Call it a deluxe, adding-injury-to-insult edition of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. In addition to scoring a goal (two of them actually), setting up a couple of tallies and getting into a scrap on Saturday night, Calgary captain Jarome Iginla also managed to give the Edmonton Oilers a paper cut and then pour lemon juice on it.
You’d think the Oil would be completely numb and far beyond the stage that anyone could hurt them by now. After all, the Copper ‘n’ Blue’s rational fans have all conceded that the 2009-10 campaign is a writeoff and the resigned supporters have already started to cheer themselves up with the knowledge that either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin is likely on his way to the provincial capital. Some of the more masochistic members of Oilers Nation have even learned to take great delight in the month-long series of losses and the brutal hockey being played by their hapless heroes.
And yet, as totally anesthetized as the Oil appeared to be, Iginla and the Flames found an inadvertent way to give Edmonton fans a good swift kick in the future generations. Beyond the wince-inducing historical element of completing the first sweep in Battle of Alberta history, Saturday’s Calgary victory means next to nothing in 2009-10 scheme of things for the Oilers. However, the result of Iginla’s bout with Sheldon Souray — a broken hand for the Edmonton blueliner — represents a mustard stain on the blueprint for the rebuilding project.
Souray’s trade value was already a fairly questionable matter but Saturday’s mishap really puts a crimp in the Oilers’ hopes of obtaining something useful (or at least expunging $9 million from the next two seasons’ payrolls) before the trade deadline. Iginla, of course, had already incurred the wrath of Edmontonians by slamming Souray into the boards on Oct. 8 and knocking the rearguard out of commission for a month. That incident was obviously the motivation for Saturday’s settling of accounts, with disastrous results for Souray and the Oilers. Of course, even before the fight and the injury, Souray hadn’t done anything to enhance his trade value. His giveaway leading to Dustin Boyd’s second goal was part of a minus-2 night that dropped his season figure to minus-19.
For Calgary, one measly win in the past 10 games leaves the club in a surprisingly stable condition. Thanks to the fact that the teams that are currently directly ahead and behind them in the Western Conference standings (Nashville and Detroit) have also been staggering, the Flames hold down eighth spot in the West and are just one point out of seventh.
The bad news is the Flames have no dates remaining against Edmonton and Toronto, against whom they were a combined 8-0 this season. Calgary is 19-20-8 against the rest of the NHL.