FGD: One Tin Soldier – The Legend of City Yak

 

After Shelbyville showed us all that even a broken clock is right twice a day, the Battle of Alberta gamethread is back where it belongs. Oh and if you don’t get the reference in the title? Google is your friend.

Tonight, two teams on completely different roads will cross paths once again, where scoreboard watching will be put aside in favour of compulsory disdain and a sheer desire to lay the boots to one of your oldest rivals. Since 2009, it has been the Flames doing the majority of kicking, leading the head-to-head series 19-4.

Much has changed since the Flames and the Oilers last met on January 27th (when the good guys won 4-3), as Calgary seems to have taken a page out of the Oilers operational book and are on a slide towards the bottom of the league. The Oilers, meanwhile, are on the cusp of making a push towards unfamiliar territory of their own… the playoffs.

Somehow it seems fitting that these two squads would meet up today, April 1st. What has in recent history been dubbed the “Battle of Albrutal”, where either team is in the standings has been irrelevant because neither ever wants to lose this match-up, neither want to be the fool.

The Line-Up

We all know who the obvious loss to the lineup is, but we shouldn’t forget who still is. Curtis Glencross loves himself a piece of the Oilers whenever the chance presents itself.

The Flames lineup is probably written in pencil, due to wide speculation around who might be staying and who might be leaving. Fronting the list is Jay Bouwmeester, with destinations including both Detroit and St. Louis. Others that are also coming up to be on the move are the likes of Tanguay, Sarich, Cammallerri and of course Glencross.

Very few are safe these days and there is going to be a lot of speculation leading right up to April 3rd. For now, here’s how SNET’s Pat Steinberg has the lines shaping up.

  • Glencross-Stajan-Stempniak
  • Tanguay-Cammallerri-Comeau
  • Hudler-Backlund-Cervenka
  • McGrattan-Begin-Jackman
  • Brodie-Bouwmeester
  • Giordano-Wideman
  • Butler-Sarich
  • Kiprusoff

The Oilers have to be licking their chops at the thought of facing Miikka Kiprusoff tonight with his less than stellar performance between the pipes this year. However he is also 15-2 in his last 17 starts against Edmonton with a 2.43 GAA. He will have to be “that guy” tonight in order to give his team a legit chance at putting a dent in the Oilers’ playoff hopes.

It will also be very interesting to see how long Hartley leaves the Czech’s with Backlund. Cervenka has been playing with a lot more confidence and certainty in the month of March, and Backlund’s creative and bold play is an interesting match that has the potential to pay dividends.

The Village Idiots

The Oil have won three straight for the first time this season. That is part of a 6-2-2 record in their last ten that has them sitting 11th in the conference, just two points out of the top eight.

It’s no secret that the Oilers’ Achilles heel (other than playing in the NHL) has been from the blueline. This morning they penned Ladislav Smid to a four year extension with an AAV of $3.5 Million. That’s sure to be enough to put them over the hump right? Relax Shelbyville dwellers, we know, we know… “Laddy” is a great shot-blocker and he has all the intangibles right? RIGHT?

It’s a good thing the defence is all sorted out, now Ralph Kreuger can figure what the hell is wrong with his highly touted offensive talent. “Yak City” is more of a ghost town these days, registering just one assist in his last five games and hasn’t been part of the Oilers late push. In fact he hasn’t found the back of the net since February 25th, and only has 5 assists during the entire month of March.

Things aren’t that rosy for RNH this season either. The young center has a meagre three goals on sixty-six shots, giving him a whopping personal shooting percentage of 3.0%. That’s a far cry from last season’s 13.4% pace. Then again, I suppose it’s okay to fall off a cliff when you know you will safely land on the coat-tails of Taylor Hall. Well done Nuuuuuuge.

  • Hall-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle
  • Paajarvi-Gagner-Hemsky
  • Jones-Horcoff-Yakupov
  • Petrell-Smyth-Brown
  • Smid-Petry
  • N. Schultz-J. Schultz
  • Whitney-Potter
  • Dubnyk

Sum it Up

Game Day Prediction: The Flames scrape the barrel for what remaining ounce of dignity they have left and continue the Alberta trend by winning this one 5-3; snapping their road loss streak at nine.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Curtis Glencross sticks it once again to the team that let him go, showing two versions of his infamous “Scoreface”

Not-so-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Hot on the heels of scoring his fastest hat-trick in Oilers history, Taylor Hall is about due for some mis-hap that has always seem to keep him out of games against Calgary. Tonight will be no different as he and his buck-toothed face will be mistaken for the Easter Bunny, so all the other barely pubescent children on the team will bug him about not getting enough candy this weekend.

What makes this whole situation really funny is that the average Oil fan is like some giddy, pimpled-faced nerd who finally landed that date with his lab partner’s sister. They say they have been waiting for this day, this day of retribution. When all the stars are aligned and the Oil can take back the pride that the Flames have, for the last decade or so, used to clean their skate blades after the game.

Newsflash… We know, we’ve seen this coming for a long time too guys. What makes it funny though is that despite everything, the losses, the bad trades, the injuries… whatever you want to jeer Calgary about this time, they just keep beating the Oilers.

These days, for Flames fans.. that’s not quitte enough for now. However, for added entertainment, Flames fans appreciate the fans up North, the ones that are convinced that this is finally it. The time for the Oilers to take that step forward out of the mire and take their rightful place at the fornt of the class. That’s just awesome and I sincerely hope the Oilers do make the playoffs this year. It will make it that much better when they are bounced decisively and the Oilers management is left shaking their heads as to what went wrong.

One last thing…

  • Bucknuck

    Nice to see the Oilers win another one. Still 13 games left to play, (over 25% of the season), so there is still a lot of room to move in either direction.

    I just hope they keep their foot on the gas. It would be gratifying to see the team make it to the playoffs, if only to silence to trolls for a while.

  • Oilfred

    DSF:

    If you really believe that you get first for Kipper, well you must be high.

    There is no market for goalies this year, ask Ottawa.

    Cammy is not going anywheres with that contract. Expiring deals only are desirable at this point.

    So that top three pick is going to get them a hell of a player. The St. Louis pick and the Pitt pick are likely to be in the 25-30 range and they gave Montreal their pick in round 2.

    This is huge for Calgary. But only the their pick likely helps next year. For free agents they are about to receive the same treatment as the Oilers have with free agents and will continue to for the next 3-5 years.

    But you are right they will have the cap to draw this out in span of mediocracy that will make us all very happy.

    Good day sir.

    Enjoy the next ten years of Oiler playoff hockey.