GDB 5.0: BATTLE OF ALBERTA

 

Through four games it looks like the Oilers might not need a life preserver to avoid 30th place. They are a fwe pieces away from being a contender, but with the youthful exuberance of the H2E line, the veteran savvy of a Smyth/Horcoff/Jones (until Hemsky retuns) and the potential of Paajarvi and Omark this team will, at the very least, be exciting.

Tonight we’ll find out if they are ready to take the next step towards respectability: Beating the #%&*@# crap out of Calgary.

I’m not talking the type of beating that Steve MacIntyre delivered to Raitis Ivanans last year, although if a tilt does occur I won’t be turning the channel.

It’s doubtful we will ever see a KO like again, which isn’t a bad thing, but Oiler fans would much rather see this type of domination over Calgary.

The way this season is going it’s likely to be Nugent-Hopkins, Smyth or Jones pulling off this type of move tonight, considering a Ryan has been in on all eight goals thus far, but the young kids have energized the fanbase once again, and nothing is sweeter than a Battle of Alberta game.

Five years without the playoffs, or even a sniff of them, has diminished any real rivalry in Edmonton. Sure you still hate the Canucks with the Sedin Sisters, Kesler the naked poser, Burrows the diving gnat, and Luongo’s low air pressure, but nothing beats an old-fashioned hate-on for the Phlegms.

Sure you respect Jarome Iginla, but he’s crushed the Oilers over the years with 32 goals in 82 games. 

Do you think Flames fans respect and idolize Taylor Hall because he’s from Calgary? Nope, so when the Oilers play Calgary you should despise Iginla.

What about Curtis Glencross? He has a reputation amongst players as being one of the biggest posers in the game. Talk tough, but rarely back it up. He’s off to a great start with three goals in four games, but rather than still bemoan that management let him go, why aren’t you annoyed that he went to your arch-rival for essentially the same money the Oilers offered him?

It’s disappointing Robyn Regehr is in Buffalo because he was great for the rivalry. Oiler fans loathed him and his alleged cheap shots on Ales Hemsky, but at least Regehr added some fire to the battle.

Who will you hate on the Flames blueline now?

Cory Sarich can’t skate well enough to hit anyone. Ditto for Scott Hannan. Jay Bouwmeester is from Edmonton, so I guess he gets a free pass in your eyes. Mark Giordano might be the guy. He’s good, sees the ice well, moves the puck efficiently and has a bite to his game. Anton Babchuk makes Flames want to chuck so joining them isn’t an option. It’s hard to hate two no-names like Chris Butler and Derek Smith, but if you’re a true fan you’ll find a way.

It doesn’t matter who it is Oiler fan, but if you think your team is about to be competitive then you better understand that you have to increase your intensity as well. A true fan base can’t sit in a woe-is-me state for ever. Hell, Leaf fans hate the Habs just as passionately now as they did in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and thing the only thing lamer than the Leafs postseason futility is the Pension Plan Puppets dating scene.

As you prepare to watch tonight’s tilt, ask yourself if you’re ready for a rivalry game? Not a slap-me-beside-the-head-to-keep-me-awake game v. the Wild or the Predators, but a legitimate game where you cheer, scream or moan over every hit, goal, fight, missed call and line match up.

RETURN OF RYAN

Do you remember this guy?  For 35 games last year, he was the main reason you watched the games last year. He tallied 27 points in those games and somehow he was +13, when the rest of the team thought they were competing for the Green Jacket. However, don’t expect him to match those totals. He likely isn’t a 0.77 point-per-game guy, but there shouldn’t be that much of a drop off. Prior to last season Whitney tallied 199 points in 354 games, good for 0.56 PPG.

If he can keep that pace and play 78 games he’ll be a 43-point player, which would be huge for the Oilers.

The great debate will be which D-man comes out. Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert have both been solid. Gilbert has played four solid games in a row, which might be his longest streak in three years.

Corey Potter has played well, although with Whitney back he won’t be on the first PP unit, and I’d keep him in for another game or two.

Theo Peckham won’t be getting back in tonight, but I don’t think you forget about him based on a few average games, considering how well he played last year. A few games in the pressbox should motivate him.

