Friday, October 17, 2008

Battle of Alberta - the first

As Barney Gumble once slurred; "it begins!"

Grabia has already built a drinking game for tonight's clash (non-alcoholic champagne is discouraged). Participate at your own risk.

The Oilers have had a good start to the season, beating both the Avs and Ducks in their first couple of games. The Flames, on the other hand, have looked decidedly bottom of the barrel in many aspects, going 1-1-1 while surrendering the most goals against (per game) in the league.

But, you know what? Im not too worried.

I think the Oilers success thus far is illusory. They were out-played and out-shot in both games, with a combination of shoddy opposition goaltending and a lot of beneficial goal posts delivering them the "W". Their best player has probably been Dustin Penner from the third line and that back-end strikes fear into no one.

The Flames obviously have some issues to work through, but there were definitely some positive to be taken from last game. The concerns remain Kiprusoff and defensive positioning but one has to think improvement is inevitable (they simply can't be this bad).

Line-ups, match-ups:


kid line
Brodziak/chicken boy-hired goons





The coaches may go power on power tonight, meaning Iginla playing Hemsky (with Regehr/Sarich behind him). That leaves Conroy against the kids and Pisani to check Lombardi. If not, Conroy+Regehr will face Hemsky while Jarome+Phaneuf will beat up on the Pisani "checking line". That would leave the two second lines to try to outscore each other.

The game is at the 'Dome, so match-ups will turn in Keenan's favor. As such, I expect Jarome will face lesser competition for most of the evening. In fact, I can almost guarantee that Keenan will try to get him out against Gagner and Nilsson as much as possible. The kids are alright, but they can't hang with the likes of Jarome just yet.

Im worried about - the goaltending and the PKing. Both looked like achilles heels last game.

Im not worried about
- MacIntyre. The lughead will play all of 3 minutes. If Roy is in the line-up, there might be a meaningless tussle. Otherwise, Im guessing everyone just ignores the goon.

Prediction - Flames 4, Oilers 3. Calgary grossly out-shoots the Oilers, but play in the bad end continues to be lackluster. Iginla (2), Cammalleri and Phaneuf for Calgary. Gagner, Souray and Brodziak for Stinktown.

Go Flames!

UPDATE - Apparently JDD will be in net for the Oilers this evening. I'd say the Flames have the goaltending advantage as a result, but Kipper is an upgrade over nobody right now. Also, dig the Regehr quote near the top of the page:

Generally, Calgary defender Robyn Regehr is singled out by the Edmonton coach for his habit of mashing Ales Hemsky into the fence.

"Personally, I think he's maybe trying to win some favour with officiating or with fans or . . . I don't know who those comments are directed at," said Regehr. "Guys are intense out there. Battles happen. Guys that don't want to play that way, they should be playing another sport."