good, why did he end up here?

On the Kids (Nilson, Gagne, Cogs, etc.)

Mullet Man: Do you think those young uns are going to be able to score like last year.
Dark Haired Guy: “Fuck no! I can’t believe we are relying on a bunch of kids. God help us.
Drunk Guy (or maybe he was just really tired?): Oh they will be fine. The semaphsomph, sophomore slump isn’t going to touch them.
Dark Haired Guy: “Oh yeah, why not?”
Drunk Guy (or maybe he was just really tired): The semaphore slump only works on rookies that are forced to do new things. Those pups were already on the top line last year – how many more new things can Mac-T throw at them? They’ll be fine.

On Cogs:

Mullet Man: If Cogliano’s brain ever catches up with his skates, he’s gonna be a player.
Drunk Guy:

On Moreau

Dark Haired Guy: “Is he still on the team? I haven’t seen him on the ice in like two years?
Mullet Man: He’s the captain you idiot.
Dark Haired Guy: What? He’s the fucking Captain? God help us.”

On the Defense

Bus Driver: What about our defense? Visnovsky looks great.
Mullet Man: Well, when he and Souray are on the powerplay together, there is a lot of firepower back there.
Dark Haired Guy: And when the fucking powerplay ends we have Staois, who is about a thousand fucking years old, and some kid who is practically still in diapers. What’s his fucking name?
Bus Driver: Grebeshkov?
Dark Haired Guy: No, not Grebeshkov, although he’s almost as bad. You know, that other guy. Goofy smile.
Mullet Man: Fucking Smid.
Dark Haired Guy: Yeah! Fucking Smid. God help us.
Bus Driver: Gilbert is solid
Mullet Man: True, true. I forgot about Gilbert. He’s solid.

On Hemsky

Drunk Guy: Hemsky looked great in the preseason game.
Mullet Man: Dan fucking Cleary always looked great in preseason too.
Dark Haired Guy: He looks pretty good in Detroit, too.
Mullet Man: Fuck off! He only looks good there because he’s hanging onto Zetterberg’s jockstrap for dear life.
Dark Haired Guy: Come on, Hemsky is pretty good.
Drunk guy: He needs to shoot more
Sacamano: Actually, Mudcrutch showed that statistically he shoots above average.
Dark Haired Guy: That's cause fucking Mudcrutch didn't control for ice-time and, more importantly, puck possession time. I'll bet you a million donairs that Hemsky is way down the list on shots/minute of possession.

Alas. At this point the bus had reached my stop, so I still don't know what the book is on Pisani, Horcoff, etc.

Anyway. With all of this info in mind, I'm predicting a 4-2 Oilers win. Gilbert with a Gordie Howe Hatrick, and Hemsky with the winner.

Pressbox 'n' Popcorn Liveblog @ CinO
Gametalk @ Lowetide


Oilers, Avs: Those Aren't Pillows!

First game of the regular season for the Edmonton Oilers (FINALLY), against the Colorado Avalanche (6PM MST, RSW).

Home game, too. Literally.Crush. should be rocking.

My plans for today include:

1) Finishing up my novena to San Pisani
2) Translating Shannon Sharpe's words into English
3) Translating Tim McCarver's words into Non-Stupid
4) Eating copious amounts of turkey
5) Reading this book
6) Watching Oilers hockey
7) Doing the Mess Around

So, yeah. It's a good day.

Myself, I'll be paying special attention to these five Oilers in tonight's hockey game:

1) Mathieu Garon
2) Erik Cole
3) Sam Gagner
4) Shel-don, Last Son of Injuryville
5) Steve Staios

And hopefully I won't be seeing much at all from Paul Stasny and the Oil Slayers (Tyler Arnason, Ian Laperriere, Joe Sakic). Love their cover of "More Than A Feeling," though.

Classic blue and orange is back; hopefully the end of the 2006-2007 season (the last time these jerseys were worn) is not.

Prediction: 4-1, Oilers. Cole, Lubo, Nilsson and the Saint for the Oil, Burnaby Joe for the Avs. Gene Principe breaks a modern-day record, set by Gene Principe, for the most groan-inducing Thanksgiving puns in a sports telecast. As a result, "gobbling," "stuffing" and "dark meat" become early candidates for next year's Terms of Battle.


