The game began with the usual pomp and circumstance reserved for the Battle of Alberta. In the modern era of this rivalry, it means four total shots on net halfway through the first period and a pointless fight between two players who shouldn't be on NHL rosters. Watch the dancing bears go!
The game really didn't start until Andrej Sekera took a tripping penalty against Michael Frolik. The Flames were buzzing around on the powerplay, generating some good chances but were held off the scoresheet.
That was, sadly, the high point for the first period. It didn't take long until the Oilers broke through. Some shoddy defending and missed assignments, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins placed in the back of the net. 1-0 Oilers:
The Flames, sticking to the usual script, continued to get dominated at all aspects of play. Another late Edmonton penalty seemed to spark the Flames, but time ran out in the first. Things were looking positive initially, with the Flames leading 8-5 in shots and 18-15 in corsi.
The second period has been deadly for the Flames so far in this young season, but the early goings looked promising. The Flames were actually taking the game to Edmonton, and whaddya know, they actually scored! Dennis Wideman did what he does best (take a slapshot from any point on the ice) and David Jones tipped it in. 1-1 tie:
Davy Jones goal. David Jones goal. pic.twitter.com/FV3Q2ZK7A9— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 18, 2015
This is notable, as this was the last time they looked like a competent hockey team until way later in the game.
For whatever reason, the team decided to sit back on a tie and let the Oilers back into the game, going five minutes without a shot attempt. The offensive ineptitude was combined with passive defence, and wonderkid Connor McDavid exposed Kris Russell to take the lead back for the Oilers. Seriously, look at Russell doing nothing on this play:
Sigh. The Oilers kept the pressure on for the rest of the period, but the score remained 2-1 at the end. Once again, the Flames got killed in the second period, losing the shots battle 14-5 and the corsi battle 29-14.
Fear not! The third period, the Flames' dominant frame, began and I'll cut the crap you know what happened. It took exactly 25 seconds for the Oilers to score again. Taylor Hall got the best of Dougie Hamilton and smacked the rebound in for a 3-1 Oilers lead.
If you're wondering why we're using so many GIFs from the Oilers account, it's because @myregularface, the usual source for great NHL GIFs does work for them. I don't feel that good about it either.
And just to drive the nail in the coffin even harder, Nail Yakupov (I tried hard not to make this pun), arguably the least succesful first overall Edmonton pick, scored just over two minutes later. Oh bother.
The Flames, true to their guns, didn't quit. And who else should show up besides David Jones? The winger ripped a nice one past Cam Talbot, scoring his second of the game and inspiring a little bit of hope for Flames fans:
David Jones again pic.twitter.com/gAmMqbgqgl— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 18, 2015
It's worth noting that, prior to this, David Jones was sitting a shade over nine minutes of ice time. I hope you can see my eyes rolling through your own computer screen.
And here's where I turned the game off:
Final score: 5-2 Edmonton. They lead shots 28-24 and corsi 63-53. Both teams are now 1-4 on the season.
- We didn't get shut out
- The only good thing about this being a home game was that we didn't get to see Edmonton's awful Orange jerseys.
- Jonas Hiller, despite his mistakes this game, did this to prevent a Connor McDavid hat-trick:
Maybe the goaltending roulette wheel will stop on Joni Ortio this time, but that probably won't happen. You know, because he hasn't had enough game experience.
- It's sad to say that the Flames are starting to look like the Oilers of last year. Offensive firepower, but no fire. Defensive superstars, but no defence. Take a look at any five of those goals, and watch for someone either laying down on the ice, someone out of position, or someone else doing absolutely nothing. You win a door prize if you see all three.
- Sam Bennett and TJ Brodie are both out, which certainly had an impact on this game, but there were way more problems than those two could've solved. Please come back soon, this tire fire doesn't need to burn anymore.
- We keep hearing that this team is just adjusting to new systems and new players, but how long will that be, if that even is the problem? Maybe pulling out the line blender every game isn't helping. The same issues that held back the team last year are holding them back to a greater extent this year despite an improved roster. It's a coaching issue, and it's not one that's going to be resolved through saying "we have to do better" after every game. The entire mentality has to change.
Special edition double jeers:
I had to break this one out for Kris Russell, whose defensive philosophy is apparently Nihilism. Look at McDavid's first goal, and look at him do absolutely nothing. No challenging, no stick movement, nothing. He didn't even go for the shot block. It looked more like he was running a drill with the rookie. It was silly.
That wasn't his low point. Yakupov's goal was semi-directly set up by the play before, in which Russell tried to escape from a McDavid forecheck by turning the puck over to him. Granted, his stick broke, but he waited too late to make a decision and sent the puck across centre ice right to #97. McDavid got the shot off, Hiller saves, defensive faceoff, Yakupov scores.
The third strike was maybe the worst play I have seen in hockey. Down 4-2 but with momentum going, Russell pretty much killed it by failing to keep the puck in at the line, lackadaisically skating down the ice, turning the puck over, and lying down on the ice to prevent the goal while leaving Hiller to do most of the dirty work. It was the most preventable 200 foot swing I've seen in a long time.
The most damning part is that Russell simply looked like he quit. He wasn't showing that shot-blocking gusto and bravery that made his name last year. After the silly play described in that second paragraph, he barely even hustled to the bench. For a team that emphasizes things like positivity in the face of overwhelming doubt, refusing to take a shift off, and continuous work, Russell showed none of that, and he's been given the 'A' for the season.
Whether or not you believe in advanced stats, you have to admit that Russell was absolutely terrible tonight, both statistically and visually. He was third in team icetime, despite Deryk Engelland (Deryk Engelland!) and Brett Kulak clearly outplaying him and Wideman. Something's gotta give.
Hopefully something good. The schedule doesn't get any easier (damning, considering they just played the Oilers) with a game Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals in the 'Dome. Let's hope for something better, and maybe at least one point.