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Oilers v. Flames - Lamentations 1:1-5

How deserted sits the Oilogosphere
that was once so full of hope!
This team is a forsaken lover;
she was once lusted after in her youth,
a queen among Canadian cities,
but is now enslaved to mediocrity or worse.

Weeping bitterly through the night,
tears of sorrow run down their cheeks.
For those who remain fans,
there is no comfort.
They look down at this incompetence,
and curses ring out from their innermost being;
they are nearly her enemies.

Another season without playoffs,
the Oilers are wandering in exile.
Players come and go from all the nations -
soulless mercenaries and petulant youth!
Every team in pursuit has overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.

The roads to the place of worship have been abandoned,
for no one will drive down to celebrate this abomination.
The managers are fools,
the players are awful,
the kids will whine,
and the wife figures there are,
quite frankly,
better things to do.

The Flames have become a distant bell,
our greatest enemy prospers!
Yahweh causes all of this suffering
because of a few foolish kings!
Children from Grande Cache to Lloydminster now cheer on the Flames,
embarrassed to do otherwise, seduced by the taste of victory.

Edmonton Oilers (2-4-0) @ Calgary Flames (5-3-0)

Pengrowth Saddledome, 7:00 p.m. MDT
Television: Sportsnet West

More analysis after the jump...

Visiting Team Scouting Report:

The Flames are finally getting healthy and - no coincidence here - playing well too. The top nine forwards already look solid and that's without the likes of Daymond Langkow and David Moss. The last time these two teams met, it was the Flames who were reeling having dropped two of their first three games to start the season with no contribution on the scoreboard from many of their best players. Since that time, they've gone 4-1 and have outscored their opponents 18-9. They're outshooting their opponents by 6.2 shots per game, and their best forwards (Iginla, Tanguay, Bourque) are clicking at a point per game pace. We've only watched ten percent of the season, but so far, the Flames are looking awfully good.

Expected Lineups:

Edmonton Oilers (2-4-0):

Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Horcoff - Eberle
- Cogliano - Brule
Jones - Fraser - MacInytre

Whitney - Gilbert

Smid - Foster
Vandermeer - Peckham


Calgary Flames (5-3-0)

Tanguay - Stajan - Iginla
Hagman - Jokinen - Bourque
Glencross - Backlund - Morrison
Meyer - Conroy -Jackman

Regehr - White
Bouwmeester - Staios
Sarich - Giordano


By the Numbers:

  • The last time these two teams met, the Calgary Flames were in dead last - 30th overall - in the official NHL standings with only two points in three games and a -5 goal differential. My how things change. Today, it's the Oilers in 30th overall with four points in six games and a -6 goal differential. The Flames, meanwhile, have turned things around and now sit atop the Northwest division with ten points and a +4 goal differential... I knew it was a good idea to get my licks in early!
  • One of Calgary's big problems last season was spending too much time in the box and not earning enough power play opportunities themselves. So far this season, they've done much better, giving up 32 power play chances and earning 37 for a +5 differential. The power play has been abysmal, scoring only three goals, but...
  • the Oilers might be just what the doctor ordered. Edmonton has allowed nine power play goals in their last four games and currently sit in a tie for dead last with Dallas Stars in penalty killing efficiency on the season (66.7%). Tom Renney mused earlier this week about using Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky on the penalty kill, but thought better of it because every player on the team needs to know that they have a role, presumably in reference to Colin Fraser and Ryan Jones. I don't know what role those guys have now, but if isn't "goal-enablers", then they haven't been too good at it.
  • Rene Bourque is one of only three forwards in the NHL to have scored as many goals as he's played games. The other two are John Tavares and Steven Stamkos. Bourque also has the toughest Zone Start so far this season among Flame forwards. In other words, the guy can play the game.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin's play has, at least in my opinion, been a pleasant surprise so far this season. Yeah, he's kicking out rebounds, and yeah there's the odd bad goal, but the Maginot Line is challenging that namesake at the moment. Right now, Khabibulin's .932 EV save percentage is 11th out of 35 goalies with at least four starts. Maybe my expectations were just too low, but I certainly didn't think Khabibulin would be in the top third in that category among regular netminders.