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Flames Game Day: Optimism, Unbridled

Finally, the beginning of the season is here -- I can't wait to find out how good this team is. Good to start with a home game, where Kipper has historically been more comfortable and alert, and the punchless Canucks figure to be the ideal opponent for the Flames to get their defensive legs under them.

Apparently Giordano will sit on the D, which is great because I want to see how this young, on-the-upswing Jim Vandermeer is developing. Also, Boyd will be a healthy scratch, making room for Prust, who has got to be itching to make a NHL difference after spending last entire season in the QC, and most of training camp home in bed with the flu.

Nothing quite beats the fear and anticipation before that first game! It goes at 8PM MT on Hockey Night In Canada; there's a buzz on the street, indeed.

Calgary 4 (Iginla x2, Phaneuf, Moss)
Vancouver 2 (Sedin, Salo)

Go Flames!!!


Terms of Battle, 2008-2009

Here are the new Terms of Battle. If we missed anything, let us know. We bumped some terms off because they are no longer in common usage, but they are still available for viewing in the archived Terms of Battle. Those can be accessed at the bottom of this post or in the sidebar on the main page.

Term: The Oilogosphere
Definition: The world-wide collection of Oilers blogs. Coined by Mudcrutch.

Nickname: A group of the all-time greatest guys in Edmonton history
Also Known As: The Edmonton Investors Group, the EIG. Coined by Terry Jones.

Term: Folks on the #8 Bus
Definition: The everyday, average Oilers fan.

Nickname: Scorcoff
Also Known As: Shawn Horcoff. Believed to be coined by Gary B.

Term: Levels of Hugeness
Definition: A rating system of Big Games, Huge Games, Big Goals, Huge Goals, Big Saves, and Huge Saves.

Nickname: Saint Fernando
Also Known As: Fernando Pisani, 34, San Fernando, My Cousin Fernando Pisani, Pantsani, The Patron Saint of Lost Hockey Causes.

Nickname: The Greenwich Village of Western Canada
Also Known As: Downtown Edmonton, once it has a new hockey arena. Coined by Mark Rosentraub.

Term: Crosby
Definition: Crosby. May be substituted for any Crosby, CROSBY, crosby, Crosby, Crosby, or Crosby!

Definition: Celebrating a goal by Shawn Horcoff. Coined by Lowetide.

Nickname: Dick as a Watch
Also Known As: Kyle Brodziak.

Nickname: Glengarry Glencross
Also Known As: Curtis Glencross, GlenX. Coined by Vic Ferrari.

Nickname: Mr. Glass
Also Known As: Ethan Moreau, Chopper.

Term: Strong, muscular legs
Definition: Preposterous and masturbatory praise for an NHL hockey player.

Nickname: Gilbert Gilbert
Also Known As: Tom Gilbert, Brad Gilbert.

Term: The Global Urban Food Chain (GUFC)
Definition: The Global Urban Food Chain, obviously. Coined by Dan Mason.

Term: Garnage
Definition: A bad call. Coined by Mike W.

Term: Cowbells
Definition: Factors that coaches and GMs foreground and elevate above and beyond their true values. Coined by Kent W.

Term: In The Midst
Definition: Exaggerating a streak to either the benefit of your team or the detriment of their opponents/rivals.

Nickname: Goddamn these injurioesa=asdnmlkSNn jk
Definition: Frustrating Oilers injuries. Coined by Mike W.

Term: Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice
Definition: The method by which the length of NHL suspensions is determined. Coined by Rob Kerr, made famous by Matt Fenwick.

Term: Why downtown? It has to be downtown.
Definition: The argument for a downtown arena. Now applied to any situation using the simple formula, "Why X? It has to be X." Coined by the Leadership Committee for a New Sports/Entertainment Facility for Edmonton.

Term: Gagner West
Also Known As: Sam Gagner, Master Samwise, Proudfoot Proudfeet!. Coined by Colby Cosh.

Nickname: Hobo Terrorists
Also Known As: Downtown Edmontonians.

Definition: Undeniable hockey truths.

Nickname: Literally. Crush.
Also Known As: Rexall Place.

Term: (spits)
Definition: Disgust at uttering the words, "Calgary" and "Flames," especially during the playoffs. Coined by Pleasure Motors.

