Call it the Toilet Bowl, the Stupor Bowl or the Battle of Al-brutal, but fact is the Calgary Flames aren’t quite bottom-feeders like the last-place Edmonton Oilers just yet as the provincial rivals head into Saturday’s clash on nine- and 12-game losing skids, respectively.
But that’s not to say the boys in red, yellow and black don’t have their drawbacks when compared to those losers up Hwy. 2. And it’s on offence where the Flames come up short compared to the Oilers.
At this point, Calgary ranks 29th — second-last — in the NHL with an average of 2.48 goals per game, while Edmonton is 23rd at 2.54. That may be splitting hairs to some people, but I don’t think anyone really thought the Oilers were going to be frontrunners to win the Northwest Division like, say, the Flames.
Also on the offensive side of things, the Oil powerplay is 10th in the league, enjoying a 19% success rate. The Flames? They’re 25th at 16.4%. Trade for Ilya Kovalchuk, indeed. Thank god the saying is Defence Wins Championships, for Calgary’s sake, though.
That’s where the Battle totally goes off the rails for that runaway train up north. The Flames currently sit seventh in the NHL with an average of 2.5 goals against. Praise Kipper and that much-ballyhooed Flames blueline, not to mention the defence-first mantra preached by coach Brent Sutter, for that one.
The Oilers? Backed by what would surely be a terrific AHL goalie tandem, they sit 29th with an average of 3.35 goals-against per game. Get those plungers ready!
Number of trucks hauling snow that have trundled down Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver to pile up the white stuff, which has been in short supply at the Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboard venue.
The mountain was shut down to the public earlier this month when warm temperatures, lack of snow and heavy rain threatened the integrity of the Olympic runs. But organizers say they’ve made great progress since then by moving more than 300 truckloads of snow from the top of the mountain down to the runs and by bringing in more than 1,000 bales of straw to replace the base of packed snow that had been expected.
It’s not the first time a Winter Olympics has been threatened by warm weather. Here in Calgary, chinook winds caused problems for some alpine events, although it was a boon for spectators and any beer-slinging establishments who dared to open their patios.
In 1964, the Austrian army had to be called in to help at Innsbruck. It hauled 20,000 blocks of ice to the luge and bobsleigh tracks, and carried 1.4 million cubic feet of snow to the skiing slopes.
So the Vancouver Canucks have left the cosy confines of GM Place for the last time until after the Olympics. A 42-day road trip — interrupted by the two-week-plus Olympic break, mind you — where the Northwest Division leaders will log 20,000 km and 30 1/2 hours of flight time before finally being able to pull on their blue home silks again.
No word on how much bleach the team trainer is bringing on the trip to keep those road whites white, but the Vancouverites are dragging along 300 sticks.
It’ll be the longest road trip in NHL history, eclipsing the previous mark set by two clubs: 11, by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 and by the Flames, who vacated the Saddledome for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
That could be the number of players the B.C. Lions will lose from last season’s lineup if defensive lineman Ricky Foley decides to follow Rolly Lumbala, Martell Mallett and Ryan Grice-Mullen to the NFL.
Foley, who tied for the CFL lead in sacks last season with 12, is slated to work out for the New York Jets next week. It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if Foley did end up on an NFL roster soon — after all, 2008’s CFL sack master, Cameron Wake, left the Lions for the Miami Dolphins after his stellar performance that year with 23 sacks. Wake also led the league in sacks in 2007, his rookie year, with 16.