GDB 50.0: Crushing the Dreams of the Calgary Flames

Todd Nelson6

Todd Nelson is, as everyone knows, coaching for his life in the NHL; opportunities to run an NHL bench don’t come along very often and if he can get the Oilers pointed in the right direction he has a very good chance of finding himself at the helm of the team for Game 1 of next season.

Beating the Calgary Flames would be a big help in his quest for continued employment, and just for good measure would really, really hurt Alberta’s other team in the process.

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The Western Conference Playoff Race

1.31.15 WC Standings

Oilers fans could be forgiven if they haven’t been paying rapt attention to the playoff bubble out West, but Calgary is very much hanging on for dear life to the final playoff spot. With Winnipeg all but assured of one of the two wild card slots, the last one probably comes down to Calgary vs. the field (Vancouver has games in hand and a two point lead, though either it or San Jose could fall into the mix too with a poor finish).

The Kings, Stars and Wild all have a game in hand on Calgary and are, respectively, one, four and five points back. Colorado is only two points back but has played one extra game. Any of those teams could pass the Flames over the final 30-odd games of the season. Minnesota did itself a big favour with a regulation win over the Flames on Thursday (Devan Dubnyk had a shutout and is now 4-1-0 with a 0.931 save percentage since coming over from Arizona) and after tonight Calgary will play 10 straight games against teams in the thick of the playoff race.

This contest is the exception, their great chance to put points in the bank against an NHL bottom-feeder. A loss to Edmonton won’t be a crippling blow to the Flames (it’s an 82-game season, after all) but it could well put them behind the Kings (who play tonight) and will make things much more miserable than they would have been otherwise.

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Tonight’s game is a rarity in recent years: A Battle of Alberta that really matters.

The Lottery Standings and Rewarding Losing

1.31.15 Lottery Standings

The Sabres only have a four point lead on Edmonton for 30th, but it seems awfully safe. An incredible 14 consecutive losses have sent Buffalo to the basement and they aren’t likely to get any better as they ship off a laundry list of unrestricted free agents. Carolina has finally started playing well and with their goaltending finally recovering from a brutal start I don’t really see that stopping.

The big question is Arizona. Mike Smith has been spectacularly bad and they do have a long list of free agents to move at the deadline. A five point lead is pretty significant, but they could well pass Edmonton in the race to the bottom before all is said and done.

While we’re on the topic, I wanted to touch on Robin Brownlee’s column from yesterday. I actually agree with a lot that Brownlee writes, and I understand the case he’s making, but I can’t agree with him on the idea that bad teams should have no edge in the draft lottery. Is tanking odious? Sure. But how many NHL teams would die if without the opportunity to improve themselves via top picks? Would, for example, Pittsburgh still have a team?

The fact is that franchise stability should and does trump the ickiness of tanking. Without young stars to sell, a lot of losing teams would have tremendous difficulty attracting customers; further, without those young stars a lot of losing teams would lose for a very, very long time.

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If we’re looking for a way to eliminate cheering for losses, the Gold Rule is the way to go. In all likelihood that costs the NHL much of the excitement of the trade deadline, as teams will now be under great pressure not to unload quality talent, but that strikes me as a reasonable sacrifice if it keeps the games of all 30 teams interesting.

Lineups

1.31.15 Oil DF Lines

No big surprises in terms of the lineups; Keith Aulie will replace the injured Nikita Nikitin and with no spares at either position Luke Gazdic will stay in after a really strong game on Thursday. Ben Scrivens is expected to start, which is a bit of a surprise but also gives him a chance to make up for an ugly outing on opening night against the Flames.

The size/pugnacity dimension isn’t a bad thing to have against the Flames, but it’s far less important than actually winning the hockey game. This one really matters for Calgary and so it really should matter for Edmonton, too.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

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From Ryan Pike at FlamesNation

After a pair of good third period efforts paired with shoddy starts resulted in a win and a loss since the All-Star Break, the Calgary Flames will be hoping to get back to consistent 60-minute efforts tonight. Why?

It’s the 219th edition of the Battle of Alberta!

In addition to bragging rights – the Flames captured their 110th win all-time over Edmonton on New Year’s Eve via Josh Jooris’ overtime heroics (and hold an overall 110-87-21 record) – the Flames are now in the midst of a playoff battle. With 33 games remaining on the docket, the Flames (26-20-3) have 55 points and enter the evening’s festivities a point up on the Kings for the final wild-card spot, but also spitting distance away from Winnipeg (in the first wild-card spot) and both San Jose and Vancouver in divisional spots.

A win would do a great deal of good for Calgary’s playoff chances, particularly heading into a week where they host Winnipeg, San Jose and the Pittsburgh Penguins. While there are no easy games in the National Hockey League, Edmonton (13-27-9) is the most favourable match-up they’ll get for awhile. They’d be smart to use this game to get themselves into fighting shape, because this coming week will feature some absolute battles for playoff position.

Predictions

TopDog

Game day prediction: The Flames have won all three games against Edmonton this year, and they’ve lit up Ben Scrivens in both of his starts. Call it 4-2 Calgary.