Term: Le
Definition: Adding the French "the" to anything you say so as to make it sound more poetic, poignant and Canadian. Coined by Le Loxy.

Term: Gritness
Definition: Lots of grit. Coined by TSN.

Nickname: Joffrey Zoolander
Also Known As: Joffrey Lupul.

Term: The Most Exciting Play In Hockey
Definition: A Flames empty-net goal, serving to further pad their statistical offensive dominance over the Oilers. Now broadened out to mean all empty-net goals scored by the Oilers or Flames. Coined by Vic Ferrari.

Nickname: The Hockey Jesus
Also Known As: Robbie Schremp, Robimus Prime, Popcorn, Sugartits

Nickname: Le GG
Also Known As: Georges Laraque, Georges, Georgie, BG. Coined by Mike W.

Nickname: The Mock Turtle
Also Known As: Bill Butler.

Nickname: Jarmoe
Also Known As: Jarome Iginla.

Nickname: Anonymouse
Definition: Any cowardly commenter who drops in, says something stupid or insulting, but doesn't sign in under a real or assumed name. Perfectly visualized by Mike W.

Term: Stempniaked
Definition: To be unexpectedly defeated by the singular efforts of an until then unknown player on a sub-standard team (spectacular art by Chris de Groat here).

Term: Vaunted/The Vaunt
Definition: The Oilers offence. Coined by Peter.

Term: Blender
Definition: Craig MacTavish's propensity for mixing and changing linemates.

Definition: Go Oilers!


Terms of Battle, 2005-2006
Terms of Battle, 2006-2007
Terms of Battle, 2007-2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Flames Game Night

Game 1 of 82 tonight, vs. the Canucks in the Carhole (830PM MT, CBC).

A lot of Flames -- players and management -- have things to prove this season, and tonight is when they'll start being judged.

Darryl Sutter has been adamant since the lockout that the key to this whole schmiel is having an elite core of players. He has one, so if the Flames have another 90-some point, one-round-and-out season, he's going to looked at critically, and not just by annoyed fans.

Mike Keenan has to show that he and a team can get better together, or this will almost certainly be the last season of his NHL coaching career.

Jarome Iginla doesn't have to prove anything in terms of ability, but he staked a bit of his own credibility on the Bertuzzi acquisition (before and after), and it's somewhat incumbent on him, personally, to find some way to turn Big Head Todd's clock back a few years.

Bertuzzi himself, of course, has to prove that he's still a legit player, and unlike last season he's probably going to have to do it against the best lines in the league.

Phaneuf has to prove that he's not "merely" one of the large 2nd tier of NHL defensemen (Lidstrom being by himself in the 1st) who play big minutes and can score on the powerplay.

And finally, Kipper has to prove that he's still a top-end goalie, and that his contract is OK -- as opposed to (say) making the Khabibulin deal look like a slight overpay. Mrs. Matt has a relatively new #34 jersey, and I'd like her to be able to wear it for a few years.

As such, a shutout would absolutely kick ass tonight, and that's what I'm calling.

Calgary 3 (Bertuzzi, Cammalleri, Bourque into the EN)
Vancouver 0 (KIPPERRRRR!!!!)

Go Flames.


10 9 Things I Love/Hate About You

If you see an enormous white pickup truck with a step ladder to the door and a set of fake bull testicles on the back parked diagonally across three parking stalls, you are probably in Alberta.

If you hear a guy next to you saying he's going to vote Progressive Conservative because he wants to see what one of those left-wing parties can do in power, you are probably in Alberta.

If you look to the left and see majestic mountains, look to the right and see golden prairies, look behind you and see crystalline blue lakes, and then look next door and see an oil derrick, you are probably in Alberta.

If you attend a wedding, and cabbage rolls and pyrogies are buffet options, you are probably in Alberta.

If you have to make sure your costume will fit over your snow suit every Halloween, you are probably in Alberta.

If every third person you meet is saying things you don't understand, so much so that you are only able to pick out the words "cod," "Screech" and "Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers," you are probably in Alberta.

If you go to work at 8:30 a.m., and it's dark, and you leave work at 4:30 p.m., and it's dark, and all the time in-between then it's bright and sunny and colder than a nun's t*t, you are probably in Alberta.

If you have a professional football team that's won five Grey Cups, and another professional football team that's won thirteen, you are probably in Alberta.

