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Recap: Oilers 1 vs Flames 0

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Oilers shut out Flames

NHL: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Battle of Alberta is one of the most fun experiences to be a part of. Whether you watch it on TV, see it live, or read about it in a recap such as this, it doesn’t matter — It’s an experience of its own.

Because the medium doesn’t inherently affect the content, I’m reminded of a rule I had to endure while growing up. Be warned, this may be a bit of a rant, and if you are uninterested in hearing about my minor inconveniences extreme injustices as a child, I implore you to scroll down to the first period, as I will not apologize for getting up on my soapbox and tying an unrelated matter into hockey. The rule was that during the summers, which I spent my family’s place off the Sunshine Coast, I was not allowed to watch TV between 9am and 6pm. I understood the rule’s premise, and frankly I didn’t even need it to exist.

On the Ocean like that, I was in paradise. I’d learned to drive a boat when I was 4-years-old. By the time I was 8, I loved to go fishing, set and pull up prawn traps, turn over rocks on the shore to see what kind of critters were under there, etc. Sometimes even, when I caught a fish, I would wave it in the air for the Bald Eagle sitting on its perch located on shore. The Eagle would come flying in, I’d throw the fish 15-20 feet away from the boat, and the Bird would swoop in, pick up the fish and fly back to its tree. It was indeed quite a spectacle. Because of all of this, and access to just about every form of ocean enjoyment I would ever need, the rule about not having the TV as an option was completely unnecessary. That was, until one day, there was rain that showed no signs of letting up.

I was bored out of my mind. For the first time ever, on the family’s summer getaway spot, I had absolutely no way of filling the time with stimulating activities. Never had that 27-inch television set — that was sure to be playing The Price is Right or some other form of daytime, coma-inducing nonsense — looked so appealing. I was of the impression that the premise of the rule was to promote going outside and deter wasting the day away inside. Unfortunately, it became obvious that I was disturbingly off base when I asked what I should do to pass the time until the rain went away, and I could resume doing fun things. You see, I was met with one of the worst suggestions I have ever heard — Read a book.

Make no mistake, I have nothing against reading a book, I do so quite frequently these days. It wasn’t the suggestion of the book that I, still to this day, have a problem with, it’s that the rule allowed for this activity while prohibiting Television. This didn’t promote being active or going outside. At best, it stemmed from the flawed premise that the medium of entertainment delivery was somehow more conductive to cognitive growth than another. At worst, it was that combined with that, and a further notion that the rule-maker’s hobbies were somehow better than mine; and that therefore, I should strive to be as good a person as they.

That notion still seems prevalent today when I hear — or read — people discuss the differences between reading and watching TV. Somehow it stopped being about the content, and started being about the delivery. The book was Animorphs, by the way. I knew I wouldn’t like it because I didn’t like the TV show. Each of TV and Books have their own forms of advantages — The visuals of TV, and internal-dialogue in books. As well as many others, I’m sure. But in this case, and with this rule, one was one-hundred times more acceptable than the other, not based on what was being delivered, but how. Worse yet, I learned that sitting inside reading all day was also acceptable while the weather was proper. Sitting on a couch and not utilizing the privilege of ocean activities takes place all the same under both options, in my eyes.

Some will argue until they’re blue in the face that the written word is cognitively superior to the screen. But because I read things people write on a daily basis, it can’t possibly be true. If I see a transcribed version of a politician making it very evident that he/she has no idea about the first thing on the subject of which they’re spewing, what difference does it make had I seen them do that on TV? Would it matter if you read whatever dribble John Shannon talks about during most intermissions, instead of watched or heard it? The idea that because someone took the time to write something down results in it holding more value, implies that you’re learning something you couldn’t have otherwise. Reading doesn’t always make you smarter either, because frequently the person writing isn’t smarter than the reader in any which way. it should be painfully obvious by this point in the recap that some people who have nothing to say are capable of doing an awful lot of writing.

And I’m not finished. This also relates to the idea of Hockey Experts. I see them on TSN, Sportsnet, Twitter, etc. Some are self-proclaimed, while others previously had some sort of a role in hockey at some point, at some level. Either way, the idea of a hockey expert is preposterous. Some people like goals, some like play design, roster construction, the business side, etc. Some like fighting, some like big hits, determination, or athletic feats that they’re completely incapable of accomplishing themselves. In the end, the idea of watching, reading, writing, or talking about hockey comes down to the most simple thing out there — entertainment. Suggesting that someone is more of a hockey expert than someone else is as ludicrous as intimating that some people are better at watching a hockey game than someone else. Hockey experts aren’t real, if you don’t believe me, take a few minutes to consider that are paid to be just that in the NHL. Look at the Oilers Management page, it doesn’t take long to see the problem.