Andy Sutton isn’t flashy, but he hasn’t made any glaring mistakes, and they need more than just Smid as a physical, gritty guy, so I’d keep him in tonight.

Jeff Petry played okay last night, but unless he proves he is a top-five guy every night, I wonder if he might be better served playing 25 minutes a night in the AHL.

Cam Barker’s footspeed in races for the puck concerns me, but his positional play has been okay. I’m not sure he’ll ever be the answer. He needs to do more, especially on the PP, or he’ll find himself eating popcorn during a game later this week.

I’m guessing Petry takes a seat beside Peckham tonight. He hasn’t played bad, but someone has to come out for Whitney and I think he gets the short straw.

HALL GAME TIME DECISION

Taylor Hall is fighting the flu and will be a game time decision. If he can’t go the Oilers will dress seven D-men, and we’ll probably see a variety of different line combinations. Hall is a gamer, and being from Calgary something tells me he guts it out.

QUICK HITS 

Shawn Horcoff might not have another three-point game all season, but for those who think he won’t play a big factor in the development of RNH, Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi and Omark are sadly mistaken. He might not score 50 points, but he’ll take the tougher assignments and Renney will use him often in the defensive zone. You need to get past his contract and look at the overall effectiveness of his game. We all know he is overpaid, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t effective. Sure he’ll whiff on a one-timer, but rarely will he miss a defensive assignment or give you anything less than his best effort.

As far as pure skill goes, he isn’t even top-six amongst the forwards anymore, but he has excellent hockey sense and Renney will lean on him a lot in the first half of the season. Ripping him because of his contract is pointless.

Linus Omark played his best game of the season last night. I’d like to see him shoot more, but he was relentless on the puck, and he battled hard. I thought he fared very well against Shea Weber and Ryan Suter when he was out against them. If he plays with that amount of determination on most nights the points will come.

***Don’t we all (guys) stare at something and somehow find a way to turn it into a facsimile of a woman’s body?**

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Rarely do I get the winning team correct three games in a row, but something tells me the Oilers will continue to ride the wave of youthful excitement for another night and down the Flames 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  The "Ryan" streak comes to an end. Eight goals involving someone named Ryan will end in the first period when Magnus Paajarvi buries his first of the season. He understands the Battle of Alberta and led the Oilers with four goals v. the Flames last year. He looks at the Flames like he looks at Finland; with disdain.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: I finally got a NSOGDP correct last night with RNH winning five faceoffs, but I might be able to go back-to-back. The Nation will be bombarded with posts about "Being A Homer" when during a Ben Eager/Tim Jackman first period scrap, Rob Kerr gives Jackman the decision, even though Eager lands more punches. This debate will erupt during a Nation LIVE BLOG that be running simultaneously at  Flamesnation.ca and here at Oilersnation.

  • smiliegirl15

    Horcoff is great to have on the team during this time in the rebuild! His experience is necessary for the young players to improve. Count Smyth, Hemsky, Belanger in that group as well, very solid pros all of them. This is why Whitney is so important on the back end.

  • Rob Kerr is the anti petielou….. still a homer but a droll and monotone one.
    I kinda miss the crypt master and his over the top intensity but one guy bent over in the bus is all the flames need apparently and Roger has incumbency.

  • smiliegirl15

    OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The “Ryan” streak comes to an end. Eight goals involving someone named Ryan will end in the first period when Magnus Paajarvi buries his first of the season.

    I think Ryan Whitney will want in on the Ryan scoring race and gets the assist on Paajarvi’s goal or rather Paajarvi assists on Ryan W’s goal, just to keep the Ryans’ scoring!

  • Chris.

    Game Day Prediction: Oilers give up one early but tally 4 unanswered 2nd period goals for a convincing 4-1 victory. Who scores? Glencross and the Ryan’s.

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: After more than 300 days off: Whitney is the best Oiler D man tonight.

    Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Jay Feaster reflects on his ignorent comments about the Edmonton rebuild as he watches the Nudge turn the “retooled” Flames defence inside out. He still thinks he’s right.

    • SickFloBro

      Haha. Completely wrong on all counts.

      I think it’s funny that Oilers fans seem to think that coming in last place in the league for two years straight means that your team will suddenly be a force to be reckoned with. That’s not how it works…sorry.

