Oilers-Flames games that were Edmonton-Calgary contests began in the fall of 1980, and it was–as it is now–a tepid event. Wayne Gretzky and Blair MacDonald, impact scorers in the revamped NHL, played with various LW’s that fall including Brett Callighen, Don Ashby, Glenn Anderson and Dave Semenko. On the night of October 22, 1980, the Flames caught a break (or so it seemed) because it was Semenko on the portside. The Edmonton Northlands crowd enjoyed a 5-3 victory, with Semenko scoring 2 goals on the night.
- Semenko: “I knew I’d get a lot of chances playing with him. What we’ve worked on in practice is for me to get into the right position to shoot the puck.”
Semenko would finish the season with 11 goals, Ashby 2, Callighen 25 and Anderson 30. Playing with Gretzky was a pretty good business.
After the opening game, 99 put things in context for history to see:
- Gretzky on an Oiler-Flames rivalry: “It will develop in the years to come. The players didn’t feel it, but the fans might build it up.”
For many years the Oilers and Flames was THE rivalry in the NHL, certainly through the 80s and I’d say a little into the 1990s. After that, one team or another has been poor and these last many seasons the Oilers have been in full rebuild mode. The Flames are hanging on and in fact ADDing veterans as they go, so a true rivalry is perhaps years away. Having said that, Oiler fans at the very least can look forward to a better showing against our friends to the south. And by friends, I mean Godless pukes.
This PK Subban situation seems to be coming to some kind of a crescendo and honestly it makes so little sense the mind boggles:
I would be unwilling to make a deal using any of the #1 overalls, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz; I don’t think the Oilers have enough booty to get off the ground without those items. speeds has mentioned offer sheet but the Oilers dealt their 3rd rd pick for Mark Fistric–which impacts the offer sheet possibilities–so that appears to be a distant bell. Subban would be a ‘perfect fit’ for this Oiler team, giving them a legit top pairing guy who can play huge minutes and run with the horses up front. I don’t believe there’s a deal there for the Oilers.
I’ve been thinking about Ryan Smyth this week, #94 is showing some signs of wear–kinda funny to write that because of course he’s slowing down. Ryan Smyth has been Cool Hand Luke since he was a kid, never giving in and never letting up. Years ago I was at Rexall, sitting down low, in one of the corners. Smyth was battling with an opposition defender, and it was very intense. One minute the defender would get the edge, but Smyth would slam the door and vice versa. Twice during the exchange Smyth had some clearance but the ref was blocking the escape route. Finally, Smyth, still in the life and death struggle, looked at the ref and said “get out of the way!” and we all collapsed in laughter. Ryan Smyth has an idea of how to play the game, and it involves singular dedication to the task and complete abandon.
And now the man who bleeds copper and blue can see his 37th birthday and is slowing. Here’s a sample of some TOI seasons by Smyth (chosen randomly):
- 97-98: 18:03 total, 12:41evens, 0:06sh, 5:15pp
- 00-01: 19:58 total, 13:30evens, 0:55sh, 5:31pp
- 05-06: 20:12 total, 12:49evens, 2:03sh, 5:19pp
- 11-12: 19:04 total, 14:26 evens, 2:09sh, 2:28pp
- 12-13: 15:53 total, 8:27 evens, 3:33sh, 3:52pp
This season is just starting and the Oilers have played at least one game that skewed TOI but it is interesting to see the progression (and then regression) of playing time. Smyth was not a 5 minute option last year on the PP (Oilers had no one much past 3 minutes btw) and ranks 8th among forwards so far this season on the man advantage. However, in terms of PK, we see our man Smyth increasing his time there, in fact this season he is third in F TOI at the discipline.
Smyth doesn’t have a point yet this season, no big deal at evens (he’s played about 26 minutes). He and Horcoff are going to get a lot of work against the tough western conference forwards and its going to be a long long season no matter the shortened GP.
Here’s how he ranks among LW’s by discipline:
- Hall 15:50
- Yakupov 10:50
- Smyth 8:27
- Hartikainen 7:02
- Petrell 5:48
- Hall 4:59
- Yakupov 4:22
- Smyth 3:52
- Hartikainen 0:31
- Smyth 3:33
- Petrell 3:20
It kind of makes me laugh, hearing commentators and reading online about the Oilers needing a big body for the top 6F. The reality is that the top 6F needs a young Ryan Smyth, a digger, a corner man, a holler guy, a tough as nails 2-way winger with terrific but underrated skills. A complete player, where he be 5.11 or 6.06. Today, Ryan Smyth ranks 2nd in GP by an Oiler (855, he’d have passed Kevin Lowe if he hadn’t traded Smyth) and 5th in goals (284, Oilers are a storied franchise in that category, 5th is tremendous for a player of his era–only HOFers ahead).
Ryan Smyth is a treasure, a real life hockey player who can rattle and cycle and pass the puck and catch it too, but mostly he’s a man with the heart of a lion. The generation of Oiler fan that arrived from 1990 through 2006 may not appreciate how rare and precious a player he has been; in a very cruel twist, the future will point it out time and time again.
It’s a HNIC game, that always adds something to the proceedings. The Flames are well rested, will have put in a lot of work at practice and should be flying. Its early, but they need a W:
I haven’t read anything about lineup changes, will change if anything crops up.
EDIT TO ADD: Hordichuk draws in over Hartikainen. 11:48am.