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Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers recap: To be successful, one needs a Johnny Gaudreau

It all started with a giveaway to Brandon Bollig. The Flames didn't score, so the Oilers tried giving it away to Johnny Gaudreau. Multiple times. It went perfectly.

"Friends! I am the best! Thank you, thank you!"
"Friends! I am the best! Thank you, thank you!"
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames are not particularly great themselves, but the Edmonton Oilers are super duper astoundingly bad. Last year, the Flames had an exciting last-minute comeback and win against the St. Louis Blues before the Christmas break. When they returned, they followed it up with a historic shutout streak. This time...

First period

Sean Monahan nearly murdered Jordan Eberle with a great, ferocious hit, and the Oilers somehow gave the puck away to Brandon Bollig. Yes, that Brandon Bollig. Nothing came of it for poor Brandon, but it kind of summed up how the next few minutes would go:

Paul Byron, blazing up the wing. He centres the puck. It bounces off of Oiler players. Brad Hunt doesn't know where it is. Justin Schultz, that guy who was so highly sought after that one time for reasons now unknown, is especially clueless. Viktor Fasth is looking around frantically. And there's Joe Colborne, just kind of hanging out, super tall and having no problems finding the puck, grabbing it, and tucking it in the net before anyone's the wiser. 1-0 Flames.

One minute and 24 seconds pass. The Oilers have the puck in their zone. They're trying to spring it out. The puck bounces off of David Perron and into the slot. There is one Flame in the slot. That Flame's name is Johnny Gaudreau. Anyway, 2-0.

Fast forward 16 whole seconds. Actually, probably less than that. Anyway. TJ Brodie remembers how much fun he has doing fantastic stretch passes, so he does it again. Gaudreau and friend Jiri Hudler are sprung on a two-on-oh breakaway when Hudler nicely taps the puck up to Gaudreau. Johnny Hockey is going in alone on Fasth. Anyway, it's now 3-0.

Viktor Fasth stopped three pucks. He also let three in past him. The former Anaheim Ducks backup goalie was not having a super great first just-under-nine-minutes, and so, he was pulled for Ben Scrivens.

Things kinda calmed down after that (Scrivens opened up with a pretty good save against Rafa Diaz), allowing us all to breathe again. Because we were laughing too much. I mean, I assume you were laughing too much. I was. I genuinely couldn't breathe at one moment.

Anyway. Powerplay time! For the Flames, because it was just never going to end. Markus Granlund was annoying Perron, so the Oiler took a retaliatory slash on him, and was called on it. It wasn't a particularly great powerplay for the Flames, although things came close when Kris Russell had a hard shot, and Gaudreau - who else - nearly got the rebound.

Alas, things finally started going the Oilers' way. Just a little, though, let's not get crazy here. They killed the penalty, and drew one of their own, when Granlund tripped Perron. Anyway, because they're the Oilers, they had zero shots on their powerplay.

The period ended with Byron tripping Hunt, the Flames outshooting the Oilers 9-7, and the Oilers out-corsiing the Flames 20-15.

Second period

So, thanks to Byron, the Oilers got to kick off the second with a full two minutes on the powerplay. They used up all two of those minutes, because in classic Oiler fashion, they were unable to do anything productive with it. The closest they came was when Leon Draisaitl fanned on a bad pass, and Dennis Wideman blocked the shot he did get.

It was killed, of course, and the Flames followed up that successfull kill with the Gaudreau - Granlund - Hudler line nearly scoring twice. One of those almost-chances would've been Gaudreau's second natural hat trick in two games. Dang.

The Oilers were then sent off to their third consecutive powerplay, as Deryk Engelland high-sticked Nail Yakupov. My favourite part of this particular Oilers powerplay was when Monahan brought the puck out, and nearly ended up with a two-on-one with Mark Giordano. The Oilers managed to just stop that, and tried to clear the puck down to Yakupov, who was waiting to break back into the Flames' zone. That's when Brodie intercepted the pass and singlehandedly carried the puck back into the Oilers' zone, dekeing out a number of them to get a shot on net.

So yeah, the Oilers did not score on that powerplay.

Bollig nearly embarrassed Andrew Ference, but could only get a wide shot off, and Gaudreau and Granlund nearly scored again, also.

Anyway, really, it was the Oilers who were in control most of the period. The Flames burned their timeout to give their guys a break at one point, as the Oilers ended up outshooting Calgary 13-3 over the entire frame.

Because, you know, the Flames had a 3-0 lead, so, who cared.

The overall stats after two were the Oilers outshooting the Flames 20-12, and out-corsiing them 48-31. This is called score effects, because they were so horribly down, and the Flames were basically  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Third period

The Flames are known for their stellar, come-from-behind third periods, so going into the final frame up with a pretty decent lead was definitely unfamiliar territory. That said, the Flames are perfect when they go into the third with a lead, and the Oilers have yet to win when entering the third losing.

Anybody who thought that was gonna change tonight is real adorable.

That said, eventually, the Oilers' manufactured dominance eventually caught up with them. Schultz's shot early into the period went off of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was sandwiched between Giordano and Brodie, and past Jonas Hiller to finally put the Oilers on the board, making it 3-1. Yakupov had a great wraparound chance to follow, but Hiller had him.

And then the Oilers ruined all their supposed momentum when Jeff Petry slashed David Jones. While the Flames didn't score on the powerplay, it was still a pretty good one, featuring multiple Colborne and Monahan scoring chances. Monahan's, in particular, showed the disarray the Oilers are in: a hard shot left bodies strewn about, and Monahan had all the time in the world to get himself set up for multiple shots; unfortunately, he hit the crossbar.