      I also think it’s ironic that you spelled “ignorant” incorrectly.

        • SickFloBro

          I’m not really chirping about the win. :/ The Oilers should have taken that game, and it’s by complete fluke that we came back. Dubnyk played very well all night…in fact, I have him in my pool…so I had mixed feelings when Tanguay scored.

          But seriously, I know a lot of Flames fans have their heads in the sand…and that goes for every team in the league. Archaeologuy, how do you feel about Oiler fans rejuvenated confidence? Is it premature? Misplaced? Or well-founded?

          • Probably premature and misplaced, but they’ve been waiting for two years (or longer) to have any kind of confidence in their team. Gotta just be happy that the Oilers havent played a game yet that they couldnt have conceivably won.

            I think it’s plain to see in the skill level of the kids that they arent light years away anymore.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The problem going forward on the salary front is to pick the right long term guys to spend the money on. hopefully we can avoid an albatross and breed a successful model. maybe people will play here at a modestly cut rate… we can hope right?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I don’t know why people are so worried about salary.

    Tavares and Bobby Ryan recently signed for 5.5 and 5.1… both are probably decent comparables for Hall/RNH/Ebs.

    As it sits right now, no one else looks like much more then 3 – 3.5 million dollar players.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      i agree. Assuming the cap doesnt drop with the next CBA coming into effect, 65ish mil should be more than enough room to keep everyone over the next few years.

      Also assuming, however, no more stupid contracts from tambo and the crew. that, sadly, may be a bigger worry.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        exactly… there is a track record here of overvaluing players (horcoff, pisani) and letting gems go for pennies (smyth)

        I worry about who currently holds the purse-strings more than whether a theoretical GM can lock down our future talent under the cap.

        • justDOit

          Didn’t both of the Horc and Pisser contracts happen before Tambi came in? Katz was rumoured to be the instigator in the Horc contract.

          So maybe we should just hope that he sticks to selling drugs and not negotiating contracts?

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Yea I see that. my comment wasn’t meant to attribute lowe’s bad decisions to Tambi. but to underline continuity and my own lingering trepidation even after the GM shakeup.

            My point was… the last time we had a bunch of players to sign we let some go who i thought we should have kept (ie Stoll, Smyth) and kept or overpaid for others (Horcoff, Pisani). but yea, obviously this all happened over a series of years

  • master of my domain

    There`s so few Flames to hate any more. They have lost Phanugly, Regher, and I use to hate Kiprosoft, but its hard to hate the him because hes no longer an elite player anymore. Who am I suppose to despise anymore…I wish they would sign Avery. I hope after tonight there is someone on that team I can despise, cause its hard to get a hate on when they are starting to suck…

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    GDP: Smid gets into a fight

    OGDP: Flames suck and I’ll have a few too many brewskies and be late for work tomorrow morning.

    NSOGDP: Dubbie gets an empty netter!

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Taylor Hall’s speed could be missed tonight but tonight is a night where a guy like Paajarvi needs to step up. Omark certainly earned the spot on the top line after his game last night but Paajarvi needs to get his season going. I’ll say 17 minutes for Whitney tonight and the Oilers win 4-3 in a shootout.

  • master of my domain

    really didn’t like Omark with Eberle and RNH. Hall’s speed really opens things up for them, that’s why I’d rather have tried Paajarvi there. Omark is much better facing weak competition too, not tops. 3rd liner, not 1st.

  • Peterborough

    3rd game in 4 days to be expected the boys just didn’t have enough gas. I’m impressed that they gave the Flames all they could handle, even gassed and without Hemsky and Hall.

  • shanetrain

    Renney is sooooo scared of using his fourth line. Second game in two nights would have been nice to see four lines run. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose?

    Would have liked to see more Ben Eager. Coach needs to give his head a shake. But after two 30th place finishes, I guess you stay with what you know.

  • shanetrain

    Potter needs to be signed A.S.A.P – best Dman out there hands down.

    Paajarvi and Omark are off to brutal starts. Omark more bad puck luck etc. Paajarvi .. I dunno … lots of plays dying on his stick.

    Out of all the negatives the one thing that bothered me the most is that monkey Glencross following Nuge around trying to rough him up. If I am Ben Eager next B.O.A., my sole purpose is to put this guy through the boards. I don’t care who does it .. that guy can’t be running around hacking on the young guys.