If you have a professional hockey team that's won one Stanley Cup, and another professional hockey team that's won five, you are most certainly in Alberta.

Today the regular season, and the Battle, begins. It's about time.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008



"The reason we sent Dusty down today is because with Warrener injured, we're over the salary cap." - Darryl Sutter on the radio this afternoon (I quote from memory)

So, +1 to Sutter for being relatively straightforward about it.

Minus 1 -- and counting, quickly, backwards, depending on how long Boyd's gone -- for being in this position in the first place AND for not sending out one of the several inferior forwards instead.

And minus a goddamn lot for, well, ... let me go backwards here for a minute. Anyone remember this charming interview from 13 months ago?
"Those two players that appear to have opted not to try and play on our team this year?" the Calgary Flames general manager said Tuesday afternoon. "Obviously, they felt they couldn't."

Sutter never winked, but he didn't have to. The remark came across as intended - as a shot.

Defenceman Mark Giordano and centre Andrei Taratukhin, who both recently decided to skate in the Russian Super League, have damaged themselves significantly in the eyes of Sutter. [...]

Giordano, a restricted free agent with 55 NHL games on his resume, had demanded a one-way deal. The Flames balked. The 23-year-old signed with Moscow Dynamo.

"I think he made a big mistake," said Sutter. "[...] Basically, by the player not agreeing to terms with us ... it's saying that he didn't think he could play in the NHL this year."

In retrospect (actually not in retrospect, but whatever), maybe what he was saying was, "You have 7 defensemen with 1-way contracts, and there is no way in holy hell that I am making this team out of training camp."

I don't mean this literally, but Sutter owes some apologies; not just to Giordano for that BS character assassination last fall, but to every Flames prospect who was told that they had a chance to make this team. Because it was obviously bologna. Great comment from Nathan, at FHF:
Is it reasonable to say that this post is documentation of the exact moment all of the goodwill garnered in 2004 ran out?

Probably. I'm trying to decide what the most appalling cause of this Boyd demotion is. The fact that he gave Brandon Prust a one-way contract this summer, even though he's eligible for the Calder Trophy this season? His belief that there's a chance in hell Prust gets claimed on waivers, even on recall (NHL stats: 10GP, 0-0-0)? Or is it that he got himself into a position where he could be blindsided by an injury to Rhett Warrener? (btw, if the answer is "His belief that Boyd could benefit from some more time in the minors", that wins.)

Look, it's no good getting too freaked out here. The Flames' season didn't, and doesn't, hinge on Dustin Boyd, although I think most NW Champion scenarios involve Boyd blossoming into a quality NHL player this season. However, this is clearly cause to question the GM's competence (his #1 job is still to put the best possible roster together, yes?), and it is also clearly cause to question everything that ever comes out of his mouth -- which is irrelevant with respect to me, but I don't think he's going to appreciate it when the average hockey media guy starts doing it.

Is it reasonable to say that Darryl Sutter's job security, going forward, is irrevocably (annually) tied to the on-ice performance of the team, including playoffs? I think it probably is. Like Nate says, from the fan's end, this probably does it for any blind faith out there. And from the owner/org end, well, f*ck -- they're paying Warrener, Eriksson, and Nilson nearly $5M to not play for them this year, and they still aren't icing their best possible roster on Opening Night. I sincerely doubt there's much blind faith at the board meetings either.


Darryl Sutter: Always likes to warm up the crowd with a joke

Stop the presses — despite being one of the most productive players during the pre-season, forward Dustin Boyd has been sent to AHL Quad Cities along with D Anders Eriksson and C Jamie Lundmark.

D Rhett Warrener, waived earlier in the week, goes on IR.

Boyd had seven points in the pre-season to share the team lead with David Moss. The Flames are currently flying to Vancouver, so no one from the club is available for immediate comment.

Well, I know my sides hurt! I'm excited for when Darryl breaks out that legendary Sutter character and straight talk, and explains to the media that this was a hockey decision. Or maybe he'll say "Geez, maybe I shouldn't have signed Nystrom, Prust, and Roy to one-way deals." Mm-hmm.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Dept. of Corrections

Courtesy of the Edmonton Journal, who obviously got it from the Edmonton Oilers.

Memo to all parties: It's "Alternate Captain." For shame.

Carry on.


