It’s tempting to continue to harp on the Edmonton Oilers, especially after they took another significant loss on Saturday night to the Calgary Flames. The 4-0 victory for Alberta’s more effective franchise ensures that they remain in the playoff hunt and pegs them down at third in the Pacific Division.
Even so, it wasn’t an entirely smooth ride for the Flames. They lost goalie Karri Ramo 58 seconds into the game after he appeared to pull a muscle in his leg. He didn’t face a single shot and was replaced by Jonas Hiller, who made 27 saves for the shutout. Ramo is listed as day-to-day.
The Flames are now 43-29-7 and they’ve won three of their last four. They’ve got just three games left on the year and should be able to hold the line.
What’s more, the Flames tied a franchise record for road wins in the regular season with the victory of Edmonton. They now have 22 road wins on the year.
So what are the Flames doing that the Oilers aren’t?
For one thing, they’ve got 230 goals for – good for seventh in the National Hockey League. They average 2.91 goals per game compared to Edmonton’s 2.32 goals per game. Calgary’s power play runs at 19 percent effectiveness, but in no way are they leading the pack in terms of putting pucks on goal. They are relatively good at keeping the oppositions shot totals down, however, with 29.3 shots against per game – the same as Pittsburgh’s.
11 Flames are in double-digits in terms of goals, with Sean Monahan leading the way with 30. He also has 30 assists for a total of 60 points (obviously). 10 of Monahan’s 30 goals have come on the power play. Centre Jiri Hudler leads the team in points with 72, including 29 goals and 43 assists.
The fact is that the Flames seem to be getting more out of their players and they seem more capable when it comes to facing adversity. Consider that they have a 44 percent chance of winning the game when they trail after the first frame and compare that to Edmonton’s snowball’s chance in hell 17 percent odds.
Plus the Flames are tied with Detroit for second overall in terms of winning when they lead after the first period, with an 88 percent chance of winning in that circumstance. Only the Blackhawks are more effective at holding an early lead. And the Oilers only have a 46 percent chance of winning in the same circumstances. Again, this is critical when it comes contrasting the two teams.
The Flames suit up and get it done. They put the hard hats on and go to work. They hold leads, contain pucks and make more of their chances. They have reasons they’re in the position they’re in, just like the Oilers have reasons to be in the position they’re in. The differences are stark and the results tell the tale.
The Flames are staring down the playoffs and should see action in the post-season, where they could be a dangerous team. The Oilers are staring down the barrel of yet another high draft pick and yet another disastrous season. Now that’s a tale of two cities.