    Listening to the guys on Fan960 on my way into work … what incredible homers these dorks are. Call a spade a spade .. they made it sound like Oil were garbage and fLAMES should have been up 5 or 6-1.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      The 4th line got hemmed in their own zone 2 shifts in a row, and that ultimately changed the momentum. Renney even used his time-out on them after they iced the puck the first time. Then they did it again the next shift!

      That timeout would have sure helped with setting up a play when you’re goalie is pulled.

    • geoilersgist

      I hear you. I was at the game last night and was constantly baffled that Renney did’t send Eager out to murder him. I was actually getting very upset at how none of the Oilers did anything about Glencross constantly taking runs at RNH. Don’t know if they showed it on tv when Glencross came from one side and tried to murder RNH but the smart kid that he is had his head up and dodged the check and Glencross hit the boards hard. All I know is I want more Eager out there next time.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Gotta think the Omark “era” is coming to an inauspicious end.

    Schremp was hammered relentlessly for being a youtube sensation (his golf ball juggling, then knocking it about 275 down the middle with one hand was better than anything hockey-related). What’s the difference between him and Omark?

    Heart?

    Entitlement?

    I’d say it’s a saw-off.

    Also Schremp didn’t try the youtube nonsense in a, you know, NHL game (the little flip-shootout move that didn’t work is going to get Omark killed in the ECHL)

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Huh? In the ECHL? Omark has already put up good numbers in the 2nd and 3rd best leagues in the world, the KHL and the SEL. Pretty sure he’d find a job over there, as in back home, before he gets demoted all the way to the ECHL.

      Arch, it appears your influence can be even greater than we thought. The force is strong in you…

  • SickFloBro

    😛 That must be nice for you all…having a somewhat crappy team, but being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sun has definitely set on our crop of players, and things are going to have to get worse in Calgary before they get better. We have a somewhat crappy team that’s just going to get worse.

    I don’t know if I’d say that the confidence is misplaced…RNH has been lights-out to start the season, and Hall is a legitimate player for sure. It just drives me nuts when people start counting their chickens before they hatch…thus my initial (somewhat chirp-ish post). The confidence is definitely premature, in my opinion.

    If I were an Oilers fan, I’d be hoping that Tambellini deals Hemsky. Sure, the guy is VERY talented, but he’s so fragile that one can hardly count on his presence from one game to the next.

    As far as Gagner goes…he’s a good player, but I still don’t know if I’m totally sold on him yet. Given his production for the past three years, he had better “break out” soon, or management might start looking at other options. We had the same sort of thing going on with Lombardi a few years ago…management saw a player that was “pretty good, but still had untapped potential”, but he never actually met expectations.

    But, I’m sure that because I’ve branded myself a Flames fan, everything I’ve just said is wrong. 😉

    • geoilersgist

      with well thought and written responses such as this i would welcome your commentary any time. sometimes the glasses we (oiler fans) view the world from are colored. why not tho. realism best be left to those who can actually change the outcomes/fortune of the oilers. i’m a fan and i am gonna hope and dream we win the cup this year. all the while understanding we are in a re-build.

      let it be noted that shall you ever beat us again i may not be so diplomatic.

      • SickFloBro

        Thank you! I always say that I’m a hockey fan first and a Flames fan second…so I hope that comes across in how I write my posts.

        😉 I wouldn’t expect anything less.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I don’t think Gagner is going to get that opportunity this year. He’s going to spend close to half the season on injury reserve. He’ll return in a couple weeks from what’s ailing him right now but just as he’s getting comfortable he’ll find himself done for the year with a bum knee or shoulder. This is just the way things go here it seems. Then what do we do with Gagner, give him yet another year?

  • Rob...

    So I understand that a team’s fans are often content with a win, but does Iginla’s cherry-picking ever bother Flames fans during the losses? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player on any team so content to hug the red or opposing blue line waiting for a pass while his team mates scramble to prevent a goal in the defensive end.

    • SickFloBro

      Iginla tends to do that when he’s struggling, I’ve noticed. When he’s on his game, he’s down in the trenches and up on the rush. But you’re not wrong…good observation.