If a person simply got to hear the storyline of tonight’s game in Edmonton without using the names, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would pick the Oilers as the winners of the contest. Picture it: One team dominated the game tonight. They were all over the other team using their speed and depth of four lines and dominating the races to loose pucks. They generated at least more scoring chances and used their speed to garner 7 power plays to their opponents four. But the other team relied on one of the NHL’s top goaltenders to hold the fort and give his team a chance to win. Not only was he able to diffuse his attackers 5-5, he almost single-handedly stymied his opponent’s man advantage opportunities.
Wow… Talk about role reversal. So is this where the Flames fans start to hassle the Oilers fans about relying too much on goaltending, and the Oilers are just an over-rated team with a great goalie? They could, but it wouldn’t serve any purpose. The fact is, even though fans of both teams don’t want to admit it. These teams are a lot more similar in make-up than they’re given credit for. The Oilers went out at last year’s deadline to get a top notch goalie because they felt they needed one in order to take them to the next level… where Calgary was with Kipper. Even look at the make-up of the teams. Both teams have a local Alberta-born power forward as the face of their team, both rely on non-traditional #1 centers on their top lines. Both teams have a fairly solid young core of defenseman, and both currently have a lot of untapped potential in some of their younger talent (re. Kobasew, Pisani, Lombardi, Torres).
In a game that may have been exactly what one might have expected in a Flames road win if the scores were reversed, maybe what the game did do was show us all how similar these teams really are. It’s not a stretch to say that the Oilers would be on a losing streak if it wasn’t for the play of Rollie the last few games, and it’s no secret that many are convinced that the Flames would be fizzles if not for the play of Kipper. It’s an interesting hypothesis at the least; that perhaps these teams are more alike than their fans would like to admit. The last 2 teams to go to the Cup Finals… Both Lost in Seven… See a pattern???
But I digress… As much as Rollie helped steal the game, the Flames have to find a way to produce on the power play. Try something new. Flood one side… Send everyone to the front of the net and pray a shot gets through. No matter what they try, it will all come down to movement, and aside from the odd switch in the corner during the cycle, the Flames just don’t seem to be moving enough on their man advantages. Much like their play was 5 on 5 to start the season; it almost seems as if they just don’t want to take the chance on ending up out of position. That should give fans hope. Judging by their play in the last 3 weeks, their 5 on 5 has definitely picked up. Their PK has also looked a lot more aggressive over that span and it has shown in their improvement overall in that category. With guys like Iginla, Phaneuf, Hamrlik, Tanguay and others, you have to think it’s only a matter of time.
Kudos to the Oilers for winning one “Flames Style” :-P, the battle of Alberta is back!
Have a great day!