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The Matchsticks 2015-16 season preview (very much a parody)

Liam plays clairvoyant and takes a look at how this season could go. Hint: it probably won't be like this.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

I've had a vision. I can't remember if it was a dream, or something I thought of while watching something on television. Either way, it's a beautiful vision.

I don't know where this vision has come from, and it by no means is a guaranteed sure-fire thing, but just imagine...


The Flames start the year well, remaining unbeaten at home, and only losing in New York (to both teams), Vancouver (OT) and Winnipeg (shootout). The top line goes on a tear and leads the league in scoring. Sam Bennett scores four goals throughout the month, and Micheal Ferland takes the grit mantle from Kris Russell, blocking 20 shots and throwing 45 hits.

Joni Ortio plays well when called upon against the Oilers and the Red Wings, but Karri Ramo has performed well as the main starter. Jonas Hiller, who cleared waivers, leads the AHL with a 0.8 GAA and a 96.7 Svs%.

Elsewhere in the league, the Maple Leafs fail to score a single goal for the entire month, their only point coming in a dreadful OT defeat to the Coyotes.

In Edmonton, Connor McDavid is a healthy scratch after only registering 12 points in five games, with Peter Chiarelli claiming "the kid needs to be more physical, he's not taking the man!" The Oilers lose each game he doesn't play in, but McDavid is ordered to undergo more weight training before he will be considered for selection.

The New York Rangers lead the way, losing only once all month, despite losing Henrik Lundqvist to a mirror-related accident. A similar incident rules Ryan Getzlaf out for a month after seeing his hairline visibly recede between practices.


Brandon Bollig goes on a four game scoring streak, including two against New Jersey. He misses the chance to make it five when he suffers an extreme nose bleed in an Anaheim hotel. The team goes on a strange pattern on winning one game, losing the next, and repeating for the entire month. The high spot is a 3-1 win at the Honda Centre, John Gibson distracted by a shimmer from the bench for two of the three goals.

John Scott has an unbelievable month, scoring five times, assisting four more, and taking only two penalty minutes as a rare shining light for Arizona. Steve Stamkos, on the other hand, records a shocking 36 penalty minutes and takes a two game suspension for a horrible slash at an opposition goaltender.

Phil Kessel has an outstanding month, taking the points lead at the Penguins. Sidney Crosby goes on strike in protest.

The last day of November sees a horrible day for the Flames, with Ramo and Hudler going down injured.


The Flames don't win a game. Missing Hudler, they fight in every game but cannot get the job done. They also don't score very many goals. Jonas Hiller comes back up from Stockton, but the team is a mess in front of him. They lack an inspirational leader. A bearded man with boxing gloves arrives at the Saddledome, drops his gloves in the bin and tells Brad Treliving that he's changed. They give him a cheap show-me deal.

Connor McDavid, 20 lbs heavier, returns to the Oilers' lineup. Encouraged by the office, he drops the gloves against Tim Jackman, and it goes as well as you'd expect it would. He is ruled out until March.

The Leafs, still winless, fire Mike Babcock. Don Cherry is brought in as temporary head coach.

Vancouver is rocked when the Sedins hand in trade requests, telling the press "we'd like to play on a team that has a chance of winning a cup." They move to Buffalo for Evander Kane and picks. Jack Eichel starts to finally find his feet, registering a point in each game in December.


Brian McGrattan returns to the Flames' lineup and scores six goals in eight games. He replaces Joe Colborne when Jiri Hudler returns to the lineup. The two combine to lead the Flames to an unbeaten month, including a 12-1 demolition of the Oilers at Rexall Place, four goals from Josh Jooris heading up a superb team display. The Oilers won't win again until late February. The game sees the Flames end with positive possession numbers for the first time all season, with every player registering an above-50 CF%.

Toronto finally register their first win, beating a sorry Edmonton 1-0. The press gather around Cherry and hail him as the second coming of Christ. He plays it down, suggesting, "I'm not the second Jesus, I'm the first Don F*****g Cherry."


The Rangers clinch the East very early, easily the best side over there. The Chicago Blackhawks clinch a playoff berth early, then lose the following five games after Marian Hossa breaks down from playing right wing on three lines.

The Flames continue their good form, losing only once and looking good. McGrattan continues to put points on the board, as well as remaining a positive possession player. He even refuses to drop the gloves with John Scott, who remarks on the ice, "What happened to you, dude?"


Nothing happens. Literally. A huge breakdown of ice equipment at every arena causes mass cancellation of games. The only ice that remains is in the new arena in Brooklyn, but because they refuse to let other teams play there, no games are played.


With the ice fixed, a reduced season recommences. Two more games are played, in which the Flames clinch the Pacific Division, with LA and Anaheim joining them in the top three. The Canucks finish fourth, but with a strong Central Division, they miss out on a wildcard spot.

The Oilers finish 29th, one place ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose grand total of six points is celebrated as "a big turn around by the king of Canada." Cherry resigns, citing conflicts between himself and Brendan Shanahan - "that wuss wouldn't know hockey if it smacked him in the face."

The Flames meet the St. Louis Blues in round one, and despatch them 4-0, Sean Monahan leading the scoring.


The Flames need six games to defeat the Anaheim Ducks, the 1-0 OT win in game six at the Honda Center defining a real turnaround in 12 months.

They face the Blackhawks in the conference final, and it goes to a game seven in Chicago. Ferland and McGrattan, using their size and strength well, have "unfortunately injured in legal incidents" Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, an already weak Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw and Corey Crawford in the first six games, making the game seven 7-0 demolition slightly hollow, with CM Punk having to play center for the Hawks.

In the east, the Rangers win every single game on their way to the Stanley Cup final, even putting on exhibition games against the Penguins after defeating them in the eastern final to keep themselves game-ready.


The first four games go to the home sides. The Rangers win 3-1 and 5-3, the Flames win 2-0 and 2-1 (OT winner from Dougie Hamilton, making it a career year for the new recruit). Game 5 in MSG, the Flames somehow sneak a 1-0 victory, Joni Ortio claiming a 57-shot shutout. The Rangers avenge this in the Saddledome, a 4-0 victory giving them the momentum for game seven.

The Rangers take an early two-goal lead in MSG, and try to shut up shop. It works for period one, and most of period two until a Johnny Gaudreau snipe on the powerplay pulls one back. The Flames keep knocking and knocking for all of period three, finally breaking Lundqvist's resistance at 59:22, a blueline rocket from Mark Giordano the saving grace. We head to overtime.

No goal in the first two periods of overtime. The third period goes 15 minutes, until suddenly a pass from Mats Zuccarello is intercepted by McGrattan. Suddenly, he finds himself one-on-one with Lundqvist. From out of nowhere, he dekes the Swede, finishes with a backhanded wrister, and wins the game, the series, and the cup, for the Calgary Flames.

Writer's note: this is extremely unlikely to happen. It has been written entirely as a parody, and is in no way, shape or form meant to be serious. Enjoy the season.