Obvious game day prediction: Keith Aulie will fight. He’s been stuck in the pressbox for all but four minutes of Todd Nelson’s coaching tenure, and he’ll really want to show something tonight. Brandon Bollig seems a likely sparring partner.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Nail Yakupov will score for the first time in seven games.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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  • The Last Big Bear

    Oilers are gonna get creamed. Gonna be another emberassing night to be an oiler fan. Kim Jong-Lowe might Aswell just come kick me in the balls

  • Jordan88

    Pathetic team when at this point of the season, your only goal is to beat the Flames. How does it feel to be irrelevant half way through the year the past 8 years? Crushing the Flames dreams? What is it the Oilers dream of? Springing to a 29th place finish? Another nightmare season for the Oil.

    • Jordan88

      Hey… I think your cow is in traffic maybe you should go get bessy and stop holding onto false hopes.

      you have Dallas, LA, Minnie, Colorado all wanting playoff blood and all that stands in there way is

      Little Johnny Hockey. I am sure Seguin has made love to men Johnny’s size back in prison.

      L.A. Feeds players like that to Dwight King as an inbetween period snack

      • CMG30

        Oh you mean the Johnny hockey that was picked in the fourth round and has more goals, assists, points, power play goals, game winning goals, than any of the Oilers 1st overall picks. Not to mention our elite first defence pair that is comprised of an undrafted player and a fourth round selection.

        The only think tanking harder than the price of oil is the Oilers.

        Enjoy the third round pick you get for Petry at the deadline.

        Make sure MacT takes a cab home.

        • Jordan88

          Hey How is Mark Jankowski.

          Oh right you probably don’t know because you probably got on this wagon a little late.

          Jankowski was touted by your GM to be the best player in the draft. more so than Yakupov.

          Well lets look at there comparison NHL point totals.

          Yakupov 67 points.

          Jankowski 0 points.

          Oh you want to talk trades? How about that Iginla trade?

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Comparison:

            Mark Jankowski – actually being developed by his NHL club in an environment that is not over his head… drafted 21st. Possibility of bust… yes. How will that affect the Flames… hurts (would’ve loved Maata instead), but given our center depth… not terrible

            Yakupov – thrust into the NHL over his head… drafted 1st. Possibility of bust… yes. How will that affect Oilers… he was a 1st overall pick….

            Are they supposed to be comparable given their draft status? I don’t think the Oil were even wrong to draft Yakupov. They just forgot to develop him.

            Edit: oh and Feaster had a big mouth… agree with you there

          • Jordan88

            Yeah… you really need to stop.

            Zemgus Girgensons looks alot better than Mark Jankowski… a player whose ice time and points has dropped not gone up over the years he is a bust.

            Yakupov = bubbling under. Solid player needs time and patience.

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Didn’t like the Jankowski pick… still don’t now. But you need to stop in trying to compare him to a 1st overall pick. How many late 1st rounders end up busting?

            Jankowski reminds of Joe Colborne actually. All the tools… just can’t seem to put them all together. Definitely a long-term project. Would’ve loved Girgensons too. If we hadn’t traded down… could also have had Teravainen. By trading down we also got Sieloff, so who knows how it plays out.

          • Jordan88

            Yakupov only has 67 career points? Isn’t this like his 3rd year in the league? Wasn’t he a first overall? Haha poor oiler fans, it’s sad to see you guys comparing 1st overall picks to 21st overall picks that haven’t even played yet.

            Atleast Jankowski has a way better career plus/minus. Guess you could say he’s helped the flames more than yak has helped the oilers hahaha

          • Jordan88

            First: Who are you and why do you think you can talk to me?

            Second: Be prepared to be destroyed.

            *takes a deep breath*

            The NHL draft is the largest crap shoot in any professional sport Pavel Datsyuk was selected 171st overall… When they redid the draft he became the obvious 1st overall pick.

            So saying that a 1st overall is destined to succeed and then mocking him when he is 21 and not scoring or succeeding when a Player like Datsyuk did not hit the show till he was 25 and did not start putting up really good point totals till his 3rd season really shows how much creed one can put into draft pedigree.

            Is Nail a bust no… if at 25 he is not a capable NHL talent then he is a bust but until then I will enjoy watching his rise to dominance.

            *Drops mic

          • YFC Prez

            OUCH.

            That hurts for sure. Especially with Voracek (7th pick that year) tearing up the NHL scoring as well. It was definitely a franchise changing decision to pick Gags and then rush him, over pay him, then give him away.

            Just as bad as turning down Hemskey and Eberle for Seguin at the draft table and patting themselves on the back for it. or not signing Glencross and watching him carve out a nice career is Cow Town being the exact player we need.

            I’ll say this. The Flames today are like the Oilers back in the Doug Weight days. Fighting for 8th spot most years, then getting a crap draft spot for it. Right now, I would prefer that instead of year over year top draft selections, embarrassing management and unexplainable decisions.

            And I am an Oilers fan!!

