Then Yahweh came to the prophet a second time and said, "Get up and go to the city of Calgary, and deliver the message that I have given you."
This time the prophet relented and went to Calgary, a city with so many traffic problems that it took three whole days to see it all. On the day that he entered the city, the prophet shouted, "In just seventy-seven days, you will see that this team has been destroyed, another mediocre finish that leaves them out of the playoffs and with no hope for the future!"
Some people believed this message, and started to mourn. Some shared their mourning on the radio, other on blogs, and still others put paper bags over their heads during games. When Jay Feaster finally heard about what the prophet had said, he came down from the rafters, walked to the middle of the ice, and before all the fans, put a paper bag over his head and issued this press release:
"No one may eat or drink or be merry. Men, women, and children should all join me in mourning, and everyone must confess that the message delivered to us from an Edmontonian is in fact God's word. We must acknowledge that this team of ours isn't great; we must stop mocking the consistent failure of the Oilers; and we must acknowledge that the only way for us to win is by God's grace. Who knows? Maybe the great God of the Edmontonians will change his mind and prolong our life."
When Yahweh saw their humility and repentance, he changed his mind about destroying the Flames, and helped them to a spot in the playoffs.
Calgary Flames (22-20-6) @ Edmonton Oilers (17-25-4)
Rexall Place, 8:00 p.m. MST
More analysis after the jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The Calgary Flames are taking a very different attitude towards failure than the Edmonton Oilers. After fifteen games, the Flames were 6-8-1, and well back of the teams looking to make the playoffs. So what did GM Jay Feaster do? He made changes to improve the club. He grabbed Blake Comeau off waivers, acquired Blair Jones via trade, and when an opportunity came to do something bigger, he traded Rene Bourque for Mike Cammalleri. Each of these deals made the Flames just a little bit better in the here and now without sacrificing a significant piece of the future. The Flames, of course, still aren't a very good team, and they probably won't make the playoffs even with an eight seed available that no one looks too eager to claim. But at least they're in it, and at least being in it is something that they deem worthwhile. I know that the whole point of the rebuild is to have a great team instead of settling for medicority year after year, but after settling contentedly for many years... this wait had better be worth it.
Edmonton Oilers (17-25-4):
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Eberle
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Eager - Lander - Hordichuk
Smid - Petry
Peckham - Potter
Sutton - Teubert
Calgary Flames (22-20-6):
Cammalleri - Backlund - Iginla
Jackman - Jokinen - Comeau
Kostopoulos - Jones - Stempniak
Bouma - Stajan - Horak
Bouwmeester - Butler
Giordano - Hannan
Brodie - Sarich
By the Numbers:
- With so many Oilers out of the lineup, it was interesting to see Tom Renney bust Ryan Jones down to the fourth line against the Blues. Now, he didn't spend all of his time playing with Josh Green and Darcy Hordichuk, but his 14:09 of ice time was his lowest total in eight games, and a drop of over a full minute on his season average.
- This was Liam Reddox's adventure last season, but with over half the season gone Magnus Paajarvi still doesn't have a goal. The record for most shots in a season without a goal by a forward belongs to Craig Adams who took 84 without scoring. Paajarvi currently has 55, which would be good enough for seventh if the season ended today.
- Blair Jones is getting a real opportunity in Calgary. Jones has played in 84 games in his NHL career, and just six of those have come with Flames. All six are among Jones' top twelve games in terms of ice time. He has just the one goal so far, just has taken 14 shots, which translates to a very respectable 191 over a full season, and suggests that he might be able to crack twenty goals over a full season if given the opportunity (especially if that opportunity includes time on the power play).
- Opportunity really is important. That's how a guy like Corey Potter goes from career minor-leaguer to posting respectable offense (15 points in 32 games so far) in the best league in the world. If that spot is reserved for a shooter on the power play, I wonder if a team couldn't make some hay signing a new oldster every year to put in that spot, and then flip him for futures at the deadline.
- Over their last twenty games, the Oilers have earned 48.8% of the Fenwick events at even strength, but just 35.7% of the goals. And that doesn't include empty net situations. Ouch.