Oilers at Flames, G4 ’10-’11

After three games the Oilers appear to be getting offense from expected places this season. The foursome of Horcoff (2-1-3), Gagner (0-3-3), Hemsky (1-1-2) and Penner (2-0-2) represent the heart of the order for Edmonton 10-11. The kids have faded a little (its a tough league, this should have been expected) and I do think Gilbert Brule isn’t 100% after the Calgary game opening night. Ryan Jones has contributed and could be in line for a move up the depth chart soon.

Points from the blue have been plentiful so far this fall: Gilbert (1-1-2), Vandermeer (0-2-2), Whitney (0-2-2), Smid (0-1-1) and Peckham (0-1-1) have all posted some offense in the season’s first three games. The Oilers have outscored the opposition 9-6 in the three games and their goaltending (all NK. SP: .933) has been splendid.

I don’t give them a snowball’s chance in hell of winning tonight. Why? The Calgary Flames have been awful, just plumb awful so far this year. They’ve been outscored 3-8, only 5 forwards have a point (and none of them are named Iginla, Tanguay or Jokinen) and they are a veteran team looking straight into the abyss. I would expect them to arrive in ill humour and to put the boots to a young and chaotic Edmonton club. All the arrows are pointing toward a dominant performance by the Flames tonight.

And yet. And yet the Oilers do have an Ales Hemsky, a Dustin Penner and a Shawn Horcoff. Gagner may be able to help on that powerplay and the kids don’t yet know what they’re getting into at this point. NK has been stopping a lot of rubber and the blue have been observers on many sorties into the Edmonton zone alredy this season (and they’ve won twice). My Dad would always say “this is why they play the games” and this does set up as a very interesting one.

Should the Flames trounce the Oilers 7-0, no one should be surprised. If the Oilers win tonight, we should expect changes in Calgary soon. Very soon.

Sheldon Souray played in the AHL last night. Very rusty. 0-1-1 +3. Thank goodness he’s not associating with the kids. Reefer madness that.

Word from Stauffer yesterday had MacIntyre drawing back in and Strudwick possible. I really wonder about Brule’s health. He didn’t skate well at all in Minnesota and if he’s not able to help then maybe he needs to sit this one out. Of course, a fourth line of Cogs, a raw rookie and Strudwick approaches comedy, so maybe Brule should play.

It’s HNIC! I see the ratings for opening night were ridiculous again. I don’t know if the younger generation knows this, but back in the olden days Canada watched Hockey Night in Canada  as a group. It was a ritual, like church on Sunday or buying back to school clothes from the Sears catalogue. There are lots of childhood traditions I’m glad to see gone (8-tracks that fade out and change tracks in the middle of your favourite song; kids who were supposed to “speak when spoken to”), but HNIC’s success has always felt right to me. Its like a weekly national get-together, and maybe (as Joni Mitchell wrote) a little money riding on the Maple Leafs.

Tonight, I’d probably wager the Flames. At this point, they may well be the under dog.

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