I’ll watch any hockey match, honestly, but the fact that center ice was playing the Habs and Caps on several stations and the Flames were nowhere in sight made me mad enough to kick a baby. Missed the undoubtedly overlong Edmonton introductions, the 30-year retrospective and the first six minutes (including two Calgary goals).
About those - I didn’t see them (yet, I’ll see them later, I’m sure). But I’ve been told that the first started with Ben Scrivens bumbling the puck behind the net, leading to a Joe Colborne takeaway and a dish to a waiting Mark Giordano, who made a perfect shot under the crossbar at the 3:16 mark. The second occurred when Sean Monahan won a face-off against Boyd Gordon, fed Paul Byron, who dished it off to Jiri Hudler (2) to make it a 2-0 Flames lead. Hat tip to Ari for giving me the lowdown on the early going.
Neither team was generating any chances as Center Ice finally decided to switch over to the action that I was actually interested in until Karri Ramo effectively stonewalled Boyd Gordon on an attempted wrap around at the 8:30 mark.
Kris Russell had a quick shot chance, followed by a longer attempt by Deryk Engelland. Edmonton got their first power play of the season with 12 minutes gone in the period when Joe Colborne was called for hooking Justin Schultz. It only took a minutes for the Oilers to cut the lead in half when Teddy Purcell took a cross-ice pass from David Perron to beat our man Karri five-hole.
Play was called for a moment when something (the puck? a stray blade?) hit Nikita Nikitin in the mouth. After the Oilers got some consistent pressure in Calgary’s zone, a scrum nearly ensued behind Ramo’s crease. It was broken up before anything came of it, but Brandon Bollig was right in the middle of it, looking to strike some Oil(ers).
- Am I wrong to expect our guys to pitch a shutout going into every game, forever, without fail? I’m always surprised and disappointed when the other team scores their first.
- Sometimes, I almost feel bad for how consistently terrible the Oilers still are, regardless of the 16 first round picks they had skating tonight. Then I remember:
1) We got our own problems, and
2) Screw ‘em, it’s the freakin’ Oilers!
- SN1’s cameras are WAAAAAAY too close to the talking heads in the booth upstairs. I could almost tell what Paul Coffey had for dinner!
- Q: How many Oilers fans does it take to change a light bulb? A: They don't. They just sit around and talk about how good the old one used to be.
Simple Stats: Oilers are outshooting the Flames, 14-7, but Calgary has a shooting percentage 4x better, and that’s what counts in the end, right? In a total reversal from last night, the Flames were straight up second rate in the face-off circle, taking 18-of-27 in total. Joe Colborne is the only Flame with a better than 50% success rate, winning two-of-three. The Flames have eight blocked shots to only one for Edmonton.
The teams traded chances for the first few minutes. Scrivens again mishandled the puck and almost paid dearly to an in-position Hudler, who barely missed the partially unprotected cage.
Jordan Eberle was called for tripping Johnny Gaudreau at the 2:44 mark. Calgary was unable to make the Oilers pay for it however, clearing the puck out of the zone four times while the Flames only got one good shot near the net.
After rejoining the action, Eberle beat Ramo, only to be saved by the goalie’s best friend, the post. The Oilers were really controlling the pace of the game. Fortunately for the Flames, Edmonton doesn’t seem to have figured out how to park someone in the middle for those dangerous centering passes.
Calgary finally got their first official shot on goal with eight minutes gone in the period. After trading off chances for a few more minutes, TJ Brodie was called for hooking Taylor Hall just past the halfway mark of the period. Matt Stajan was called for tripping just 20 seconds into the power play, leading to a full 100 seconds of a two-man advantage for the bad guys. Despite this, the Flames cleared it twice before the Oilers finally got set up. Taylor Hall evened the score with a one-timer from the right face-off circle which beat Ramo on the stick side. The Oilers had almost a full minute of power play left after scoring. Brad Hunt rang another shot off the pipe before the bleeding stopped.
With six minutes left, David Jones left a slick looking drop pass for Sean Monahan, who almost scored on Calgary’s 10th shot of the game. Just a bit after that, Benoit Pouliot took a long outlet pass and tried to slap it past Ramo, who was just fast enough to turn it aside.