If you enjoy heavy hockey to skilled, that’s your prerogative, and I hope you’re entertained by it. If you don’t, and prefer to argue with those who do for entertainment by digging through evidence to suggest that heavy-hitting and deterrence through intimidation isn’t real, have at it. If you’re like me and don’t particularly care what happens beyond winning, do that too. But one thing I have little tolerance for is the idea that some individuals are better at watching a game for entertainment than someone else. Unfortunately, social media has made that more prevalent than ever. Maybe instead of worrying about that, I should just read a book.

1st Period:

There was a lot of scrambling going on for the first three minutes of the game. The only real chance during this sequence was the Flames getting a three on one, luckily Oscar Klefbom was able to bat away the pass, and the Flames couldn’t get a shot off.

A minute later, Matt Benning lines up Anthony Peluso — who was called up for this game because he’s a scrapper — and then everyone else on the ice started looking for the hit first. At this point, it looked like it might be a theme of the game, the way it was the last time the two teams played.

Seven minutes into the game, Mikko Koskinen shows us why he got the call for this all-important divisional game. He makes a huge save on Sean Monahan from the slot.

Just over eight minutes into the frame, James Neal hits Kevin Gravel without the puck as he tries to exit the zone, and goes to the box for interference. This is a great call by the refs. Yes it’s extremely obvious, but had they let that slide, it likely would have led to losing all control of the game.

The Oilers get a few good chances on this powerplay. First there was Connor McDavid speeding his way into the slot, making a few moves, but just misses the final touch to put the puck into the open net. Next, after working the puck around a bit, Oscar Klefbom ends up wide open in the high slot but David Rittich stands tall to deny the chance.

Shortly after the powerplay ends, the top line enters the zone, looks to bobble the puck a bit, but it ends up being a beautiful tick-tac-toe play, with Connor McDavid scoring the goal.

1-0 Oilers.

A little bit later into the period, Milan Lucic decides to throw down with Anthony Peluso. It turns out that Peluso justifies his roster spot by getting punched in the face twice, before the linesmen break up the scrap.

Peluso ends up with an extra two minutes for unsportsman-like conduct, for I assume getting mad at the officials for saving his bacon. The Oilers get their second powerplay of the game.

The only good opportunity on the man-advantage was Alex Chiasson ripping one off of Rittich’s head. 0/2.

Near the end of the period, it was Kyle Brodziak getting the last real chance. He ends up with the puck wide-open in the slot, but again, Rittich comes up with a huge save.

The period ends 1-0, and the Oilers looked pretty good. Forechecking was great across the board, and that second line was getting the turnovers every time they were on the ice. The shot count is 16-10 in our favor.

2nd Period:

Within the first minute of play, that second line again looks great. Jesse Puljujarvi forces a turnover near the Oilers blue line, gets the puck to Jujhar Khaira who immediately finds a streaking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nuge comes in alone on Rittich, takes it to the backhand, and Rittich has to come up with a huge glove save to keep it within one.

If that wasn’t enough, Draisaitl gets his own similar chance two minutes later. Zack Kassian’s forecheck leads to a Flames giveaway, and Leon Draisaitl comes bearing down, but Rittich again makes another huge save. I’m getting a little sick of that goaltender.

Shortly thereafter, the fourth line gets a fantastic shift going. Admittedly, this is the first time I’ve noticed them on the ice, but they cycle the puck well, move it to the slot for a few looks, and like a tail on a donkey, pin the Flames in their own end for the entire shift.

Darnell Nurse takes it upon himself to take the Oilers first penalty. He gets caught holding Matthew Tkachuk, and will have to sit for two.

The first 30 seconds of the penalty kill had me pulling my hair in a way that would leave me looking like Terry Bradshaw had it continued. The Flames were getting closer and closer to the net and sustaining pressure. Luckily, the Oilers toned it down and killed off the rest of it with relative ease, and kept the Flames to one shot. This is so much better than the L-Formation.

After the penalty ends, the Oilers have a really bad turn of events. The Flames are going hard, the Oilers look flat-footed, and Kris Russell can’t get off the ice for two minutes because the Flames had the puck the whole time. It ends with Peluso deflecting a point shot with his shin, and we have ourselves a tie game.