            Unfortunately, there isn’t an Oiler fan today that can trash talk a Flames fan and stand tall. We are that bad.

            Still, we can hope for a convincing win today and feel smugly satisfied that we helped the flames secure that dreaded 9th place and that this is a sign of better days ahead.

          • Jordan88

            “Unfortunately, there isn’t an Oiler fan today that can trash talk a Flames fan and stand tall. We are that bad.”

            Sure there is. They had Jay “Six pack of coke and 4 dbl cheeze” Feaster as a GM.

            Dude was and is still the biggest joke in hockey.

            More of a joke than Lowes career success post hockey and that is saying something.

          • BurningSensation

            You only wish you had a GM as good as Feaster.

            He single handedly set the Flames up for success for years.

            In his first draft he picked no fewer than 4 NHL players; Baertschi, Granlund Wotherspoon, and Gaudreau, and then he picked Brossoit (jury’s still out).

            The Oilers haven’t had 4 guys come out of one draft in 20 years, let alone 5.

            As for trash talking the Flames, we can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome being in a playoff race is.

            Which reminds me, how’s that rebuild of yours going?

          • R U Kidding Me!

            Proving that you are clueless. There isn’t one Oliers fan that thinks the rebuild is doing just fine.” Ask your Mom to warm your milk, crawl into your jammies and head to bed. The grown ups are going to stay up late and watch the game.

          • Jordan88

            Typical Calgary fan.

            Decade means 10 or Ten not 5 or Five.

            Proper use would be 1990-2000 that was a terrible decade for FLAMES hockey.

            My god they come here to insult us and now we have to teach the slack jawed folks how to speak english properly.

          • Jordan88

            Fans like this are the reason no one feels sorry for oiler fans after a decade of being an emberassment to the term “professional team”

            Look at the facts.

          • Jordan88

            Yeah go back to flamesnation hovel and sit by the fire I wandered over there that site has about as much fire and passion as an old folks home battling the flu.

          • Burnward

            Like the good ribbing and most Oiler fans are frustrated but knowledgeable hockey fans. Jordan88 – you are not one of them. You are a clueless mouthpiece that embarasses good Oiler fans.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        yet…. Johnny has 8 more points than any current Oiler player……. including 3 (that’s right THREE!!!) 1st overall picks and wonder-child Eberle.

        • Jordan88

          You know what we also don’t have?

          Stetsons. Who would I rather cheer for? The hick flames who win games with nothing more than dogged determination?

          Or the Oilers who just can’t seem to ever get “it” right.

          I think you know the answer.

          *dusts off battered and marred Oiler’s jersey*

          “Welcome home old friend.”

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          Ya but Johnny Hockey isn’t making 6 mil a year, take that!!!!!

          He may have more points and play on a playoff bound NHL team, but out kids could buy and sell him!!!!

        • Sammy p

          Tanking is absolutely pointless. Young Conner the generational player may as well get used to the idea of playing in Arizona because that’s where he will go ,all tanking aside.
          When the bean comes out of the bowl it will be Arizona # 1 guaranteed. It has been preordained by the head Guru Bettman just as it was when Pittsburgh was lucky(?) enough to be drawn #1 in the Crosby draft.

          Hey when you run the league “ya gotta do what ya gotta do ”
          in the best interests of the league and all of its corporate members.

  • Jordan88

    GDP…oil win big…from start to finish. Today cow towns true demise begins…its not a fall from grace….more akin to an episode of the Simpson’s. .the one where homer attempts barts daredevil jumps on skateboard. ..falls down then again when ambulance crashes…haha. that’s you stupid cow towners!! I’ll watch and read with sheer joy rest of season. ..and they won’t pick in top five either. ..haha.

  • Jordan88

    I feel so bad for this site. OilersNation would have way more views and commenters if the Oil weren’t garbage.

    Just another community/organization affected by this gong show.

    • YFC Prez

      Maybe you should email Wanye and ask him to send you some numbers for each site. Compare the page hits between ON and FN.

      Hint the one with the blue background destroys all the other nation sites.

      Current count FGD 14 comments
      Current count GDB 62 comments.

      Just sayin’

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    NSOGDP: Nail Yakupov is traded during the 2nd intermission for Dennis Wideman + some other junk because McT thinks he is useless and wants to upgrade the D corps. Yak trades jerseys with Wideman and they switch benches to start the third. Yak breaks his slump with a natural hatty in the third to lift the Flames over the Oil 3-2… (cuz… former Oiler) this invigorates the young Russian as he proceeds to go on a scoring frenzy and a very long and successful NHL career tearing it up on a line with Johnny Hockey and Sam Bennett.

    Dennis Wideman refuses to report to Oilers practice in the morning (cuz his wife doesn’t like Edmonton) and is promptly traded for a 3rd round pick… which the scouting staff subsequently blow.

    #herecometheoilers

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I think that third round pick is used on a dman, rushed to the NHL. Plays 40 games with Nikitin, oilers brain trust deems him a bust at 20 years old, trades him for a future considerations, and 6 years later he becomes a Norris trophy winner.