North by Northwest

The Northwest Division is tough to predict in any season and especially difficult for 08-09.

Agreed, but I'll give it a shot too, having agonized over it for the past several weeks.


The Oilers are the ones with the most ground to make up from last season, and I just don't think they have enough. There's plenty of reasons they should be better: additions of some quality players like Cole and Lubo, subtraction of Greene, young players that figure to get better (most particularly and importantly Gagner), and a few less starts from Roloson. But on the other hand, I don't like Garon to be as good as he was last season (in the shootout or overall), and their top 6 D are probably the weakest in the division; Steve Staios just isn't getting any younger.

And lastly, it looks like -- at least to start the season -- that MacT is going to neutralize his own best comparative advantage (depth up front) by carrying a 28-year-old rookie who can't play, and not really having a fourth line.


I think the Avs' D (the skating portion) is a strength: besides Foote, Hannan, and Salei, a healthy Leopold should be a big asset, and a healthy Brett Clark might actually be their #1. Plus they still have Liles for the PP/O-zone work.

Their forward corps looks like it ought to be fantastic, but I'm not sure that it is. Little known fact: even before Smyth, Sakic, or Stastny got hurt last year, they had the worst PP in the league. Hedjuk can't seem to stay healthy. Wolski is a poor man's Hemsky, by which I mean a player for whom results over time just don't seem to match up to the obvious talent, even though you can't really point at one element of his game and say, "Well there's his problem!"

And as absolutely everyone else has noted, their goaltending will have to massively overperform to be judged as "adequate". I see the Oil and Avs as the two NW teams who cannot end up winning the division by 10 points.


Brunette seems like a decent replacement for Rolston, and their defense and goaltending should be as solid as ever, but I don't like them up front enough to call a repeat NW crown. They didn't replace Demitra, and I don't see a ton of room for internal improvement apart from Gaborik and Mikko Koivu, who were already excellent.

I respect the Wild plenty, and believe me when I say I'm terrified to go against the Lowetide picks, who has proven himself better than anyone at it. But at the same time, I think LT and I see Minnesota in a different light -- and how could we not -- because of the H2H performances of the Flames (quite successful) and and Oilers (quite miserable) lo these past several years. And lastly, I think you have to factor in the possibility that Gaborik gets traded mid-season, which in turn would almost certainly make them worse in the short term.


There are two big worries around the Flames. (1) Will Keenan be able to cobble together a 2nd line that can hold its own against really good forwards? (2) What's Kipper going to do? I'm not terribly optimistic about #1, and when you add the fact that Bertuzzi is more likely to act as a drag than a boost to Iginla, the top two lines will probably falter at EV relative to last year.

I have no idea on #2. I suspect that his days in the Vezina Trophy conversation are gone, never to return, but there's still plenty of territory below that very top tier in which to make a positive difference. Note that the worst-case scenario here is not that Kipper is bloody awful and McE becomes the de facto #1; the worst-case scenario is that Kipper is bad but not appallingly so, and he keeps getting run out there over 90% of the time.

That said, I think there are quite a few arrows pointing in the right direction. There's a good chance the PP will be better; there's a good chance that the PK will be better; the forward depth looks better; Phaneuf should continue to get better. I suspect they'll be a pretty good team this season.


I'm right with Tyler; hopefully you can check back at his site in the future for a clearer explanation, but: too often these previews focus on a team's weaknesses rather than its strengths. The Canucks have the best goaltending in the division, and probably the best D top-to-bottom, edging the Avs (though I think the Flames have the best top-to-middle). They have four excellent forwards who drive possession (Sedins, Demitra, Kesler). I doubt Pyatt and Bernier (or Wellwood for that matter) are worth a crap, but they have a few forwards who figure to compliment their top 4 guys nicely (Burrows, Hansen, Raymond, and presumably Ouellet soon enough). Their PP (see Sedins, Demitra, Salo) and PK (see D, Kesler, and esp. Luongo) should be terrific.

Aren't the Canucks going to be bloody hard to outscore? Looks like it to me, and I'm only partly saying this as a pre-emptive jinx. And let's not forget that they have both the cash and the defensive depth to acquire a high-end forward if the opportunity presents itself. [Think of it this way: if Sundin signed with Vancouver this afternoon, wouldn't they be the far-and-away favourite to win the division?]

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