Of course the Edmonton Oilers and their fans will take great delight in throwing a wrench in the playoff hopes of the Calgary Flames, should the Oilers prevail at Rexall Place Friday. After all, a consolation prize is better than no prize at all. Misery loves company, right?
And, with the Oilers destined to finish out of the playoff picture for the sixth consecutive season and make a lottery pick for the third straight June, there’s no question it’s been a miserable campaign for a 29th-place team playing out a string of mostly meaningless games yet again.
Not completely meaningless games, mind you. Not Friday. Not when the Oilers have an opportunity to take the edge off their own ineptitude by doing their part to derail the post-season aspirations of the Flames and indulge in a little bit of schadenfreude.
Scha·den·freu·de: (pronounced shod-n-froi-duh). From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." From Dictionary.com: "A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others." From the ONHFD (Oilersnation Handbook For Dummies): "High-fives and beers after taking two points the Flames desperately need on the way to missing the playoffs, just like the Oilers, who at least have a future."
Think: You’re fat and ugly. I’m only fat, and I can lose weight.
WHAT THE BOA HAS COME TO
I’m not denying Oilers fans what little guilty pleasure remains as their team crawls to the finish line. At 27-36-7 for 61 points with 12 games to play, the Oilers have been out of the Western Conference playoff mix for several weeks. The Flames, meanwhile, are hanging on and hanging in after beating Phoenix Thursday.
I much preferred what used to be legitimately called the Battle of Alberta, back when both teams were actually good enough to be in the playoffs at the same time. Alice The Goon. Sammy. Ill will and equal parts great hockey. All that. That was a generation or so ago.
Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle weren’t even born when this provincial showdown was at its pitched best. These days, forcing the Flames to the first tee-box under winter rules in mid-April — just before Jay Feaster reconsiders his rebuilding philosophy, signaling the beginning of five or six years of wandering in the desert — will have to suffice.
"This is a whole different meaning of spoiler," said Devan Dubnyk, who blanked Columbus 3-0 Wednesday. "We’re pretty focused on what we’re trying to do here, but this is always fun, especially when you consider how hard we’ve had to play against these guys and yet haven’t had a lot of success."
"It’s Calgary," seconds Ladislav Smid. “We’re going in to get the two points.”
BETTER TIMES AHEAD?
Despite pitifully little success against the Flames in recent seasons, the Oilers can take consolation in the 6-1 smackdown they administered in Cowtown Feb. 21, when the teams last met. There will be a considerable measure of the same should they knock-off the Flames again Friday.
Then, of course, there’s that bright future GM Steve Tambellini and the entire organization has been selling fans during the tear-down and rebuild of this franchise. While there hasn’t been much progress in the standings, there is some reason for the faithful to buy that pitch.
At the same time, I can’t imagine anybody who is not family by either blood or marriage actually believing the Flames have an immediate future with as much potential for improvement, based on the existing rosters and blue-chip prospects on the way. While the Flames will easily finish double-digits ahead of the Oilers in terms of points this season, I doubt that will be the case a year from now.
All that will be played out one way or another in good time, of course. We’ll see. For now, all that matters is the deuce on the table when the Oilers stare across at the Flames Friday. Just another game? Right. Just another two points? Not when the Flames need them this badly.
Schadenfreude. Fill your boots.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.