Or do we?

Ken Hitchcock uses a coaches challenge to review Goaltender Interference. It’s determined that Peluso did, in fact, keep Koskinen from being able to make the save, and the goal is waived off. Nice call, coach.

On the very next shift, Milan Lucic forces not one, but two turnovers in the offensive zone leading to some good chances for the Oilers. Great shift by the identity line.

The crowd is appreciating the effort here. It may look like a full-trap game from the early 2000s, but if there’s one thing that gets crowds going, it’s honest effort.

To close out the period, Mikko Koskinen has to make two huge saves from the blue paint. First on Derek Ryan, and then the rebound on Sam Bennett. Period ends. Still 1-0.

3rd Period:

The first two minutes of this period were filled with sloppy neutral zone play by both teams. As each team was struggling to get it any further than the opponent’s blue line, Kyle Brozdiak ends up tripping Johnny Gaudreau, and is going to the box. We really need a kill here.

We got it. The Oilers boxed out well, blocked a bunch of shots, and kept the Flames from getting any serious scoring chances.

Sam Bennett makes his presence known about a quarter of the way through the period. He comes barreling into the Oilers zone, dances around a few players and proceeds to crash right into Koskinen instead of getting a shot off. He gets called for goaltender interference, and I have to give credit to the Oilers players on the ice here for not retaliating much or taking an unnecessary penalty.

Unfortunately, this powerplay was about as effective as a concrete parachute. I’m happy two minutes are off the clock, but that was not good.

Just over a minute later, there’s another penalty call. I’d like to tell you what it is, but Sportsnet has decided that now would be a good time to cut to a commercial break before giving us any explanation. On this commercial break, we learn that Connor McDavid buys used cars on Go-Auto. I’m sure.

Ok, it’s a two minute penalty for Dalton Prout for an illegal check to Ty Rattie’s head. On replay it really does look pretty bad, as Rattie gets plowed into the boards.

Like the last powerplay, this one too is only as impressive as your neighbors 1998 Honda Civic sporting an 8” exhaust pipe. Another two minutes off the board, though.

Now the Oilers are channeling their inner Tkachuk, and turtling. They’re preventing most shots from getting through, but they’re struggling to coral the puck, or get it out of the zone.

One the Oilers do finally get it, Jesse Puljujarvi has his stick chopped in half by Elias Lindholm, and the Oilers get to show off their terrible powerplay again. This would be a great time to get a goal.

Close, and definitely a much better powerplay. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finds Connor McDavid in the slot and his one-timer beats Rittich, but couldn’t beat the bar. Play continues, the Oilers manage to get four shots on this powerplay, but still, to no avail.

With less than two minutes left. the pressure is really on as the Flames have the goalie pulled. Jesse Puljujarvi gives it a full effort, blocks a shot so well that it almost goes all the way back into the empty net, but it’s an icing instead.

The Flames call a timeout with 11 seconds left.

The Oilers pressure the puck hard, keep the Flames from getting anything, and the Oilers win a tight one, 1-0.

Notes:

  • Very tight-checking game. That was definitely a throwback to the old days back when the two-line pass was a thing. Not my favorite brand of hockey, but as I said earlier, winning is the only thing I care about.
  • Ken Hitchcock is now 7-2-1 as the Oilers coach. The roster is still starving for goals, and remains an issue, but the way they’re all playing for each other and not letting up when something bad happens really has to remove all doubt that McLellan was indeed an issue. Couple that with calling timely timeouts and using the coaches challenge, and this is significantly better.
  • Speaking of, Jesse Puljujarvi on the ice defending in the last minute. He did a great job, and we know damn well he would never be out there under the old coach.
  • There was a real jackass in the stands on the Oilers defensive side. He kept standing up and waving at the camera every time the puck went over there. That’s a great way to annoy everyone sitting around you.
  • The Powerplay needs some work. A lot of it actually. You can’t have this many opportunities and fail to score expecting to win.
  • On the other hand, this Penalty Kill is great.
  • I can’t think of a single player that played badly. As much as I’d like to see some goals, I really appreciate not having to single out players negatively in this section.
  • Koskinen was perfect, and did everything he needed to do to earn another shutout. Rittich also should hold his head high. He made some huge saves.
  • Peluso got beat up, took an unnecessary penalty, and caused the Flames only goal not to count. Personally, I think the Flames should use him in every game going forward. I’d bet though, that the Flames will instead suggest that it is perhaps he who should read a book.