Things got really interesting when the powerplay died, though. Russell deked his way in to get the puck in towards the net, and with Monahan standing right to the side, Scrivens was able to put a handle on it.

That's about when Ference, who seemed rather upset in his second intermission interview, completely lost his mind.

He immediately grabbed Monahan's face. Monahan, in retaliation, grabbed at him. Gloves came off. Ference and Monahan went tumbling down to the ice, clawing at one another. Everyone else found a dance partner and Scrivens just kind of awkwardly tried to stay out of it, as goalies are wont to do. In the end, Monahan's perfect hair got a little mussed up (still looked great though), and he, Ference, Wideman, and Matt Hendricks all went off for roughing.

Out came Matt Stajan. Behind the Oilers' net went Matt Stajan. A backhand pass from Stajan's stick to Curtis Glencross' resulted in the latter's seventh goal of the season, as the Flames reclaimed their three-goal lead, 4-1.

And then Granlund nearly scored again off a nifty Byron pass, but he just tipped it wide.

Taylor Hall's contribution to the night was to give the Flames another powerplay, as he went off for unsportsmanlike. A fun little moment was when Hiller was totally unaware of it, and raised his glove to signal icing when it was really just the Oilers on the penalty kill. Anyway, the Flames didn't score.

Jones gave Byron a great scoring chance with a wonderful pass - the kind of pass Byron had been giving his teammates all night, actually - but Byron couldn't redirect the puck in. It went back to Brodie, who got a shot, but Scrivens was outstanding on the scramble to prevent anything from happening.

There would be no second hat trick for Gaudreau, as the Flames wrapped up the game with back-to-back too many men and delay of game penalties. There was only a minute left, though, so who cared, really? There was the Oilers' pride, I suppose, but do they even have any left? It was a nifty way for the Flames to improve their penalty kill percentage.

The glorious opening to this game fizzled out, but all the necessary damage had been done: Calgary won 4-1, despite being out-corsied 63-53. Even with score effects, though, shots were at 27 apiece.

Flame of the game

Who else was it gonna be other than Johnny Hockey? Forget Flame of the game, and start thinking Flame of the entire season. He's scored six of the Flames' past nine goals. Two goals tonight, making it 12 for him on the season, and 29 points. He remains second in rookie scoring, five points back of the Nashville Predators' absolutely ferocious Filip Forsberg in two more games played, but he's definitely in the Calder discussion. He's also third in Flames scoring, behind Giordano and Hudler. He's a diminutive rookie, and he's also the friggin' best.

Stray observations

  • Ha ha ha.
  • Hee hee hee.
  • Ho ho ho merry christmas.
  • Looking at Craig MacTavish chilling behind the Oilers' bench was fun. I mean, you've got a guy the Oilers hired to coach. Then they fired him. Then they hired him as general manager. Then he fired the coach. And now he's just hanging out there. Is it any wonder the Oilers have been as terrible as long as they have? I mean, that's just one symptom of it, but it's one you could easily correct... and they seem to have no desire to. As someone three hours to the south: I love it. Never change, Edmonton.
  • The most Oilers moment this game - aside from how pathetic they were on both of Gaudreau's goals - was the moment when both Oscar Klefbom and Mark Fayne were skating around without sticks. Both Oilers defencemen lost their sticks. Nobody gave them their stick. The Oilers spent an extended period of time without defencemen able to function. It was only alleviated when Scrivens stopped Wideman's shot.
  • Bollig barely played, as is tradition - the only Flame with fewer than 10 minutes under his belt tonight - but the Oilers are so bad he had a couple of moments where he looked halfway decent. Man.
  • Diaz led all Flames skaters with four shots on net. I really like his shot, actually, and love his willingness to shoot. It's nuts that he hasn't scored any points as a Flame yet. (Engelland played about two and a half more minutes than him and maybe he shouldn't have??)
  • The Flames' early lead really let them ease up on playing their big guns tonight. Monahan still led all forwards in ice time, but he only played 17:53, not even approaching the 20-plus minutes he's tended to play this season. Gaudreau was next in line at 16:34. Playing with such a substantial lead most of the game, they just didn't need them. There was no frantic comeback. It was nice.
  • Remember when Ference got pissy with Lee Stempniak and forced him into a fight Stempniak clearly did not want?

    Similar behaviour with Monahan tonight, although Monahan was much more eager to fight back and put Ference in his place. It's probably hard going from a regular Stanley Cup contender to the absolute worst in the league, but nobody made him. He chose that. Your true colours are revealed in adversity, though, and Ference's true colours seem to paint him as a giant baby who can't handle it. Anyway he's still signed for three seasons and has a $3.25 million cap hit, so have fun, folks.

What if...

... Gaudreau had two natural hat tricks two games in a row? We were SO CLOSE to that. I can't believe there was a time we weren't even sure if he was going to start in the NHL. Wow. Wow wow wow.

... Mikael Backlund was healthy? Seriously, a healthy Backlund could mean Monahan would be on a line with Gaudreau and Hudler. It would be even more intense. One day. Soon.

... Diaz got some more ice time? I'm serious he's earned it.

So, that was super fun! Next up is a very recent opponent: the Los Angeles Kings. It's their turn to come to Calgary, and they'll be here Monday, Dec. 29, for a 7 p.m. puck drop. They'll probably want to avenge their loss to the Calgary Johnny Gaudreaus from before Christmas. Let's hope Johnny Gaudreau is ready for them. Maybe the Oilers would be better if they had a Johnny Gaudreau? Anyway, Johnny Gaudreau.