- Clearly, the penalty kill is a weak spot for Calgary. I was reminded of this by the always classy Edmonton crowd, as they chanted "Calgary Sucks!" over and over again at the 13-minute mark. To this point, the Flames are 3-for-6 on the penalty kill.
- It was glaringly apparent that the Flames were completely gassed by the end of the frame, except for one guy.
- Gaudreau really is slightly quicker than anyone else on either team. It’s only a matter of time before he starts lighting the lamp with some regularity. I said a few days ago that he has all the makings of the next Martin St. Louis, but now I'm thinking maybe he's the second coming of Theoren Fleury (we can only hope).
Simple stats: Edmonton continues to run circles around the Flames, outshooting them 25-to-11 (11-to-4 for the period) and out-faceoffing them 26-to-17. Mikael Backlund has managed to win over half of his face-offs, earning the puck on eight-of-15 tries. That only means that the rest of the team is a combined nine-for-28. Flames lead the hits department, 14-to-12 and the blocked shots category, 16-to-6.
Calgary won the opening face-off as the period opened, then another one 11 seconds later (woo-hoo). Taylor Hall almost had a breakaway, but Giordano dove near/on the puck and managed to not incur a penalty in the process, which is just as well, considering where the special teams "seem" to be at thus far.
Gaudreau snatched the loose puck at center ice and fired an 18-foot wrister that didn’t challenge Scrivens very much, followed by a pretty good Pouillot chance for Edmonton. Colborne fed Mason Raymond with a long outlet pass nearly into the Oilers zone, resulting in a quick wrist-shot that beat Scrivens over the glove for a 3-2 Calgary lead at the 4:22 mark.
Brodie dropped a pass to Glencross at around the 9-minute mark, who ripped an impressive one-timer at Edmonton’s net which Scrivens handled pretty good. Nugent-Hopkins challenged Ramo at point blank range despite his apparently being outnumbered three-to-one. Ramo dropped his knees to the ice to deny him his chance. At 14:00, Paul Byron broke in on Scrivens and attempted to deke the well-rested backstop. He failed, but less than a minute later, Raymond completed his third career hat trick by redirecting Colborne’s pass past Scrivens on the stick side, making it 4-2, Flames.
The Oilers tried to get back into it but never challenged again. With 1:36 remaining, an empty Oilers net, and David Jones breaking in on the goal, Pouillot smacked the stick out of his hands’ to earn a penalty. The Flames got a three on one with less than a minute left, which concluded with Backlund and Glencross each bouncing one off of Scrivens. Brodie collected the second rebound and slapped it home for a final score of 5-2.
- The entire team owes Ramo a steak dinner. He stopped 39 shots to get the win tonight. Frankly, the team wouldn’t have earned two points without him. He kept them in it when the outcome was still uncertain, and a team plays better when they're not behind. There’s something to the whole "swap goalies on the second night of back-to-back games" theory.
- A lot of time, it seems that the Oilers play hockey like every six-year old plays soccer. Everyone thinks they’re Pele and they all want to carry the ball all the way to the goal.
- So Raymond came in looking for goal #100, and ended up with 102 for his career. Not to get lost in the shuffle, but Colborne assisted on all three, and there’s something to be said for that, right?
- It's always a nice surprise to see someone earn a hat trick, especially when it's one of our own like tonight (never when it's the guys that we're trying to beat, unless it's like, Jaromir Jagr in his last game before retirement).
Simple Stats: Edmonton won the shots battle, 39-to-26, despite the Flames taking 15 swipes on the net in the third period to 14 for the Oilers. Raymond led all skaters with five shots on goal. Monahan had four, as did Oilers Boyd Gordon, Taylor Hall, and Teddy Purcell.
Edmonton won the face-off battle as well, taking 39-of-66. Mark Arcobello was most impressive, winning 12 against only three losses. The best Flames were Matt Stajan (five-of-nine) and Mikael Backlund (13-of-25).
Calgary had 20 hits to 18 for the Oilers. Curtis Glencross led the way with four, while Lance Bouma had three. Jeff Petry and Jesse Joensuu both had five for Edmonton.
Blocked shots were 18-to-6 in favour of the good guys. Kris Russell had three, nobody else had more than two. Now that’s how you spread the pain around.
Now that was a game. Check back with us as the Flames continue this six-game monster road trip with a matchup on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.