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

  • The Last Big Bear

    “Devan Dubnyk had a shutout and is now 4-1-0 with a 0.931 save percentage since coming over from Arizona”

    If you ever wondered why the Oilers’ tending coach was fired…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    What possible strategic interest of the Oilers is served by playing Aulie, ever again?

    Another example of MacTavish imposing his past blunders of current coach.

    There is air servie between Oklahoma City and Alberta that would have allowed Marincin to participate in tonight’s game.

  • Jordan88

    Interesting to hear Craig Button earlier this week commenting on the development of the two bottom dwellers. According to Button, the Sabres are “light years” ahead of the Oilers as far as the future of their team and the development of their young players. Which translates into only one way for the Oil to go next year and that’s down in the standings.

  • Jordan88

    The oilers are going to feed it to the flames tonight! This team is actually starting to get it together and they can help push Calgary in the wrong direction by demonstrating it tonight. What I would love to see is for MacT to boldly trade the oilers first pick this week while it’s projected value is highest and use the guy or good guys they bring in to put together a few winning streaks before the year is out. They won’t make the playoffs, but a moderately seasoned top 2 center could be of greater value to the team over the next five years than the #3 overall pick in the draft. Move forward. Change what the players are willing to accept on the ice and set up for next season.

  • CMG30

    The intellectual side of me has accepted the necessity of the tank parade once again, but I’m going to make an exception tonight… just ’cause it’s Calgary.

    • 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

        • 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.

      • 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!!!!

      • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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?

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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

  • Ready to Win

    The worst possible result for this season would be for the Flames or the Canucks to get McDavid; I know the lottery odds will be really long for the teams that just miss the playoffs, but I’d rather see two teams I hate make it than risk either of them getting really lucky on lottery day.

    That being said, I’m sure the Flames can still make it without these 2 points, so Go Oilers!

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      You’d rather your team not make the playoffs?

      How much worse were the Flames supposed to be relative to the Oil again this year?

      I think you guys should offer up your 1st overall and Yakupov to the Yotes to try and get OEL. You need to get better now… not later.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I just finished listening to Eakins interview on TSN Analytics.

    At times in the past I was a reluctant defender of Eakins. Not always but at times. After listening to his latest interview, and after cleaning the puke from my mouth, I have new thoughts.

    Dallas Eakins is the second worst hire in hockey history next to POHO Lowe. Then again my opinion of Eakins and Lowe is…

    “at where it’s at”

    • Derian Hatcher

      Have you ever been at a minor hockey game minding your own business, perhaps watching your son or daughter play the game they love, maybe standing in a secluded part of the arena – down behind the net or in a corner. Then some know-it-all stands beside you and starts commentating on the game, telling you which player should be where, what system they should be running, quoting analytics, using the latest hockey lingo and generally ruining your enjoyment? Well, this will be Dallas Eakins in a few years. There is at least one in every rink – and Dallas will be begging for you to say “Hey, didn’t you used to coach….. ” Before you can finish your sentence he will fill you in on his all-knowing, smartest guy in the rink knowledge. I would rather stand next to a guy like Todd nelson any day. He’ll be the one asking “what number is your kid?” and just enjoy the game with you.

      Go away Dallas – please just go away, you have done enough damage here.

  • Sammy p

    I am cheering for the Flames tonight. Why/ If they make the playoffs they have no lottery chance at McDavid. I would love to see LA catch Winnipeg and have Winnipeg have a shot at the lottery. Hey I know it would be nice to see the whiteout in Winnipeg again but old hatreds die hard.

  • Jordan88

    Funny how yakupov and Galchenyuk have the same amount of points and how one is perceived as a bust and the other as an up and coming star. Bizzaro world.

    My bet for where Petry lands is NY Islanders. They are not high Griffin Rheinhart and I could see that as a return for Petry.

    The more I watch the Oilers play under Nelson the more I think that the team is wayyy more relaxed and thus less on edge of the precipice of making mistakes.

    Justin Shultz sure looks like a guy who is feeling less pressure and making fewer and fewer mistakes.

    Yak still is making a few but less so and is putting himself in better positions on the ice to receive the puck and make a play.

    3-2 Calgary

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    We’re a terrible, terrible organization, but goddamn it I hate the Flames and their fans. I hope Yak crushes Johnny Hockey, just for the hell of it.

  • Jordan88

    ABOLISH THE DRAFT!

    I think that the NHL should treat the draft the way the OIlers treat the WHL.

    Mr. Bettman will make an announcement as follows:

    “We are abolishing the draft this year! We want to make sure the top players are in the RIGHT SITUATION. So MacDavid will be allowed to play in the NHL…if he agrees to play for Toronto. And Eichel will be allowed to play in the NHL…if he agrees to play for Boston. Some people say this is stupid, but the majority of insiders agree that VISUALLY this is an improvement.”

    “Nobody should try to fight us! Our lawyers will whip your lawyers! Besides which, I have many prominent PARTNERS such as Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, Al Gore and Henry Kissinger! Therefore I will win!”

  • Jordan88

    Oilers gonna get reamed out again!

    Is 8-1 too much to ask for?? Again?

    What a sick joke of an organization lol

    Favorite hockey memory of the last few seasons was being at that blasting at Rexall, jumping up every 7 minutes beers sloshing all over the place, goalies getting yanked, jerseys hitting the ice. And I loved every damn minute of it.

        • Jordan88

          Proud of nothing?

          well we don’t smell like cow dung 6 months of the year we got that going for us.

          but yeah not much else.

          *Looks at Arena district*

          Nothing to be proud of at all…..

        • YFC Prez

          Actually we wear blue…. Might want to relook at the Oilers jersey… I’ll give you a hint take a look at this very webpage you’re commenting on.

          Edmonton has a lot to be proud of. Despite the beliefs outside of Edmonton, we our citizens supported each other after the disastrous ’87 tornado which then we were named the City of Champions. We also had thousands of volunteers come down to aid Calgary during your floods.

          I can keep going if you’d like? I left sports out of the equation but we both know Edmonton’s is much richers then Calgarys

  • Gooilgo

    Yak flattens Johnny hockey early in the first and picks up the puck and scores!

    Oilers win because hall is out with a slight bruise and they play well as a team instead of sulking.

    Oil win 3-1

  • Bucknuck

    The Oil are due for a blowout. I’m gonna go crazy and predict a 5-2 victory my boys in blue and orange, only because it would be very sweet to do that to Calgary and wishful thinking can be fun.

  • 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’

  • Rod the Viking

    Glad to see you giving credit where it was due with your Luke Gadzic comments, he has been a lot more effective with two good shoulders this year.
    I hope his game keeps evolving so he can stick with this team for at least 2/3 of the games, even this dinosaur has to admit there is no place for an enforcer that can’t skate and make plays anymore.

  • Jordan88

    Actually its so bad that flames fans feel the need to get on their little horse buggies come over to our site and make us feel bad.

    That is like picking on weak defenseless kid.

    But whatever, I can sleep at night knowing I will never see a stetson and a Oilers jersy together as a fashion combo.